Industry Insights with Andrea Loizou, Director and Founder Margate Bookie

Founded by Andreas Loizou in 2015, Margate Bookie - the friendly book fest by the sea - is back in big style for this year’s Platinum Jubilee weekend, 2nd-5th June 2022. 

“Friendly and resolutely non-stuffy”, and no stranger to the joys of “boozy sing-alongs”, the festival promises to be a total blast, with an exhilarating programme of workshops, talks and children’s events poised to satisfy book-lovers of all tastes and ages.

As a special treat, attendees can look forward to hearing from LoveReading favourite Monique Roffey, author of The Mermaid of Black Conch, the exceptional winner of the 2021 Costa Book of the Year. 

Mention must also be made of the famous Bookie Poetry Slam – the drama of seeing ten poets battle it out to face the Kent Poetry Champion in an exuberant live contest is a firm (and feisty) festival favourite.

Without further ado, we’ll hand you over to Margate Bookie Director and founder Andreas to share stories about how the festival came to be, along with some tantalising tasters of this year’s seaside celebrations.

Summarise Margate Bookie in three words.

Friendly seaside litfest

When and why did you start Margate Bookie? What did the festival look like at first?

I started the Margate Bookie in a single room in a disused warehouse in 2015. I wanted the events that didn’t exist when I was a bookish youngster growing up in the town. It was fun from the very first moment. Everyone told me I had to continue. So, I did!

How has the festival changed since it was established? What challenges have you faced over the years?

It’s grown in lots of ways. We now host a four-day day litfest at different venues in Margate, including the iconic Turner Contemporary art gallery. Audiences are bigger, more people want to get involved, and I no longer have to explain where Margate is. Our big challenge is that we have too many authors to fit in! We have lots of panels and group shows, so everyone gets a turn, but we’d love to hold more events. 

What makes Margate Bookie special?

The Margate Bookie started as a hobby and has grown through the spirit and hard work of Team Bookie. I love that our festival is friendly and resolutely non-stuffy.

My hometown of Margate has always been a fascinating place. I grew up there during its boom years, then watched in horror as the town died in the 80s and 90s. I love the way the town has been reborn through culture, how it’s full of new energy and ideas, and how the Old Town is cool again. 

It’s heaven for writers. Big skies, lots of cafes and bars, long strolls along the huge beaches. We’re lucky that so many want to come down to Margate to talk about their work. 

How do you choose who to invite? Is there a selection committee? Do you have a huge wish-list of potential guests?

It’s not hard at all to get an amazing line up, because so many writers want to take part. I try to hide a hidden theme or two in each festival, but other than that there’s no great design. 

What are the most memorable festival events to date?

Apart from all the laughs, favourite authors, get-togethers and boozy sing-alongs? It’s got to be the woman who wrote these pens don’t work on her feedback form. Surrealist comedy genius? Obsessive complaining disorder? We’ll never find out. 

What highlights can festival attendees look forward to this year?

It’s a big festival this year. Really big. The line-up includes Maggie Gee, Dr Radha Modgil, Daisy Buchanan, Lauren Bravo, Rosie Wilby, Jude Cook and Felicity Hayward. I’m knocked out that Monique Roffey, who won the Costa Book of the Year, is joining us. And we’ve got children’s events, a poetry slam, the launch of our zine, hip hop and workshops. And it all finishes with a special live reading of TS Eliot’s The Waste Land

Which non-living writers and creatives would you have loved to invite to Margate Bookie?

I’d love to see George Orwell, Charles Dickens and local poet Geoffrey Chaucer discussing how social media polarises political thought. Joe Strummer will do live tweeting. 

Tell us a secret about books.

Quercus have just published my latest book, The Story is Everything. I’ve been trying to organise a launch, but both the places I chose have shut down. I very much hope this isn’t some sort of omen…

To find out more, and book tickets…

Twitter: @margatebookie 

Instagram: @margatebookie 

Facebook: @margatebookie 

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