This week I have been to two very different literary festivals. The Ways with Words Festival has been running for over twenty years at the very beautiful Dartington Hall, and is well established. Sponsored by the Daily Telegraph, the speakers, not surprisingly, are authors who have published books that the arts editors consider to be important. The other smaller and more community minded was in the small market town of Chudleigh about six miles outside Exeter.
I was one of the organising committee at Chudleigh and we put together a programme that would appeal to both readers and writers. Ways with Words is primarily aimed at readers although many writers do attend in the hope of learning something about the craft of writing from some of the countries most successful authors. Nevertheless I found a common theme in both.
One of the workshops at Chudleigh was taken by Chris Waters, a poet and member of the Dartmoor Poets, who provoked us into thinking about landscape by looking at photographs taken by James Ravilious of places and people in north Devon in the 1960’s although they looked like they were from a much earlier period. Later the author Fay Sampson www.faysampson.co.uk talked about her novels which she said were inspired by place, indeed her latest series, the Aiden mysteries are set in the sacred places of Britain. At Dartington Jane Feaver the author of ‘An Inventory of Heaven’ talked about how difficult it was to write about the countryside unless you had lived in a landscape since birth and your family had lived there for generations. She described the land as having no sense of humour. So three authors and three different views on writing about nature.
I have published this book of poetry about the countryside around our home in Devon. If you like nature, you might enjoy this.
The edited version of my novel Crucial Evidence arrived last week, together with a clean copy which includes the corrections the copy editor had made. I’m checking through carefully and have learnt a few things about presentation, like deleting the extra space we all tend to insert after a full stop. I’ve also, courtesy of my friend Elizabeth Ducie (check out her book of short stories ‘Parcels in the Rain) learnt how to insert one of those elongated dashes, called an em dash like so — . Clever or what. I’ve got to chapter 10 so far so quite a way to go before this stage is completed.
Also some proposals for the front cover have arrived. I’m quite excited by them, but keeping it under wraps for now. It will appeal to the intelligent reader I’m hoping will like the novel.
Although I don’t need it for submissions to agents I have rewritten my synopsis. The first two paragraphs read:-
‘Cassie Hardman, an ambitious barrister, wants justice for her client, Lenny Barker who faces trial for the murder of call-girl Shelley Paulson at the Old Bailey. The evidence against Barker hangs on the reliability of an eye-witness and Barker’s admission he was at the scene of the murder in Holland Park, West London. There is little forensic evidence to link him with the murder. DNA from
fingernail scrapings taken from the deceased are not Barker’s, and the Prosecution case is that they are irrelevant. Fingerprints on a bracelet appear to Cassie to be a good match to Barker’s, although a fingerprint expert will not say the prints are his. Barker, she concludes, is just another defendant trying to escape responsibility for his crime
Then just before the trial begins Cassie uncovers an alibi witness Edwin Walker aka Hinds, who could provide the evidence to clear her client. She pursues Walker into the sordid underworld of illegal ticket touts and drug dealing, where she is threatened to stay away from Walker and then arrested during a drugs raid. Desperate to avoid being charged with possession of drugs, and being disbarred, she calls DC Alexis Seymour. Alex is investigating a drug dealer who she believes left a blood stained knife in the garden square where Shelley Paulson once lived.’
Does that leave you wanting to read more?