“I kept always two books in my pocket, one to read, one to write in.”
– Robert Louis Stevenson
Check out the interview below with our festival director for details on how previous festivals have been designed. Full mission statement coming soon!
Who We Are
Liz Bahs: Festival Director
Stephen Mooney: Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of Surrey
Bran Nichol: Head of the School of Literature and Languages at the University of Surrey
Q&A With the Festival Director
Q: Will the festival only feature prose?
A: We are definitely not just showcasing prose: As a poet, it’s important to me that we celebrate prose AND poetry at the Surrey New Writers Festival. It’s essential that we include the poetic voices because, while poets may have a reputation for writing truthfully, we play with fictionalising narratives and perspectives too. Poetry can be just as fictional as prose and I really hope the Festival line up reflects both sides.
Q: Who is the festival for?
A: It’s for anyone interested in writing – in the product and in the process. It’s organised by Surrey University but is held at G Live, in the heart of the city and we hope it helps to strengthen the link between the University and the local community.
We are looking forward to seeing familiar faces from previous years as well as lots of new faces. Many tickets are sold in advance, but we always have people who pop in on the day because they’re passing and want to know more about what’s going on.
Most of all, I’d say the day is a fantastic experience for writers (new and established) and for anyone who has an interest in writing. It’s a chance to mingle with like-minded people, to meet University staff and to hear from existing and emerging writers.
I really hope new writers will come along, take part and discover ways to be more confident in, not just their writing, but their writing process. We want people to leave feeling buoyed up by what they’ve seen and heard.
Q: How do you create a writer’s festival?
A: Preparation for this year started as soon as last year’s festival ended. I spent the summer gathering recommendations and reading piles of books. Then I began to research the writers and look at their profiles. They could be award winning writers, teachers or first-time novelists. What really matters is the quality of the writing. And what I am most interested in is creating a line-up of diverse voices for the festival. With this in mind I read works from a huge variety of genres and from authors in communities outside my own experience. This is really important to me.
I’ve had previous experience organising events for writers, which has been really useful for festival planning. I helped to found a literature café in East Grinstead in 2003 and a similar thing a couple of years later in Lewes, in East Sussex. We were disgruntled that the writerly focus always seemed to be on nearby Brighton, so a few fellow writers started Needlewriters reading events for local writers and held quarterly reading nights. We published two Needlewriters anthologies and the events are still going on today.
Past Festival Teams
2017 – 2018