Dubai will host the largest celebration of the written and spoken word – The Emirates Airline Festival of Literature from March 3 – 11 2017.
The award-winning festival is held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, The Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.
The session and workshop programme is live – you can find out more here.
There’ll be sessions on what it’s like to be real-life CSI detective, a session on embracing tolerance in a constantly-shifting global landscape, a famous photographer will shares his life of taking pictures in UAE, a famous foodie will speak about her secrets to success in the kitchen and much, much more.
There are also a number of competitions to get excited about, a special lit fest blog to follow and Dubai Eye 103.8 will be broadcasting live.
More than 140 authors will be descending on Dubai to speak about their books, sign them for avid fans and chat with residents at the Intercontinental Festival City.
We’ve put together some special one minute podcasts that tell you more about some of the authors you can look forward to seeing at the 9th edition of the event.
To find out more about the authors, sessions or tickets, click here.
As part of the Emirates Airline Literature Festival, author of The Secret of Nightingale Wood, Lucy Strange is back in Dubai where her writing journey began.
About 75 pupils took part in an interactive session on the book for Year 7 and 8 Pupils at Kent College.
The Secret of the Nightingale is set in 1919. The aftermath of the First World War an underlying theme, the story itself focuses on trauma and how we recover from it. A young girl Henrietta ‘Henry’ moves to the country side with her family but after her father leaves to work abroad a sinister turn of events leaves the protagonist seeking solace in the magic of woods.
At the heart of the story is an important message – Henry’s mother is being treated through a tortured isolation for mental health issues. Through her escapism into the forest Henry meets Moth, a captivating witch-like woman. Together they form a bond that could help Henry save her family.
Lucy Strange discussed the unusually adult themes in the book. She said through her experience as an English teacher she discovered young adults were capable of understanding more than we realise.
Her inspiration for the book came from a short story by writer Charlotte Perkins Gilman. With mental health in adults not an obvious topic for children’s writing the author said it was important issues like that were covered.
“I read The Yellow Wallpaper a long time ago and the story stuck with me. The rest cure was used by doctors throughout the Victorian era and the early 20th century. It was a method prescribed by well-meaning doctors to treat people, but particularly women, suffering from hysteria or post natal depression. The treatment was staying in isolation on bed rest. Very often their babies were taken away and the women were told that being locked away and rest will make them feel better.
“The idea was in my head and I wanted to tell this story but for a younger audience. But not from the perspective of the woman locked in the room but the 12-year-old. Imagine being told that you can’t see your mother and if you did you would make her worse”.
This is perhaps why so many of the twelve and thirteen-year-olds in the audience were captivated – Lucy Strange is so passionate about giving them a voice.
After studying the book in school they were able to ask lots of questions. Some of the pertinent ones included: “As a teacher how did you find the time to write a book?” and “How do you become an author?”
With honesty and comedy she explained how it all started and how for some people dreams can come true.
“When I was your age it was my dream to write a book, a real book, that went in the shops on the shelves, that people could buy, and luckily my dreams came true.”
The Emirates Airline Literature Festival is particularly close to her heart as in 2014 the author was runner up in the first fiction prize.
Lucy began the book whilst still living in Dubai and entered the competition when she had only written the first two chapters.
“That’s where I met Luigi Bonomi, one of the judges who is also a literary agent, he helped me take the two chapters and write the manuscript. He sent it to UK publishers Chicken House and that is when the hard work began.”
She talked the pupils through the creative and commercial process from the cover, editing the book, research and fact-checking as well as the printing of the book.
After the books were signed and the children were back in their class we sat down for a chat Lucy said hearing that they are inspired is one of the most rewarding parts.
“It is so good to come back here to Dubai take part in events like this. I also got to meet this year’s winners and give a talk, it’s like coming full circle. I would absolutely encourage any budding writers to get out there and give it a go. It’s why the Literature Festival is so important it, was my first competition and it’s changed my life.”
Lucy Strange is currently working on her second novel alongside her full time job teaching at Kent College (Canterbury, UK).