Weston Literature Festival

Weston-super-Mare Town Council is pleased to announce that Weston’s first Literary Festival will take place between Thursday 22nd February and Thursday 1st March 2018.

This free week long festival will feature an exciting line up of local authors and range of events including talks, workshops, panel discussions and an anthology reading, as well as a children’s trail.


Ticket Information

Tickets are FREE but will need to be booked. Tickets will be available from 10am Thursday 30th November through the Blakehay Theatre Booking Office or click on the links below to secure your ticket online!

Any tickets not sold in advance will be available from the venue before the event, but please get your tickets in advance to avoid disappointment.

Tickets are limited to 6 per transaction; if you have a group of more than 6 people please contact before booking.

*PLEASE NOTE: For events at the Blakehay Theatre there is no disabled access.



New event added:

“Eat, drink, laugh repeat”

Monday 26th February, The Stable, 7pm. Click here for tickets

Come along to The Stable for an evening of conversation about food, drink, cooking, eating, growing and producing – in fact all things food and drink related! Steve Fowell is a local chef and author who has just published his first cookery book. “Family Cooking with The School Chef” is aimed at getting families cooking and eating together. Steve is driven by his passion for good food and the desire to see families all over the world coming together in the kitchen, cooking and having fun. Having grown up in a family of cooks, Steve knows and values the importance of cooking and eating together as a family. As a chef, this year has been the best yet for Steve, taking titles such as South West School Chef of the Year, South West Primary School Employee of the Year and National Self Managed Caterer of the year. Couple this with the new book and the fact that he is in talks with a TV production company and a food manufacturer…2018 is looking like a busy year for The School Chef.

Bev & Sarah Milner Simonds have worked in food and drink for many years, latterly producing award winning festivals like Eat: Weston. They aim to reconnect residents to the land that surrounds them through their locally focused events.

The trio are well known for their strong opinions on food and cooking – but don’t always expect them to agree! The trio will be sourcing some local food and drink to accompany their conversation – join them and get to the root of where your local food comes from.”


“It is great to be back in Weston and supporting the town council’s first literary festival. Steve has a lot to say about cooking and families and we are never short of an opinion on all things food related. Expect an entertaining evening of conversation, debate and a few local snacks and drinks to keep your appetite sated!” Bev and Sarah Milner Simmonds

“Weston being my home town is at the heart of what I do, growing up here has given me so many wonderful memories of family time sourcing, preparing cooking…and enjoying local produce. The people of Weston have supported me and my book so well, I’m really looking forward to giving them an insight to how it all came about and I couldn’t think of a better way to do it than alongside the lovely Bev and Sarah of Eat: Weston.”  Steve Fowell


Panel Discussion: Making the Leap from Young Adult to Adult Fiction: Four best selling writers discuss the effects of switching genres, what it takes to maintain a publishing career today and offer advice to budding authors.

Friday 23rd February, Weston Museum, 1pm Click here for tickets

Christi Daugherty:  As a newspaper reporter, Christi Daugherty began covering murders at the age of 22. She worked as a journalist for years in cities including Savannah, Baton Rouge, and New Orleans. Her work eventually took her to England, where she wrote the international bestselling Night School series of thrillers for young adults under the name CJ Daugherty. Her new detective novel, The Echo Killing, is her first adult novel. Her work has been translated into 25 languages.

Jo Nadin: A former broadcast journalist and special adviser to the prime minister, since leaving politics Jo has written more than 70 books, as well as speeches for politicians, and articles for newspapers and magazines like Red and The Amorist. Jo also lectures in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University, and holds a doctorate in young adult literature. The winner of the Fantastic Book Award and the Surrey Book Award, and shortlisted for the Roald Dahl Funny Prize, the Booktrust Best Book award and Queen of Teen among others, Jo has been twice nominated for the CILIP Carnegie Medal, for Everybody Hurts, and for Joe All Alone, which is currently being adapted for television. She works with Sir Chris Hoy on the Flying Fergus series, and ghost-writes Angry Birds under another name. Jo lives in Bath with her family.

CJ Skuse: CJ was born and bred in Weston-super-Mare and has always lived locally. She worked in publishing for nine years and is the author of the Young Adult novels Pretty Bad Things, Rockoholic, Dead Romantic, Monster and The Deviants, C.J.’s first adult title Sweetpea was released in 2017 with HQ/HarperCollins. The sequel is released this August. CJ’s books have been longlisted for the Redbridge and Branford Boase book awards, shortlisted for the Booktrust Best Book prize with Amazon Kindle, the Lancashire Book of the Year and Coventry Inspiration Book Awards. Pretty Bad Things won the Dumfries and Burgh Book Award and The Deviants recently claimed the prestigious Prix des Etudiants de L’Universite Jean-Monnet in France. She has first class degrees in Creative Writing and Writing for Young People. Aside from writing, C.J. works as a Senior Lecturer on the MA in Writing for Young People at Bath Spa University.

Rachel Ward: Rachel’s first Young Adult novel Numbers was published in January 2009 to wide acclaim and was shortlisted for the Waterstones Children’s Book prize, longlisted for the Carnegie Medal and won regional prizes in the UK and Germany including the Angus Book Award, Oxfordshire Book Award and the Salisbury Schools Book Award. This was followed up with the sequels The Chaos and Infinity, and two further YA thrillers, The Drowning and Waterborn. Numbers has been translated into more than 20 languages. Her first novel for adults, The Cost of Living, was published last year. In between writing novels, Rachel likes to paint landscapes and portraits, and take photographs in and around Bath, where she lives with her family.

Talk: Amanda Prowse

Friday 23rd February, Blakehay Theatre, 7pm: Click here for tickets!

Amanda Prowse is an inspirational writer who exploded into the charts with her self-published novel ‘Poppy Day’ in 2012. Since then, she has produced no less than twelve bestselling titles including the compelling No.1’s What Have I Done? and ‘Perfect Daughter’. She has also produced a further six novellas, narrated her own audiobooks and produced a series of Podcasts.

About the books

Amanda’s stories have amassed thousands of 5 Star ratings, with hundreds for each book generating an overall continuous approval rating that is the envy of other writers and described by Amazon as ‘the highest they have encountered by a clear margin’.

Writing powerful and compelling gritty contemporary fiction, Amanda’s stories feature an ordinary woman who is overtaken by extraordinary circumstances. Amanda’s readers identify strongly with the underdog character and follow the protagonist on a rollercoaster of a journey that will take them through the entire range of human emotion. The road might not be easy and the subject matter sometimes difficult but the underlying message will be positive and uplifting making the reader realise that whatever their personal issues, they have the strength to overcome more challenges than they ever thought possible.


Talk: Jeffrey Archer

Saturday 24th February, Weston Museum, 7pm: Click here for tickets!

He has been married to Dame Mary Archer, Chairman of the Science Museum Group, for 51 years, and they have two sons, two grandsons, and one granddaughter.

He gained a Blue in Athletics at Oxford, was President of the University Athletics Club, and went on to run the 100 yards in 9.6 seconds for Great Britain in 1966. Jeffrey has served five years in the House of Commons and twenty-five years as a Member of the House of Lords.

Jeffrey is also an art collector and amateur auctioneer, conducting around 20 charity auctions a year, which last year raised £3.4m for good causes.

About the books

Jeffrey Archer has topped the bestseller lists around the world, with sales of over

270 million copies in 97 countries and more than 37 languages. He is the only author ever to have been a number one bestseller in fiction (nineteen times), short stories (four times) and non-fiction (The Prison Diaries).

His latest book, TELL TALE, is his seventh collection of short stories, and was published in hardback in November 2017. His 22nd novel, HEADS YOU WIN, will be published in 2018.


Talk: Damien Boyd

Sunday 25th February, Weston Museum, 2pm: Click here for tickets!

Best selling author Damien Boyd is a former solicitor turned crime fiction writer.

Drawing on extensive experience of criminal law as well as a spell in the Crown Prosecution Service, Damien writes fast paced crime thrillers featuring Detective Inspector Nick Dixon of Avon and Somerset Police.

About the books

Damien’s debut novel, As the Crow Flies, was released in April 2013 becoming an international Kindle #1 bestseller, with all six sequels reaching the Amazon top ten. Translated into German, French, Italian and Polish, the series has gone on to sell over one million copies.


Panel discussion “This is what a romance writer looks like!”

Tuesday 27th February, Blakehay Theatre, 7pm: Click here for tickets!

About the panel

Fay Keenan: Fay Keenan was born in Surrey and raised in Hampshire, before moving to the West Country. After studying English and Politics at the University of York she worked in Manchester, Exeter, and finally settled back in the West.

Fay has been writing since she could pick up a pen, and has had several articles published in education magazines, including the English and Media Centre’s Media Magazine. The Little Somerby series is her first foray into novel length fiction, although she has written stories of many flavours over the years, including fanfiction. The Second Chance Tea Shop is the first book in the Little Somerby series, selling over 10,000 in just 3 months! Book 2, Springtime at the Cider Kitchen, is to be released in January 2018 by Aria Fiction.

Teresa F Morgan: Teresa F Morgan writes contemporary romance. Her debut novel ‘Plus One is a Lucky Number’ was published in August 2013 by HarperImpulse. This novel, having gone through the Romantic Novelist Association’s New Writer Scheme lead to Teresa being a contender for the RNA’s Joan Hessayon New Writer’s Award in 2014. One Fine Day, her second novel, was published by HarperImpulse in January 2015 and her third novel, Meet Me At Wisteria Cottage was published in April 2017.Teresa loves writing contemporary romance stories with a touch of escapism and creating heroes readers will fall in love with.

Teresa originates from Surrey, moving to Weston-super-Mare in 1998. She now lives with her two sons and a budgie called Rio. Family holidays in Cornwall have lead to the scenic Cornish coastline and the city of Bristol being the back drop for her novels.

Alison Knight: Alison lives in Wiltshire and writes contemporary women’s fiction as Alison Rose, and YA adventures as Alison Knight. She is published by Accent Press, and is a member of the Society of Authors, the Romantic Novelists’ Association and the National Association for Writers in Education. She has a first class degree in Creative Writing from Bath Spa University and a Masters with merit from Oxford Brookes University. She is a part-time lecturer in Creative Writing & Life Writing at Wiltshire College in Chippenham, and co-founder of Imagine creative writing workshops.

Jenny Kane: Jenny lives in Devon and writes contemporary women’s fiction, romance, and children’s picture books as Jenny Kane. Jenny is a member the Romantic Novelists’ Association and has a PhD in Medieval History. She has been teaching creative writing classes to adults and children for twelve years in-between writing her novels, novellas & short stories. Jenny is the co-founder of Imagine creative writing workshops.

Jan Ellis: Jan Ellis began writing fiction by accident in 2013. Until then, she had led a blameless life as a publisher, editor and historian of early modern Spain. She fell into fiction when a publisher approached her to write a history book, then made the mistake of mentioning ‘romcom’, which sounded much more fun. Her stories have small-town settings with realistic characters who range in age from young teens to eighty-somethings.

When not writing, Jan does a range of things including lecturing on Renaissance art and culture and working for part of the Booksellers’ Association of the UK and Ireland. Jan’s books are available from all good bookshops.

Talk: Huw Powell

Saturday 24th February 2017, at Weston Museum, 11am: Click here for tickets!

Huw Powell is a children’s author with an overactive and uncompromising imagination. He was born in Bristol in 1976 during the hottest summer on record and grew up in the village of Pill in North Somerset, where he wrote his first stories for family and friends. At school, his best subjects were Literature and Art, which he went on to study at University. Huw started writing while working in London, where he often wrote on trains and in cafes using a pen and notepad.

His Spacejackers series launched in July 2014 with positive reviews. The first book was shortlisted for the Teach Primary’s ‘New Children’s Fiction Award’ 2015 and it was Literature Works ‘Book of the Month’ in August 2014.

Huw now lives in Portishead with his wife and two energetic sons. When he’s not writing, he enjoys spending time with his family and friends.

About the books

Huw Powell is the children’s author of the Spacejackers novels, which have been published by Bloomsbury and W F Howes in the UK, USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. The first Spacejackers novel was Literature Work’s ‘Book of the Month’ and short-listed for Teach Primary’s ‘New Children’s Fiction Award’. His books have been described as Star Wars meets Pirates of the Caribbean, with reviewers calling them “explosive”, “action-packed” and “tremendous fun.” Huw is an active supporter of initiatives that encourage children to read. He lives with his wife and two sons in Portishead.

Spacejackers is a trilogy of adventure novels for 8 to 12 year olds. The books are all about space pirates and it has been described as Star Wars meets Pirates of the Caribbean.

Huw delivers a fun and engaging event for children aged 7 upwards, which includes an interactive talk about his writing and influences, as well as the importance of books. The event also includes readings from his books, a drawing (using ideas from the children), a mini-quiz and Q&A. There will be an opportunity to purchase books for Huw to sign at the end


Workshops with Lois Elsden

Lois was born and brought up in Cambridge, but spent most of her life in Manchester; she now lives in a small Somerset village by the sea. Lois writes full time and has just published her 12th novel through Kindle Direct Publishing. When not writing, she travels, especially to live music events and watches the world go by in her local pub.

About the workshops

Lois Elsden shares her thoughts on writing; the why’s the how’s and the what to do next. You will be thinking about the 6 P’ (plot, people, place, point of view, purpose, and pace) You will tackle a couple of these aspects of writing, concentrating on people and place – characters and settings.

Lois Elsden explains what blogging is all about; she describes the process, the purpose, its relevance and why it is fun. You will look at the different types of blog with some examples, the different purposes of blogging, style, audience and having a go! You will engage in some practical tasks and explore different ideas any of us could pursue.


Panel discussion on Self Publishing “Why DIY?”

Thursday 22nd February, Blakehay Theatre, 7pm: Click here for tickets!

A panel of authors discuss the reasons they chose to publish their work independently, the successes they’ve had and the mistakes they’ve made along the way. The panel consists of both authors who chose self-publishing as their first choice, as well as ‘hybrid’ authors who’ve found success in both traditional and independent publishing. The panel will welcome questions from the audience and hopes to inspire and inform others about self publishing as an option for budding writers!


Creative Writing Workshop with Mark Lewis

Weston Museum on Wednesday 28th February at 7.30pm: Click here for tickets!

Mark is an experienced teacher of Creative Writing. He is also a published author with over 20 short stories published, several poems and he has also had scripts performed. Having run workshops for writers at all levels of development, from absolute beginners to published writers, he now brings his knowledge and expertise to the festival! This exciting workshop will be the perfect way to kick start your writing! Don’t know where to begin? How do you create characters? How do I structure my story opening? Attend this workshop and leave with the tools you need to start putting pen to paper! This fun and informative workshop will put you on the right path to begin your literary project!


Anthology Reading: “Voices along the road: an evening of poetry and flash fiction”

Friday 23rd February, Weston Museum, 7pm: Click here for tickets!

Poets and authors read excerpts from Voices along the road and Another Place.

Voices along the road is an anthology of poetry and flash fiction exploring the experiences of children, refugees and migrants. Another Place is a collection of refugee-themed science fiction by Bristol and Weston-super-Mare authors. Both books were published in 2017 to raise money for the Alf Dubs Children’s Fund which helps child refugees find safe and legal sanctuary. The reading is free however tickets must still be collected to reserve your place! Donations to the fund will be welcomed on the night and the opportunity to purchase the book will also be available with all money raised going towards the fund.


Talk: “Story”  – An introduction to what every writer should know about what is required for constructing a story.

The Stable on Thursday 22nd February starting at 10.30am: Click here for tickets!

Nick Harding is a screenwriter and author. He has a number of TV and film projects in development in the UK and US including one with director Suri Krishnamma, who directed Dark Tourist with Melanie Griffith and Bad Karma with Ray Liotta.

Nick’s last film, Folie A Deux, shot in Weston and directed by Sean Martin, had its première at the Maine International Film festival. He also co-wrote The Notebooks of Cornelius Crow with Sean, which was shown at the Cannes Film Festival.

He has written articles for national newspapers and magazines and has made over fifty radio interviews for the BBC and other radio stations. He made an appearance on ITV’s This Morning to talk about urban legends and was a consultant and interviewee on Wildfire Television’s Channel 4’s documentary on the Da Vinci Code.

He has written five books and has just completed his latest novel. He is represented by SMA Talent in London.

About the event

“Story”  – An introduction to what every writer should now about what is required for constructing a story.

The talk covers a brief history of stories, character types and the requirements of structure that every story needs. This event will start you on the right path to put your creative thoughts down on paper!


Talk: Justin Newland

Saturday 24th February 2018, The Stable Creative Hub, 3pm: Click here for tickets!

Justin Newland was born in Essex, England, three days before the end of 1953. That makes him a Capricorn. Hey, someone has to be one.

His love of literature began soon after, with swashbuckling sea stories, pirates and tales of adventure. Undeterred by the award of a Doctorate in Mathematics from Imperial College, London, he worked in I.T. and later ran a hotel.

His tastes in world literature are eclectic, from literary fiction and fantasy, to science fiction, with a special mention for the existentialists. Along the way, he veered into reading history, ancient and modern, then got lost in the labyrinths of mythology, religion, and philosophy.

In 2006, he found his way to the creative keyboard and conceived his debut novel, The Genes of Isis (published by Silverwood Books in 2017).

His short stories in anthologies include ‘The Fool of Abbot’s Leigh’ in Hidden Bristol and ‘Fisher of Men’ in North by Southwest (both published by Tangent Books). ‘Vallum Hadriani’ is published in The Dark Half of the Year, a collection of ghost stories by North Bristol Writers.

He has promoted his work on BBC Radio Bristol, BBC Radio Gloucestershire, and Ujima Radio. He has given readings of his work around Bristol and the South West, and appeared on panels in Writers’ Conventions around England, including BristolCon.

He writes historical and speculative fiction with a supernatural bent and lives with his partner in plain sight of the Mendip Hills in Somerset.

About the event

Come and listen to local author Justin Newland in conversation about his writing, and his debut novel, The Genes of Isis, an epic fantasy set featuring a cast of hybrids, angels and humans, all trying to survive an imminent Flood. The genes of Isis means genesis, so the novel is also a speculative account of the origins of the human race. N.B. Isis does not refer to the terrorist group, but to the Ancient Egyptian Goddess.


Children’s Trail – sponsored by Weston BID

The children’s trail will run from the 12th February to the 1st March around the town centre.

In various shop or business windows around the town centre, children will find an picture of a book. Each book will have a letter on. Find all the letters to spell out the hidden word or phrase, and then claim a prize.

Please note: you do not need tickets for the children’s trail.