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After a difficult couple of years for us all, the BeaconLit Festival Committee is thrilled to announce its intent to return to 'business as usual' with a full-day festival on Saturday 16 July in Ivinghoe, Bucks. Save the date now and watch this space as we confirm a stellar cast of authors, writers, broadcasters and other literary guests.
A less than perfect day over Ivinghoe Lawn. Book lovers gathered for half a day. Authors talking about and signing their books. After a two-year absence, BeaconLit returned to Buckinghamshire with an echoes of the very first festival back in 2013 - two panels in a marquee on that very lawn. From those small beginnings, BeaconLit grew into a well-respected, enthusiastically supported festival, with a reputation for combining friendly village event charm with organisational excellence, and attracting an eclectic range of great literary names.
Then Festival 2020 was cancelled due to the Covid 19 pandemic and, for a while, it had seemed 2021 was destined to go the same way. The organisers had even gone so far as to cancel it. But then, with a slight upturn in the outlook, and a relaxing of restrictions, with more on the way, we decided it was time for a return, albeit on a modest scale. So, on 10 July 2021 - keeping to the original date - a mini-festival went ahead with just two authors: bestselling crime novelist Cara Hunter, and writer and actor Sophie Ward, whose debut novel was longlisted for the 2020 Booker Prize.
The scale of the festival wasn't the only change: masks and social distancing; Ivinghoe Old School Community Hub hosted, after six years at Brookmead School; a new book seller in My Book Shop, Tring; and simultaneous live streaming of the event, making a small, but perfectly formed festival more widely accessible.
BeaconLit favourites, BBC correspondent Adina Campbell, and crime author and Festival co-founder Dave Sivers, did the interviewing honours and the audience enjoyed the events and enthusiastically bought books and got them signed. Feedback has been good, and the festival committee is already looking at how best to use necessity's 2021 ire-invention as a springboard for Festival 2022, which we hope will take place in more normal times.
BeaconLit – Ivinghoe’s very own book festival – is back with an exciting mini-festival on Saturday 10 July 2021. The festival, which launched in 2013 and ran every year until the Covid pandemic, was cancelled in 2020, and the festival committee decided that, due to ongoing uncertainty over restrictions, Festival 2021 could not go ahead in its usual format of a full day, jam-packed with author panels, interviews, workshops and more. But, since taking that heartbreaking decision, we’ve been looking at what we might be able to offer our book-loving friends and supporters.
We’re now thrilled to announce that BeaconLit will be back on the original Festival 2021 date of 10 July with two fabulous author interviews. Subject to (and in full compliance with) Government Covid regulations and advice, the event will take place in front of a limited live audience with simultaneous live streaming. In the event the audience event is unable to take place, the streaming will still go ahead.
The event will take place at Ivinghoe Old School Community Hub, not to be confused with the usual Brookmead School venue further down the High Street.
First up will be bestselling crime author Cara Hunter, whose books featuring DI Adam Fawley and his Oxford-based police team have sold over a million copies in the UK alone, and been translated into 23 languages so far. Her fourth novel, No Way Out was selected by the Sunday Times as one of the 100 best crime novels since 1945. Her first novel Close to Home sold over half a million copies, was a Richard and Judy Book Club pick and was shortlisted for Crime Book of the Year in the British Book Awards 2019. The fifth book, The Whole Truth, published this year, is a Richard and Judy summer pick for 2021. The TV rights to the series have been acquired by the Fremantle group.
Cara will be interviewed by Buckinghamshire crime author and BeaconLit co-founder Dave Sivers. Dave’s popular series featuring detectives Lizzie Archer and Dan Baines are set in Buckinghamshire’s Aylesbury Vale, and In Ink, published in 2020, introduced DI Nathan Quarrel in the start of a new series set in West Hertfordshire. His latest novel, Die in the Dark, is the sixth in the Archer and Baines series and was published in March 2021.
Our second stellar guest is Sophie Ward, an actor and writer from North London who has worked extensively in film, television and theatre. Her non-fiction book, A Marriage Proposal, was published by The Guardian in 2014. Her first novel, Love And Other Thought Experiments came out last year. The novel was shortlisted for the McKitterick Prize, and longlisted for the Desmond Elliot Prize and the 2020 Booker Prize. Her second novel, The Schoolhouse, will be published in 2022.
Sophie will be interviewed by BeaconLit regular Adina Campbell. Adina is the BBC’s Community Affairs Correspondent and has a wide brief reporting on stories in the UK and abroad. They recently include looking at the impact of the pandemic on ethnic minority groups, George Floyd’s murder and covering the London Mayoral election as part of BBC One’s special programme coverage. She was also deployed to Buckingham Palace when the Duke of Edinburgh died. Before working in network news, Adina used to report and present on BBC South Today covering stories in Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire and surrounding areas. Adina is a fitness enthusiast and a new mum: she gave birth to her son during the first national lockdown.
Tickets, priced £15, will go on sale on Monday 28 June. To be sure of up to date information, subscribe to our mailing list at beaconlit.co.uk, follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook.
With heavy hearts, the BeaconLit Festival Committee has decided not to proceed with planning for Festival 2021, which was to have been held on Saturday 10 July.
We share the disappointment and frustration of book lovers, and the simply amazing line up of guests we had in store. We had so wanted to go ahead this year, after last year's cancellation. Unfortunately, whilst there is much optimism about the road map out of Covid-19 restrictions and, in particular, the vaccination programme, we are not yet certain that restrictions, especially on indoor events, will be lifted to an extent that will make numbers in our relatively small venue either viable or fair to the authors, interviewers etc taking part.
We have therefore taken the painful decision to cancel BeaconLit 2021 and plan to come back stronger than ever next year. Please watch this space for further details. In the meantime, last year's BeaconLit Online events are still available to view for free here, and we are considering whether any interim events may be offered later this year.