Readers in the United Arab Emirates have established themselves as authors thanks to career-building opportunities at the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature. A number of authors have been inspired by the writing workshops conducted by the Festival while others have earned book-deals after winning writing competitions organised each year.
The Festival offers a variety of opportunities for aspiring writers including workshops and masterclasses by prominent authors and poets, one-on-one sessions with a top literary agent, the Literary Idol session where writers can anonymously submit their works, and writing competitions catering to all age-groups.
The Festival’s adult writing competition, the Montegrappa First Fiction Competition has had impressive results since its establishment. The competition is aimed at first-time writers and has already resulted in book deals for the 2013 winners. Winners of the 2014 competition are working on their manuscripts with Luigi now and closing in on book deals of their own. The competition, whilst not guaranteeing publication of the winners’ manuscripts, does give them the unique opportunity to be critiqued by Luigi Bonomi, a leading literary agent from the UK. The Montegrappa First Fiction Competition for 2015 is now open and receiving entries. The competition closes midnight, January 11, 2015. All entries are done via the Festival website.
Rachel Hamilton was an aspiring writer in 2013 before winning second place at the Montegrappa First Fiction Competition. Luigi Bonomi, who judged the competition, signed Hamilton two weeks later and within a month’s time, Hamilton had a book deal with Simon & Schuster. She has since gone on to publish her critically-acclaimed children’s novel, “The Case of the Exploding Loo”, with a sequel on its way. Hamilton appeared at the 2014 Festival discussing her journey from reader to author and the world of publishing.
The winner of the 2013 Montegrappa First Fiction Competition, Annabel Kantaria, reworked her manuscript after the competition and went on to secure a book deal with Harlequin. Her first novel, “Coming Home”, will be published in May 2015.
Nicolas Forzy was given invaluable guidance by Luigi Bonomi, whom he met at the Festival. While at the Festival looking to secure a publisher for his book “ALPHANUMERIC”, Forzy was offered expert advice that led to a publication deal by Lodestone Books. Forzy appeared at the 2014 Festival as a moderator and author and is now on his way to publishing his second novel.
New author Tom Callaghan, whose first novel, “A Killing Winter”, will be published in 2015, was inspired to write his novel after attending a Mark Billingham’s creative writing workshop at the Festival. Callaghan’s novel is the first in a seasonally-titled trilogy following detective Akyl Borubaev of the Bishkek Murder Squad who is sent to investigate the murders of several women. The novel promises to give readers insight into the beautiful country of Kyrgyz and has been described by publisher Quercus as a polished debut thriller that combines “originality and timeliness”.
Similarly, Dubai resident Stephanie Opitz was inspired by attending workshops at the fifth Festival and wrote “Friendship is about Dubai”, a children’s book about life and the unique bonds between people who move to Dubai. Opitz self-published the book and has been conducting readings all over the city, as well as at the 2014 Festival.
The Festival prides itself on its community atmosphere and works towards creating a meeting space for literature-enthusiasts. Local author Sahar Naja Mahfouz met such like-minded people while at the Festival and went on to establish the Hunna Ladies group, a community of 16 writers and illustrators in the region. The Hunna Ladies have evolved creatively and several of the group have since gone on to become published authors and appear at the Festival, including Mahfouz, Reem Ghazal, Reem Gurg, Maitha Al Khayat, Noura Khoori, Etisalat Children’s Book Award-winner Noura Al Noman, Fadwa Al Qasem and Kathy Shalhoub.
The Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, which is part of the Emirates Literature Foundation, will take place in Dubai from 3 to 7 March 2015 under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice-President & Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, and in partnership with Emirates airline and the Dubai Culture & Arts Authority (Dubai Culture), the Emirate’s dedicated Authority for culture, arts, and heritage. For more details of the Festival please see www.emirateslitfest.com
For more information, please contact:
|Sam Al Hashimi, Head of CommunicationsTel: +971 (04) 353 4002 ext 207||Ronita Mohan, Communications Co-ordinatorTel: +971 (04) 353 4002 ext 204
Mob: +971 (0) 56 106 7304