words to life

Welcome to the 2nd Derwent Valley Literary Festival! We are super excited to be hosting this event which will run from Friday 21st through to Sunday 30th June 2019. The festival will be a celebration not just of books, but words in all of their glorious forms and will feature an eclectic mix of local authors, poets and playwrights who will all do their very best to dazzle you.

While most of the action will take place in The Derwent Valley, we are delighted also to be able to offer events in Newcastle and Durham City Centres, and as we continue to build on our success in future years, we will look to expand our reach even further across North-East England.

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launch night

2nd Derwent Valley Lit Fest: Launch Night

21st June 2019 | 19:00 – 23:00 | Dipton Jubilee Centre, DH9 9DR

Join us from 7pm for a cracking evening of entertainment. Andrew Clark will be first up with a lively talk about life in North East England during the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s. This is a great opportunity for young and old to get together to both reminisce and learn about a fascinating period in our recent history!

We will then switch gears as award-winning poet Lesley Mountain reads from her new collection ‘Vamoose.’

Come along and join in the fun.

Check out our live events

Storytime with Rachel Coverdale

28th June 2019 | 11:00 – 12:00
DanceMax Studio, DH8 5LQ

Join Rachel Coverdale for an hour of fun and lively story-telling! Rachel grew up in the beautiful North York moors and her love of nature and the outdoors is reflected in her stories…and story-telling!

This session is perfect for preschoolers and toddlers. Childminders and children welcome!

storytime with rachel coverdale
around the world

Around the world with Doug Richards

29th June 2019 | 11:00 – 12:00
Tyne Riverside Country Park, NE42 6NP

How many people can say that they have run marathons on each of earth’s seven continents? Doug can! Join Silver Award Winning author Doug Richards for a park run and Q&A.

This event is being run on a donation basis.

A Talk on Virginia Woolf - Frederick Lewis

27th June 2019 | 13:30 – 14:30
Rowlands Gill Library, NE39 1JT

Join Frederick Lewis for a scintillating talk on the life of Virginia Woolf. Now based in Hamsterley Colliery, Frederick Lewis is perhaps best known for his bibliographical work on Virginia Woolf, Katherine Mansfield, and Rosamond Lehmann.
He has lectured for Newcastle City Library, The Lit & Phil, and for Bank Street Arts in Sheffield.

Founder of the Heddon Quarry Press, he has published a number of fine paper limited edition pamphlets of work by local poets such as Juli Watson and Harry Gallagher. A regular face on the north east poetry scene, Frederick’s poetry taps into contrasting images of industry and countryside, whilst also being poet in residence for Japan Railways Freight.

Noriko Matsubara

Story time with Noriko Matsubara

24th June 2019 | 10:30 – 11:30
Annfield Plain Library, DH9 8EZ

26th June 2019 | 16:00 – 17:00
Whickham Volunteer Library Association, NE16 4DN

Join Noriko for a free, fun and engaging story-telling session!

Noriko Matsubara is a children’s book author & illustrator born in Japan and Bocchi and Pocchi: A Tale of Two Socks is her first picture book. The inspiration for the story came from her childhood as she would watch her grandmother regularly darning socks and wondering what might happen to them.

The ‘Bocchi and Pocchi’ series has been published in the UK and translated into 5 languages including Chinese, Korean, Spanish, Catalonian and Vietnamese. Her new title Bocchi and Pocchi and Baby Sock will be published by Troika Books in autumn 2019.

The Horsekeeper's Daughter

26th June 2019 | 19:00 – 20:00
Head of Steam Durham, DH1 4RZ

The Horsekeeper’s Daughter tells the story of a County Durham servant girl who travelled alone to Australia in 1886, to start a new life. This is a perfect opportunity to meet Jane Gulliford Lowes and ask her questions!

Jane is also a keen blogger.


Arthur, Nigel and Terry

23rd June 2019 | 12:00 – 14:00
Town Hall Spennymoor, DL16 6DB

There is nothing better than a good crime thriller! Come along and meet Arthur Cole and Nigel C. Williams – two former police officers who have used their experience solving crime to write to The Terry McGuire Crime Thriller series! With eight titles already under their belt and a ninth scheduled for publication in 2019 this is one event that you don’t want to miss!

Isolation Junction - Meet Jennifer Gilmour

22nd June 2019 | 10:30 – 11:30
Burnhope Community Centre, DH7 0AG

Jennifer Gilmour is a passionate advocate for women in abusive relationships. She has drawn on her own experiences to write her first novel. Isolation Junction details the journey of a young woman from the despair of an emotionally abusive and unhappy marriage to finding the confidence to challenge and change her life and to love again. Since publishing her book, Jennifer has gained a qualification in facilitating a recovery programme for those have been in abusive relationships. She also helps with running a family business from her home-base, and her blog posts have attracted a large readership of other young mums in business.

Isolation Junction mock up

The Margaret Manchester Experience

22nd June 2019 | 14:00 – 15:00
Whickham Volunteer Library Association, NE16 4DN

This is the perfect opportunity to come and talk local history with Margaret Manchester! Margaret lives in County Durham, England, with her husband and two sons. She was born in Weardale and spent her childhood there. Her research into family history showed many branches of her family had lived and worked in the area for centuries, and this sparked her interest in local history. Whilst she studied local history and archaeology, Margaret worked as a guide at Killhope Lead Mining Museum. She was awarded a Masters degree in Archaeology from the University of Durham and went on to teach archaeology, local history and genealogy.

As well as writing, Margaret is managing director of a multiple award-winning business; she is the chair of a charity that supports industrial heritage; and she enjoys spending time in her garden and with her dogs.

Her first novel ‘The Lead Miner’s Daughter’ was published in 2018.

An Evening with Mike Foster

23rd June 2019 | 19:00 – 20:00
Winlaton Community Centre, NE21 6BY

If you love Detective Stories and Thrillers you are not going to want to miss this event!

Michael K Foster has been writing crime thriller novels since 2006, all of them based in and around the North East of England. His bestselling debut novel, ‘The Wharf Butcher,’ was released in 2015 and offers a unique insight into this rugged landscape. He has now written four full-length novels featuring the hard-hitting DCI Jack Mason and local criminal profiler David Carlisle. His fifth book in the series, ‘Back from the Dead,’ is scheduled for release in November 2019.

Michael was born in Plymouth, England. After ten years’ service in the British Army, he moved to Newcastle where he gained a master’s degree. A former Magistrate, he now writes full time and lives with his family in County Durham.

Beyond The Witches' Circle

25th June 2019 | 14:00 – 15:00
Burnhope Community Centre, DH7 0AG

Mark Scott was born in Stafford in 1957. He studied Physics at Sheffield University and then went on to obtain a PhD in Physics from Lancaster University in 1982. He taught Physics and then progressed into Teacher Education. A lifelong hill walker and rock climber, Mark became a volunteer mountain rescuer in 2002. He retired from his university career in 2014 but continues volunteering as Assistant Team Leader of Bolton Mountain Rescue Team. Mark lives in Horwich, with his wife Megan. They have two sons and a granddaughter.

The idea for Mark’s first novel, Beyond the Witches’ Circle, arose while he was researching his family history. He discovered an interesting link between his ancestors – working class people from Northumberland and Tyneside – and one of history’s most important women, the remarkable Josephine Butler. In the book, Mark has tried to faithfully represent her character and actions at that time (the mid-nineteenth century). This was made possible thanks to a good range of excellent source material. Indeed, the whole story is based on extensive research and is highly accurate with regard to people, places and events. But what holds it together is a tender love story – a love made possible by Josephine Butler’s intervention.

The Enlightened Spaniel - Meet Gary Heads

28th June 2019 | 14:00 – 15:00
Delves Lane Village Hall, DH8 7BH

Gary Heads is a writer based in North East England. He founded one of the UK’s leading organizations delivering mindfulness services in the UK, and has a personal meditation practice spanning 30 years. A long-standing interest in all matters relating to Tibet has led to his appointment as trustee of a charity working to assist the Tibetan people. He can often be seen out walking with his two springer spaniels, if they are not meditating or studying the Buddha’s teachings that is. The Enlightened Spaniel, published in 2019 is his second book.

nathalie paris

French Storytelling Session with Nathalie Paris

26th June 2019 | 09:30 – 10:30
Consett Library, DH8 5AT

Nathalie was a secondary languages teacher for 19 years with responsibility for outreach primary languages teaching and transition KS2-KS3; currently part-time primary languages teacher and owner of Nattalingo which features (among other things) a unique French mobile library bus available for storytelling sessions.

The Shmoogly Boo - Storytime with Eileen Warton

27th June 2019 | 16:00 – 17:00
Consett Library, DH8 5AT

Join Eileen Wharton for an extra-special and interactive reading of The Shmoogly Boo.

The Shmoogly Boo tells the story of a brave boy named Harry and his encounter with a not-so-scary monster. Rather than fleeing with terror, Harry gives the monster a few lessons in scariness, which the monster follows with hilarious results.


An Audience with A.M. Peacock

27th June 2019 | 19:00 – 20:00
Head of Steam Durham, DH1 4RZ

Come and be thrilled by Crime writer A.M. Peacock.

A.M. Peacock grew up in the North East of England before leaving to study for a degree in music technology at the University of Hull. A subsequent return to his hometown of South Shields saw him spend seven years as a teacher in a local college before changing careers to become a trade union official.

Having always been an avid reader, he took to writing after being encouraged to do so by his PGCE tutor. He has since gone on to produce a number of short stories, winning the Writers’ Forum Magazine competition on two occasions, as well as producing articles for both the local press and a university magazine.

An Evening with Owen Ryan

28th June 2019 | 19:00 – 20:00
Crown & Crossed Swords Hotel, DH8 0HU

Come down for an evening to remember with the author of ‘Media Monster’.

OMJ Ryan is the exciting new author of ‘Media Monster’, released in 2018 to 5-Star Reviews on Amazon. For twenty years he worked in radio and entertainment across the UK and Australia, collaborating with household names, celebrities and music icons, accumulating a host of international writing and radio awards. In 2018 he followed his passion to become a full-time novelist, writing stories for people who devour exciting, fast-paced thrillers by the pool, on their commute – or those rare moments of downtime before bed. Owen’s mission is to entertain from the first page to the last.

Richard Harries

An Evening of Poetry with Richard Harris

29th June 2019 | 14:00 – 15:00
Rowlands Gill Library, NE39 1JT

Richard Harries is a pensioner who started writing and performing poetry as he retired 10 years ago. He is a veteran of festivals in Yorkshire having appeared for many years at Hull’s Freedom Festival, Cornucopia , Withfest and many others. He appears at many charity events and puts on a one man show for children’s events , WI and Church fellowship groups amongst many diverse appearances, His poem rang from adult and funny to those about his grand children His YouTube Channel rcpoems has had 113,000 poems a figure that rises every day.

Check out our online events

Meet the Author Susana Aikin

25th June 2019 | 14:00 – 15:00

Do you love historical fiction? This is the perfect chance to connect with Susana Aikin and ask her as many questions as you like!

We Shall See the Sky Sparkling is Susana’s debut novel and follows the life of a young woman who defies her father and leaves home to become an actress. In 1897 Manchester, England, 17-year-old Lily Throop travels to London, where she finds work as an actress at the Imperial Theatre. Lily is eventually cast in a leading role, though she must also endure the erratic and abusive behaviour of her fellow actor and mentor, Herbert Wade. Though Lily enjoys the freedom to make her own life and career decisions, her success is threatened when scandal surrounding her relationship with stagehand Chut leads her to flee England and join a theatre group in St. Petersburg in pre-revolutionary Russia. While in St. Petersburg, Lily falls under the spell of aristocrat and revolutionary Sergei Nikolayevich. Their passionate relationship is complicated by the fact that he is married and by his belief that his revolutionary plans are more important than his relationship with Lily. Ultimately, Lily must decide whether to stay with him and continue their relationship despite the danger he faces.

Meet the Author Scott Stevens

22nd June 2019 | 17:00 – 18:00

Meet American Thriller Author Scott Stevens! Whether you are an avid reader of thrillers or maybe fancy writing one of your own this is your chance to chat with someone with a proven track record in the industry!

On The Run

Have you ever done a good deed for someone and things didn’t turn out quite as you planned? You’ll be pulled in by this thriller because you HAVE done a good deed before, but not had to face the danger that Dwight faces from one kind act.

Just by being a nice guy Dwight Cobb, unfortunately, finds himself right smack in the middle of a major drug deal gone bad. He’s forced to go on the run for his life from a Cuban drug cartel. While on the run he meets some new friends, reconnects with an old acquaintance, and in the midst of all the chaos, his wife, Colleen, mysteriously disappears. Where could she have gone and why? Does Dwight ultimately survive the cartel hit squad sent to kill him?

Set across the country over the course of several days, the book takes you on a journey into what it’s like when a good deed goes bad. It brings you from Miami to Cabo San Lucas and puts you right into the mindset of what it’s like to be chased by a Cuban drug cartel. Said to be one of the best releases of 2018, you are sure to be entertained… and scared!

scott stevens portrait

Meet the Author Matt Beighton

28th June 2019 | 18:00 – 19:00

Matt Beighton is the author of The Monstacademy Series – a series of adventures set in a school full of vampires, werewolves and banshees! Some of his books have been adapted and are suitable for children with visual impairment and dyslexia.

When Matt is not writing, he teaches primary school (Kindergarten), messes around on canals in his inflatable kayak and supports his beloved Leicester City.

Toilet Papers & The Dreadlands: Jamie Engle

22th June 2019 | 16:00 – 17:00

Jamie Engle is the author of fantasy thrillers for teens and tweens, where magic turns ordinary into extraordinary. She weaves history, magic, and lore into her books, which take readers on wondrous adventures, like the ones she went on when she read books as a child. She loves coffee, cosplay, and making Wick Books® Candles inspired by scents from her novels so readers can experience the Story! She can also recite every word from The Wizard of Oz until Dorothy leaves Munchkin land…we might have to test her on that!

Meet the Author Lee Stoddart

27th June 2019 | 18:00 – 19:00

Have you ever wondered what speculative fiction is? This is your chance to find out!

Lee Stoddart has been writing speculative fiction part-time since 2012, but finally quit the corporate world to write full-time in late 2017. He has been published both online and in print, including in three anthologies. He has twice been short-listed in the HG Wells Short Story Competition and now sits on the judging panel.

The Margaret Kirk Experience

21st June 2019 | 15:00 – 16:00

Interested in thrillers? Hop online and chat to Margaret Kirk!

Margaret Kirk is a Highland Scot with an abiding fondness for Glasgow and its university, where she took an MA in modern languages. Germanophile, Runrig Fan and mad cat lady, she writes crime fiction set in Inverness and the Highlands (think the North Coast 500 with bodies…) featuring ex-Met DI Lukas Mahler. Margaret’s debut crime novel, ‘Shadow Man’, won the Good Housekeeping First Novel Competition in 2016 and came out in paperback in June 2018. She is currently working on book 2 of the Lukas Mahler crime series, to be published by Orion in summer 2019. The scenery and history of the Highlands play an important part in her novels (though she’d really rather you didn’t mention Outlander).

Drawing on her own family history, Margaret is also fascinated by the themes of absence and homecoming. How does it feel to come home after an extended absence? Can it ever truly feel like ‘home’?


Meet the Author Rob Holmes

21st June 2019 | 13:00 – 14:00

Hop online and talk to Rob – about writing, spirituality, the universe!
Rob Holmes is a father of four and lives in South Devon, partly on land and also on his boat in the Salcombe estuary. Rob set up and ran his own businesses in his 20s and 30s – one business was a nightclub and the other sold baby sleeping products called ‘Grobags’. There was no direct link between the two businesses, except some couples met in the nightclub, went on to have children and then buy Grobags for their children! One of his inventions, the ‘Gro-Clock’. has over 5,000 five star reviews on Amazon.

Then in September 2011 Rob had a very unexpected spiritual awakening while driving along the M5 motorway in Devon – it was the 20 seconds that changed his life. He never went back into his office, put the business up for sale and eventually sold it in 2013.

Since then Rob has been writing children’s books with spiritual wisdom woven into the stories. His first book is called ‘The Little Drop of Water’. His next book features a character called ‘Master Owl’ and Rob is currently in touch with studios in Hollywood for this character to be turned into an animated cartoon series.

Meet the Author Sarah Northwood

21st June 2019 | 11:00 – 12:00

Hop online and chat with author Sarah Northwood.

Sarah is an award-winning British fiction author, a member of the World Nations Writers Union, and an honorary member of the “World Higher Literary Academic Council” of the WNWU. Living in a small village in the northwest of England with her husband and two children, writing books in different genres, she is best known for her unique narration methodology and precise delivery of fiction and poetic works.

The author of eleven books, these include: Poetry: Butterfly Dreams, The truths We Tell and Little Moments of Calm. Thrillers: The Unravelling, The Volunteer and She’s Not Gone. Children’s Books: Unicorns are real and other cool poems, Legend of the Night Unicorn and Aerwyn, the girl who dreams. Young Adult: The Westwood Witches. Short horror: The House that Evil Made.

Meet the Author J.A Baker

24th June 2019 | 14:00 – 15:00

If you love edge-of-your-seat authors then J.A Baker is for you! J. A. Baker writes psychological thrillers and is published with Bloodhound Books. She has written six books to date, three of which made it into the Amazon Top 100 chart. She has been writing on and off since she was a child but only got published in 2017 after many years of submitting and being rejected.

She was born and brought up in Middlesbrough and now lives in a small village on the outskirts of Darlington. Judith is married and has four adult children and one grandchild.

Meet the Author Matt Sparrow

23rd June 2019 | 19:00 – 20:00

Matt Sparrow lives in Stoke on Trent, he has been writing since high school when his weird sense of humour got him into trouble. His stories stem from the littlest of things that happen around him – and a story from the Forest Giant demonstrates that. After experimenting with several different genres, Matt now focuses on Young Adult and picture books.

He has also written a story called ‘As I am’ which is about a man dealing with depression under his real name, Matthew Hughes, and his pen name Matt Sparrow stems from his birdlike legs!

Samuel Bigglesworth

Meet the Author Samuel Bigglesworth

25th June 2019 | 19:00 – 20:00

Sam’s writing career started in 2014 with a blog; in 2015, he decided to commit to writing fiction long term. Towards the end of the year, after a few online courses and a great deal of time writing, he self-published his first novella, a character based comedy about one man’s love affair with nature, entitled ‘The Woods, The Jungle, The Sea’. It was inspired by experiences he’d had visiting remote parts of Patagonia, Bolivia, and Colombia. Some of Sam’s stories are literal, but most of them have a hidden deeper meaning which take a little thought to understand.

Meet the Author Maggie James

25th June 2019 | 20:00 – 21:00

Maggie James is a British author who lives near Newcastle-upon-Tyne. She writes psychological suspense novels.

Before turning her hand to writing, Maggie worked mainly as an accountant, with a diversion into practising as a nutritional therapist. Diet and health remain high on her list of interests, along with travel. Accountancy does not, but then it never did. The urge to pack a bag and go off travelling is always lurking in the background! When not writing, going to the gym, practising yoga or travelling, Maggie can be found seeking new four-legged friends to pet; animals are a lifelong love!

Ruth Estevez

Meet the Author Ruth Estevez

24th June 2019 | 16:30 – 17:00

Ruth Estevez lives in Manchester although she still travels frequently over the Pennines to her native, Yorkshire. Ruth has always worked in the arts, from Opera North to Emmerdale with a tour of the Yorkshire Dales with Harrogate Theatre-in Education Company in between. Her attitude of saying ‘yes’ to offers means Ruth has worked in places from Pitlochry Festival Theatre to Shakespeare’s Globe.

Ruth has also worked as a scriptwriter on the BBC animated series, Bob the Builder. She is the author of Meeting Coty, which is based on her great aunt who worked in the perfume industry in the 1920’s, and is currently working on her second YA novel, The Monster Belt which is set in Yorkshire and the Mediterranean island of Formentera.

Meet the Author Howard Linskey

26th June 2019 | 19:00 – 20:00

Howard Linskey’s latest crime novel ‘The Chosen Ones’ is published by Penguin Random House. He is the author of ‘No Name Lane’, ‘Behind Dead Eyes’, ‘The Search’ and the Newcastle-based trilogy ‘The Drop’, ‘The Damage’ and ‘The Dead’; optioned for TV by Harry Potter producer, David Barron. He is also the author of two WW2 historical thrillers ‘Hunting the Hangman’ and ‘Ungentlemanly Warfare’. Howard’s books have been published in the UK, Germany, Czech Republic, Australia, New Zealand and the USA.

Originally from County Durham he now lives in Herts with his wife Alison and daughter Erin.

Ed Cannon

Meet the Author Ed Cannon

24th June 2019 | 19:00 – 20:00

Ed Cannon grew up in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma USA and graduated college with a BS in electrical engineering from Oklahoma State University. He moved from Oklahoma after college to get his first engineering job. His career has been associated with aviation and the certification of aircraft. He has a Third Dan Black Belt in Tae Kwon Do and taught for several years at a local YMCA. He enjoys camping, fishing, and photography. He is married to a Mechanical Engineer and his sons are both engineers. The original idea for this book began while in college. Fifty pages or so were written on an electric typewriter and then later transferred to a Apple. From there, a printout of the story sat, collecting dust, until it was eventually scanned page-by-page and transformed into The Kings’ Assassin. Additional stories are planned for this world.

Meet the Author Brian O'Gorman

26th June 2019 | 19:00 – 20:00

Calling all Horror lovers! Jump online and chat with author Brian O’Gorman.

Brian O’Gorman was born in Ormskirk, Lancashire in 1974. He is most famously known for his novels Dawn of the Spiders and Day of the Spiders which have entertained and appalled readers all across the globe. He normally writes in the horror genre but he has written two contemporary novels The Final Wish of Maggie Bosworth and The Roland Sink Hour.

Eileen Wharton Femme Fatale

Meet the Author Eileen Wharton

28th June 2019 | 15:00 – 16:00

Eileen Wharton is currently employed by MI5 but was wigmaker to Donald Trump and Megan Fox’s stunt double. She also tells lies for a living. Her first novel Shit Happens was published in 2011 to worldwide critical acclaim. She’s also won awards for exaggeration. She writes children’s books, women’s fiction, humour and crime. She’s trying to figure out how to combine them all. She hasn’t been arrested today … yet.

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