Why do we always root for the underdog? Why are we drawn to tales of overcoming impossible odds and what makes tragedy and despair such essential ingredients in the irrepressible and life-affirming narrative phenomenon of hope?

Join acclaimed author, Rowan Coleman, award-winning writer and journalist, David Barnett, and successful screen actor-turned-author, George Costigan, as they discuss how the books we read impact upon the way we live our lives, causing us to wrestle with the problems of our protagonists just as we celebrate their successes.

Our panel features authors who have written great stories of hope, from a man rebuilding his home by hand via another finding his place on the planet whilst alone in outer space, to how, with the benefits of time-travel, one woman strives to hold her family together. Don’t miss three of the UK’s finest authors discussing the importance of hope as a theme in contemporary fiction and its significance in today’s testing times.

About The Speakers

David Barnett

David Barnett is an author and journalist based in West Yorkshire. His latest novel is Calling Major Tom, published by Trapeze. He writes mainly for the UK national press on books, culture and general topics, and is published regularly in the Guardian, Independent, and several magazines and online platforms.


Rowan Coleman

Rowan Coleman is the New York Times and Sunday Times bestselling author of eleven novels. She juggles writing novels with raising her family. She really wishes someone would invent time travel. She is the bestselling author of The Memory Book and We Are All Made of Stars.

Photo by Carolyn Mendelsohn.


George Costigan

Known for roles in Rita, Sue and Bob Too and Happy Valley, George Costigan’s career has included working with Sally Wainwright, Willy Russell, and Clint Eastwood. He has directed Daniel Day-Lewis and Pete Postlethwaite, and his writing for the stage includes Trust Byron, for which he was nominated for Best Actor at the Edinburgh Festival.

Photo by Ant Robling

About The Chair

Remona Aly

Remona Aly is a journalist and broadcaster. She writes for The Guardian, is a regular contributor to BBC Radio 2’s Pause for Thought and a presenter on BBC Radio 4’s Something Understood. She is also an editor and podcast host for various platforms.