Schedule 2023

The festival included author talks, workshops, quizzes and competitions, children’s activities, music, giant book and craft fair, open mic and much more. Fun for everyone!

Map at the bottom of this page. 

Wednesday 13th September

Festival launch party in the Watermark Centre

Opened by the Mayor of Ivybridge, Cllr Alan Spencer

Jane Corry

The Sunday Times Bestselling writer talks about “How Churchill‘s Secret Army in Devon inspired my new novel.”

To pre-order her new Penguin novel, COMING TO FIND YOU, click here.

For a free short story, sign up to her newsletter on

The Watermark: 6 PM – 7 PM

Launch Party

Opened by the Mayor. Quiz hosted by Lily Style to celebrate Roald Dahl Day, with optional fancy dress, adult story competition results.  (suitable for all) 

The Watermark: from 7:30 PM – 9:30 PM

Announcement of the winner of the adult short story competition and the scarecrow trail competition

The Watermark: Wednesday evening

Thursday 14th September

 Paula Harmon

Historical mystery author.

'Feisty Women For Historical Fiction' 

Why write historical mysteries with female leads when historically women couldn't and didn't do much except sit at home sewing and waiting for a man to save the world?

Because that's not how it really was.

Come and meet the real women who inspired the characters in Paula Harmon's historical mystery fiction, women you may have heard of and women who've been forgotten for too long - all of them women who didn't care what society expected, and who weren't going to sit around waiting for a man to do anything (except perhaps give them the vote).

Put down the embroidery - we're going in. 

11:30 AM – 12:30 PM The Old Smithy

Adam Glennon

'Writing Creative Non-Fiction. The Story Starts With You'. 

An introduction into what Creative Non-Fiction is, and how it can be used by new writers to build confidence. Followed by a reading from Adam's book and a short discussion about what made that piece Creative Non-Fiction and not just a memoir chapter. This will include discussing the kind of writing tools used in fiction, suspense etc and how they can be integrated into non-fiction writing.

 Creative Writing session. A series of small writing and creative discussion activities, using prompts, story cubes, and most importantly, the memories of those taking part!

 Participants will leave with a short piece of writing and if there’s time, we will do an activity on editing and constructive feedback.

 9.45 AM – 11.15 AM: St John's Church Hall

Free hot drink available.

'How to Publish A Book' - self-publishing discussion 

Panellists will include Dean Matthews, Dionne Haynes & Mary McClarey, chaired by Liz Scott

Come along to this informal discussion on the pros and cons of self-publishing, chaired by Liz Scott with three local authors who will share their experiences for your benefit. All questions welcomed. Curiosity encouraged! No knowledge required. 

11.30am - 12.30 pm St John's Church Hall

Free hot drink available.

Chantelle Atkins and Sim Sansford

'Writing YA Fiction – Finding Your Character’s Voice'

A workshop offering tips/advice and best practice for writers wishing to write for the YA audience. What is YA and why do people like it? What are the common elements? How can you be authentic when writing as an adult for a YA audience? Getting into character and defining the narrative voice of your characters. With writing activities along the way.

1.15 PM – 2.45 PM: Beacon Room, The Library

Richard Handy

Messages of Hope – A Writing Workshop on Healing the Natural World and Enabling Biodiversity. Supported by Kate Harris, Gill McEvoy & Liz Scott.

This workshop aims to discuss your hopes for the natural world and us humans through the creative arts, especially creative writing, including poetry, short stories, folklore and other forms of storytelling, and drawing. It will explore how we may live in harmony with nature, now, and in the future. 

1.30 PM – 4 PM: Baptist Church Hall

Free hot drink available.

This event has been kindly sponsored by Literature Works

Andy Brown

'Grace Notes’  - a poetry reading on a music theme 

In this lively and engaging performance, Andy will be reading from his latest book of collaborative poems, written with poet and musician Marc Woodward, GRACE NOTES (Sea Crow Press, 2023) and performing a few original songs, in a blues/country/singer-songwriter style. All of the poems in GRACE NOTES are about musicians, instruments, composers, music etc.  The songs complement the poems in the book, sometimes setting the poems to music.

Andy Brown is Professor of Creative Writing at Exeter University and is the author of over 20 books. He is a poet, novelist and singer-songwriter, and has been performing at festivals and events around the region for over twenty years. 

1:30 PM – 2:30 PM: The Old Smithy

Janet Hancock

'Hang on in there: staying the course when writing long fiction'

Janet is keen to encourage other writers, and pass on the encouragement she has received on her writing journey. She will talk about the different stages of that journey, and the publication of her novel Beyond the Samovar.  

2 PM – 3 PM: The Bridge

Morgana Weeks

Illustration workshop: Colourful characters! Design a character for a story!

A mini-workshop exploring the basics of character design and the importance of a design when making a story.

 Suitable for all ages from 5 years upwards

3.30 PM – 5 PM: The Bridge (small room)

Rosemary Griggs

'An Audience with the Lady Katherine - A Woman of Noble Wit'

Rosemary loves bringing history to life through her unique blend of theatre, history and re-enactment, which draws on her extensive research into Devon’s sixteenth century history, Tudor life and Tudor/Elizabethan dress. 

5:30 PM – 6:30 PM: Ivybridge Bookshop

Prose Open Mic

Prose and book readings

Get Your Work Heard!

All welcome - new writers, beginners, unpublished or experienced authors.  Email Alison on to book a ten minute slot to read your work.  Spaces limited so be quick!  Listeners welcome as well. (Poets please see Sundays schedule, prose only this time).

7 PM – 9 PM: Ivybridge Brewing Company

Book Binding

Learn Coptic bookbinding with Jessie from Plymouth Book Co-op.

Make your own thread bound A5 book, to take home, using recycled paper, board, and cloth, using ancient Coptic methods.

Maximum 8 people. £30 per person.

7 PM – 9 PM: Makers Mews

Friday 15th September

Sarah Pearse

A discussion with New York and Sunday Times bestselling author of 'The Sanatorium' and 'The Retreat’.


A Devon native, Sarah has enjoyed a meteoric rise with her first two crime thriller books bought by Penguin and selling in over 30 territories. Whether you’re interested in her journey or would simply like to ask questions around becoming an author, agents or the wider literary world, this moderated discussion will be tailored to the audience with plenty of scope to ask Sarah any and all questions that might help other aspiring authors or shine a light on the literary world! To find out more about Sarah before the talk follow her @sarahpearseauthor


10 AM – 11 AM: The Watermark, Beeson Room

'Walking Memories'

What makes a journey an adventure? Is it the unfamiliarity of the setting, the introduction to new tastes, different languages, places that touch us in unexpected ways? Is it following a long-held dream to visit somewhere different and exotic, to step out of our ordinary, everyday lives into somewhere strange and foreign to us? 

You don’t need to be a big world traveler, just have a desire to share whatever interesting travel experiences you have had.

Workshop with Marta Emmitt, Biku Ghosh & Laurence Shelley 

10 AM – 11:30 AM: Baptist Church foyer

Free hot drink available

Ian  McConaghy 

'Books that inspired well known science fiction films'

Using lists of top sci-fi films as a starting point, Ian will select around ten books and discuss how they have been used to create popular films.

Ian will concentrate on the work and creative input of writers. There are famous films, such as War of the Worlds, written by H.G. Wells, which have been remade numerous times, including a recent TV series. Although the original story was set in Woking in Victorian times, directors have changed the location, year and family dynamic to suit a contemporary audience.

 This will be an informative and entertaining talk to suit those who normally receive stories through TV and film.

 11.30 AM – 12:30 PM: The Old Smithy (pub open from 11 AM)

Nicole Fitton

Keeping it Brief – The Art of Short Story Writing’

Short stories are notoriously difficult to write, so what does it take to write a good short story? From ideas to structure, this 1 hour session offers writers insights and practical tips to enable them to successfully move into the realms of short story writing. This session will contain elements of interaction plus a brief writing exercise. So whether you are new to short story writing or just wish to hone your skills this session is for you.

 11.45 AM –  12:45 PM: Baptist Church foyer

Free hot drink available

Mary Georgina de Grey

'What’s Love Got to Do With It?’ (romantic fiction)

A light-hearted journey through the ages, looking at love and romance, from the Ancient Greeks onwards.

 You are exposed to romance through poems and songs, music, TV and film, yet many people remain stuck with an old-fashioned idea of the romantic novel as being somehow not good enough for an intelligent person.

 So why were 19 million new romance novels published in 2022?

Why has the number of male readers – and writers – doubled in the last 10 years?

And why should it matter to you?

 1 PM – 2 PM: St Johns Church Hall

Free hot drink available

Kate Harris

Short walk (optional)

1 PM – 1:30 PM: meet in the town

'Autumn Seeds Workshop: harvesting your potential creativity'

A Tree of Life visualisation as the seasons shift towards autumn.

We will connect to the inspiration of abundance and the process of harvesting your creative seeds of potential to encourage your flow with the seasons.

 Gently giving space for ideas to surface with curiosity.  Ideas for making a space in our busy life for focus.  Share your ideas too.

 Free Writing prompts linked to the natural world. Paper, pens and pencils to write and draw can be supplied or please feel free to bring your own and an image/photo/or a poem or small piece of writing to share around autumnal abundance.

 1:30 PM – 3:30 PM: South Devon Tennis Centre

Abigail Yardimci

‘How to Write from Lived Experience’

Harnessing the literary power of your own experience to create addictive, compelling stories readers will devour.

Includes: Author’s talk on how Abi harnessed her own lived experience to create a 5 star book series - Summary of tips on how to use and elaborate lived experience to create rich, story-making material - Writing workshop – working with examples of lived experience and blending fiction to write a short story / scene - Sharing - Short Q&A 

1:15 PM – 2:45 PM: The Library, Beacon Room

Bethan Rees

Beat the Block – Toolkit building for the dreaded writer’s block’ 

An entertaining presentation with opportunities to try out some brief and fun “Beat the Block” exercises. Attendees will be encouraged to bring something they are blocked on, or their WIPs (work in progress) to try out some of these exercises to see if they unlock anything new about their characters, location and their abilities as a writer.

 Any level of writer welcome, from complete beginner to published professional.

1:30 PM – 3:30 PM: The Bridge

Steve Day

'Bob Dylan, Positively 4th Street – his Importance to Poetry.’

Bob Dylan, the seminal musical icon who reshaped western popular music as a lyrical, poetic art form.  In 2016 Bob Dylan became the first musician to be awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.  This short workshop begins with his poetic influences: Dylan Thomas, Robert Graves, Woody Guthrie, Bessie Smith.  Then his pervasive influence on Patti Smith (rock star, writer, poet), Allen Ginsberg & the Beat Poets, Leonard Cohen, Denise Levertov, Paul Muldoon etc.  Musical examples include Hendrix’s All Along The Watchtower & a wealth of other material. 

2:30 PM – 3:30 PM: St Johns Church Hall

Free hot drink available

Stephanie Austin

'Crime at Teatime'

Stephanie will be talking about the appeal of crime fiction,  a little of its history, what inspired her to write it,  her own series of crime novels, and why she chose Ashburton as a setting. 

4.30 PM: Rochelle's Riverside Cafe

Alwyn Marriage

'By Indirection Find Direction Out’  (Social issues in Fiction) 

As well as entertaining and engrossing, good novels can also tackle social issues and raise questions that linger when the book has been finished. 

Alwyn Marriage's novels, 'Rapeseed' and 'The Elder Race', are first and foremost gripping stories, but 'Rapeseed' also asks questions about rape and its effects, and 'The Elder Race' addresses population control, dementia and euthanasia. The session will include a talk, some short readings and discussion with the audience.

4 PM – 5 PM: South Devon Tennis Centre

Book launch

Launch of Grasping the Nettle: South Hams Authors Network's anthology of quirky short stories written by nineteen local authors.

There will be several readings of members’ stories from the new anthology

7.30 PM – 9:30 PM: Scarlet Velvet

Refreshments included (choice of wine or soft drink)    

Saturday 16th September

Sea Stories & Sewing with author Jessica Jade

Meet Author Jessica Jade and Shellabella as they take you on ocean adventures, meeting magical sea creatures. After rescuing a turtle from a balloon string Shellabella wants to spread the message about the dangers of plastic in the sea.  Get inspired by the story and then make your very own sea creature from felt and recycled materials to take home, with Lucy of Makers Mews. 

Sew your very own sea creature using felt, stuffing and thread salvaged via Plymouth Play Scrapstore. Pre-cut fishy felt template options include jellyfish, rays, fish, whales... which will you choose?

SAFETY NOTE: Sewers will be using real needles and craft scissors. There will be small pieces of plastic and felt. All children will need supervision by their carer. 

Suitable for all ages from 5 years upwards. Kids participating £3, adults participating £6. Max 10 participants.

10 AM - 12 PM: Makers Mews

Giant book & craft fair

Lots of interesting stalls to browse and authors/craftspeople to meet. Book sales and signings taking place all day.

Also includes live music at lunchtime from local band Memo: 'Notes that help you remember songs you thought you'd forgotten!'  

Guitar/keyboards duo playing songs from the 60's to the 90's.

10 AM - 3 PM: Ivybridge Leisure Centre


Hugh Bellamy

‘I never wanted to write a book’

Hugh Bellamy tells how he ended up writing 'Snowfall', his novel set in Devon and the French Alps, when he was happily retired and enjoying life with no aspirations to write.

The talk will chart the course his life took from headteacher to writing a novel, in response to the curve balls and challenges of a heart attack and two strokes. Whilst the talk does touch upon some difficult times and dark places it will be essentially light and humorous in tone and will hopefully be somewhat uplifting! It will include the reading of a couple of excerpts from the text. There will be time for questions following.

10 AM - 10:45 AM: Ivybridge Dental Centre

Lucy V Hay

'Screenwriting tricks for Authors'

 A talk on how authors can use screenwriting techniques for their own novels AND also use them to write their own screenplays as well.

10 AM – 11 AM: Watermark Centre, Beeson Room

Biku Ghosh

'Our Climate - Our Future' (free workshop for children and young adults, but suitable for all).

This workshop will include: Reading stories about Climate by local children and young adults. Asking children to bring a drawing or an image of something that matters to them or has inspired their feelings about the climate crisis, such as a tree in the local walks, a bird or an animal. During the workshop, we will ask the participants what action they feel we should take to mitigate this crisis, either as individuals or as a society.

10.30 AM -  12.30 PM: Baptist Church foyer 

Free hot drink available

Poppy-Jayne Jones

Poetry recital by Poppy-Jayne , who is a writer and performer who focuses on observational poetry.

11.00 AM – 11.45 AM: Ivybridge Dental Centre

Children's fun

Come dressed as your favourite characters & play with props & costumes. 

11 AM – 4 PM: Imaginarium; Watermark Stowford Hall. Free entry.

12–1 PM WONDERZOO. Roald Dahl’s Enormous Crocodile. Interactive performance: Free tickets:

2.30–3.30 PM 'Isabella's Story Bicycle'

 Alison Huntingford

'Stepping off the Pages'

Travel back in time to 1911 and meet Kate Duffield, heroine of Alison Huntingford’s historical novel ‘A Ha’penny Will Do’. Kate is here ‘in person’ to tell us about her life – her family, her work, her loves, her childhood in Ireland and more. Come and listen to a ‘real’ Victorian woman in this theatrical reconstruction.  Don’t miss it!

11.30 AM – 12:30 PM: Watermark Centre, Beeson Room

Carol Mayne

'I've got a story to tell'

Conversation with a cuppa. 

If you've got a life story to tell but don't know what to do with it grab a free hot drink from the cafe and head to the Studio for a relaxed conversation (without pens, paper or PowerPoint) where Carol Mayne will keep you amused with tales of her journey whilst helping you to think about yours - welcoming teenagers and adults.

11.30 AM – 12.30 PM: Leisure Centre, Studio1

C. M. Serpell & Tony Rea

'Come plan a murder with me - your chance to plan a fictional crime.'  (Crime fiction)

Authors C. M. Serpell and Tony Rea will discuss the writing of murder in their own books and facilitate a hands-on, interactive group activity in devising the plot for a fictional murder. There will be an opportunity to purchase the authors’ books at a discount price during the event.

1 PM – 2.30 PM: Ivybridge Leisure Centre

Announcement of the winner of the children's story competition 

Saturday lunchtime: the Watermark Centre

Free entry

Pip Payne

The Slimming Foodie

'Cooking, Community and Chilli Mac and Cheese'

Sunday Times Bestselling cookbook author, Pip Payne, will be talking about her journey from starting a recipe-sharing Facebook page in 2015,  to writing 3 bestselling cookbooks.

1 PM – 2 PM: Watermark, Beeson Room

Poppy-Jayne Jones

'Flash' - The Flash Fiction Workshop'

Fiction on Countdown
Can you work to a deadline? Are you able to be creative on the spot? If so, feel welcome to test your superspeed at the South Hams Literary Festival Flash Fiction workshop! Poppy-Jayne Jones will hold space for attendees to create short stories, columns, poems or non fiction based around a given quote in under thirty minutes. Afterwards you will be offered time to share your work and listen to others; there is sure to be much variety!


2 PM – 3.30 PM South Devon Tennis Centre

Caroline Born

'Dance the Word Awake'

A unique creative dance and creative writing workshop to awaken body and mind. Gently led spontaneous movement will release a wordflow to craft into prose or poetry. Caroline is an experienced movement practitioner and has led this workshop at Ways With Words in Dartington and at the Exeter Phoenix. Suitable for adults of all ages. Beginners welcome.

2 PM – 4 PM: Leisure Centre, Dance Studio


Morgana Weeks

'Graphic Novels – Stories in Art'

Writing stories with Art with webcomic writer and illustrator Morgana Weeks 

This will include a brief introduction to Morgana's work, a talk on world building and aesthetics, plus tips on how to get started on story writing. This will be followed by a workshop on creating the basic outline and character designs for your own story.

(suitable for all ages) 

2 PM – 5 PM: Makers Mews

Dr Alan Howard-Davis 

'The Perfect Patsy'

JFK Conspiracy (nonfiction)

Alan will be outlining the first section of his forthcoming book, 'The Perfect Patsy’ .This section deals with the assassination of President Kennedy in Dallas on November 22nd 1963. His research reveals startling new insights into what happened on that day. Using photographs and video footage alongside the narrative,  he will present an outcome based on sound behavioural science principles. There will also be a ‘question and answer’ session.

 2.45 PM – 3.45 PM: Leisure Centre, Studio

Laurence Shelley 

‘Journeys into the Unknown: New Directions of Travel’

How can you add interest and intrigue to any journey? Laurence will suggest ways in which the unexpected can always keep you company.

Do come prepared to share any new observation you may have made during the day, or even on the way to this meeting!

4 PM – 5 PM: Watermark, Beeson Room

Sally Arnold

'The Rock "n" Roll Nanny'


Sally tells her incredible story: from Initially being a Norland Nurse for Mick and Bianca Jagger's daughter, then being the first female tour manager in rock and roll, working with the Rolling Stones, The Who, Mike Oldfield, Peter Gabriel and Lynyrd Skynyrd. She was also the first woman to have a tattoo put on her mastectomy scar in 2000.

4.30 PM – 5.30 PM: South Devon Tennis Centre

Jackie Juno

Performance poet

ONWORDS AND UPWORDS - An evening of lively performance poetry and humour, supported by the SHAN poets and compered by Peter Fox

Saturday evening: 7.30pm at the Watermark Centre

The Far Out Performers

A dynamic trio from Totnes's open mic scene 

Supporting Jackie Juno on Saturday evening: the Watermark Centre

Hélène Demetriades 

Award winning poet

Saturday evening: supporting Jackie Juno at the Watermark Centre

Gill McEvoy

Award winning poet

Supporting Jackie Juno on Saturday evening: the Watermark Centre

Sunday 17th September

Tim Peters, Ramblers

Guided walk from town centre to South Devon Tennis Centre 

10.30 AM – 11 AM: starting in Ivybridge centre 

(no parking at Tennis Centre, except for disabled)

Included in price of workshop (Liz Scott)

Jill Robinson

'A 1960s Devonian childhood'

A talk about life in the 1960s focusing on the experience of women and girls – marriage bar in some occupations, Saturday girl paid less than Saturday boy in WH Smith, Father believed education was ‘wasted on a girl’ so turned daugher out of the house to study in nearby fields, woman required male guarantor simply to rent a TV set. Police refuse to attend scenes of domestic violence. Only 3 Cambridge university colleges prepared to admit women.

The audience will be invited to contribute any similar experiences

10.45 AM – 11.45 AM: Refillability

Free hot drink included.

Liz Scott

'Inspired by Nature – Releasing your Writing Voice'

A nature-inspired writing workshop aimed at all abilities (targeted toward adults). We will use the natural world to inspire creative writing. Be prepared to get outside (weather-permitting). There will be a mixture of writing, listening, meditation and sharing written work. We will connect with our inner creativity, confidence and resilience. This will be a supportive space where we all listen, and we are all heard.

11 AM –12.30 PM: South Devon Tennis Centre 

Poetry open mic, coffee and cake

Compere: Nigel Smith

Get Your Poems Heard!

All welcome - new writers, beginners, unpublished or more experienced poets.  Email Alison on to book a ten minute slot to read your work.  Spaces limited so be quick!  Listeners welcome as well. 

12 PM – 3.30 PM: Marco's Trattoria

Refreshments extra, not included

Keep checking back for future events.

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