Marian Keyes, Candice Carty-Williams, Kerry Hudson and Tracy Chevalier are among the authors on the line-up for the inaugural Words Weekend event in Gateshead.
Chevalier will talk about her new novel A Single Thread (The Borough Press) as Jay Rayner discusses his new book My Last Supper (Guardian Faber Publishing) and Marian Keyes will be in conversation with a "very special guest" at the event at Sage Gateshead from 6th to 8th December.
Author, playwright and performer Cash Carraway will in conversation with Lowborn author (Chatto & Windus) Kerry Hudson on poverty, motherhood and survival in austerity Britain. Hudson will also be the closing keynote of the festival on Sunday evening.
Carty-Williams will talk to Liv Little about her debut novel Queenie (Trapeze) and there is a rare opportunity to hear Booker Prize winning Nigerian author Ben Okri read his poetry. Turner Prize winning artist Grayson Perry is also on the line-up as well as Michael Morpurgo and novelist Elif Shafak, who will speak on the power of words and stories to unite communities.
Festival ambassador and historian David Olusoga said: "Words Weekend is a truly unique new festival, set to shake up the literary events industry. From the vast number of free events, accessible ticket pricing, the diversity of the programme and even the way speakers are paid. The aim is to reach much further than one weekend, and we are really proud to be partnering with so many inspiring local charities and organisations in order to have year-round impact in the region. This really is a festival for the North East of today; confident, diverse and exciting."
Other programme highlights include Bernardine Evaristo in conversation with Olusoga about her new book Girl, Woman, Other and what it means to be British today; in her first North East appearance Stacey Dooley will discuss her career, and themes ranging from gender equality, to sex trafficking and sexual identity.
Nadiya Hussain will consider her roles as mother, Muslim, working woman and celebrity and will questions the barriers which many women must cross to be accepted or heard. Broadcaster and psychotherapist Philippa Perry shares thoughts from her Sunday Times bestseller The Book You Wish Your Parents Had Read (and Your Children Will Be Glad That You Did) (Penguin Life); her daughter Flo Perry will also appear. Elizabeth Day is set to give an insightful celebration of failure inspired by her popular podcast and book How To Fail (Fourth Estate); and novelist and performance poet Carmen Marcus will explain how we can use magical realism and folktales to tackle real-life problems.
More than 50 events and workshops will take place across five different spaces, with more authors to be announced. Over 25% of events are free and all are fully accessible and BSL interpreted, with a roaming interpreter facilitating conversations throughout the venue. Words Weekend, programmed by literary event producers Fane Productions, is partnering with Open Clasp Theatre Company, Sage Gateshead’s CoMusica Arches Academy Alternative Curriculum, Forum Books, New Writing North, and City of Dreams.