Children’s books publicist Mary Byrne is planning to attract more teenagers to this year’s Hay Festival, following her appointment as programmer of the Hay Festival’s children’s strand, Hay Fever.
Byrne succeeds Sophie Lording in the role, following Lording’s move to take up a post at the BBC’s College of Production.
Among the authors already confirmed for the festival line-up are names including Julia Donaldson, Judith Kerr, Anthony Browne, Tony Ross and Quentin Blake, who delivers the opening Hay Library Lecture on 23rd May. Fiction big names include Michael Morpurgo, who will share a stage with Kerr, as well as Malorie Blackman, John Boyne, Derek Landy, Lauren Child, Charlie Higson and Sophie McKenzie. Picture book writers and illustrators also include Chris Judge, Jon Klassen and David Shelton.
Byrne said: “There is a huge amount of YA literature coming through that appeals to teens as well as adults, and teens are always a really challenging audience to get on site. I’d like to take on that challenge to see if we can grow the teen audience this year.” Byrne also said the aim was to show that Hay was a great destination for families, providing something for everyone: “The idea is to make it even more appealing to families as somewhere to come in the half-term holidays.”
Byrne also plans to extend the schools and outreach programme, with more authors likely to travel for additional events. She said: “The schools and outreach programme is increasingly important as this is a key part of Hay’s international aim to bring literature into the community. This has been growing steadily in recent years.”
She added: “We do want to have the huge legends there, and also it’s important to give publishers and authors a new voice if possible.”