As the countdown to this year’s Hay festival begins, our panelists look for the patterns behind the programme. Guardian leader writer Tom Clark tips the best of the political events – with participants including the rising parliamentary stars Ed Milliband and Jesse Norman. Sarah Crown looks out the literary big-hitters, and the children’s writers who are the festival’s most dynamic performers. And we also hear from director Peter Florence, who explains the challenge of programming a festival that starts weeks after from a general election.

Reading list

Sex and Stravinksy by Barbara Trapido

For all other Hay reading, see the full festival programme at

To see a full list of the authors we’ll be interviewing in this year’s Haycasts, and to find out how to submit your questions, click here.