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Festive October in Bristol, Bath and Cheltenham

So the Bristol Literature Festival 2012 is over – and I almost wish it could have gone on for ever! (Though I’m sure the hard-working volunteer organisers must be glad they can have a well-deserved rest now.) It was a fantastic week of events with some great authors giving talks and readings – Helen Dunmore, Emylia Hall, Iain M Banks and many others. The programme was a mix of poetry, short stories, readings, sessions for writers, events for readers, activities for children and more. This was the second Festival and I’m already looking forward to the third.

 My particular interest is in historical fiction so I thoroughly enjoyed the two events I attended. The first was Michèle Roberts, Georgina Harding and Patricia Ferguson who read from their books and discussed their work afterwards. Many themes were touched on, especially war and its impact on non-combatants. A couple of nights later I saw Andrew Miller and Clare Clark, who answered questions about their work and its relationship to history.    

On the last day of the Festival, 20 October, I was delighted to be one of a panel of historical novelists discussing some issues around writing historical fiction. With me were internationally-published author Helen Hollick (whose work includes an Arthurian trilogy,  a series on pirates, and books on King Harold) and Jenny Barden (whose debut novel, Mistress of the Sea, has just been published). Helen Hart, author and publisher of SilverWood Books, chaired the meeting and kept us in order. The topics we covered were the place of historical research in historical fiction, how historical novelists can tap into support and community networks, and the historical novel and self-publishing.

·         For those who were unable to attend the historical fiction panel on 20 October, hand-outs from the talk will shortly be available on SilverWood Books’ Learning Zone.

In fact, October has been a wonderful season for literature. I managed to see Richard Ford  in Bath as part of Topping and Co’s literature festival. The author came with lunch as well – so not only a brilliant reading but excellent food too!

And I was thrilled when my historical novel, To The Fair Land, was chosen to feature in the Locally Sourced series at Cheltenham Literary Festival. I did a reading in the Festival bookshop on 8 October, and also fitted in a fascinating talk by Llewellyn Morgan on his book about the Buddhas of Bamiyan.

For more information about the historical fiction panellists see:-

Helen Hollick’s website
Jenny Barden’s website
Lucienne Boyce’s website
Helen Hart at SilverWood Books

Bristol Festival of Literature  - 
Topping & Co Booksellers of Bath - 
Llewellyn Morgan can be found on Twitter -



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