6 - 20 October 2017

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The Manchester Literature Festival Blog

Meet the MLF Team: Cathy Bolton

MLF Director Cathy Bolton reading a colurful picture bookCathy Bolton

  • MLF Director Cathy Bolton reading a colurful picture book

In the latest of our series of posts getting to know the MLF team, we meet Festival Director Cathy Bolton.

What's your role with the festival?

I’m the Festival Director. We’re only a very small team so it involves lots of multi-tasking: programming, business development, fundraising, book-keeping, marketing, problem solving…

What's the part of the job you most enjoy, and what is the most challenging bit?

Putting together the festival programme is definitely the most interesting part of the job, and of course watching it all unfold over two adrenalin-fuelled weeks in October – and getting to hang out with some truly awesome writers (Margaret Atwood, Kwame Dawes, Anne Enright, Richard Ford, Seamus Heaney, Bill Manhire, Zadie Smith… ). I’ve also been really blessed to work with some amazingly supportive and creative people behind the scenes.

Challenges are keeping all our different stakeholders (funders/sponsors, audience, publishers, authors) happy, and trying to translate what we do into measurable outputs to convince funders that we’re worth the investment!

What events are you really looking forward to this year?

I’m always nervously excited about our new commissions. This year I’m particularly intrigued to see what Lionel Shriver will address in her sermon and how Lemn Sissay will respond to Martin Luther King’s I Have a Dream speech.

What would be your dream MLF event?

A panel of great North American writers: Margaret Atwood, Barbara Kingsolver, Alice Munro and Annie E Proulx. And, if we could summon up the dead, a bracing moor top walk in the company of Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes.

Read any good books lately?

My partner and I adopted a little boy this summer so, for the last few weeks, I’ve only managed to read picture books. Our current favourites are The Highway Rat, Zog (Julia Donaldson), Mr Big (Ed Vere), Little Beaver and the Echo (Amy MacDonald) and How Do You Feel? (Anthony Browne).

Earlier in the year, I did make some wonderful new discoveries: Excellent Women (Barbara Pym) – it’s very rare that a novel makes me laugh out loud, and Snowdrops (A.D.Miller), a tense, beautifully atmospheric thriller that kept me up all night.