Meet the Haymaker – Sam Soar

Our monthly 'Meet the Haymaker' series shares stories of the change-makers at the heart of Hay Festival Global and the impact it has had on their lives. This month, get to know content creator Sam Soar who joined us at Hay Festival Hay-on-Wye 2024. You can follow Sam on TikTok and Instagram @SamFallingBooks.

What does Hay Festival mean to you?

I’ve now visited Hay Festival for the second time and second year in a row and I think it could be a tradition that I continue far into the future. Being able to see a variety of incredible authors and thinkers and witnessing discussions on stage has been nothing short of a privilege. Not to mention the amazing artists expressing their crafts all around the festival from music to poetry. I leave Hay Festival again this year having learnt so much and having shared ideas and conversations with interesting people, met so many other like-minded readers and I also have a notes app full of new book recommendations! 

To me there’s no other festival that fills my soul like Hay Festival.

What’s your favourite Festival memory?

It has to be reading in the centre of the Festival. The sun shining, my book spread open, surrounded by my friends who are also all reading, and we’re sharing strawberries and peaches that we bought from a local stall. There’s a light breeze, lots of laughter around, and I’m looking forward to visiting the Hay Festival bookshop to pick up another book. Absolute bliss! 

Have you ever changed your mind on something having been to a Hay Festival event?

Not quite a change of mind and more of a change of mindset, but in Chris Thorogood’s talk on saving the world’s largest flowers, he touched on how we fundamentally need to change the way we view plants. We have developed a form of plant blindness of sorts where we almost ignore plants and forget that they are living beings. To preserve and to care for the plants of our planet we must look at things in wonder even if that’s just the plants on our doorstep. I am definitely looking at the world through a different lens after this talk.

Who was the best speaker or performer you saw on a Hay Festival stage?

Difficult to pick as all the talks I attended were incredible. My favourites included David Nicholls, Coco Mellors and Kaliane Bradley. All captivated me with talks around their craft, their inspiration, and capturing the heart of their story for readers to fall into the pages. I left desperate to devour all of their books. I especially loved Coco Mellors’ event when she talked about the complicated nature of grief and how she explores that through her numerous main characters in her book Blue Sisters.

What advice do you have for a first-timer at the Festival?

Go to any talk that sounds interesting because you will be surprised at how much you will learn and enjoy hearing about a completely new topic.

I ended up going to a talk about a scientist trying to save the world’s largest flower and left feeling incredibly inspired by the resilience of the researcher but also invigorated to find out more.

Soak up the atmosphere and intersperse the day with time to read! Hay Festival has so many great spots.

Sum up Hay Festival in five words or less…

Inspiring people and interesting conversations.