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Highlights of the Emirates LitFest 2019

The Emirates Airline Festival of Literature really is the highlight of the year for any book-lover in the region, weaving together as it does voices from all over the world to enjoy a unique environment of talks and cultural events over two action-packed weekends.

The Desert Stanzas evening, featuring Zeina Hashem Beck, Talal Aljunaibi, Selina Tusitala March (the New Zealand poet laureate), LionHeart, Anis Chouchene, Frank Dullaghan and the wonderful Afra Atiq speaking under the stars in the silence of the desert, was a particular highlight for me.

Here’s what I got up to:

Montegrappa panel

Luigi Bonomi (agent), Flora Rees (editor), Karen Osman (Montegrappa winner 2016) and myself (Montegrappa winner 2013)

Luigi said publishers are still looking for psychological thrillers despite the market being saturated because readers are still buying it. Publishers are also looking for ‘uplit’ – stories with happy endings.

The 2019 winner of the Montegrappa Writing Prize was announced as Polly Phillips: a graduate of the Montegrappa workshop Jessica Jarlvi and I ran last November! Good luck Polly!

‘Is the Future Social?’ panel:

Ty Tashiro (psychologist), Katharine Osmerod (author) and myself

Ty revealed that ‘popular’ people and ‘likeable’ people use social media in different ways. While popular people, with huge followings, tend to use it for personal gain, people considered to be ‘likeable’ use it to lift up others by ‘liking’ their posts and posting encouragement.

The consensus on the panel was that social media is now a part of the fabric of our lives, so learning how to use it responsibly; limiting time wasted on it; and protecting our data (from companies as well as from individuals) were things everyone should be looking at doing.

 

‘How to Write a Novel in 30 Tips’ Masterclass

As this was a 90-minute class, I decided to deliver 50 ‘tips’ instead of 30. Aimed at people who were either struggling to start a novel or who had got stuck after started, my tips covered everything from hooking in the reader to preventing a ‘soggy middle’ and leaving your reader satisfied at the end.

As it was, I created my own tension by nearly running out of time – thank you all for coming! If you were in the class and would like a copy of the tips, please email me on annabel@annabelkantaria.com

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