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Plymouth literature festival to welcome mega-stars of book world

By WMNlynbarton  |  Posted: August 16, 2013

  • Man Booker prize winner Ben Okri

  • Author Charlie Higson's Fast Show alter ego Swiss Tony

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Some of the most celebrated names in literature have been unveiled as the star turns in this year’s Plymouth International Book Festival.

Man Booker Prize winner Ben Okri and global bestseller Kate Mosse will line up along comic turned author Charlie Higson and Gavin Extence, whose debut novel received rave reviews this year.

Director Bertel Martin said it promised to be a fantastic event.

“The festival has put Plymouth on the national literary map, attracting new authors and audiences to the South West.

“For 2013, we are looking to build on that success, with an increased number of events aimed at getting local people more involved in literature in all its forms.

“From the classics to spoken word, and horror to comedy, there is something to cater for all tastes at the Plymouth International Book Festival.”

The event kicks off on October 31, lasting until November 9 and will be staged at a range of venues across the city.

This year aims to have more of a family focus with events for children and a series of writing workshops, aiming to encourage people of all ages to unlock their creative potential.

The festival - a winner in Plymouth University’s 2013 Vice-Chancellor’s Enterprise Awards - is organised through a partnership of Peninsula Arts at Plymouth University, Plymouth City Council and charity Literature Works, with funding and support from Arts Council England.

Thousands of people visited the inaugural Festival in 2012, where they were treated to a range of author talks and performances as well as events for young people.

For 2013, the programme includes talks by Ben Okri, widely acclaimed as one of Africa’s greatest writers and winner of the Booker Prize in 1991, and Fast Show creator and actor Charlie Higson, who will be speaking about his teen horror series, The Enemy.

Kate Mosse, best known for her 2005 novel Labyrinth, will talk about her debut collection of short stories, The Mistletoe Bride & Other Winter Tales.

Meanwhile Gavin Extence will speak about his debut novel The Universe Versus Alex Woods, which has received rave reviews this year.

Spoken word stars including Radio 4 favourite and the so-called Bard of Barnsley, Ian McMillan, Lemn Sissay and Linton Kwesi Johnson will give performances.

The event will also feature a day dedicated to the influence of women in literature, with this year marking the 200th anniversary of the publication of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.

In response to feedback from last year’s event, there will also be more workshops, with focuses on topics such as creative writing and poetry.

Among the authors running those are Philip Gross, Christopher Wakling and Courttia Newland.

Plymouth City Council deputy leader, Peter Smith, said it was a pleasure to see the literary festival thriving.

“We are striving to be a brilliant co-operative council and this is a prime example of how working with other organisations can create events that help spread the word about how great Plymouth is.

“We are particularly keen to get more young people involved – learning to love reading and working up a thirst for knowledge will help our young people grow in confidence.”

Kate Offord, Literature Relationship Manager, South West, at the Arts Council England said: “We’re really excited to see the Festival grow and develop from its successful launch in 2012, supported through our National Lottery-funded Grants for the arts scheme.

“This is a great example of partnership working to build a strong and resilient literature sector that can reach out and engage local people and visitors with high quality work. I’m definitely looking forward to being there and being part of the buzz.”

*More announcements and information will be made available through the Festival website at www.plymouthinternationalbookfestival.com.

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