April 16th, 2012 Comments: 0

Our merry band of young writers, The Scribblers, posed some particularly brilliant questions to some of the artists appearing at Hay this year.  Over the next few weeks we’ll be bringing you their answers.  First up: JEREMY STRONG

Describe your latest book (pictured!) in 5 words.


If you had to pick one of your characters to spend the day with, which one would you choose?

MR BUTTERNUT, the teacher in the Cartoon Kid stories. As an ex-teacher myself I would like to discuss the problems thrown up by his strange class and swap funny stories about his children and some of the children I used to teach myself.

Which writer, dead or alive, you would like to collaborate with?

Ooh, ah, difficult one. Ted Hughes, who is, sadly, dead. He wrote that brilliant story, THE IRON MAN. I loved the way he used language in that – it was almost like reading poetry at times. I know I would learn a lot about writing if I was able to work with him.

What’s the best thing about writing?

GETTING PAID FOR IT! Ha ha! Well, it helps, doesn’t it? In truth I think the best moments are when you realise that you have got a really good idea and you’re sure it’s going to make a great book. But when you first start writing I guess the best moment is when you get your first book published. I have now written ninety three books, but I can still remember the my sheer joy when I got my very first book published more than thirty years ago.

What’s your top tip for budding young writers?

READ YOUR STORY OUT LOUD TO YOURSELF, WITH LOTS OF EXPRESSION. It’s a great way to discover where the bad and boring bits are, and where there are things that don’t make sense. Plus, you always find bits you want to change to make them better.

Thank you Jeremy!

Catch Jeremy Strong at the festival on Tuesday 5 June, 2.30pm.


Hello Festivaliers!

April 11th, 2012 Comments: 0

Our half-term, hand-picked line-up of live events, workshops and expeditions is now online!

But it doesn’t stop there.  In fact, this is just the start.  This is year is particularly special as the festival is celebrating its 25th birthday, and of course it’s the Jubilee too, so we’re incredibly excited about the amazing party atmosphere.

Over the next few weeks we’ll be bringing you a whole host of goodies from interviews and guest posts to exclusive activities and artwork.

Guest Post from Melvin Burgess

September 8th, 2011 Comments: 0

The Hay Fever Blog is delighted to welcome the brilliant Melvin Burgess to its pages, as he completes a whistle stop tour of the blogosphere to celebrate the publication of Kill All Enemies.


Down by the Corn Exchange in Leeds was a place for teenagers to hang out for ages. They’ve been turfed away these days – the Corn Exchange has been opened up as a select shopping precinct and restaurant. The kids – as usual – get no where to go. Even hanging out is hard when you have no money to spend.

Still today you can see a few kids – oddballs usually, the Goths, the Metal heads, the punks – hanging around the steps, although the management don’t like it. Back when I was doing my research for KAE there were many more. You could see people hanging out there any day of the week, but it was on a Saturday that it really came into its own. On the steps, and behind the Corn Exchange, and along the Canal there, you’d get dozens of kids, from early teens to early twenties, talking, hanging out and parading up and down in all their finery and glory. Quite a sight back then.

My friend Debbie Moody, who works for Leeds Libraries put me in touch with Deeta, who worked at that time as a kind of mobile youth. Every Saturday she’d be there, walking up and down the streets behind the Corn Exchange, chatting and watching out for the young people who were out to socialise. She introduced to me a few of people who hung out round there, and in particular, she introduced me to Kill All Enemies – the band that gave their name to my book.

There were four in the. Big lads. Tough looking lads, in their late teens and early twenties. Long hair, jeans, tattoos. A dodgy looking bunch. If you met these guys on the street late at night, you might well cross the road and skulk by on the other side.

I’ve met up with a few people over the years to get stories out of them. Lawyers, researchers, teachers, care workers, lecturers – you name it. Most people are happy to chat over a cup of tea, but every now and then, it feels right to take people out somewhere. Almost always, this is a meal. It’s a relaxed setting, you have time, you can chat about this and that. But somehow, with KAE, the restaurant option didn’t feel quite right. I gave them the option and as I expected, they went for a drink. So – one Saturday night I took a fistful of money out of the hole in the wall and set off down Leeds for my meeting in a scuzzy pub in the town center.

The boys were unbelievably honest. I can safely say, I wasn’t at all prepared for the stories they had lined up for me when I arrived.


Kill All Enemies blog tour will continue tomorrow over at The Book Smugglers

Oh, look! 8th September

August 31st, 2011 Comments: 0


June 16th, 2011 Comments: 0

Phew!  What a year.  We had an incredibly jolly time and we hope you all did too.  Thank you for making Hay Fever so much fun.  There are sooooo many highlights, so we did a little survey around the office (and the surrounding pavement) to see which bits stood out for everyone:

  • The Duchess of Cornwall meeting two girls styling out a more feline look.
  • Chris Evans shouting ‘Hay! Hay! Hay!’ from the little Elmley Theatre to 9m listeners across the nation. The finalists of the 500 Words competition were all fantastic – you can see all the pics and stories here.
  • Hannah Shaw drawing on The Hexagon, yes on the actual tent!
  • Treasure hunting, pirate style, round the site for Tom’s Gift.
  • Making video postcards with HKKP – we still have our (now slightly deflated) red balloon.
  • Creating wooden animals with the National Trust and willow wands with Lorraine Weeks.
  • Picking Christopher Lloyd’s pockets.  The Giant Wallbook will be at the Natural History Museum next.
  • Watching Popty Ping (yes, that is the Welsh for microwave) – an impromptu spoken word medley in the garden by The Beacons Project and Arthur Smith.

And now for the pictures (courtesy of the awesome Finn Beales & Michaela Rogers):

The new children's laureate storytelling at Hay Fever

Cartwheeling in the garden

Jason Bradbury whizzing about in our electric powered car on site.

The What on Earth? Giant Wallbook in the Hay Fever Courtyard

Activities in Wiggly Wigglers Garden.

Reading People, Writing Character by Western Mysteries author Caroline Lawrence

June 1st, 2011 Comments: 0

Are you the sort of person who can run sprints of academic brilliance but endures cringing marathons of social ineptitude? Can you remember facts, figures and dates if they relate to your particular obsession, while frequently forgetting your colleagues names? Do you introduce yourself to people youve already met several times before, as you secretly conquer imaginary worlds in your head?

I am! And I am continually fascinated by people or characters who are slightly dysfunctional nerds like me, only more so.
» Read the rest of this entry «


May 28th, 2011 Comments: 1

There’s Adventures with Vegetables to be had in the Wiggly Wigglers Garden this Saturday & Sunday. David & Amy of the Secret Seed Society will be reading, for the first time ever, in the world, the latest book in the Seed City Series, ‘A Frisbee to Fly, starring Rio Rocket’. Be there to get a sneak preview, be early to avoid disappointment!


Saturday 28th May 11.30-12.15

Saturday 28th May 16.30-17.15

Sunday 29th May 11.30-12.15

Sunday 29th May 16.30-17.15

Coming soon!

May 25th, 2011 Comments: 0

Brainstorming for the Big Screen!

May 25th, 2011 Comments: 0

The Eureka! project: putting kids in the Picture.

The story starts here – literally! – as theStoryBoard and Young Film Academy light the fuse on the Eureka! project.

On Wednesday 1st June we’ll be launching the search for a story, a story that will start here at Hay and end up on a cinema screen near you. A major motion picture made for kids, by kids…

So bring your imagination, bring your wildest dreams. We’re going to be working out which ingredients make a story go BANG! – and everyone can throw their ideas into the mix.

Event Details: Wednesday 1st June, 10.00-11.15am at the Elmley Stage

Celebrate with RSPB Cymru

May 24th, 2011 Comments: 0

This year is RSPB Cymru’s 100th Birthday and we’re asking everyone to join us to celebrate 100 years of working in Wales. RSPB Cymru’s 100th birthday is a historic milestone as it allows us to reflect on the achievements of the past 100 years, where we have worked to restore the fortunes of some of Wales’ most iconic birds and protect our varied landscapes and habitats. Come along and meet us at the Hay Festival and show your support by wearing one of our limited edition pin badges available at the Hay Festival, all featuring the special RSPB Cymru 100 logo.

Do your children want to explore nature?

Come to the RSPB tent to book your children (Ages 7 – 11) onto our Nature Trail Outdoor Learning Experience, where they can have a go at Pond Dipping, Bug Hunting, Rainbow Spotting and Bird Watching. Send your children on a lifelong learning experience that allows them to take a hands on approach to exploring our natural world.

From Monday 30th May to Friday 3rd June,
There will be 2 trails per day:

Morning: 10:00 – 12:00
Afternoon: 1:00 – 3:00

There is no charge, but you must book your child’s space on the trail at the RSPB Cymru stand prior to the event and meet at the stand 10 minutes before your chosen trail time departure.

There is a maximum allowance of 20 children per nature trail where 2 of our brilliant field teachers will take them on a nature adventure.

The walk starts at the RSPB Cymru stand and moves on up to the old Golf Course, where is comes to an end back at the stand. The trail lasts approximately 2 hours. (Our stand will be displaying a map to identify the trail route).

Take our Nature Trail and explore nature together!

We’ve also got lots of fun activities on the RSPB Cymru stand which you can do as a family together. For instance, our self-guided Town Trail will let you explore the nooks and crannies of Hay, at your own pace, and in your own time. Don’t forget to come back and tell us your answers! Children also have a chance to compose their own piece of literature in our Wild Writing Competition where the winner’s entry will be published in our member’s newsletter!