This month
Elaine Roberts interviews Philip John from the Ways With Words Festival.
Welcome to the RNA blog Philip.
Can you tell us
something about your festival, how it came about and how long its been running?
Ways With
Words have been running festivals for twenty-six years. At the beginning of
March we

visit Keswick using the fantastic Theatre by the Lake for ten
days.  July sees us at Dartington Hall in
bucolic South Devon; also a ten day festival of Words and Ideas and finally we
have a more intimate five day festival in the Suffolk seaside town of

Who are your main
speakers this year?
There has
been a political vein this year perhaps unsurprisingly with speakers including
Nick Clegg, Vince Cable, Harriet Harman, Polly Toynbee and Sayeeda Warsi. We
also have Richard Coles appearing as well as Marie-Elsa Bragg and Tracy
As our blog is for
writers can you tell me how your festival would benefit our members?
I think the
diversity of speakers at the festival is a big draw, I mentioned some of the
political figures above as main speakers but we have over one hundred authors
at Dartington and Keswick. The speakers are drawn from academics, philosophers,
comedians, and historians. One event may explore the history of the human uses
of Spider Silk another could be exploring the perils of being a Modern Dad. We
broadly deal in non-fiction though there are exceptions to every rule. Salley
Vickers is always a popular author at all our festivals. We also have an
eclectic range of poetry events and writing workshops.
Is there anything to
enter (maybe a writing competition), if so could details be provided?
 For our Words by the Water festival in Keswick
(9-18 March 2018) we run the bi-annual Mirehouse Poetry Competition.  Submission dates, and prizes are being confirmed
at the moment for 2018. Please check back on our Website or our social media
channels for updates on this prestigious poetry prize. The winning poems are
read at the famous Mirehouse location.
How about staying over
for the whole event. Where can people stay?
In Keswick
for Words by the Water there are many reputable B&B spots, close to the
Theatre by the Lake, including Lakeside House that is literally a minute from
the Theatre and comes highly recommended by many festivalgoers serving great
breakfasts and representing the warm friendly nature of Keswick
Dartington we sell accommodation packages in the historic courtyard at
Dartington Hall. We also have B&B available in residential blocks no more than
five mins away from the venues on the Dartington Estate.
At Southwold
we work with the wonderful Adnams hotels to offer accommodation in their Swan
and Crown hotels and we provide a set ticket packages to go with these
residential deals.
What does it cost to
We work hard
to keep our events affordable and pricing for events is usually around the £10
mark. We have a variety of day tickets that offer great value. We also sell
whole festival rover passes for those with the stamina!
Do workshops/talks fill
up quickly?
Workshops sell out very quickly. Our audiences have
been increasing the last couple of years so yes it pays to book early.
How much time does it
take to organise the festival?
Each festival is a little different but in general I
would say three months of intensive pre production.
Dates for this year and
possibly next?

Dartington Hall, Devon Ways With Words is on 7-17 July
Southwold, Suffolk Literature Festival is 9-13
Words by the Water, Keswick is 9-18 March 2018
And back to Dartington Hall from 6-16 July 2018
Email for queries (press and
customer relations manager)

Thank you for taking
the time to talk with us, Phillip and we wish the festival every success.
About Elaine:
Roberts is a member of the RNA’s New Writers’ Scheme and is currently working
on a family saga. She has sold short stories worldwide and enjoys attending RNA
events such as the London chapter and our annual conference. Elaine is a great
fan of writing retreats either week long by the sea with friends or one-day
retreats with fellow writers in her hometown of Dartford. Elaine runs a writing
blog along with writer, Francesca Capaldi Burgess called WriteMindWritePlace.


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