States 2021 24th April
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FULL PROGRAMME Sat. 24th April Scroll down for details

LIVE SESSIONS  Sat. 24th April  (See FREE Eventbrite ticketing)

10 – 11 am   Indie Publishing: Building the Comeback PANEL discussion with Sara-Jayne Slack of Inspired Quill and Paul Handley of Bearded Badger Books. We explore how indie presses have weathered the Covid storm and what strategies we can best use to rebuild the Indie Publishing sector as we emerge from lockdown. Chaired by Farhana Shaikh of Dahlia Books.

1 – 2pm     Rise Up: Building Resilient Writing Communities Networking Event with Farhana Shaikh of Dahlia Books. Leicester Centre for Creative Writing and Dahlia Books invites you to Rise Up – an open meeting for writers, publishers and creative practitioners.  Rise Up is an opportunity to network, exchange ideas and showcase your talent.  In this roundtable discussion led by publisher Farhana Shaikh we will reflect on the past year, discuss the impact of the pandemic and consider the importance of our communities to help us move forward in tumultuous times. 

3 – 4pm    A Creative Writing Taster with crime novelist Nicola Monaghan. This will feature a video guide with a writing task & then you can access a Premiere live chat at 3pm. 

4 – 5pm    Poetry Café on Zoom  Four poets chat about making poetry in a time of chaos, with readings of recent work, from Rennie Parker (published by Shoestring Press), Emma Lee (Arachne Press), Michele Witthaus (Wild Pressed Books) and Anthony Joseph (Peepal Tree Press)

Writing Guides:  A series of How To Videos & Writing Prompts (from 24th April on our YouTube channel)    

A Creative Writing Taster with crime novelist Nicola Monaghan. Video introduction to creative writing with writing task & premiere live chat at 3pm.

How to Submit Writing to Indie Presses An editor’s tips on the submission process from Space Cat Press ’publisher, Siobhan Logan. Space Cat currently have a submission window open for their forthcoming anthology on Aliens/ Otherness theme.

Postcards  A short video workshop on descriptive writing with task, given by fantasy author Rod Duncan. How does descriptive writing work in the mind of the reader? Beginning with a reader-based frame…  18 mins.  

Four Tips When Self-Publishing A short video guide on four things to consider when self-publishing, provided by The Book Typesetters. A workbook supports this video.

What Makes a Good Book Cover?  Poet Jo Dixon and Rachael Ravenlock from The Book Typesetters discuss the process behind choosing and designing the cover for her collection Purl (Shoestring). Includes tips on choosing the best cover for your book / what makes a good book cover from The Book Typesetters and short reading by Jo Dixon from Purl.  

Quickfire Reading & Writing! Poet and DMU Lecturer Maria Taylor hosts three short films offering writing prompts based on her own poems to get your creative ideas flowing. Poems taken from her poetry collection, Dressing for the Afterlife (Nine Arches Press)

Showcasing Indie Publishers (from 24th April on our YouTube channel)     

Women in Indie Publishing:  with Margaret Busby, UK’s first black female publisher and co-founder of Allison & Busby, Farhana Shaikh, founder of Leicester’s Dahlia Books & The Asian Writers’ magazine, and Kimberley Redway, DMU alumni, novelist, blogger & indie press editor. Interviewed by Dr. Josie Barnard SFHEA, from DMU’s Centre for Creative Writing. (Recorded on 17.3.21 and released for States 21, with kind permissions of speakers.)

A Life in Indie Publishing:  A wide-ranging video Interview, featuring Jeremy Poynting, founder of Peepal Tree Press (1986) which publishes ‘the Best in Caribbean & Black British Writing’. In conversation with Peepal Treen novelist, Anthony Joseph, (The Frequency of Magic). 60 mins.

Small but Mighty: A Closer Look at Small Press Publishing: In this article, published in Writers&Artists, Farhana Shaikh (Dahlia Books) reflects on a decade of Indie publishing, the impact of the pandemic and working as our industry partner in States 2021. Part of our Blog series.

Writers in Action:   Video-Clips from our featured Poets & Authors  (from 24th April on our YouTube channel)   

Haunting the Black Air  Readings from Anthony Joseph with a focus on Black British Experimental poetics. Joseph is a Trinidad-born poet, novelist, academic and musician who has been referred to as ‘the leader of the black avant garde in Britain.’

All the Secret Postcards    A short story written and performed by Rod Duncan against a slideshow of his own photographs. The story and photography were produced as part of the High Street Tales project, in association with Historic England.

Quickfire Reading & Writing! Poet and DMU Lecturer Maria Taylor hosts three short films offering writing prompts based on her own poems to get your creative ideas flowing. Poems taken from her poetry collection, Dressing for the Afterlife (Nine Arches Press)

PURL  Reading from Jo Dixon’s PURL poetrycollection, published by Shoestring Press (part of her video on What Makes a Good Book Cover? with The Book Typesetters).

Nicola Monaghan reads from her Dead Flowers crime novel, set in her native Nottingham and published by Verve Books. In the first of this new crime series, forensic scientist, Dr Sian Love, solves a cold crime with the help of her dog, Elvis.

Three short films by Simon Perril, based on his poetry trilogy, a narrative sequence which was inspired by a crime scene at the birth of lyric poetry in Ancient Greece. Includes the latest book in series, The Slip. (Shearsman).

How Science Fiction Inspired the Space Race:  Three short films (2-3 mins. each) taken from Siobhan Logan’s collection of non-fiction & poetry about rocketeers. With readings from Desert Moonfire: The Men Who Raced to Space . (Space Cat Press)

Blog Series: Lockdown Fiction: Four authors reflect on their experience of publishing books during the 2020/1 pandemic. (on our Blog page)

Laura Besley  ‘Written with raw honesty, Laura Besley’s debut flash collection, The Almost Mothers, exposes what it really means to be a mother.’ It was published by Dahlia Books, days before the first lockdown in March 2020.

Jon Wilkins’ debut novel, Poppy Flowers at the Front features a female ambulance driver at the front in WW1, and her affair with another nurse.  It came out just ahead of the March 2020 lockdown.  

Drew Gummerson  In the midst of a global pandemic, Bearded Badger Books launched an indie press. Their debut title, in Nov. 2020, was an uproarious novel, Seven Nights at the Flamingo Hotel by Drew Gummerson. Reviewed as ‘Mad, hilarious, and surprisingly moving…’

Anne Goodwin is an award-winning author with Inspired Quill press, who are about to publish her latest novel in May 2021. Set in a long-stay psychiatric hospital in the process of closing, Matilda Windsor Is Coming Home continues Goodwin’s focus on mental-health themes in fiction.

Note:  editors Paul Handley from Bearded Badger Books and and Sara-Jayne Slack from Inspired Quill will be joining a LIVE panel on Indie Publishing: Building the Comebackat 10 am on Sat. 24th April. 

And editor Farhana Shaikh will be reflecting on a decade of indie publishing with Dahlia Books in her blog, as well as leading a LIVE networking event for writers, on Sat. 24th April, at 1pm: Rise Up: Building Resilient Writing Communities.

With thanks to all Indie Presses, Writing Organisations, Authors & Poets Featured in States 21 Festival


Margaret Busby

Farhana Shaikh

Kimberley Redway

Siobhan Logan

Paul Handley

Sara Jane Slack

Jeremy Poynting

Presses/ Writing Organisations:

DMU Centre for Creative Writing

Dahlia Books

Inspired Quill

Bearded Badger Books



Verve Books


Longbarrow Press

The Book Typesetter Co.

Peepal Tree Press 

Handheld Press

Less Than 500

Leicester Writers’ Club

Wild Pressed Books

Nine Arches Press

V Press

Cleeve Press

Fly On the Wall

Probability Books

Authors/ Poets:

Simon Perril

Laura Besley

Nicola Monaghan

Rennie Parker

Emma Lee

Michele Witthaus

Rod Duncan

Anthony Joseph

Jo Dixon

Drew Gummerson

Anne Goodwin

Jon Wilkins

Josie Barnard

Maria Taylor

Katherine Hetzel

States 2021 is brought to you by the Leicester Centre for Creative Writing at DMU

Credit: Dahlia Books

and our industry partner, Dahlia Books.

Meet the Writers & Browse the Books via our Festival Book Hub on States 21 webpage. Opens on Easter Monday, April 5th.

Festival Visitors’ Noticeboard Share your experience of the Festival and links to your own presses/ book projects via our Padlet page, available on Sat. 24th April.

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