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Writeidea Programme Friday and Saturday

All the events are FREE. You can just come along on the day, but some events will be very popular, so to guarantee entry please book your free place.


We still have a couple of events to finalise - we'll add them as soon as we can.

Friday 16 November

michael Rosen

Michael Rosen 7:00pm
So They Call You Pisher! A Memoir

Michael is everyone’s favourite children’s novelist and poet, the author of over 140 books. He is a TV and radio presenter, blogger and columnist and served as Children’s Laureate from 2007 to 2009. In this humorous and moving memoir, Michael recalls the first twenty-three years of his life. Born in the North London suburbs, his parents, Harold and Connie, both teachers, first met in the 1930s as teenage Communists in the Jewish East End. The family home was filled with stories of relatives in London, the United States and France and of those who had disappeared in Europe. Unlike the children around them, Rosen and his brother grew up dreaming of revolution; Party meetings were held in the front room, until it all changed after a trip to East Germany, when in 1957 his parents decided to leave ‘the Party.’ Michael followed his own journey of radical self-discovery: running away to the Aldermaston March to ban the bomb, writing and performing in experimental political theatre, getting arrested during the events of 1968. This is a memorable and worthwhile read from a principled man who celebrates the funny side of life.


Saturday 17 November

Suresh Singh

Suresh Singh 1:00pm
Memoirs of a Cockney Sikh

In the first Sikh biography to be published in this country, Suresh Singh tells the candid story of his father Joginder Singh who came to Spitalfields in 1949. Joginder sacrificed a life in the Punjab to work in England and send money home, yet he found himself in his element living among the infinite variety of people who inhabited the streets around Brick Lane. Born and bred in Spitalfields, Suresh became the first Punjabi punk, notably playing drums for Spizzenergi and touring with Siouxsie & the Banshees.

Muhammad Khan

Muhammad Khan 1:00pm
I am Thunder

In 2015, three Bethnal Green schoolgirls fled to Syria to join the self-proclaimed Islamic State. 
I Am Thunder is a response to that event, written by secondary school teacher Muhammad Khan to explore the lives of young British Muslims. His 15-year-old protagonist, the unforgettable Muzna, dreams of being a writer but is drawn down a more dangerous path. Islamophobia and terrorism are intrinsic to the plot yet this is an uplifting, empowering novel with hope at its heart – and Muzna’s search for identity is a universal one.


melanie mcgrath

Melanie McGrath 2:30pm
Pie and Mash Down the Roman Road

Melanie McGrath is the award-winning author of the bestselling family memoir Silvertown. Her latest book, Pie and Mash Down the Roman Road, is the nonfiction account of more than a century of the lives and loves of residents living around one east end market. 

Melanie will be discussing her research and revealing just a few of the many true-life stories in the book at the festival. 

helen croydon

Helen Croydon 2:30pm
This Girl Ran

Helen Croydon is an author, journalist and broadcaster. Her latest title This Girl Ran: Tales of a Party Girl Turned Triathlete is a memoir about going from glamorous city girl to GB triathlete.

She has written for all UK national newspapers and several magazines, with a focus on social trends, modern relationships, gender issues and health and fitness. You may have seen her reviewing the papers on BBC News Channel or Sky News or joining topical discussions on programmes such as Good Morning Britain, Woman’s Hour or Newsnight.

philippa stockley

Philippa Stockley 2:30pm
Black Lily

Philippa Stockley’s third novel, Black Lily, is set in murky and merciless late 17th-century London.  Mixed-race Zenobia struggles for independence in this male-led world of chancers and developers, joining forces with black immigrant and former slave, Lily. This is a fast, evocative mystery novel lit by black humour. A local, Stockley loves East London’s murk and history and she brings the city vividly to life with pungent milieux ranging from plague pits to prisons to pastry kitchens.

frances hardinge

Frances Hardinge 2:30pm
A Skinful of Shadows

Writeidea is delighted to welcome the author of the Costa Award-winning The Lie Tree to talk about her latest novel A Skinful of Shadows. Hear about Frances Hardinge’s extraordinary writing career, how life has changed since winning the award and her latest dark historical tale of a mysterious family’s hidden secrets, and a young girl’s quest to shape her own destiny.

edin suljic

Edin Suljic 2:30pm
Note on Rose

Edin Suljic, a local poet who lives in Whitechapel had his first poetry collection Note on Rose published this autumn. Edin is an accomplished writer and artist and member of poets collective ‘Bards Without Borders’. He is a long-standing member of Exiled Writers Ink, an organization formed to promote writers of exiled and immigration background. He also has a wealth of experience to draw from, as an artist in the UK, originally from former Yugoslavia, and he brings particular insight in relating to migration, refugees and matters such as multilingualism 

john broughton

John Broughton 4:00pm
Municipal Dreams: the Rise and Fall of Council Housing

For almost four decades, we have been taught to see public spending as a bad thing; ruthless economising as a virtue. John Broughton’s respected blog, Municipal Dreams, shows there is an alternative. His book of the same name celebrates a time when dreams of shelter and security for all – not just those who could afford to purchase it – were in large part made a reality, and asks us if we oughtn’t to consider reviving that dream before it gets destroyed completely.

kate young

Kate Young 4:00pm
The Little Library Cookbook

Growing up, Kate Young’s memories of books and of food are intertwined - dreaming of rich treacle tart by the Gryffindor fire or drinking gallons of ginger beer with the Famous Five. Hear how she turned finding inspiration in literature into a blog, and then a book of her own.

Kate Young is an award-winning food writer and cook and named Blogger of the Year in 2017 by the Guild of Food Writers. 


diana evans

Diana Evans 4:00pm
Ordinary People

Diana Evans, a British author of Nigerian and English descent will be talking about her book Ordinary People. The novel opens in the autumn of 2008 with a party to celebrate Obama’s election and ends with Michael Jackson’s death in June the following year. It has been described as “that rarest of books – a portrait that lays bare the normality of black family life in suburban London, while revealing its deepest psyche, its tragedies, its hopes and its magic.”

savita kalhan

Savita Kalhan 4:00pm
The Girl in the Broken Mirror

Savita Kalhan will be talking about her book The Girl in the Broken Mirror which explores the theme of culture clash and describes the pressure faced by its protagonist Jay in growing up trying to be part of two worlds. Savita does not shy away from cultural taboos. She says “Jay’s journey is traumatic, but I firmly believe, that the story must inspire the feeling that there is both help and hope at the end of the darkness.”

jay bernard

Jay Bernard 5:30pm
Surge: Side A
In 1981, thirteen young black people were killed in a house fire in New Cross. A defining moment in Black British history, the fire happened during a period of racist attacks across multicultural inner London, including Tower Hamlets. Writing in the voices of those killed, and using archive film, video and audio, poet Jay Bernard re-visits the New Cross Massacre and asks what we can learn from it today.  Jay Bernard’s work is multi-disciplinary, queer, and rooted in the archives. Surge: Side A won this year’s Ted Hughes poetry award and will be published in 2019.


Storytelling with Embers 5:30pm
The Embers Collective is a London based storytelling and live music group. Formed by three friends, a writer, an actor and a musician in 2016. Driven by a passion for the art of sharing stories, Embers wanted to put on events with a focus on community and connection.  They adapt world mythology, weaving stories and songs into a live, evolving musical landscape. They put on regular events in venues, festivals, forests and fields all over the UK and beyond.

dina begum

Dina Begum 5:30pm
Brick Lane Cookbook

Come and hear Dina Begum as she celebrates Brick Lane’s diverse food cultures, from the home-style Bangladeshi curries she grew up eating, to her own luscious and indulgent cakes.

The Brick Lane Cookbook is a culinary map of the East End’s tastiest street and a snapshot of London at its authentic, multi-cultural best.


Joyce Hampton 5:30pm
The Story of the Huguenots: A Unique Legacy

Fleeing oppression after 1685, tens of thousands of French Protestants, the Huguenots, came here to start again. Joyce Hampton, successful author of Looking Back, a Century of Life in Bethnal Green revisits the area where so many Huguenots settled. She will talk to us about her new book The Story of the Huguenots and the amazing legacy of these refugees.

gentle author book

The Gentle Author 7:00pm
The Life and Times of Mr Pussy: A Memoir of a Favourite cat

The Gentle Author reads stories of Spitalfields’ most famous cat, Mr Pussy, who died last year but lives on in this compilation of favourite tales of feline domestic life.

“I was always disparaging of those who dote over their pets, as if this apparent sentimentality were an indicator of some character flaw. That changed when I bought a cat, just a couple of weeks after the death of my father. “ — The Gentle Author.

The Life and Times of Mr Pussy is a literary hymn to the intimate relationship between humans and animals, filled with sentiment yet without being sentimental.