Charlie Higson at UEA for finale of Festival of Literature for Young people

Charlie Higson back at the UEA, where he began as a student in 1977.
Photo: Bill Smith Charlie Higson back at the UEA, where he began as a student in 1977. Photo: Bill Smith

Mark Shields mark.shields@archant.co.uk
Friday, July 12, 2013
11:23 PM

Comedian and children’s author Charlie Higson last night brought the first Festival of Literature for Young people (FLY) to a rousing conclusion.

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Mr Higson, the festival’s patron, returned to the University of East Anglia to read from his latest book and inspire youngsters to get reading and writing themselves.

The event was the culmination of the inaugural FLY, which has seen 80 events for 11 to 17-year-olds staged over the course of a week, including poetry slams, author readings and writing workshops, involving more than 1,000 young people and 50 Norfolk schools.

Former Fast Show star Mr Higson, who studied at the UEA between 1977 and 1980, said he had been pleased to be a part of the festival.

“It was a really nice event and a lot of fun. There are lots of children’s literature festivals out there, but this one is for teenagers and young adults, so it’s something a bit different.

“There’s a lot of research which says children who read get better grades, and get better jobs, but it’s not about that – ultimately, reading is fun. It works in a way no other medium does.

“I will do everything I can do to get more people reading and enjoying reading and writing.”

Mr Higson read from his zombie thriller The Sacrifice before taking questions from the 150-strong audience and signing autographs for fans, some of whom had dressed up.

Festival director Natalie Bailey said a 2015 edition of the festival was already under discussion.

“With the creative writing course at the UEA and the awarding of the UNESCO City of Literature award, this seemed like a great time to celebrate literature.

“Our motivation has been to engage young people in reading and writing who are not already engaged.

“Our speakers have been wonderful. Whether you’re into zombies or cupcakes, the authors we’ve had have been so effective – they make it fun and inspirational.”

Antoinette Moses, the festival producer, thanked her team, adding: “There have been so many highlights, which have all contributed to a wonderful festival.”

Other FLY events have included readings from poet Benjamin Zephaniah, talks on graphic novels and illustrations and a poetry slam with poets Mark Grist, Tim Clare and Luke Wright.

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