Spooky Cellars, Monsters And Mysteries In History

How will the Isle of Wight Literary Festival spark your child's imagination?

Now in its 6th year, the Isle of Wight Literary Festival held in Cowes in October is bigger and better than ever before, with an A list of renowned authors and speakers. 

As a local children's author I am super excited to be reading my debut book 'On the Trail of the Missing Pets' in the Youth Zone over the weekend of 14th to 15th October. So I've managed to have a behind the scenes chat with Elspeth Giddens the Youth Programme Director, and Krissy Lloyd, literary PR expert, who has come on board to help spread the word about what's going on for children and young people.

Krissy, can you tell me a bit about the Youth Zone?

The Youth Zone is a dedicated area for children and young people within the festival created to celebrate everything which is fantastic in the literary world, and it’s not just about books!

We have a fabulous mix of authors and performers coming together over the weekend to entertain and inspire. Everyone is really excited about getting kids and young people tapping into their inner creativity and sparking their imaginations.

You say it's not just about books, what else is happening?

The Youth Zone is targeted towards children and young people, but adults will also love being part of this vibrant event as spectators. After all, who wouldn't want to see some pop up Shakespeare performing junior versions of Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet and Twelfth Night or meet Blue Peter award winning writer Kieran Larwood, author of the 'Podkin' series of children's books.

For youngsters who like to get involved there are drama workshops led by established theatre director Joe Plumb and Trinity Youth Theatre with songs, costume and make up from their recent musical adaptation of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe - which also happens to be this year's theme!

The festival is held at the historic Grade 2 listed Northwood House which has it's own dark cellars so we are using them for some spooky storytelling. Sue Bailey will be getting into the spirit of things dressing up and telling traditional tales, whilst Chris Priestley will invite children and adults  to listen to his stories if they dare!

There are lots of different things going on and everything is on the website. There is also plenty of news and up to date announcements on our Facebook page too.

Elspeth, as Programme Director you are the person behind organising the Youth Zone events, was this a big task?

In a word, yes! It starts year on year with the task of raising money from various funding sources and the generous backing of several benefactors which together sustains the Youth Programme. Then the work of organising everything really begins!

This year we have 3 amazing Yurts from Island Yurts to stage our many free and ticketed events. The Inspire and Imagine Yurts and Big Daddy Performance Dome are in the grounds, plus we will be running activities in the Entertain Hall and the cellars of Northwood House.

There are 40 specially commissioned author and illustrator sessions, live performances, creative workshops and Spoken Word events going on over the weekend. To add to the atmosphere the delicious Dumpling Dumpling local street food vendor will be in the Youth Zone offering hot drinks, soup and of course, super delicious dumplings from their aptly named classic Citroen van, 'Vinnie Van Scoff'.

Naturally this diverse festival involves lots of planning and organising, which is shared by my dedicated team of helpers, so I trust there is something everyone in the Youth Zone .

How can people find out about the events?

The best way to view all our events is to look at the website and link to our Facebook page. To ensure children and their grown ups can take part many of the workshops are free and ticketed events range from just £2 child to £3 adult. Due to demand it's essential to pre-book all events online or by visiting the booking office at Northwood House, even for the many free events.

Will people be able to buy books and meet authors at the festival?

Absolutely! We are very lucky to have lots of talented local authors and illustrators involved with the festival and many well known national authors who will be around over the weekend to share their books and meet readers.

All authors will be offering signings after their events and there are 2 bookshops on site, one in Northwood House and a pop-up bookshop in the Youth Zone run by one of our local authors Jules Marriner who will be showcasing independent children's books.

This year we have some lovely new additions to the Youth Zone, a 'mini village' if you like. Zoe Sadler founder of local independent press Inky Ever After will be bringing her unique bookstore in the form of her vintage caravan 'Lulu' and will be launching her latest colouring book Mysteries of the Deep. Mrs Middleton's Shop an award winning independent Isle of Wight bookshop, will bring some of it's nostalgically eccentric items and collectable children's books, and let’s not forget you, Marianne, will be there in your Maharaja Marquee with exclusive previews of your next book set at Osborne House during the reign of Queen Victoria.

Do you visit schools too?

A huge part of the Literary Festival is the Isle of Wight Schools Programme, IWLFSCHOOLS.  I have the privilege of organising this incredible free programme which is funded in part by the proceeds of the main festival. This takes place in local Isle of Wight schools and colleges on the Thursday and Friday prior to the festival weekend.

IWLFSCHOOLS brings together authors and performers so literally thousands of young people from 4 to 18 years old can share this unique learning experience. This year on the 12th and 13th October we have schools hosting over 20 authors and performers with audiences from 30 schools across the Island.

What if I live off the Island?

Coming to the festival and Youth Zone for the weekend is very easy and the best way to meet authors and enjoy getting creative. Red Funnel operates both foot passenger and car ferries into West and East Cowes and are offering some great deals on transport as our headline sponsor. Northwood house is less than 10 minutes walk from the Red Jet foot passenger ferry terminal, a perfect day out on a boat! 


Visit www.isleofwightliteraryfestival.com

I will be reading my book 'On the Trail of the Missing Pets' and running a colouring and puzzle sheet workshop on Saturday 14th at 11.00 in the Imagine Yurt ages 5 - 8. To book this FREE event click here.

I will also be hosting a second FREE workshop on Sunday 15th at 16.00 where children aged 8 and upwards will enjoy watching drama students from Ryde School perform the story to accompany me then taking part in a ‘Make Do and Mend – First Sewing Steps’ workshop. To book click HERE.

Zoe Sadler will be reading her children’s book for children aged 4-7, 'The Lighthouse Keeper: A Cautionary Tale' then afterwards you can find out more about Zoe’s new monster project and draw your very own monster. To book this FREE event click here.

Krissy Lloyd will be joining leading literary Agent Caroline Sheldon and Kieran Larwood for an interactive Publishing Panel talk on Saturday 14th at 10.30. Book tickets here.

Marianne & Spike

21 September 2017

By Marianne Su-Yin in The locals' blogs