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Agency clients Malorie Blackman, Candy Gourlay and Amara Sage took part in the Hay Festival of Literature & Arts last week.

On Sunday 4th June, #MerkyBooks founder Stormzy was joined by authors Jade LB, Jyoti Patel and our very own Malorie Blackman to celebrate five years of the award-winning publishing imprint which launched in 2018. Malorie’s highly anticipated autobiography Just Sayin’: My Life in Words, published from #MerkyBooks in 2022. The panel, moderated by Emma Dabiri, discussed the imprint’s ambition to publish books that will own and change the mainstream. In discussing Just Sayin’ Malorie mentioned how she wished “Merky had been around when I was growing up […] I would have seen my life reflected[…] I would have felt less lonely” and advocated for local libraries saying “I wouldn’t be talking to you now if it wasn’t for my local library […] I lived in my local library as a child”.

The discussions from the Stormzy: Five Years of #Merky Books panel have been picked up by news outlets including The Guardian and The Evening Standard. The full event recording can be viewed via Hay Player at the link below.

© Hay Festival

At her own event earlier in the festival, Candy Gourlay discussed her latest book Wild Song (David Fickling Books) and the history of the story set in the Philippines in 1904, alongside it’s critically acclaimed prequel Bone Talk (David Fickling Books). Alongside discussing her books published to date, including Shine and Tall Story (David Fickling Books), Candy also shared with the audience her early experiences being published, and her advice for writers to “write who you are”. Candy’s full event can be watched on Hay Player via the link below, which also includes links to Wild Song teaching materials for KS3/4.

© Hay Festival

Amara Sage also took to the Hwyl Stage on 2nd June to talk about her debut, YA novel Influential (Faber) which published at the start of this year. Featured as one of The Guardian’s “2023 in Books: Highlights for the Year Ahead” list, Influential is a heart-felt, whip-smart deep dive into what it would really be like to be internet famous at 17. Shooting straight to the heart of the modern-day teenage experience – both online and offline, Amara discussed the themes and inspiration behind Influential including social media, cancel culture, online trolling, body image and more.

© Hay Festival

To watch and listen to Stormzy: Five Years of #Merky Books via Hay Player click here.

To watch, listen and find teaching resources from Candy Gourlay’s event via Hay Player click here.

For details of Amara Sage’s event click here.

For the Guardian’s article on Hay’s #Merky Books event click here.

For the Evening Standard’s article on Hay’s #Merky Books event click here.