Readers Day at The Ropewalk

Are you in a book group or do you just love reading? Join us for Readers’ Saturday – a chance to get to know three terrifically entertaining writers in the company of local readers. Natalie Haynes was a top stand-up comedian before reverting to her first love, the Classics. Her book The Ancient Guide to Modern Life, was followed us by the novel The Amber Fury. She regularly broadcasts on BBC Radio Four. Stephen May is a bitingly comic novelist. His first novel, Life! Death! Prizes! was shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award and his second novel, Wake Up Happy is a asks: can money can buy happiness? Crime novelist Helen Cadbury’s first book, To Catch A Rabbit is set in York and in the flatlands around Doncaster and Epworth. Gripping and humane, it will be followed by a second book in 2015. Readers’ Saturday will include presentations by all three writers and in-conversation sessions looking at all aspects of writing. If you’d always wanted to find out how writers get published or what goes into researching a book or if you’d simply like to hear great stories from those who write them, this is a perfect event. Signed copies of the writers’ books will be on sale during the day. [The price includes a buffet lunch and light refreshments]. Your host for this event is the writer and poet James Nash.

About the authors/artists

Natalie Haynes is a writer and broadcaster. She appears on BBC Radio 4 as a presenter of documentaries and she is a reviewer of books, films, plays, television and art on Saturday Review and Front Row. She has judged the 2012 Orange Prize (now the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction) and is judging the 2013 Man Booker Prize. She judged Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Novel in 2010.

Her first non-fiction book, The Ancient Guide to Modern Life, was serialised by The Times in 2010. It has also been sold in the US, and translated into Greek, Spanish and Portuguese. Among many other favourable reviews, The Financial Times suggested ‘you shouldn't read AC Grayling's The Good Book without reading The Ancient Guide first.’

Natalie was also a stand-up comedian for 12 years, and was the first woman ever to be nominated for the prestigious Perrier Best Newcomer Award at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. She retired in 2009 to spend more time writing. She delivered the Voltaire Lecture at Conway Hall in March 2011, and is a judge on this year’s Booker prize panel. Her first novel, The Amber Fury, is due out in 2014.

Stephen May is a novelist, playwright and TV writer. His third novel  Wake Up Happy Every Day (Bloomsbury 2014) came out in March 2014.

His previous  novel Life! Death! Prizes!  (Bloomsbury 2012) was shortlisted for the Costa Novel Award and the Guardian Not The Booker Prize. It was translated into German as Wir Kommen Schon Klar.

Stephen’s first novel TAG (Cinnamon Press – 2008) was one of ten books longlisted for Welsh Book of the Year and went on to win the Media Wales Readers' Prize.

His plays Back The World and Still Waiting for Everything toured nationally to good reviews.He also had an unhappy stint working as a storyline writer on A Top ITV continuing drama.
Stephen May was brought up in Bedford and now lives in West Yorkshire.

Helen Cadbury is a York based writer whose debut novel, ‘To Catch a Rabbit’, was joint winner of the Northern Crime Award and was launched by Moth Publishing, May 2013.
Helen was born in the Midlands and brought up in Birmingham and Oldham, Lancashire and now lives in York. She writes fiction, poetry and plays and is currently working on a sequel to ‘To Catch a Rabbit’.
From 2008 to 2013, she worked with women prisoners, helping to develop their creative writing skills.

I was born in 1949 in west London. My childhood was a fifties, suburban one, so for most of us boys it involved a lot of respectability and repression, and grey flannel shorts until you were fourteen. If you were a girl you spent a lot of time helping Mummy in the kitchen (like Jane in the Ladybird, Peter and Jane books). My childhood and teenage years were difficult, and full of drama, which although challenging, has been a great source of material in my later life as a writer. For those who are interested, I touch on my personal history in the story Exile in Four Fathers.

I came to Leeds in 1971 to do an MA at the University. And like many before and many after me, decided to stay, living at one address, or another, in Leeds 6, ever since.

Much of the seventies, eighties and nineties were taken up with teaching which I turned out to be not bad at, particularly with ‘difficult’ or ‘naughty’ kids. In loco parentis, another story from Four Fathers will tell you a little more about my early years as a teacher.

And then the middle nineties, whacked out by my life and all its changes, I eventually decided to leave teaching because I wanted to try to make it as a writer. I had been lucky enough to meet award-winning writer Char March (wonderful poetry, short, stories and radio plays) and she, with great selflessness, gave me a fantastic apprenticeship in writing and performance. The fruits of that friendship can be found in Deadly Sensitive.

I spent the next eight years in writing. I worked for the Metro newspaper, the Leeds Guide, and Northern Exposure, and became Writer in Residence for organisations as diverse as the National Library for the Blind and HM Prison Wakefield. This work extended into schools, so I’m the Writer in Residence for Calderdale High Schools, and for the University of Leeds, Faculty of Education. I also developed a secondary career hosting literary events around the country, talking to and interviewing writers about their work. I can be often be seen on the platform of the Ilkley Literature Festival chairing events with folk as diverse as Sarah Waters, Billy Bragg or Andrew Motion.

Some impressions of my present life can be gained from reading Coma Songs. But most of the poems have no autobiographical basis to them, apart from showing what I was interested in at the time of writing each poem.

Booking information

14th March 2015
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