Monday, September 24, 2012

Thursday's sponsors... ManSat & Manx Dyslexia Association

One thing we know at Litfest HQ is that without our sponsors and supporters, our inaugural literary gathering - which kicks off this Thursday, September 27 - wouldn't be taking place.

On Thursday, we have two events which are sponsored...

Ulla Corkill's talk 'The Life and Times of Sir Hall Caine' takes place at 12.30pm at Greeba Castle, his home for many years which is still owned by his family. It was a sell-out affair pretty quickly, as there were only 24 seats available, not to mention the fact that Ulla is an authority on Caine and a respected speaker.

Sponsor for the talk (and light buffet lunch) is ManSat Ltd, the pioneer in the Manx space industry on its creation in 1998, which now works with the Isle of Man Government in preparing orbital filings to the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) for all satellites.

The second sponsored event sees poet Gez Walsh talk about dyslexia in the main marquee within our festival hub in the Villa Marina Gardens. Gez started writing poetry to encourage his dyslexic son to read and he's now one of the UK's leading children's poets, travelling around the UK visiting schools, libraries, festivals and theatres delivering his own unique brand of humour. The talk on Thursday evening - starting at 7.00pm - is aimed at parents of children with dyslexia and is a free event, open to all.

The Manx Dyslexia Association is generously sponsoring this event, along with a second talk on Saturday lunchtime (September 29), which will see Gez give a talk/performance for youngsters. That starts at 1.00pm and is another free event.

Our sincere thanks to ManSat and the MDA for backing our first festival - their support is very much appreciated by everyone involved with Manx Litfest.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Tickets! Schedule! Books! Litfest book bags! Come and see us at The Strand...

If you're in or around Douglas tomorrow (Saturday), please feel free to stop by The Strand, where we'll have a stall - in the usual exhibitor spot in front of the escalator.

The team will be on hand to talk all things Manx Litfest, and we'll have tickets on sale, along with books by some of our Litfest authors. We'll also have the full schedule for you to devour - but if you really can't wait, check it out on our website. We'll also have the positively cool and funky Litfest bags, ideal for carryng a skutch of books over your shoulder.

But it's tickets that you book lovers seem most keen on - which is understandable. Some of our events are on sale on the Villa Gaiety website, but we'll have tickets to all our events with us at The Strand.

What's more, we'll be selling raffle tickets tomorrow, with the top prize being a book by every author/poet appearing at Manx Litfest - you might need to check you've got some spare room on your bookshelf for that little lot - and other prizes of tickets to various events.

Our sincere thanks to John Shakespeare and the team at The Strand for accommodating us tomorrow - come on down, say hello and have a chat. Providing you buy at least one ticket. Okay, that last bit was a joke. You need to buy at least two tickets.

Enjoy your weekend, folks!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Name that ale...!

We may have mentioned this way back when, but now that the first ever Manx Litfest is just around the corner (September 27-30) it's time to officially announce it - and give you fine people the chance to win a prize.

We have teamed up with Bushy's boss Martin Brunnschweiler to create a special ale for Litfest. The only problem is, we don't have a name for it. And that's where you come in.

This week we're asking our friends and followers to suggest a name for the Litfest ale. This being a literature festival, we're thinking that names that have some kind of literary link or theme might be best. But who's to say what kind of ideas we're going to receive from you lot...

Suggestions can be made in the comments section below this blog post, by tweeting us over on Twitter, or on Facebook - either post a comment to our FB page, or reply to one of the FB posts about this competition. You can also email your nominated ale names to

The deadline for suggestions is midnight (IOM time) on Friday, September 24. We'll then gather them all together, pool our collective wisdom (won't take long) and announce the winner a couple of days later. The winner will receive two tickets to the (invite only) official Litfest launch reception at the Villa Marina on Thursday, September 27 (5.30pm-7.30pm) and two tickets to a Litfest event of your choice (subject to availability).

So, ladies and gents, start your engines... and get those suggestions rolling in!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

A shout-out on Huffington Post - all is right with the world

We're not ones to name-drop.
Oh, who are we trying to kid. Course we are.
A Google alert pinged into our inbox last night to tell us that we'd had a mention on none other than the Huffington Post.
The shout-out came courtesy of children's author Hilary Robinson, who we're delighted to confirm will be joining us at Manx Litfest in September.
If you have a look on her website, you'll see that not only is Hilary a prolific author, she's also a broadcaster, radio producer and feature writer. She's also a patron of the Children's University, which earlier this year opened a branch on the Isle of Man, and in addition to her events within Litfest, we're in talks to arrange an event with IOMCU.
Anyway, Hilary has put together a fine article for the Huffington Post - top tips for writing and selling your book - and gives us a most welcome name drop at the end of the piece, which left us blushing a little.
We'll have details of Hilary's events in due course.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Isle of Man authors - your Litfest needs you!

If we give the impression of a (cough) well-oiled machine, gliding smoothly along towards the inaugural Manx Litfest in September, you'd be forgiven for not seeing the manic pedalling and twisting of leavers that is going on behind the curtain.

One of the key elements we're working on now is finalising the schedule. The framework for the weekend is largely in place - so, for example, the official opening reception will take place on the Thurs evening (Sept 27 at the Villa Marina; the talk by Martin Bell OBE, the man in the white suit, will take place in the Gaiety Theatre on Friday night (Sept 28); the crime writers' panel, featuring RJ Ellory, Ann Cleeves and IOM-based Chris Ewan will be on the Saturday night (Sept 29); the same night as performance storyteller Ben Haggarty (right) will wow crowds at Erin Arts Centre, with Fairy Tales for Grown-ups; and Sunday (Sept 30) will see Castle Rushen transformed for our Narnia meets Middle-Earth family day.

That's just a taste of what's in store. What we're busy doing now is completing the schedule in and around the framework of events, and a vital part of this is the involvement of the many Isle of Man-based writers and poets who have been in touch with us over the last year or so. An important aspect of Manx Litfest, particularly when applying to organisations for funding - such as the Manx Heritage Foundation, Manx Lottery Trust and Isle of Man Arts Council, who have all given us significant support - has been the need to provide a platform for local literary talent to showcase their work.

With that in mind, if you are an IOM-based writer or poet, and haven't been in touch with us yet, please drop us a line and we will do our utmost to include you in the programme (obviously, if 793 previously unknown IOM writers suddenly thrust their arms skyward, we might be in a bit of trouble...)

Seriously, though, we'd like to hear from you - give us a shout at

If you have already done so, and haven't been contacted in the last few days, bear with us - there's plenty of you to get through! Of course, if you haven't heard anything by, say, July 20 - feel free to drop us a line and give us a not very subtle nudge...

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

R.J. Ellory drops in on Radio Litopia

We're not sure we should be posting this. A long, in-depth interview with one of the authors who will be joining us for the inaugural Manx Litfest in September? We just don't want you learning so much about him that there's no need to come and see him during the festival. But, of course, you wouldn't do that, would you...

So, here's the link - you can click on it to listen on your laptop, or download it as an MP3 file. R.J. was our Manx Litfest Reading Club choice for May and promises to be a big draw during litfest. You can check out his books on his website.

If you're a writer not familiar with Radio Litopia, have a look around and visit the Litopia Writers' Colony - a cool place to hang out with other writers (not to mention the odd publisher and agent. Hang on, that doesn't read too well for the publishers and agents, does it...)

And all this talk of Litopia will segue nicely into tomorrow's Big Announcement about Manx Litfest - but you'll have to wait to find out what that's all about...

Monday, June 11, 2012

Litfest charity status confirmed!

Following on from being incorporated - thanks to the fantastic team at Appleby Isle of Man for their legal support - we've had confirmation that our request for charitable status has been confirmed by the General Registry in the Isle of Man.

This means we're now officially a charity - number 1100 - and the bank account is opened with the Isle of Man Bank. Talking of money, we've secured sponsors for a few of the events during Litfest weekend (don't forget - September 27-30 - put those dates in your diary) and we'll start announcing event sponsors soon.

There are still opportunities for companies, organisations and individuals to support an event - they vary in cost, but we've purposely kept the packages as competitive as possible; plenty of good deals still available. If anyone is interested, please drop us a line at

Or, if you know someone who you think might be interested in supporting Manx Litfest,.feel free to pass on our details. We won't hold it against you...

Till next time, happy reading.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Jasper Fforde kicks off the new Manx Litfest Reading Club!

What's that you say?A reading club? Featuring authors appearing at Manx Litfest? Why. yes!

And below is a press release we've just issued on the very subject - but please note, while it's aimed at IOM media, all you followers and fans who aren't based in the Isle of Man are more than welcome to join in the fun:

Manx Litfest is launching a reading club to promote authors who will attend this year’s inaugural festival in September.

Starting in April, the club will focus on one author each month with the aim of encouraging as many people as possible to read a book by that particular writer.

It will be a ‘virtual’ group – there will be no meetings, but everyone is encouraged to get involved with discussions about the author on Manx Litfest’s blog, Facebook page and on Twitter, and it’s hoped that existing book clubs will want to get involved by reading and discussing the authors as part of their normal programme.

Festival Director John Quirk explained: ‘There are lots of book clubs around the Island. Some are organised by libraries or as part of a larger organisations, such as the WI, and some are just groups of friends who happen to be mad about books and who meet at each other’s houses – or in their local pub, as is often the case!

‘The Manx Litfest reading club will act as a complement to these already existing clubs. We don’t want to replace any groups or draw members away from their clubs, but if they want to read our Litfest authors too, they can join in. Or, as one or two groups have already indicated, they are tweaking their reading list to incorporate our monthly choices.

‘And it’s not a set book each month – you can read any title by the author we’re focusing on, with the goal of discussing their writing in general, not just one particular book. Ultimately, we just want to encourage reading and ensure that when our authors arrive for Manx Litfest, there is an appreciative, well-read audience in place.’

The first author to go under the microscope is Jasper Fforde, author of the Thursday Next series and Nursery Crime series, as well as the young adult book, The Last Dragonslayer, and its sequel, The Song of the Quarkbeast.

‘People keep asking me what genre Jasper writes in, or how I would classify his writing,’ said John. ‘And to be honest, I still don’t know what the best reply is. The Thursday Next series is a mix of humour, fantasy, alternate history and sees Thursday, a “literary detective” based in Swindon, investigating crime in a world where the line between fact and fiction becomes increasingly thin, with characters able to jump in and out of books.

‘For my part, I’m currently reading The Big Over Easy, the first of the Nursery Crime novels. It’s based in the same alternate world as Thursday Next and features Detective Inspector Jack Spratt and his sidekick Mary Mary investigating the grizzly demise of a certain Humpty Dumpty. Jasper is an ingenious writer – these books might sound like they are aimed at children, but they are bona fide crime novels, albeit not what you’d normally expect from a crime novel.’

The author focus during May will be on acclaimed crime writer RJ Ellory, author of A Quiet Belief in Angels, The Saints of New York, Candlemoth and A Simple Act of Violence, which was named the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year at the 2010 Harrogate Crime Writing Festival, beating Ian Rankin, Peter James and Mark Billingham.

Manx Litfest will run from Thursday, September 27 to Sunday, September 30 this year. It will feature visiting authors and poets alongside Isle of Man-based writers in a colourful celebration of storytelling.

Among the other names appearing at the festival are Martin Bell MBE, former BBC war correspondent and one-time MP for Tatton, along with Ann Cleeves, Chris Ewan, Jeremy Strong, Elizabeth Buchan, Neil Ansell, Thommie Gillow, Michael Curtis, Tom Palmer and Hilary Robinson.

The main Litfest hub will be the Villa Marina and Gaiety Theatre complex, with other events held at venues around the Island, including Castle Rushen, Erin Arts Centre and the Manx Museum.                                                                                                                                              Manx Litfest is being supported by the Manx Heritage Foundation and the Isle of Man Arts Council, and is grateful to the support of a host of companies and individuals, including Isle of Man Advertising & PR, Appleby Isle of Man, Words & Spaces, Assist Consultancy, Signrite and local artist Ali Crellin.
Book fans can find out more about the festival plans by visiting and by following on Twitter ( and Facebook (

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

A quick word about Sir Hall Caine...

One of the key reasons for staging Manx Litfest is to provide a platform for 'Manx' writers (and by that we mean Manx-born or Isle of Man-based), both past and present.

Arguably the most famous Manx writer - although he was actually born in Runcorn, Cheshire - was Sir Hall Caine, who in his pomp during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century was one of the biggest-selling authors around, and that includes Dickens, Stoker (a great friend of Caine, who dedicated Dracula to him) and Hardy. Caine was a member of the Manx Government for a time, had an airport in the Island named after him, and Alfred Hitchcock's final silent film, The Manxman, was based on one of Caine's novels.It's strange then, that today Caine is largely unknown outside of the Island, most of his books out of print or difficult to source.

If there's one place in the Isle of Man with which Caine is synonymous, it's Greeba Castle, which Caine bought in 1896 and fixed up, living there until his death in 1931.We'll be featuring Caine, and a host of other Isle of Man writers, on our website in the run up to the festival, so we won't go into too much background about him here.

What we can reveal is that, working with Caine's great granddaughter who still owns Greeba Castle (picture courtesy of Peter Killey at, we're looking to use the castle during Manx Litfest as a venue for a talk (hopefully two...) on Caine. These will be limited ticket events (it might have the word 'castle' in its name, but there are no huge rooms to seat hundreds) so keep an eye out on our website, on this blog, on Facebook and in the media for announcements about when dates and times are firmed up and tickets go on sale.

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Funding boost from Manx Heritage Foundation

We've been away from the blog for a little while, frantically working our fingers to the bone behind the scenes, sending emails, making phone calls, biting nails and brewing cuppas.

One major snippet of recent news we've neglected to post about is our first piece in the funding jigsaw falling into place for this September's inaugural festival. It comes courtesy of the Manx Heritage Foundation, which has very kindly awarded us a £5,000 grant. The Foundation looks to support and promote all aspects of Manx culture on the Island and does a fine job.

Here's a link to a piece about the grant on the BBC site. There's still a long way to go, but we're expecting further funding news over the next few weeks from various trusts we've applied to - fingers crossed.

Although the blog has been a touch quiet these last couple of months, you'll see quite a change over the coming weeks, as different aspects of the festival start to come together, including the schedule for the weekend.

Back soon...