Literature festival prepares to fly into Norwich
- Credit: Peter Everard Smith
A festival which aims to inspire young people with books and stories is preparing to fly into Norwich with a packed programme of events.
The University of East Anglia's Festival of Literature for Young People (FLY Festival) is returning for a third year and will take place from July 13 to 17.
Horror writer Darren Shan, Goodnight Mister Tom author Michelle Magorian, and Steve Cole, the new writer of the Young James Bond series, are among the writers taking part in events at the university.
This year the festival is also set to take flight and land in the city centre where Norwich Castle will be transformed into a Castle of Ideas and Norfolk and Norwich Millennium Library will become The Word Factory.
Norwich writer Alexander Gordon Smith is the FLY Festival's new patron, and he said this year's event would be 'bigger and louder than ever'.
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'FLY is inspirational and that is why I am thrilled to be its new patron,' said Mr Smith, author of teenage horror series Escape from Furnace as well as The Fury, a zombie story with a twist set in Norfolk.
'It is a uniquely wonderful festival that encourages young people to fall in love with books and stories. I have never seen students so excited, enthused, entertained and edified as I have during FLY events.
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'Stories are magic, and learning to enjoy reading can change a young person's life forever. Above all, FLY sends out this message that books are the foundation on which you can build the life of your dreams, because reading teaches you that anything is possible, and that you are capable of incredible things.'
Festival director Hannah Tough said the team was looking forward to celebrating Norwich's status as a UNESCO City of Literature by bringing some FLY events into the city centre this year, and she also said there was a top line-up of authors taking part in the 2015 festival.
She said: 'We have a really tremendous line-up.
'Lovers of vampire and horror fiction need no introduction to Darren Shan, who is one of the highlights of this year's festival.
'Other major writers for young people are Steve Cole, who is now taking over the role of writing the young James Bond series, and best-selling authors Piers Torday, Meg Rosoff, Anthony McGowan and Kevin Brooks, who won last year's Carnegie Medal.
'A writer we are really excited to have at this year's festival is Michelle Magorian, the author of Goodnight Mister Tom.'
Other festival highlights include a Poetry Slam and performance storyteller Debs Newbold's unique take on Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet.
The festival is for young people aged 11 to 17.
Young writers challenged to finish Alexander Gordon Smith's story
Young wordsmiths are being challenged to finish a story started by FLY Festival patron Alexander Gordon Smith for the festival's 2015 writing competition.
Mr Smith's story begins at a FLY Festival event, and entrants can write the end of the story in any genre they wish.
The story starts with an audience waiting for the arrival of an extremely famous author who is late – and when two students go looking for the author they find themselves outside a strange-looking laboratory...
What happens next is up to those entering the competition to decide.
Entrants – who must be aged between 11 and 17 – have up to 500 words to finish the story.
The judges – who include Mr Smith, Fly Festival producer Antoinette Moses, and Kate Birch from webzine Ink, Sweat & Tears – will be looking for writers to be as imaginative as possible.
Dr Moses said: 'What we are looking for is the individuality of the voice and writers really engaging in the story. It is just so exciting to see where they take the story. It is just wonderful seeing how imaginative the students are.'
Prizes will include signed copies of books from authors taking part in the FLY Festival and books donated by Faber & Faber who are supporting the competition.
More about the competition – including the full start to the story written by Mr Smith – are available at www.uea.ac.uk/fly/competitions. The closing date for entries is Friday, June 12. Entries should be marked with your name, age, school/college, email address, and telephone number, and sent to FLY Festival, LSB 1.120, University of East Anglia, Norwich, NR4 7TJ.
Lecture named in honour of novelist Mal Peet
A special lecture is to take place during the festival in memory of Norfolk novelist Mal Peet who died earlier this year.
Mr Peet – whose novels include Keeper, Tamar, The Penalty, and Exposure – was involved in the inaugural FLY Festival in 2013.
At this year's festival, award-winning novelist Meg Rosoff – author of How I Live Now, Just In Case and Picture Me Gone – will give the Mal Peet Memorial Talk in which she will discuss what inspires her writing.
Mr Peet, who was born in Norfolk in 1947 and grew up in North Walsham, won many awards for his novels, including the Carnegie Medal, the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize and the Branford Boase Award.
Although best known as a writer of teenage fiction, Mr Peet's novels also have a wide adult readership.
His semi-autobiographical novel Life: An Exploded Diagram won an EDP-Jarrold East Anglian Book Award.
Fly Festival producer Antoinette Moses said: 'He became a real friend to us all. Mal never saw any real division between adult fiction and that for younger readers and was highly critical of any writer whose books, as he put it, gave off 'a strong whiff of condescension', which is why his books will long outlast him.'
For more information visit www.uea.ac.uk/fly. Schools and individuals can book tickets for FLY Festival events from today.
Do you have a Norwich arts story? Email arts correspondent Emma Knights at email@example.com