WORDfest author’s book on CBeebies

Black and White Club

  • Alice Hemming’s book The Black and White Club to be read on CBeebies ‘Bedtime Stories’ by Sir Derek Jacobi
  • Tune in at 6.50pm on Tuesday 24 March or visit here


One of WORDfest’s children’s authors is to have her work read out by British actor and director Sir Derek Jacobi on the popular CBeebies ‘Bedtime Stories’ on Tuesday 24 March. Sir Derek will read Alice Hemming’s first book, The Black and White Club, which is a tale set at fictional Heavenly Hippos Wildlife Park, about being left out (the penguins start their own club for black and white animals only, but are soon brought to their senses by George the giraffe).


“[Illustrator] Kimberly Scott and I were both very excited to discover the book had been selected, especially when we heard that it was going to be read by Sir Derek Jacobi,” said Hemming. “I can’t think of anyone else I would rather hear reading the story. For me, it is made extra-special by the fact that both my children are the right age to enjoy it.  They are six and seven and regular CBeebies viewers – we are planning to invite some friends round and have a mini viewing party!”


Hemming will be featuring at WORDfest’s family-friendly Get Stuck in Day (new for 2015) on Saturday 25 April, where she will be reading some of her stories and encouraging children to participate.


I’m very much looking forward to being part of WORDfest celebrations in Crawley this year,” she said. “I will be bringing my black and white spotty bag full of craft activities and soft toys.” A first for WORDfest 2015, Get Stuck in Day encourages people of all ages to join in on various activities and creative workshops. There will be something for everyone including art activities, children’s authors, spoken word workshops, Minecraft, the Do Stuff Bus, paper crafts, theatre performance and a games writing workshop.


Now in its fifth year, WORDfest (Thursday 23 April to Thursday 7 May) will feature a magnificent medley of author talks, creative workshops, performances, recitals and more at venues across Crawley – mostly for free.


The full WORDfest 2015 programme


About WORDfest

WORDfest is a voluntary festival organisation that aims to build closer community links among Crawley residents who share a love of reading, writing, music and art. It aims to offer events to inspire adults and children alike with the power and beauty of language, regardless of their usual reading habits.

WORDfest 2015 Programme

Wordfest 2015Hello Crawley WORDfest fans.  It’s been a while coming but we have finally put together the programme for Crawley WORDfest 2015.  I have to say that we (the committee) are really pleased with it.  As you would expect there are lots of things for all ages and interests including creative workshops, author talks, theatre and games writing programmes.

Thanks to the success of our funding bids we will be offering many of the events for free this year. We anticipate that demand will be high especially for some of the activities on the 25th April so although virtually all of the events are free we are asking everyone to put their names on the guest /participant lists. To do that email the Wordfest Team or call Crawley Library 01293 651751 from April 2nd 2015.

Wordfest kicks off on  April 23rd World Book Night with an evening of music, spoken word and storytelling and ends on 7th May with a finale brought to us by Crawley Black History.   We hope to see you all there x

Some Fantastic Theatre

Hello lovely WORDfesters we’d just like to draw your attention to 2 events happening just outside of the main festival programme this year, both at The Hawth theatre.

The first is Snakes and Ladders and is a pre-launch event and takes inspiration from stories about hair:


Snakes and Ladders is a fast and  funny family tale about three mixed race sisters and their relationship to their hair, inspired from real life stories collected from Black hairdressers in the South East of England in the Positive Hair Day project.

Written by the fantastic Sarah Naomi Lee, it will also feature HAIRstories from some participants of a workshop that took place in Crawley Library earlier this month! See the website here: www.snakesandladders.eu

Monday 21st and Tuesday 22nd April

Book with The Hawth here! 

Secondly, just after the festival we’re partnering with Amnesty International Horsham, Pitchy Breath theatre group and The Hawth for ‘Even If We Lose Our Lives: First-hand accounts from Afghan women human rights defenders’. We hope you can come.


Tickets will be £1 (to cover booking fee) and there will be a collection for Amnesty International.



Road to Crawley Book Launch

We’re really pleased to be joining forces with the Road to Crawley project and helping promote the Book Launch of ‘A Crawley Childhood’. Road to Crawley is a social history project that seeks to document the changing nature of Crawley’s community through individual stories and collecting personal photographs to enhance the local archives.

cover feb13

‘A Crawley Childhood’ documents the ‘Early Years’ element of the project which looks at Crawley before it became a ‘New Town’. Other elements of the project focus on different communities and schools projects. See Road to Crawley’s Website for more information.

RTC Book Launch invite June 6th

Forthcoming Events!

We’re really happy that this year even though the main festival is over we still have events going on, long may it continue!

Scroll down for forthcoming events.

First up, we’re partnering with the library for a WORLD BOOK NIGHT event:

WBN wfsite

Next there’s the first of a regular WORDfest Open Mic in collaboration with Create for Crawley we’re very excited by this!

Sunday 28th April 7:30pm £3/2 @ The Portuguese Café near The Railway pub on the Brighton Road.

WF OM 28.4.13

Then on May 9th we’ve had our hand in promoting an exhibition at Crawley Library ‘The Mysterious Mr. Marsh’


Interview with Metawars Author Jeff Norton

Jeff Norton is a London based writer-director. Originally from Canada, Jeff began his career in advertising, worked in the movie business in Hollywood where he produced the critically acclaimed interactive film ‘Choose Your Own Adventure,’ and upon moving to the U.K., managed the literary estate of Enid Blyton, Britain’s best-loved author. He now writes full time, with a focus on creating amazing stories in immersive worlds.


The Interview

WORDfest: “We’re over the moon that you’ve agreed to be the very first WORDfest Youth1Town1Book author – thank you!  Do you think initiatives like this can really make a difference?”

Jeff Norton: Absolutely! Bringing authors and young people together makes books and storytelling more tangible and more relevant.  Because books are primarily a text based medium and not a multi-sensory medium (like TV), we sometimes forget that we need to bring books and author to life for readers to make them feel as real as film, TV, and video games.

WF: “Do you as a YA author feel a sense of responsibility to keep producing work that will help turn a generation back to the written word?”

JN: I primarily feel an awesome responsibility to tell a great story.  I’m not exclusively loyal to the written word since I work in television and film, but do feel that only books can give people a five-senses experience.  Well-constructed sentences use the power of suggestion to ask readers to create the world of the story in their heads.  And the human imagination is a much more powerful graphics processor than anything inside the Xbox or PlayStation.

WF: “By your own admission you were a reluctant reader growing up, can you remember what changed that?  Was it a specific book/author?”

JN: I struggled with reading when I was young. I couldn’t find anything as compelling or interesting to me in books as what was on television, in video games, or in films.  At a book fair I discovered an interactive book series called ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ where “You” the reader was the hero of the story. They were short, fast paced books that helped me gain confidence in reading. Later, the school librarian recommended a book called ‘After The Bomb’ that was a terrifying tale of survival in a post-nuclear Los Angeles. It was the first book I didn’t want to put down because I needed to know what happened next.  From then on, I had much more confidence that I could finish a book.  I wouldn’t be a reader, or writer, today if it weren’t for my school library.

WF: “Books like METAWARS are obviously brilliant for boys, especially those who have been raised in this technology hungry society.  Where did the idea come from for the series?  Did you design the story with (reluctant) boy readers in mind?”

JN: I wanted METAWARS to play to a broad readership, but yes, in my head I always saw that twelve or thirteen year old version of myself discovering the book and getting hooked on it…and then hooked on reading.  I’ve packed the METAWARS books with all of the awesome stuff that I needed to get me into reading: fast-paced adventure, danger, suspense, but also big, challenging ideas about the intersection of technology and morality.  At its heart, METAWARS is a coming of age story; which is universal in its appeal.

WF: “It’s every authors nightmare question but can you give us some idea of how you come up with your ideas?”

JN: I pay attention to the world around me and think about the logical, sometimes hyper, extreme of what’s going on.  For METAWARS, I observed 10 MetaTrends that I felt were shaping our future, things like brain digitisation and water security, and played those trends out on the page.  It was like studying the future – it was fascinating, frightening, and exhilarating all at the same time.

For my other projects, I sometimes start with a character, or a scenario that I think is interesting; people or places I’d want to spend time with.

WF: “What does a normal writing day look like for you?”

JN: I try to hit my writing desk, with a coffee, by 7:30 am each day.  I’ll spend at least three hours writing, and then split my time between plotting and editing. I put in two to three more hours after lunch, and if the weather is nice I’ll sneak in a run.  I end by about 4:30 pm when I pick my little boy up from nursery.  Sometimes in the evenings I’ll do conference calls with Los Angeles and Toronto on the TV projects I’m working on.

WF: How about some quick fire get to know you questions:
Sci-fi or Fantasy?  Sci-Fi.  No question.
Salted or sweet popcorn?  Why choose when you can have both!
Home cooked or take away? We cook from scratch most nights.
Radio or TV?  TV
Cinema or DVD?  Cinema, but with two young children it’s harder to get out than it used to be.  
Hockey or Ice hockey?  You have to ask?! Hockey is played on the ice! That game played on the field is called Field Hockey.  Go Leafs Go!
Soccer or football? (UK football or American football!)  Neither – I’d always rather watch a movie, or write than watch any form of football.
Facebook or Twitter?”  Facebook for connecting with old friends, Twitter for making new ones.

Jeff Norton is on the web at www.jeffnorton.com, on facebook at: www.facebook.com/thejeffnorton and tweeting at: www.twitter.com/thejeffnorton  The third book in the METAWARS saga, ‘The Battle of the Immortal’ publishes 2nd May, from Orchard Books.

Put Your Hands Up

We already have a few excellent volunteers signed up for WORDfest 2012. But would love to have some more people on board to help with events/social media/blogging/feedback etc. if you know you’ll have some free time between March 24th – April 5th and would like to help out we’d love to hear from you. either message us here or email us at info@wordfest.org

5 Questions for Irfan Master

Irfan Master is project manager of Reading the Game at the National Literacy Trust. His family is from Gujarat, India  where his debut novel is set.
A Beautiful Lie, published by Bloomsbury in January 2011, is an atmospheric, quirky and moving first novel.

What was the last book you read?

Kraken by China Mieville – He has an astounding imagination, and although I preferred The City and The City, this is still intense and different. And I’ve always loved stories about the Kraken, so that made it an easy choice.

Which book would you recommend to a younger version of you that hadn’t yet read it?

The Sufis by Idries Shah influenced me hugely. I wished I’d read it in my late teens, when my imagination was fertile and forming, but I’m happy I came to read it at all.

What was the first book you remember having a big impact on you as a child?

The Iron Man by Ted Hughes. After reading it, I realized how powerful, if used properly, language could be. The words are simple yet beautiful, the book short yet soaring and the message humble and clear. Can’t ask for more than that. To Kill a Mockingbird is on a par, for other reasons.

Can you describe your school days in one sentence?

Long minutes, hours, days of looking out the window at the blue skies, shaping stories, scribbling words, and waiting for the bell.

What is the best piece of advice you can give to any aspiring authors?

Be willful. Tell the story you want to tell. In your darkest moments, look up, release the oxygen in your lungs and start again. That’s all.

Irfan appeared at WORDfest for St. Wilfrid’s High School on Monday 4th April.