“Oh I do like to be by the seaside …. and I do like to read a good book … and when you put the two together … it’s definitely worth having a look!”
OK, my poetry skills may need polishing but I can’t think of a better place to wallow in everything books, writing and storytelling. From the first tiny audience of 80 people in 2015, the Margate Bookie Festival has grown to 5,000 a year. In 2022, The Margate Bookie Festival will be running from 2nd June to 5th June with a bumper programme of workshops, book launches, author readings, live performances, poetry recitals…. all by the sea! I caught up with CEO & Founder Andreas Loizou to find out more…Hi Andreas!
Hi! I’m Andreas, and I started the Margate Bookie in a single room in a warehouse in 2015. The Bookie’s grown in ways that I never imagined. We now host a four-day day litfest at different venues in Margate, including the iconic Turner Contemporary gallery. Audiences are bigger, more people want to get involved, and I no longer have to explain where Margate is.
What was the inspiration behind the setting up of the Margate Bookie Festival?
I wanted the events that didn’t exist when I was a bookish youngster growing up in the town. It was fun from very the first moment. Everyone told me I had to continue. So I did!
Margate is 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.
What are going to be the main attractions of the 2022 Margate Bookie?
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 directed by Richard Skinner, who heads up the Faber & Faber Novel Writing Academy.
You are going to be launching your own new book “The Story Is Everything” at the Margate Bookie this year – an enjoyable experience I’m sure it will be – do you get nervous at book launches? What do you think is so special about launching a new book at a book festival?
I split the world into two types of party people – you’re either a host or a guest. I’ve held a party every year since I was eight, so I don’t really suffer from party fears.
Writing a book is a big commitment. The Story is Everything took a year to write and a year to revise and edit. It’s good to mark its appearance in the wider world. There’s something magical about seeing your original ideas printed in a beautiful book. It’s a moment to celebrate, the time to crack open a bottle of champagne as she slides down the slipway…
Apart from being founder of the Margate Bookie and an author, you also teach business storytelling and writing skills at companies and universities around the world. What does that entail?
I’ve taught courses all over the world to many different types of people. NGO workers from Madagascar, bankers in Rome, security chiefs in the shadow of a heavily-guarded oil terminal jutting into the Thames. All of my lovely students want to influence how their readers think, feel and act. They want to feel confident and in control as they write, and proud of what they publish. They smart ones are very clear about what they want to avoid – dull, corporate and boring are all on the shit list!
Have you always wanted a career in the world of literature or did you have other aspirations?
I’ve always wanted to do too many things. I like to be challenged and to learn. I’ve still got a lot more books to write.
What advice would you give to anybody thinking of starting a career in writing?
The more you imagine a single reader, the more your writing connects with many different people.
When I prepare my work, I always visualise the same listener, Clare, sitting in the chair opposite me. She’s a smart person, but not an expert in my subject. She has high standards when it comes to grammar, logic and presentation, but she’s also supportive and forgives my mistakes. If I keep Clare in her chair just through my words, I know I’m on the right track.
Think more about the writing than the career.
Personal now, what outfits/footwear would you normally wear at the Margate Bookie? Any “lucky socks”??
The Bookie is normally held during warm months, so there’s no chance for me to wear my lucky writing cardigan. Looking through the photos of the last seven years, it’s clear that red Campers and old Paul Smith workshirts have been staples.
Boots Or Shoes?
Got to be shoes. I cover a lot of ground during the litfest!
Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers can learn more about the Margate Bookie
@margatebookie on TW, FB and Insta
Photographs by Ben and published with kind permission. Header/Pinterest photo by Linda Hobden