Testimonials to Jay Clifton and his ACE STORIES season of live literature events by writers, 2010-2011:

It was a huge pleasure to read for Ace Stories.  Among the many writers’ events I’ve done, it stands out as one of the most interesting and enjoyable.  Jay Clifton shapes the series with a real dedication to the true stuff of literature – and that makes this event quite rare.  As an interviewer, he is professional, well prepared and his questions are both searching and sharp.  As a host, he creates a warm and buzzy atmosphere. The venue is intimate and its owners are welcoming.  There wasn’t a spare seat in the house, and I can easily see why.”

- Alison MacLeod, novelist and short story writer.

Ace Stories is the perfect event for the writer who is passionate about their work; a warm, friendly, intimate space, an audience who love books and authors, a knowledgeable host who is equally passionate about the craft of fiction, not forgetting great cocktails and music. Next time I visit Ace Stories, it’ll be as an audience member, the night was that good! Unmissable.”

- Courttia Newland, novelist and writer-in-residence at  Kingston Writing School, Kinsgston University

As soon as I met Jay Clifton and walked into the Pelirocco Hotel I knew that the event was going to be something special and completely unrepeatable… The Ace Stories aura is the result of meticulous planning and preparation. I have never met an arts promoter as efficient and professional as Jay Clifton. Everything went with clockwork precision.

The event itself was wonderful. The venue was packed and all the supporting acts were perfectly pitched. My turn began with a Q&A session. Jay’s carefully crafted questions were open ended and demanding. I felt my layers being peeled away – which is exactly what the best interviewers are supposed to do! The dramatization of my own novel, with professional actor Constantine Gregory and myself reading, went superbly – largely because of the organiser’s preparation. One of the keys to the success of this event was Jay’s perfect sense of timing – never a minute too much or a minute too little. I am sure that Ace Stories is one of the most valuable projects supported by the Arts Council England.”

-         Edward Wilson, novelist.

Ace Stories is a really well-run event. The venue is stylish, the crowd is friendly and Jay showcases a diverse range of writers. This is a high quality evening. I was impressed with Jay’s professionalism, enthusiasm and conscientiousness and would be keen to work with him again.2

-    Rowena MacDonald, short story writer.

Ace Stories’ Jay Clifton, is an events’ director extraordinaire. I was invited to Ace Stories in its 2011 season, where Jay set up an evening of author readings in a thoughtful and intimate space at the Hotel Pelirocco, Brighton. Jay is thorough in his attention to detail, and put together a set of probing questions that displayed both his interest in the headline author’s work (in this case, mine), the process of creativity (research sources, and inspiration), alongside his own deep understanding of Literature. I can tell you that it made for a very challenging and engaging interview. –Ace Stories draws on a loyal and thoughtful audience base, and I thoroughly enjoyed talking with the people there after a lively Q&A session which was guided again by virtuoso host, Jay Clifton. This was a brilliant opportunity for me, both as a platform for presenting my work to a wider audience, and in sharing in a great evening of culture in Brighton. As each season runs for 10 months I would highly recommend this event both for authors interested in flexing some creative muscle, and also for visitors to Brighton – who will find themselves a total gem of an evening (a great music act is also featured at the end of very event). Brighton – rocks!” Jayne Joso, novelist.

For many years Jay Clifton has cemented himself as the first name of literary events in the Brighton area. With his Ace Stories gigs he has surpassed himself with the sheer quality and inventiveness of them, which are rich in their culture, informative discourse, and entertainment. As a Brighton writer I am indebted to Jay and all that he has done for the literary community here and felt truly honoured appearing at a genuine Ace Stories event. He should do T Shirts.” Danny Bowman, locally-based novelist.

Thanks for inviting me to read. I thought the ACE stories event was really excellent – an unique combination of very informal atmosphere with a serious, committed approach to good writing. I haven’t been at an event quite like that before (and I’m not just talking about as a reader) – so it was really refreshing to experience.  Hotel Pelirocco is an absolute gem of a venue to read at – it felt like I was reading at an art gallery, music club, arts centre, and bar rolled into one. The atmosphere was very welcoming and relaxed from the outset, which helped the writers read well, and this encouraged a good-natured and warm response from the audience. Overall the professionalism and dedication among the whole team at ACE stories is impressive.  It was a real pleasure to be involved as a reader, and I’m looking forward to returning to Brighton for future events you’ve planned in the series. Thanks again for the evening.” Mike Loveday, writer and student of Kingston Writing School.

I enjoyed greatly participating in the Ace Stories season. The event at the Hotel Pelirocco felt really intimate and special. It was also extremely well organised by the director, Jay Clifton. I’ve done quite a few literary events now, and it’s true to say that they’re not always so well formatted. I felt that apart from the professionalism and the hospitality, Jay really engaged with my novel in the interview he did with me – his questions were thoughtful and considered. It was great for me to reach a Brighton audience, too, and I appreciate being given this opportunity.” – Amanda Smyth, novelist.

It’s unusual to see a series of readings arranged as smartly and efficiently as Jay Clifton’s Ace Stories in Brighton.  In my experience – as both a participant and an organizer of such events – they require a great deal of dedication and calm, and Jay triumphs in both categories.  The design of the series – bringing together young local writers with an older, more established writer, mixing together shortish, succinct readings with a central interview and q&a, and then rounding everything off with drinks and music – is inspired.  It also loosens up the often dull, library-like quality of these events… I’ve certainly never seen anybody use their resources to greater effect in encouraging people to read good books… I had a great time in Brighton, and hope many more writers, poets and musicians will enjoy the experience as much as I did.” – Scott Bradfield, novelist and Reader in Creative Writing at Kingston University.

Ace Stories is the most professionally run independent literary event I have ever had the pleasure to appear at. Not only does the organiser, Jay Clifton, put a lot of thought into the line-up – showcasing new talent in both literature and poetry alongside a more established headliner, with excellent local musical accompaniment, but he also offers a fee, accommodation and travel expenses, generates local press coverage and enthusiastic audience participation. In a recent survey by the Society of Authors about live readings and their various pitfalls, I was compelled to recommend Jay and his organisation as the best I have ever dealt with. I really cannot speak highly enough of him.” – Cathi Unsworth, novelist and editor.

Ace Stories is a superb literary event. From the point of view of a writer, it is perfect: Jay Clifton is a professional and expert host who takes the time to prepare intelligent, perceptive questions about the author’s work. He is passionate about good writing and works hard to make the event a success. The venue is lovely and it is a treat to be both paid and given free accommodation. Furthermore, the event is properly publicised with a loyal and appreciative audience. Ace Stories offers authors a chance to connect with new readers and meet other authors too. It was a real pleasure and an honour to appear and I would recommend the event to other authors without hesitation. I would also be delighted to appear again.” – James Miller, novelist and Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing at Kingston University.

Jay Clifton’s Arts Council supported literary events are models of good practice and organization. I took part in a recent Ace Stories event in Brighton, and was very impressed by the calibre of the work Jay chose to showcase and his obvious passion for it, the gentle discipline he deployed to make sure the event ran smoothly, and the overall atmosphere of professionalism and integrity that characterize Jay’s work. Certainly it was the best experience I have had as a participant in this kind of event.” – Howard Cunnell, novelist, editor and Research Fellow in English at the University of Sussex.

Over the years, Jay has demonstrated unique flair for organising arts-/live-literature events… His choice of writers is always diverse and carefully thought out, as is his ability to marry the beauty of the spoken word with carefully picked live music from various local acts.  I have had the pleasure of following Jay’s career as an organiser of such events for many years now and I can say with certainty that ‘Ace Stories’ provides a significant boost to the arts scene across Sussex.” – Theodore Koulouris, locally-based writer and Associate Tutor in English at the University of Sussex.

Jay Clifton invited me to read at the Hotel Pelirocco, having done a thorough job of researching my recent publications, which at the moment are neither well known nor widely publicised. I appreciate his reaching out and giving me the opportunity to read my fiction in public for the first time. His encouraging words, before and after the reading, were also much appreciated. As an author, I was pleased to be dealt with professionally by Jay, who ensured that I was well informed, beforehand and on the night, about all necessary details relating to my reading. Having attended previous literary events run by Jay, and now having read at one, it’s clear that the literary community in Brighton and Hove benefits greatly from the well-managed, varied events that he presents. – Neil Palmer, locally-based novelist.

Jay Clifton’s literary events are the best of their kind. They manage to be serious without being po-faced, relaxed but professional and, above all, exciting. He manages to mix writers, musicians and interesting venues in a way that makes these sessions unmissable. I am honoured to have been asked to take part.” – Matthew Loukes, novelist.

I recently had the pleasure of appearing at Ace Stories, an event I was immensely looking forward to having been an audience member at its legendary predecessor Tight Lip.  Ace Stories was equally well-promoted and well-attended – I saw a striking poster in my local bookshop, as well as on line publicity, and the glamorous venue was standing room only.  The variety format – with poetry, an interview, audience q and a, and a fiction reading – was stimulating and refreshing, while the mixture of  talent demonstrated both the ambition of the promoters and their commitment to local writers.  I myself sold several books on the night, and am grateful for the association with this extremely professional series of events, which has gone on my CV.” – Naomi Foyle, locally-based poet.

Jay Clifton is a rare talent in the world of literary and arts event promotion. He combines a genuine passion and knowledge for the arts and written word with a practical understanding of promotion, organisation and funding. I have not only had the privilege of working with Jay as a speaker at a recent event at the De La Warr Centre in Bexhill, but have also attended events he has coordinated in London and the Southeast. Often working with limited budgets, Jay manages to stimulate audiences while inspiring his collaborators to do their best work. I look forward to working with Jay again in the very near future.”   – Lee Hill, writer.