MJ Hyland headlines a debate on the future of literature and publishing at this year’s Cambridge Festival of Ideas


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MJ Hyland headlines a debate on the future of literature and publishing at this year’s Cambridge Festival of Ideas

Is now the most exciting time to be a writer and reader? Is digital technology allowing writers to break down boundaries as never before or are publishers more cautious as funding is syphoned from books to games and multimedia storytelling?

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Award-winning author MJ Hyland, digital publisher Dan Franklin, literary agent Rachel Calder and critically acclaimed writer Trevor Byrne will debate these questions and more at this year’s Cambridge Festival of Ideas.

The event takes place on 31st October at Mill Lane Lecture Rooms and will be chaired by Alex Ruczaj and Leigh Chambers, radio hosts of Cambridge 105’s ‘Bookmark’ programme.

Daniel Franklin says: “Now that digital reading is a mainstream activity, writers and publishers can explore new ways of telling stories where the medium and format can actually shape and influence the content itself. What are the opportunities when the digital medium and the message are so interdependent, and what new kinds of creativity are being unleashed? Is there a risk that book publishers crossing into games and multimedia storytelling means that too much energy is being invested in the Emperor’s New Clothes? Or is it actually an era of breaking down boundaries and the most exciting time to be a writer and reader ever?”

MJ Hyland is an ex-lawyer and the author of three multi-award-winning novels: How the Light Gets In (2004), Carry Me Down (2006) & This is How (2009). She is also a lecturer in Creative Writing in The Centre for New Writing at The University of Manchester, runs regular Fiction Masterclasses in The Guardian Masterclass Programme and will run a two-day fiction course in Cambridge after the Festival*. She co-founded The Hyland & Byrne Editing Firm with Trevor Byrne.

Trevor Byrne is described by The Times as ‘a scorching burst of new talent’. His debut novel Ghosts and Lightning won international critical acclaim and was selected as a Book of the Year by The Guardian and The Irish Times. A former creative writing lecturer, he was shortlisted for the William Trevor/Elizabeth Bowen International Short Story Prize in 2011 and is working on his second novel.

Daniel Franklin is Digital Publisher at the Random House Group in the UK, part of Penguin Random House. He has worked on apps for Richard Dawkins and A Clockwork Orange, the short-form ebook series Storycuts and Brain Shots, and most recently the web-based interactive fiction Black Crown – www.blackcrownproject.com – by debut author Rob Sherman.

Rachel Calder is a literary agent and has run the Sayle Literary Agency since 1993. A Trustee of Writers’ Centre, Norwich, Rachel is also a Trustee of the Cambridge Literary Festival and on its programming committee.

Alex Ruczaj says: “We are creatures of habit when it comes to what we read and publishers are savvy to our appetites for high-selling genres such as crime and thriller and often push authors for more of the same. The publishing industry is, however, in the midst of a digital revolution and cross genre experiments are rife, although rarely hit the mainstream. There couldn’t be a better time to discuss genre and we’re excited to hear what our panellists have to say.”

This year’s Cambridge Festival of Ideas is bursting with over 200 events for people of all ages. Those taking part include artist Quentin Blake, author MJ Hyland, George the Poet, teen writer Anthony McGowan, writer Owen Jones, comedian James Mullinger and academics ranging from David Reynolds, Richard Evans and Noreena Hertz to Mary Beard and Anthony Giddens. Literary events include a session where poets and rap artists will compete against each other to see which is the better lyricist and a performance poetry session with George the Poet.

The Festival, which runs from 23rd October to 3rd November, was the first public engagement initiative by a UK university to bring together an extensive programme of public events exploring the arts, humanities and social sciences. Events are held in lecture halls, theatres, museums and galleries around Cambridge and entry to most is free.

Malavika Anderson, the Festival of Ideas Coordinator, said: “The Festival of Ideas has grown significantly over the last few years, in terms of both the number as well as the diversity of events on offer. We were delighted to have hosted over 14,000 visitors at the festival in 2012 and look forward to welcoming even more over 12 days this autumn. The theme this year – Frontiers – ‘explores how borders, boundaries and margins are being either challenged or reinforced around the world’ – has inspired the development of some truly exciting events.”

The University of Cambridge Festival of Ideas is sponsored by Barclays, Cambridge University Press and Anglia Ruskin University, who also organise some of the events during the Festival. Event partners include Heffers Classics Festival, University of Cambridge Museums RAND Europe, the Goethe-Institut London and the Junction. The Festival’s hospitality partner media partner is BBC Radio Cambridgeshire and its hospitality partner is Cambridge City Hotel.

*The Festival programme and further information can be found at www.cam.ac.uk/festival-of-ideas(Repetitive) and follow us on:
Twitter: www.twitter.com/camideasfest #cfi2013
Facebook: www.facebook.com/cambridgefestivalofideas
You can also download the Festival app to browse events, check out videos and social media channels and add reminders to your calendar [NB this does not constitute a booking] all from your smart phone. Available now on iTunes and Google Play for Android. See www.cam.ac.uk/foi/app
Bookings for events open on 23 September


*M J Hyland Writing Course
There will also be a chance to work with the author M J Hyland after the festival, as the author will stay on in Cambridge to teach a two-day fiction course. Aimed at experienced writers it will be a practical course to help writers to polish and hone work to publication standard. Each writer will have 2,500 words of their fiction reviewed, work-shopped and edited by M J Hyland. This is a submission-based class and places will be offered to the strongest writers (max 12). Visit the website for more course information www.editingfirm.com or email info@editingfirm.com.

Bookmark on Cambridge 105
Bookmark is a Cambridge 105 radio show hosted by Leigh chambers and Alex Ruczaj. The show has been on air since February 2013 and features local writers or writers with a connection to Cambridge. Guests to date have included best-selling writer Victoria Hislop, critic and writer Olivia Laing, historians Clare Mulley, Anna Whitelock, Sarah Wise and Louise Foxcroft, crime writers Penny Hancock, Kate Rhodes, Alison Bruce and Michelle Spring, award winning sci-fi writer Chris Beckett and playwrights Steve Waters and Fraser Grace to name but a few. To tune in or find out more go to www.cambridge105.fm

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