Sinéad Gleeson in Conversation

Sinéad Gleeson, beloved, Irish no. 1 bestselling author joins us in conversation with Wendy Erskine about her haunting debut novel.

Haunting and insidiously eerie, Gleeson’s mesmerising debut ‘Hagstone’ finds an artist resident on a secluded island receiving a commission from a mysterious commune called the Inions.  The sea is steady for now. The land readies itself. What can be done with the woman on the cliff?

On a wild and rugged island cut off and isolated to some, artist Nell feels the island is her home. It is the source of inspiration for her art, rooted in landscape, folklore and the feminine. The mysterious Inions, a commune of women who have travelled there from all over the world, consider it a place of refuge and safety, of solace in nature.

Sinéad Gleeson is a literary sensation. Sinéad has been celebrated at home and internationally for her award-winning memoir Constellations: Reflections From Life and This Woman’s Work, a collection of essays on music, co-edited with Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth.

‘Intelligent, probing’  MAGGIE O’FARRELL 

‘Wild, singular… gripped me from the start’  DOUGLAS STUART 

‘A gorgeous, mysterious read’ AISLING BEA

‘Teeth’ Book Launch

You’re invited to join writer John Patrick Higgins in conversation and reading from his new book ‘Teeth: An Oral History’

Teeth,like a weeping father at a wedding, give you away. Like St Peter, they will betray you three times: breakfast, lunch and dinner. Teeth are a memento mori, a sudden glimpse of the naked skull beneath the skin.

John Patrick Higgins has had bad teeth for as long as he can remember and you might expect him, being English, not to notice. But he has noticed, and he’s done something about it. This book recounts his journey from a mouthful of moist gravel to the Pole-star wattage of a Hollywood A-lister. But first comes the horror of “stabilisation”. The trenches dug into his gums. The water- boarding horror of the dentist’s chair. The deforestation of his bank account.

Will he survive the ordeal? And if he does—blinking into that bright new day—will there be anything to smile about? Teeth: An Oral History is a bitingly funny story, illustrated by the author, and featuring a glossary of useful terms, as most of his references pre-date the discovery of fluoride.”

Hollie McNish: The Lobster Tour with Michael Pedersen

After a run of sold out shows up and down the UK, Hollie McNish is back with a brand new book, Lobster and other things I’m learning to love. A Sunday Times bestselling writer whose live readings are not to be missed, expect strong language and adult content, gift-wrapped in gorgeously crafted poetry.

In Lobster, Hollie brings her much-loved style to questions offriendship, flags and newborns, clocks, cocks and volvos, shining a ridiculous and beautifully poetic lens upon all those things we have been taught to hate, and which we might just learn to love again. Here, she will be joined by fellow poet Michael Pedersen reading from his latest brilliant books The Cat Prince and Boy Friends.

Adult content warning 14+ / Book signing after the gig

“Makes me cry and howl with laughter” – Paapa Essiedu

“Her writing is sublime” – Ellie Taylor

“like Pam Ayres on acid” – Lemn Sissay

“One of the best poets we have”. – Matt Haig

“Rubbish” – The Telegraph

About the Author
Hollie McNish is a poet and author based between Glasgow and Cambridge. She was the first poet to record at Abbey Road Studios, London and won the Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry for her poetic parenting memoir – Nobody Told Me -of which The Scotsman stated ‘The World Needs this Book’.

She has published four further collections of poetry – Papers, Cherry Pie, Plum and Slug, which was a Sunday Times bestseller.Her new book, Lobster, and other things I’m learning to love is out now. She loves writing.

Annie Macmanus in Conversation – in partnership with Ulster Presents at Ulster University

CQAF  in partnership with Ulster Presents at Ulster University welcomes Annie Macmanus to the festival to talk about her writing and her career in music and broadcasting.  Hosted by Shauna McLaughlin.

‘To be honest with you, I want to make music.’ In Annie Macmanus’ absorbing second novel ‘The Mess We’re In’ it’s the early noughties and 21-year-old Orla Quinn has made her way to London with a burning desire to become part of the music industry. Moving into a squalid house in Kilburn with her friend Neema and up-and-coming rock band Shiva, Orla works in the local Irish pub and takes work experience at a record label. Negotiating hedonism, sex, parties, the pub locals and life in London, all soundtracked by her favourite artists, Orla learns what it will take to make it.

A dynamic and enthusiastic speaker, Annie will discuss the journey she’s undertaken from discussing other people’s stories to telling her own. Annie is internationally renowned as a DJ, broadcaster and host.

Her debut novel ‘Mother Mother’ was critically acclaimed. She hosts the podcast Changes where she talks to people from all walks of life about the challenges they’ve faced.

‘Captures a time and a place with heart and irresistible momentum in a prose that can be bracingly lyrical.’THE OBSERVER

‘The writing is so vivid – I could almost feel Orla’s hangover, and everyone else’s too. [Macmanus has] created a great gang of characters, and a great variety too, all of them very human… And London – what [she’s] managed to do with London, and what London means to different generations of Irish people – is terrific, and deeply moving.’ RODDY DOYLE

‘Orla is written with unsentimental authenticity… It is her flaws, her vulnerability and her complexity that make her such a compelling character that will resonate with anyone who has ever left home in search of themselves… Orla is searching for a voice in the noise – Macmanus articulates that hunger with confidence and compassion.’ IRISH TIMES



Luke Haines Freaks Out! Weirdos, Misfits and Deviants – The Rise and Fall of Righteous Rock ’n’ Roll

Join Luke Haines for this in-conversation talk about his new book.

The outsider artist par excellence turns his caustic eye to the rise and fall of alternative rock ’n’ roll heroes.

In his first book for thirteen years, author Luke Haines – visual artist, writer and musician most famed as the founder member of the Auteurs and Black Box Recorder – chronologically explains how ‘freaks’ infiltrated modern culture, and almost won the rock ’n’ roll wars, only to lose to the rise of Cool Britannia and TV ‘talent’ shows that turned the strange and the outsiders into fodder for laughter.

Freaks Out! tells the story of pivotal freaks such as Johnnie Ray, Gene Vincent, Hank Marvin, Syd Barrett, the Incredible String Band and Big Youth through the prism of rock ’n’ roll, as well as through wider culture – the Cathars, the Ranters, the Hells Angels and the Yippies. Haines’ writing is the perfect mix of in-depth music knowledge, personal anecdotes and fascinating memoir that makes for the ultimate celebration of freakdom.

Pete Selby, Publishing Director for Nine Eight Books who acquired the book directly from Haines said: “Whilst the reductivism of the labels might stick in his craw, Luke is one of our greatest pop culture writers, theorists and provocateurs. A defiantly solipsistic, sacred cow skewering agitator, you may not always agree with what he says, but he says it in such an eloquent and entertaining fashion it’s impossible not to grit your teeth and applaud. Freaks Out! – part memoir, part manifesto – is the most righteous alternate history of rock ’n’ roll that you will read in 2024.”

Luke Haines is a London-based writer, visual artist, singer-songwriter and founder member of the Auteurs and Black Box Recorder. In 1993, the debut Auteurs album, New Wave lost the Mercury Music Prize by one vote to Suede. A prolific artist, he has released nineteen albums in the twenty-first century, most recently his 2022 collaboration with REM’s Peter Buck – All the Kids Are Super Bummed Out.

He writes a regular monthly column for Record Collector and is the author of two critically acclaimed autobiographical books: Bad Vibes (2009) and Post Everything (2011).

Sara Pascoe – Weirdo

The debut novel from the bestselling and award-winning comedian, in conversation with Kathy Clugston.

We are delighted to be welcoming Sara Pascoe to CQAF. Best known as a comedian, Sara has also written for television and is the host of The Great British Sewing Bee. Sara has already written two books – both non-fiction,  her first novel is Weirdo. 

It follows Sophie, who is feverishly anxious and working hard to be happy in her own skin – if only life wouldn’t make that so hard. Deep in Essex and her own thoughts, Sophie had a feeling something was going to happen, and then it did! Sara will be talking about her book and her writing and the interview will be followed by a Q and A.

The event will be followed by a book signing.

‘Funny, sad, engaging, Pascoe nails everything that confronts women today.’ Stylist

Revolucion to Roxy, Phil Manzanera In Conversation

Phil Manzanera, one of the UK’s best-known musicians and record producers, having shot to prominence in the early ‘70’s as the lead guitarist with the seminal band, Roxy Music, has written his memoir, titled ‘Revólución to Roxy’.

He joins us in conversation with Joe Nawaz to discuss his new book, his family history and musical adventures.

The book, with over 100  colour and black and white photographs, does, of course, cover Manzanera’s life and times with Roxy Music, David Gilmour and many of the luminaries of popular music, but it’s his startling family history, dating back to the expulsion of the Sephardic Jews from Spain in 1492, via the 1959 revolution in Cuba and the discovery of a Neapolitan Opera musician grandfather, that grips the reader every bit as the tales of being part of one of the UK’s greatest bands.

Phil commented on the reason for writing the book:  “I’ve written this memoir for my English and Colombian family, dear friends and music fans, who have followed my musical twists and turns for over half a century.  It’s a memoir that spans my 50’s childhood in Cuba, Hawaii and Venezuela, when everything seemed in the brightest technicolor, to monochrome but very cool ‘60’s London and the start of a music career that continues to enrich my life.
Roxy Music is an important part of the story but I hope the reader will find my family history every bit as fascinating as my music adventures:  I’m proud to be related to the most famous 17th century Sephardic Jewish pirate of the Caribbean, a British spy and an Italian opera musician.”

Books will be on sale from No Alibi’s after the talk.

Too Much Too Young: The 2 Tone Records Story – In conversation with Daniel Rachel

Author Daniel Rachel joins us to talk about his new book 2 Tone: The Music, label and moment that shaped British Culture.


In 1979, 2 Tone exploded into the national consciousness as records by The Specials, The Selecter, Madness, The Beat, and The Bodysnatchers burst onto the charts and a youth movement was born. 2 Tone was black and white: a multi-racial force of British and Caribbean island musicians singing about social issues, racism, class and gender struggles. It spoke of injustices in society and took fight against right wing extremism.

The music of 2 Tone was exuberant: white youth learning to dance to the infectious rhythm of ska and reggae; and crossed with a punk attitude to create an original hybrid.

The idea of 2 Tone was born in Coventry, masterminded by a middle-class art student raised in the church. Jerry Dammers had a vision of an English Motown. Borrowing £700, the label’s first record featured ‘Gangsters’ by The Specials’ backed by an instrumental track by the, as yet, unformed, Selecter. Within two months the single was at number six in the national charts.

Dammers signed Madness, The Beat and The Bodysnatchers as a glut of successive hits propelled 2 Tone onto Top of the Pops and into the hearts and minds of a generation. However, soon infighting amongst the bands and the pressures of running a label caused 2 Tone to bow to an inevitable weight of expectation and recrimination.

Still under the auspices of Jerry Dammers, 2 Tone entered in a new phase. Perhaps not as commercially successful as its 1979-1981 incarnation the label nevertheless continued to thrive for a further four years releasing a string of fresh signings and a stunning end-piece finale in ‘(Free) Nelson Mandela’.

Told in three parts, Too Much Too Young is the definitive story of a label that for a brief, bright burning moment, shaped British culture.

Marian Keyes In Conversation with Tara Flynn

Marian Keyes is a phenomenon. The multimillion copy, internationally bestselling author of some of the most widely loved, genre-defying novels of the past thirty years – including Rachel’s Holiday, Anybody Out There and Grown Ups – has millions of devoted readers around the world.

My Favourite Mistake is her sixteenth novel. In addition to her fifteen previous novels, Marian has also written three collections of journalism, upon which popular BBC Radio 4 show Between Ourselves was based.

Marian co-hosts the hit podcast Now You’re Asking with actress Tara Flynn for BBC Sounds and Radio 4, now on its third series. In 2022, she was named the British Book Awards Author of the Year.  Marian lives in Dublin.

In today’s event, Marian will be interviewed on stage by her Now You’re Talking Co-host Tara Flynn.

Please note – Marian is unable to sign books at this event. 

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