Manchester Literature Festivals Events October 2013 – Malorie Blackman, Neil Gaiman and Audrey Niffenegger

Disclaimer: This post has been sponsored by Grammarly, an online automated proofreader. For more information about the services Grammarly offer you can visit them here. I used Grammarly as a proofreader for this post because I decided to have a drink to wind down after a long week whilst writing. Due to this there was a good chance of commas and colons appearing in the middle of words!

Rubbish quality – this is why I should have taken my SLR!

So a couple of weeks ago the Manchester Literature Festival took place. This is a yearly event run by some awesome folks in Manchester in association with HSBC, the Arts Council England and Manchester City Council. This year’s list of events were absolutely awesome, and I really struggled to keep it to three!

The first was a Malorie Blackman event, which was also done in coordination with Manchester Children’s Literature Festival. Let me tell you if you have going to an event like this at 1 in the afternoon on a Friday be prepared to be one of the only people there who is 18+ and not a teacher! It was full of kids, but it was brilliant. Malorie was in discussion with a lovely Manchester based author whom I had seen at events before but can never remember the name of, Jackie someone (sorry!), and it was a great insight into Malorie’s background and how that has shaped her writing.

I loved hearing about Malorie’s start in computing, how that gave her the technology background  that she uses so well in her books, and how her careers advisor told her she couldn’t be a teacher because black people aren’t teachers but she faught against that later. It was really interesting, and there were some great questions asked by the kids after the discussion. Malorie answered about her favourite books and biggest inspirations mentioning some brilliant authors like Patrick Ness and Benjamin Zephaniah and books like Wonder which I have loved.


There was time for a signing after the event, and I managed to meet and talk to Malorie, thanking her for the UKYA Conference she is helping make happen next year and confirm that the book she is currently working on IS Boys Don’t Cry 2 (yay!). I was really overwhelmed meeting her as she has been my favourite author since I first read Noughts and Crosses (which was a long, long time ago!)

Next up was Neil Gaiman on October 13th, a fantastic event held at the Dancehouse on Oxford Road. Neil spoke about how the idea of Fortunately, the Milk came around and about his earlier book for younger readers Chu’s Day was done in reaction to the Chinese not wanting to put any of his children’s books on sale because of their content. I loved hearing all this, and Neil was so funny. He gave us a reading from Fortunately, the Milk, and it was incredible to hear it in his voice. A Q&A followed in which Neil answered questions about working on more Good Omens with Terry Pratchett (complete with hilarious impression of the well renowned British author) and his excitement about having some more ideas for some of his older works. Unfortunately, the signing for the event took a long time and we had to leave in order to get to another Manchester Literature Festival event so I couldn’t meet Neil, I’m absolutely gutted about this and will definitely make sure all night is free if there is a next time.

Sorry for the blurry pic, lighting was awful!

The Audrey Niffenegger event was also on the evening of October 13th, and she was in conversation with Jeanette Winterson. Unfortunately, the event was very much for students and people very familiar with the author, and as I was neither I was a bit out of my depth. It was interesting, but I found myself wavering a lot because there was a lot of talk about drawing that I didn’t understand and a lot about science and stuff like that. Audrey is obviously a very, very intelligent woman who is very creative and that came across really well. She wasn’t afraid to talk up about what she believes in and I found her pretty inspiring as well. I can’t believe that it takes her so long to write her novels as she mentioned that the one she is working on – and has been for a while – has been promised to the publisher by 2018! That is such a long time to wait, but I guess it’ll be worth it for her fans.

Overall the three events I went to were really good and pretty inspiring. After each of them,  I felt compelled to get out there and do what I want to do in life, and they have really pushed me I think. I am definitely looking forward to the Manchester Children’s Literature Festival next year as I can imagine there will be even more events at that one that I want to go to. Thank you to the amazing event organisers for putting these events on!

  • It sounds like a wonderful festival and you’ve reminded me I need to read Nougats and Crosses!

  • Meeting your heroes is such an overwhelming moment, but an awesome one 🙂 Such a shame you didn’t get to meet Neil Gaiman, though. Hopefully next time!