Bigger in year 2: the Croydon Literary Festival 2018


By - Thursday 27th September, 2018

2017 was so much fun that we’re doing it again on Saturday 27th October


John Grindrod and Peter Watts speaking at the 2017 Croydon Literary Festival.
Photo by Brad Merrett, used with permission.

You might remember that, in early 2017, Johnny Rose put up a shout out for volunteers to set up Croydon’s first ever literary festival. I was one of a handful of people who came forward; in the end, four of us (plus some amazing helpers on the day) put on a one-day literary festival in the David Lean Cinema. It was exhausting. It was stressful. We did it all for the love of it. And we had such a good time that we decided to do it all again in 2018.

The three of us who run the festival – me, Brad (creative director) and Clair (programme director) – decided early on that there would be no point in simply replicating the 2017 festival. To bring a new set of authors to Croydon, we had to expand, have two or three venues, run more sessions, try an evening event, maybe even throw a party to celebrate our achievements.

Happily, we’ve certainly achieved more sessions on Saturday 27th October – more than fifteen this year, and they are spread across three different venues. We’ve got a different set of authors (though I’m pleased to say, some of the same names from last year’s event are coming back, so we obviously didn’t put them off!). And we’re having a closing party too, which is going to be a chance for everyone to get together, have fun over a fiendish literary quiz and enjoy a few drinks too. We also nailed a small amount of funding from the National Lottery, which has enabled us to invite more authors to our borough, and allowed us to spread our fledgling literary festival wings.

We have stories to tell of touring with Bowie, Queen and the Stones… hair-raising tales guaranteed

Across the day, we have some treats in store. In the Braithwaite Hall, John Grindrod is returning for a session to talk about his enjoyment of all things Croydon as well as his new book How To Love Brutalism. Authors Mike Gayle and Justin Myers will discuss the art of writing romantic novels. Food writer Leah Hislop and drinks expert Henry Jeffreys are going to be talking about how our meals have become a focus of books, social media and online blogs. To close the event, we have local author Lesley Ann Jones discussing touring with Bowie, Queen and the Stones… hair-raising tales are guaranteed.

In the David Lean Cinema, we’ve got some rock’n'roll events lined up, with former punk John Otway talking about being an OAP “on the route to 66″; comedians Louis Barfe and Jason Hazeley discussing the toilet books we take into the ‘smallest room’ and a session on how to write your own erotic literature, sponsored by LoveHoney. That’s over-eighteens only… as you might expect!

In the Croydon Central Library, we’ve brought children’s author Sylvia Bishop to Croydon to expand your child’s imagination with her fun session on how to make stories (this is for over-sevens only), and Elizabeth Sheppard and Nicky Nicholls will talk about their best-selling book telling the story of Nicky’s life, Not A Proper Child, which promises to be a moving and intense talk, not for the faint of heart.

Let your children’s imagination run riot on 27th October

We’re also partnering with The Reader charity to offer two taster session for their shared reading groups, and will let Croydon group the Chocolate Poetry Club run riot with their inventive and fun session for kids aged over seven.

We’ve packed out the 27th October with sessions which we hope will enlighten, amuse and entertain, while staying true to Croydon’s roots; many of our authors are local and our sessions have an edge to them which – we hope – sets us apart from other literary festivals around the country. Tickets are on sale now and if you go to our website, you can find out all about what’s going on during the day.

We look forward to seeing you on Saturday 27th October!

Cassie Whittell

Cassie Whittell

Cassie has lived in and around Croydon since 1988. She's a digital project manager and editor with a passion for welsh rarebit, cats and Rotherham United (in that order). She's also Operations Director for the Croydon Literary Festival, and Production Editor on the Croydon Citizen.

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