Reviewers in Residence at Durham Book Festival 2016

During the festival six incredibly talented young journalists took over Durham for nine days. We gave them Access All Areas passes and they delivered the goods.

During the festival our Reviewers in Residence had the opportunity to hone their feature writing, blogging and interviewing skills through masterclasses and workshops with top professionals such as The Guardian’s North of England editor Helen Pidd and books vlogger (and festival “Vlogger in Residence”) Jen Campbell.

Here are some of the highlights from Durham Book Festival 2016:

"The piece explores themes of masculinity and mental health. Vented through aggression, anxiety and depression are subtly and sensitively represented. As Miller describes his feelings of rage and insecurity, the music swells to a state of hyper-masculinity. The desire to be bigger, to make yourself larger, to rage and storm at the world is intensely human and moving. The come down is harrowing."

Eloise Pearson on Matt Miller: Sticking

It confronts fame and friendship, and is engaging for its younger audience, while also being entertaining enough to keep the older members of the audience interested. The music too, was particularly well done and the play does well to showcase that its actors are all skilled musicians as well as performers.

Chase Miller on Hey Presto!

The session ends on a hopeful note with a final question during which Bates advises her teenaged self, ‘It is not you… you are not the problem. The world is a problem and we can all tackle it together.’

Amrita Paul on Laura Bates: Girl Up

I have since listened to the recorded album on Spotify, and the emotive aspects are retained from the live performance we saw. That being said, there was something special about hearing it live in the Town Hall. Everything from the music itself, to the lighting and effects that changed to reflect the mood of each track, made the performance incredibly intimate.

Jenny Elizabeth Whitfield on Kathryn Williams: Hypoxia

Overall, the event was a poignant exploration of two widely respected authors’ work, and their reasons behind writing about the First World War. The setting was, of course, atmospheric, and the addition of some unexpected humour during the Q&A made for a welcome change to such a sombre topic. The brief Q&A also came with some invaluable writing advice from both authors – something of a gift when we consider the success both have enjoyed.

Melis Anik on Writing The First World War with Pat Barker and Michael Morpurgo

Gabriel Brown even had time to sneak in a cheeky video interview with Anthony Horowitz before his event:

See all the reviews and interviews on our Durham Book Festival blog.


If being a reviewer sounds like your kind of thing don’t forget that our journalism programme for 15-23 year olds Cuckoo Review runs all year and we’re always on the lookout for new writers!

If you have questions about Cuckoo Review or any of our other opportunities for young writers you can always email or phone 0191 204 8851.