Hay Festival will host a free “flash fiction” session for adults at the University of South Wales’ Newport campus on Friday 7 February, running alongside the planned Hay Festival Scribblers Tour activities for local Year 7 and Year 8 pupils. 

The creative writing session will be run by author and performer Steven Camden, also known as Polarbear, in a bid to encourage adults to get creative and help inspire a love of books at home.

Hay Festival Scribblers Tour brings five award-winning YA writers direct to thousands of school pupils across Wales throughout February 2020, in inspiring free events hosted at five Welsh universities: University of South Wales, Swansea University, Aberystwyth University, Cardiff Metropolitan University, and Wrexham Glyndwr University.

Running 3-7 February and 10-14 February, the Scribblers Tour aims to engage and encourage the next generation in storytelling and conversation, inspiring empathy and creativity. Now in its ninth year, the tour gives pupils a chance to visit their nearest university and experience a taste of life on campus. 

Compèred by YA star Jenny Valentine, Year 7 and Year 8 sessions will feature interactive activities with author of the bestselling series The Shapeshifter, Ali Sparkes, and Welsh poet Aneirin Karadog, while Year 9 and Year 10 sessions will star writers Brian Conaghan and Patrice Lawrence. Each author will take the pupils on a creative journey to produce their own dynamic and inventive writing, be it dialogue, character development or Welsh poetic kung-fu, known as Cynghanedd.

Aine Venables, education manager at Hay Festival, said: “Every May in Hay-on-Wye hundreds or thousands of young people and adults join us to meet their favourite writers, and now we’re bringing Hay Festival to them with an invitation to get creative. In these free festival days we will be taking them on a creative journey to share stories, develop dialogue and celebrate the power of writing and reading for pleasure. We want to start conversations with young people and parents alike, hear their voices and inspire their creative identities.”

Hay Festival Scribblers Tour is funded by the Welsh Government and is part of Hay Festival Foundation’s wider outreach and education work that includes the free Programme for Schools, Hay AcademyHay Compass, The Beacons Project, School Exchanges, and the Hay Levels series of free educational videos.

Education Minister Kirsty Williams said: “The Scribblers Tour captures the creativity synonymous with Hay Festival and uses it to inspire learners across Wales. I am pleased to confirm the Welsh Government is again supporting this amazing project that gives children and young people the opportunity to learn about literature and creative writing from expert speakers and authors. Unique experiences like these are an exciting part of the learning process and support the new curriculum which places creativity at its core.”

For more information visit And to support Hay Festival Foundation by becoming a Hay Festival Friend, Patron or Benefactor, visit

About the speakers:

Steven Camden is one of the UK's most acclaimed spoken-word artists and as Polarbear, has performed around the world. He also writes plays and teaches storytelling in schools and was a lead artist for Ministry of Stories and The Roundhouse poetry collective.

Brian Conaghan was born and raised in the Scottish town of Coatbridge but now lives in Dublin. He has a Master of Letters in Creative Writing from the University of Glasgow. For many years Brian worked as a teacher and taught in Scotland, Italy and Ireland. His first YA novel for Bloomsbury, When Mr Dog Bites, was shortlisted for the 2015 Carnegie Medal, and his second, The Bombs That Brought Us Together, won the 2016 Costa Children's Book Award. We Come Apart, a verse novel co-authored with Carnegie Medal winner Sarah Crossan, won the 2018 UKLA Book Award, and his fourth novel, The Weight of a Thousand Feathers, won the 2018 Irish Book Award for Teen & YA Book of the Year.

Aneirin Karadog is a poet, broadcaster, performer and linguist. He won the chair at the National Eisteddfod in Monmouthshire in 2016. He has been a presenter on Heno on S4C and was the Children's Poet of Wales. He was a rapper and a member of the bands Genod Droog and Diwygiad. He was brought up in Pontypridd but now lives in Pontyberem in the Gwendraeth Valley with his wife Laura and their children Sisial and Erwan.

Patrice Lawrence is an award-winning writer whose debut novel, Orangeboy, won The Bookseller YA Prize and the Waterstones Prize for Older Children's Fiction. Indigo Donut, her second book, was Book of the Week in The TimesThe Sunday Times and the Observer, and both books were nominated for the Carnegie Award. Her latest, Rose, Interrupted, was published in July 2019. Lawrence now lives in East London with her daughter, partner and Stormageddon, the tabby. 

Ali Sparkes is a journalist, BBC broadcaster and writer of novels for young people, including her bestselling series The Shapeshifter. Her first stand-alone novel, Frozen in Time, won the Blue Peter Book of the Year Award in 2010 and her subsequent children's adventure, Wishful Thinking, was longlisted for the Carnegie. Unleashed: A Life & Death Jobwas shortlisted for the Northern Ireland Children’s Book Award and the West Virginia Children’s Book Award. She lives with her husband and two sons in Southampton.

Jenny Valentine is an award-winning YA novelist from Hay-on-Wye. Her debut novel, Finding Violet Park, won the prestigious Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize. Her other books include The Ant ColonyThe Double Life of Cassiel Roadnight, and the Iggy & Me series. She was Hay Festival Creative Wales International Fellow 2017-18.

For more information about the Hay Festival Scribblers Tour, see here.