The Abergavenny Writing Festival

April 2020


All events are postponed until further notice. 

Thursday 2nd April 2020 line-up

10:00 – 11:00 – Working Writers 

Tickets are £7 

Can you actually make a living from writing? How do you go about it? What kinds of specialist writing jobs exist? What are some of the practical issues working writers need to consider? We’ll be examining these questions and many more with a panel of professional writers.

Our panel of working writers will be made up of:

Jo Stichbury is based near Abergavenny. She works as a freelance technical writer for a range of clients, writing mostly for an audience of software developers to help build communities.

Jonathan Page works as a senior technical writer for Temenos, the world’s leading provider of banking software. His role has expanded in recent years to include a content transformation project in Temenos India, a residency with IBM, and the organisation of internal product conferences.

Jude Rogers is a freelance arts journalist, writing for The Guardian, the Observer, Sunday Times Culture, Mojo, the New Statesman, Prospect and more.

Jo Thomas is a writer and editor with a knack for making words work. She’s been tackling the blank page with glee, and helping others do the same, for over 15 years.

11:15- 12:15 – Is a writing group for me? 

Tickets are £7 

What is it like to belong to a writing group? Join crime novelist Matt Johnson as he interviews representatives from local writing groups in the Gwent and Borders areas. Discover how these groups are helping and supporting local writers working in a wide range of genres and styles.

Gain an insight into what these local writing groups have in common and what the differences are. You will be able to chat with representatives after the session and learn about their recently published book of journeys into writing.

If you’ve ever thought about joining a writing group but somehow never got round to it, now is your chance to find out if there’s a writing group out there for you. Or maybe you could start one.


12:45 – 13:45 – How to Interview for Newspapers and Magazines 

Tickets are £7 

Meet Abergavenny-based freelance journalist Jude Rogers. She regularly interviews musicians, actors, politicians and plenty of ordinary people for national newspapers and magazines. She knows more than most that speaking to people, and trying to understand them, can make our writing come alive.

But how do you do an interview? How do you prepare your questions (and your nerves)? How do you get people to speak? How do you write up your encounter in a way the reader will find relatable and revealing? And…what do you do if the interview goes wrong? Jude dishes out advice from over fifteen years writing for The Guardian, the Observer, the New Statesman, music and women’s magazines, teaching us skills transferrable to so many areas of our creative life.


16:30 – 17:30 – Self-Publishing Workshop 

Tickets are £7 

An opportunity to learn about all aspects of self-publishing: from completing your manuscript to decisions about design and layout through to the final print-ready files and publication. The workshop will focus on those aspects of publishing which pose the biggest difficulties for self-publishing authors: 1. Producing a book that looks like it has been published to a professional standard; 2. Techniques for targeting potential readers. There will be plenty of opportunity for questions

YouCaxton are a leading publishing-services company. Bob Fowke, the managing editor, is a prolific writer of historical non-fiction and children’s reference books, published by Hachette, Oxford University Press, Collins and Heinemann. He is also a committed advocate of self-publishing and has self-published several titles as well as contributing topical articles to the Guardian Online.


16:30 – 18:00 – Writing at the Museum with Dr Mark Patton 

Tickets are £3.50 

Please note this event takes place at: Abergavenny Museum, Castle Street, Abergavenny, NP7 5EE (Plan your journey here)

Great writing, whether fiction, non-fiction, or poetry, can be inspired by almost anything. In this workshop, we will use the museum exhibition, The Brilliant Bronze Age, as a springboard for creative writing, with themes including the relationship between history (or prehistory) and literature; building a fictional (or historical) world through words; and developing a narrative voice.

Dr Mark Patton has a Cambridge degree in Archaeology, and a PhD in Anthropology from UCL. He has worked as a museum curator and a university lecturer, and is the author of three published historical novels, Undreamed Shores, An Accidental King, and Omphalos, all largely set in prehistoric and Roman Britain and Europe. Material objects play an important role in his fiction, as “characters” with their own biographies, in relation to which the human characters define and negotiate their identities.

Discounted ticket price supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, Saving Treasures; Telling Stories.


17:45 – 18:45 – Talking Horror with Tim Lebbon 

Tickets are £7 

Tim Lebbon, New York Times-bestselling writer from South Wales, will be interviewed about his life in writing and how he turned his hobby into a career. Learn about his experiences of having his books made into films and more generally his thoughts on the genre of horror writing.

Tim has had over forty novels published to date, as well as hundreds of novellas and short stories. His latest novel is the eco-horror novel Eden. Other recent releases include The Edge, The Silence, The Family Man, The Rage War trilogy, and Blood of the Four with Christopher Golden. He has won four British Fantasy Awards, a Bram Stoker Award, and a Scribe Award, and has been a finalist for World Fantasy, International Horror Guild and Shirley Jackson Awards. His work has appeared in many Year’s Best anthologies, as well as Century’s Best Horror.

The movie of The Silence, starring Stanley Tucci and Kiernan Shipka, debuted on Netflix April 2019, and Pay the Ghost, starring Nicolas Cage, was released Hallowe’en 2015. Several other projects are in development for TV and the big screen, including original screenplays Playtime (with Stephen Volk) and My Hunted House.


19:30 – 21:00 – ‘Where are you from?’ An evening of shared stories and discussions 

Tickets are £5 

The aim is to listen, discuss and understand how our sense of identity may differ depending on where we are from and how others behave towards us.

The question ‘Where are you from?’ used to be straightforward curiosity. But in times of change and uncertainty it can become loaded with suspicion and hostility. Yet all of us are on journeys through life. We need each other to make the journey meaningful and fulfilling.

Facilitated by local writer Phil Madden, those taking part will include The Bethan Roper Trust for Refugees, Abergavenny Town of Sanctuary, Josef Herman Art Foundation, Guardian journalist Mike Carter and Abergavenny based charity Love Zimbabwe. We hope to hear contributions from as many voices as possible. Whether you consider yourself a newcomer or established in the area, all your words count!

All events take place at: Kings Arms Hotel, 29 Nevill Street, Abergavenny, NP7 5AA –  Plan your journey here