Leeds Lit Festival lands Costa Book Award winner Monique Roffey and crime writer Peter James as Roy Grace series heads to ITV

A genuine passion for literature is the driving force behind a Leeds festival that has attracted both established names and new local voices for its third outing next month.

Friday, 12th February 2021, 6:00 am

Leeds Lit Festival has secured appearances from Monique Roffey, fresh from her Costa Book Award win for The Mermaid of Black Conch, and bestselling crime fiction writer Peter James as he prepares for his hugely popular Roy Grace series to make the transition into an ITV drama this spring.

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Joining them along with the likes of journalist Gary Younge, sports broadcaster Gary Bloom and LBC radio presenter Iain Dale are members of northern writing groups and those documenting the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and lockdowns on Leeds communities.

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Monique Roffey, winner of the 2020 Costa Book Award, is among the guests at this year's Leeds Literature Festival. Picture: Marcus Bastel

Festival chairman Carl Hutton said: "We've always wanted a Leeds literature festival to feel unique to the city, using local venues and spaces and also channelling the creativity of local writers. We're really keen that even with it being online, the festival has got an authentic voice of Leeds."

Although unable to use local venues this year due to the move online, the 10 Leeds-based creative arts and literature organisations behind the festival were determined to build on the success of the first two festivals.

Planning had begun immediately after the 2020 programme concluded last March, with the organisers knowing that an entirely virtual festival could well be the only option for 2021.

Mr Hutton said: "The format of this year’s festival is very different, but we have still been able to present a vibrant, varied and challenging six days featuring events for children, author talks including a Costa Award winning author, discussion panels and writing workshops.

Best-selling crime fiction writer Peter James will talk about the upcoming ITV production of his hugely popular Roy Grace series.

"We’re excited about bringing writers and performers from our city, our region and beyond to our audiences. There’s never been a better time to celebrate such phenomenal literary talent.”

Among the 26 events planned between Tuesday March 2 and Sunday March 7 are the first Leeds Lit Fest quiz night, a silent film screening with live piano accompaniment, and a performance by the theatre company Don’t Go Down to the Cellar.

All but two of the workshops are being run on a 'pay as you feel' basis, with those attending encouraged to make donations.

"Any income we generate this year will go directly into underpinning some of next year's festival," Mr Hutton said. "It's a unique festival. It's a number of local literary organisations all working together to make the festival happen.

"We're all contributing resources to make it happen, no-one is making any financial income out of it. We're doing it for the love of it."

Current partner organisations include The Leeds Library, The Leeds Big Bookend and Northern Short Story Festival, Hyde Park Book Club, Leeds Libraries, Carriageworks Theatre, Leeds Church Institute, Strix, MILIM, Chapel FM and Headingley LitFest.

Visit www.leedslitfest.co.uk for tickets and further information.


Tuesday March 2

8pm: Quiz night with Gary Wigglesworth, author of The Book Lover's Quiz Book.

Wednesday March 3

12.30pm: International best-selling crime fiction writer Peter James talks about his life, writing and the upcoming televising of his hugely popular Roy Grace series.

8pm: This New North featuring writers from the Northern Short Story Festival Academy published by Valley Press

Thursday March 4

Noon: Abdullah Adekola’s Dreaming Through A Nightmare workshop explores poems about dreams and what they can tell us about ourselves and society.

6.30pm: Journalist and broadcaster Gary Younge is joined by Andrea Levy’s family and friends for an evening celebrating her life and work.

7.30pm: Sport broadcaster Gary Bloom talks about his new book, Keeping Your Head in the Game.

Friday March 5

1pm: Poet-theologian Hannah Stone talks about her new book, Reflections, which is the cumulation of her uplifting and empathetic weekly blog for Leeds Church Institute.

7pm: LBC radio presenter Iain Dale examines why we’ve all become so disrespectful and intolerant in Why Can’t We All Just Get Along.

8pm: A joint poetry reading between Leeds Irish Health and Homes and the David Oluwale Memorial Association features readers including Malika Booker, Kayo Chingonyi, and Ian Duhig.

Saturday March 6

10am-2pm: Join The Poetry Business - Ann and Peter Sansom - for an online poetry writing session, featuring brilliant writing exercises, supportive feedback, and excellent company.

11am: The big wiggly book gobbling adventure with Harry Heape.

Noon: Costa Book Award winner Monique Roffey talks about her distinguished career to-date with Dr Emily Zobel-Marshall.

2pm: Draw along with children’s book illustrator Liz Million.

4pm: Weighted Words from the members of Peepal Tree Press’ Inscribe Readers and Writers Group.

7.30pm: Silent film screening with live piano accompaniment from Jonny Best.

Sunday March 7

Midnight-6am: Becky Cherriman leads the innovative Adventures of the Night workshop.

Noon: Leeds Lit Fest Salon hosts award-winning journalist Saima Mir as she talks about her critically acclaimed, debut crime thriller The Khan

2pm: Debut novelists Stephanie Scott and Catherine Menon read from their novels and talk about creating female-led narratives set in Asia and inspired by true events in a panel discussion chaired by arts journalist Yvette Huddleston.

3pm: Join the UK’s leading spoken word record label Nymphs & Thugs for an afternoon of electric spoken word poetry featuring Reece Lyons and Erin Bolens.

7.30pm: Don’t Go Down to the Cellar theatre company performing Strictly Sherlock.

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