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The Big Hoot competition and Rebels with a Very Good Cause: Suffolk Stories for Young Adventurers

Primadonna Festival 2022

At the end of July, we – the MA Creative and Critical Writing cohort at the University of Suffolk – attended the Primadonna Festival in Stowmarket, to promote our new anthology, Rebels with a Very Good Cause: Suffolk Stories for Young Adventurers.

Written for middle-grade children, the collection contains stories inspired by Suffolk rebels, those who have defied justice in their adventures. With a child protagonist central to the narrative, these stories weave through time and space, connecting past and present-day children, with timeless historical figures at the heart of them.

The festival was a three-day event that took place at the Food Museum in Stowmarket, involving a celebration of local writers, music, and craft. The organisers, very kindly, allowed us to both read and promote our collection, as well as providing writing workshops for children. On Sunday morning – at the main stage, we listened to poetry from local writers and a selection of readings from Rebels with a Very Good Cause. Three students from the MA cohort read their captivating stories to a live audience, involving historical figures such as Fritz Ball, Boudicca, and Basil Brown. The atmosphere was warm and relaxed, and everyone was incredibly supportive of each other.

As well as promoting our new middle-grade collection, we also attended the Primadonna Festival in search of writers for the Big Hoot competition. Open to all ages, the competition seeks to tell the stories and adventures of the owls dotted around the centre of Ipswich. St Elizabeth’s Hospice generously let us take one of their owls, ‘Owl-fie’, to the festival for the day.

We brought him along to our writing workshop and the children loved him. We had prepared various writing and colouring activities where the children were to create and name their very own owl, inspired by either the Big Hoot trail itself, or their own imagination. The parents too got involved with the workshop, conjuring their own stories of these unique owls.

Overall, it was a successful day promoting our new collection, as well as writing for the Big Hoot competition. The sun was shining, the atmosphere was inviting, and most importantly, it was a chance for all of us to be together again, celebrating our successes.

Amber Spalding


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