Lancashire's literature festival, publisher and development agency

Welcome toLitfest 2018!

Dear Festival-goers, welcome to Litfest’s 2018 programme…

To download a PDF Programme click here: Litfest 2018 PDF Programme This year we bring you a month-long programme packed with incredibly varied events! The 2018 festival launches on a truly ‘Fantastic’ evening at Lancaster Castle’s Shire Hall. Olivia Lomenech Gill—illustrator of JK Rowling’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them – will give us…

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Harry Potter’s Fantastic Beasts: An evening with Olivia Lomenech Gill

Friday 2nd March 7pm

The magical worlds conjured up by J. K. Rowling have enchanted readers for over two decades. Litfest are pleased to be launching this year’s programme with a very special event with Olivia Lomenech Gill, illustrator of the new coffee table edition of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. 

Set in the historic Shire Hall at Lancaster Castle, this is a not-to-be-missed event for all fans of the books, films
and anyone interested in illustration. Olivia will offer a behind-the-scenes insight into the creation of this extraordinary book, her life and work and some truly fantastic beasts. 

Cosplay is welcome at this event.  


YA Day: Cathy Forde – Story to Stage

Saturday 3rd March 2pm

Young Adult fiction has seen a real boom in recent years and Litfest are delighted to welcome acclaimed novelist Cathy Forde to speak as part of our programme.  Known for gritty and uncompromising prose that leaves readers thinking long after the final pages of her books are finished, Cathy has also worked with National Theatre Scotland on Theatre for young people.

In this session, she will discuss her bestselling novels Fat Boy Swim and The Drowning Pond exploring the journey of adapting these from novels to the stage.  A fascinating talk that will be of interest to writers and all interested in drama.


YA Day: Hannah Hodgson: The World of vlogging

Saturday 3rd March 3:15pm

Ever wondered how to take the plunge and start a Bookish YouTube channel? Or maybe you already have, but wonder how to build up a relationship with publishers, viewers or authors themselves? In this talk and Q&A session Hannah Hodgson will be revealing everything she has learned (sometimes the hard way) to get you on your way towards starting a YouTube channel. She will be discussing everything from how to approach publishers for free books, how to manage your time when you have a serious illness or many commitments and how to get yourself out there using Twitter and other social media platforms.

Most importantly, Hannah will be talking about how to enjoy yourself in your new online diary. Her favourite thing about her channel is the fact that her viewers feel like her friends – which means that she has avoided social isolation due to her disability. There will also be a Q and A session, where you can ask Hannah anything, from why she started her channel to what editing software she uses. 


Everywhere is Somewhere: A question of legacy

Friday 9th March 7pm

Naseem Khan’s memoir Everywhere is Somewhere explores how stories from our diverse community are essential in understanding what it is to be British today. A radical and a pioneer, Naseem was born in Birmingham to an Indian father and German mother. After studying at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford, she was held as an ‘Indian spy’ whilst travelling in Pakistan during the second India-Pakistan war in 1965. She was ultimately released back into India. Naseem returned to London, and became part of the black power scene in Notting Hill, editing the Hustler magazine with contemporaries
including Darcus Howe.
Naseem sadly passed away on the 8th of June 2017. Here her publisher Kevin Duffy talks about the process of publishing her final work, chronicling Naseem’s extraordinary life.


Independent Publishing Day: Comma Press Short Story Showcase

Saturday 10th March 4pm

Since its beginnings as an artists’ group in 2003, Comma Press has continued to evolve into a thriving northern publishing house by embracing innovation, collaborations and digital media. Despite its diversification over the years into translation, poetry, novels and film Comma still seeks to put the short story at the heart of its focus. Here, they showcase the latest short story collections from two of their best-loved writers – Sean O’Brien and Martyn Bedford. In Letters Home Martyn explores a variety of characters each at a crossroads in their lives and in Quartier Perdu Sean takes us on a dark and thrilling journey through the city’s underbelly…


Independent Publishing Day: Bluemoose presents…Heidi James

Saturday 10th March 5:15pm

Founded in 2006 by Kevin and Hetha Duffy Bluemoose Books are an independent publisher based in Hebden Bridge, Yorkshire. Here they present the latest novel from acclaimed writer Heidi James…

When award-winning journalist Marcus Murray’s latest story involves a corrupt alliance between a UK bank, the arms trade and the government, it seems he has triumphed again in his quest for the truth. But he is accused of fabrication and nothing in his life makes sense any more, including the disappearance twenty years ago of his best friend, Melanie. Why did she vanish, and who is the body recently discovered in a Kent orchard? A timeless story of how love and enduring friendship shape who we are, the novel exposes the fault lines in our own reality and who and what we believe to be true, including ourselves…

Northern fiction alliance

Independent Publishing Day: The Northern Fiction Alliance

Saturday 10th March 6:15pm

Litfest are delighted to present an exclusive panel of industry experts with a special
northern perspective. Representing four members of the Northern Fiction Alliance Rebecca Parkinson from Comma Press, Kevin Duffy from Bluemoose Books, Nathan Connolly from Dead Ink and Sara Hunt from Saraband gather together to give you a unique insight into the rapidly changing world of independent publishing.


Spotlight featuring Alabaster dePlume

Friday 16th March 7pm

In a specially extended edition of this long-running Lancaster staple, Spotlight presents a highly varied line-up. Alongside saxophonist and spoken word artist Alabaster dePlume Spotlight will also feature prolific writer Ian Marchant with an extract from his recent book A Hero For High Times. There will also be poetry from invited guests, music from Mollie Baxter & Chris Hargreaves and an Open Mic.


Poetry Day: Oversteps Press presents… Alwyn Marriage and Rebecca Bilkau

Saturday 17th March 12:30pm

We are delighted to open our poetry day this year with two poets from Oversteps Press—Alwyn Marriage and Rebecca Bilkau. Both of these poets have a widely varied background in poetry and bring all their experience to bear in their latest collections…


Poetry Day: Beautiful Dragons Press presents…Noble Dissent – Fall to Grace

Saturday 17th March 1:15pm

For our second event of Poetry day Litfest are delighted to welcome back Beautiful Dragons Press for the launch of their latest unique collaborative anthology — Noble Dissent.
Featuring 72 poets from across the world this anthology celebrates standing your ground and advocating for change. Sadly we cannot have all 72 poets here on the day but come and here some of them pull out the soap boxes and blow their whistles…


Poetry Day: Kate Fox and Rhiannon Hooson

Saturday 17th March 2:45pm

For our third Poetry Day event Litfest are delighted to present two rising stars of the poetry world. Both Rhiannon and Kate will reimagine the world from their unique perspectives. Drawing on a strong connection to their homelands of Wales and ‘The North’ the familiar grows strange when mixed with a liberal dose of Greek myth, Lake District floods, Glastonbury festival and the Great North run. Join us for a pair of truly memorable readings!


Poetry Day: Philip Gross and Katharine Towers

Saturday 17th March 4pm

For our penultimate Poetry Day event Litfest brings you two poets seeking to explore humanity’s connection to the world. Katharine Towers’ TS Eliot Prize shortlisted second collection The Remedies delves into our complex relationship with
nature. Whilst Philip Gross’ latest collection A Bright Acoustic breaches the echoing void between language and the world and gives voice to the numerous voices he finds there.


Poetry Day: Wayleave Press presents… Pauline Yarwood, Hannah Hodgson and Michael Bartholomew-Biggs

Saturday 17th March 5:15pm

We conclude a bumper day of poetry with the welcome return of Wayleave Press, a small independent publisher of poetry pamphlets based in Lancaster founded by Mike Barlow in 2014. This final reading will showcase three of their poets, two with recent pamphlets and one forthcoming.


Andrew Michael Hurley: Devil’s Day

Thursday 22nd March 7:30pm

To begin our final week of this year’s festival we are delighted to welcome back Costa Prize winner Andrew Michael Hurley reading from his fantastic second novel—Devil’s Day…
In the wink of an eye, as quick as a flea,
The Devil he jumped from me to thee.
And only when the Devil had gone,
Did I know that he and I’d been one . . .


Springfest Podcast

As part of our first Litfest Springfest, two days of the very best in nature writing, we bring you another exclusive—Litfest’s first podcast!

Free to download from the Lifest website ( from Friday 23rd of March, come and join us on a literary walk around the streets of Lancaster. Exercise your mind along with your legs!


Springfest: Kathleen Jamie

Friday 23rd March 7pm

We begin our Springfest weekend with a double bill with a distinctly Scottish flavour…

First we have award-winning poet and essayist Kathleen Jamie, possessing a poet’s eye and a naturalist’s affinity for the wold places of the world . Whether she is following the call of a peregrine in the hills above her home in Fife, sailing into a dark winter solstice on the Orkney islands, or pacing around the carcass of a whale on a rain-swept Hebridean beach, she creates a subtle and modern narrative, peculiarly alive to her connections and surroundings.


Springfest: Jim Crumley

Friday 23rd March 8:15pm

In the second half of our Scottish double bill we welcome prolific nature writer Jim Crumley. The author of the much loved (and recently reprinted!) The Company of Swans has led a long and varied career including journalism, Radio and TV work. But throughout he continues to delight his readers with many new publications. The latest of these is the second in his seasons quartet—The Nature of Winter.


Springfest: Paul Evans

Saturday 24th March 7pm

In Field Notes from the Edge, the acclaimed writer of the Guardian’s ‘Country Diary’, Paul Evans, takes us on a journey through the in-between spaces of Nature – such as strandlines, mudflats, cliff tops and caves – where one wilderness is on the verge of becoming another and all things are possible. Here, Evans searches out wildlife and plants to reveal a Nature that is inspiring yet intimidating; miraculous yet mundane; part sacred space, part wasteland. It is here that we tread the edge between a fear of Nature’s dangers and a love of Nature’s beauty. Combining a naturalist’s eye for observation with a poet’s ear for the lyrical, Field Notes from the Edge confirms Paul Evans’s place among our leading nature writers today.


Springfest: Jackie Morris – The Lost Words

Saturday 24th March 8:15pm

Much-loved and award winning illustrator Jackie Morris will talk about her latest book The Lost Words. Inspired by the words that were dropped from the Oxford Junior Dictionary. Jackie’s response was the creation of a large format, illustrated book of spells based around these words. Jackie will talk about the inspiration behind the idea for The Lost Words, the process of collaborating with author Robert MacFarlane and give a glimpse into the creation of a book that speaks with eloquence and lyricism about our relationship with both landscape and language.


The Invisibility Hat – Dominic Kelly

Sunday 25th March 3pm
The Swedish forests are filled with the strangest things… and most of them are trolls!
When a brother and sister find an extraordinary hat, they are plunged into these creatures’ world and things quickly spin out of control. Could a moment’s kindness save them before it’s too late?
Join Dominic on a storytelling journey into the vast northern forests: through mystery, suspense and a great deal of fun. On the way you’ll gain invaluable knowledge: what to do should you ever come face to face with a troll…

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Post festival Cool Down – Of Gods and Monsters: Pandvani108

Tuesday 24th April 7pm

The stage is set for a high voltage mythological mash-up! Inspired by a 3,000 year old Indian epic-singing tradition, international ensemble Pandvani108, combine performance storytelling, music and song to turn on the epic jukebox and bring us a wild night of unbowdlerised global myth and epic in untamed short form style. Gods, monsters, giants, warriors & divas from Greece, Ireland, the Scandinavian North, the Indian heat and beyond, are all hauled centre stage. Far from sedate spoken word this is more like organised chaos with added deities. Brash, exuberant, and with more experimental excitement than you can shake a stick at, this is the Short Myth Massive – live and irresistibly direct!