Sunday, March 29, 2009


Latest in my personal odyssey of book festival venues was on Thursday at Shenfield Library where I met Tracy Martin, the author of THE GREATEST COLLECTING TIPS IN THE WORLD. Tracy is the newest, youngest, ‘collectable expert’. Just back from her South African trip on which she was lecturing on a cruise liner, she admitted being bitten by a common disease called 'collectavitus' which has been known to attack when you least expect. Her enthusiasm for her subject was catching and certainly appreciated by her audience who had been invited to bring in some of their small heirlooms for evaluation. Tracy is a protégé of TV’s Eric Knowles who happily gave a foreword to her new book which is proving to be a best-seller. She is classed, by many, as the only ultra-modern expert in the collectables industry - a fascinating lady!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009



A huge pleasure this afternoon to meet up Bob Fisher, that prize-winning Colchester photographer whose photographs, along with Brentwood writer Frances Clamp's narrative, has created a superb book BASILDON, OUR HERITAGE. Both were at Fryern's Library to showcase the book and to outline the inspiration behind the Basildon Heritage Project. Among the packed audience, I found June Wells, a local storyteller and Adrian Ure from Essex Libraries, and of course, we have pictures of Frances herself. Basildon was one of the New Towns created after the Second World War. From a tiny town, it has grown over the last sixty years into a massive community. Frances, Bob and Vin Harrop plus all the children who took part in the venture, are delighted with this super book and we are all looking forward to walking the Heritage Trail at the end of April. Come join us!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


Welcome to the Essex Book Festival! Pictures here of Michael Foley whose books are selling fast and Francis Wheen, a new Patron of the Festival this year being interviewed by Ray Clark of BBC Essex.

Celebrate ten years of success with us in the biggest and best ever Essex Book Festival! The Essex Book Festival owes its success to the perfect balance it brings between attracting the biggest names in the literary world and yet still providing an excellent opportunity for newer writers to meet their public. And 2009 is no exception. You can meet the really famous, and meet others before they become household names!

Choose from crime, history, life-style and creative writing events, storytelling events for the whole family, comics workshops and events to celebrate the Jiangsu Festival. And, as ever, Essex writers are well represented.

Enjoy the festival!

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Coming next week

Don't miss your chance to experience a Book Festival event. Meet the authors, hear about the books, and take the opportunity to ask any questions you'd like to pose!

Good News! There are still some tickets available for the following events:

Monday, March 16, 2009


Helen Dunmore - one of my favourite authors - visited Brentwood County High school a few days ago. We are now half way through the Essex Book Festival and this venue was packed with Helen's fans. She spoke about her life and the way she writes her novels. Incredibly interesting person. I really didn't know that she also writes poetry, short stories and children's fiction, so I'm looking forward to reading more. Her COUNTING THE STARS is a great read.

Thursday, March 12, 2009


Delegates, Patrons and, more importantly, our famous speakers and presenters of this, the TENTH ESSEX BOOK FESTIVAL, have been appearing around the county to excellent audiences. Yesterday, some of us travelled to West Mersea Library to hear JULIA JONES tell us about her new book THE ADVENTURES OF MARGERY ALLINGHAM. Fascinating book about one of the greatest crime writers who lived in Essex during an important time for writers of this genre. Then, in the evening we attended the lecture at Witham Library and learned about Dorothy L Sayers and Agatha Christie - again, a well organised evening and a chance to meet so many readers, writers and just folk interested in crime writing. Tonight, we have Helen Dunmore at Brentwood County High School. Tickets all sold out! This talented writer is best known for her clever novels, such as Counting the Stars, but I've just found out that she also writes short stories, poetry and children's fiction.

Monday, March 09, 2009


So very interesting to meet behind-the-scene folk at Chelmsford Library last week where we congregated for the launch of the Essex Book Festival. Very organised team - timing so important and it was great to meet BBC Essex radio producer, Lynne Wilson.

Thursday, March 05, 2009


Great morning with the arrival of so many Essex authors, journalists and writers of all descriptions collecting together at Chelmsford Library to celebrate our tenth Book Festival. BBC Essex provided live broadcasting to their listeners throughout the county with Angela Lodge and Ray Clark - superb, as usual, This year we had writing and reading groups taking part and Colin Taylor and Frances Clamp provided the first part of the now famous INSTANT STORY. Harlow, Colchester and Rayleigh A pleasure to meet Francis Wheen, Jonathan Mitchener, Michael Foley, Barbara Erskine, Mike Dodsworth (here he is with Councillor Iris Pummell), Martin Newell, Julia Jones and so many more. Still a few tickets left if you want to attend some of the 60 events at venues around Essex. Box Office 01206 573948.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009


Although the official launch of the 2009 Essex Book Festival is set for Thursday, March 5th at Chelmsford Library, we all had a wonderful early start with last night's great performance "An Audience with Melvyn Bragg". This was at the Civic Theatre in Chelmsford. Melvyn Bragg was brilliant and the audience obviously thought so too. Huge line of people waiting for his latest book to be signed ‘REMEMBER ME’. Super chap and a wonderful writer!

Sunday, March 01, 2009


Directory of Writers' Circles, Courses and Workshops 2009

In response to those readers who asked for information on where to find writing circles, workshops and courses to help them further their interest, I recommend Diana Hayden’s excellent website The business of writing really is a solitary business, yet now and again, it is helpful to meet others who might be able to offer help and understanding.

Diana, from Harlington in Bedfordshire has done excellent work over the last ten years, in providing information about all known writing clubs in the UK. From this, she has created her Directory which is helpful to all. Check out Diana’s website: Hardcover ISBN 978-1-904065-12-8. There is even a little U-Tube section which explains some of the items included in her Directory, although she is too shy to allow me a photograph. I am sure that my friends at the Brentwood Writers' Circle won't mind me using their last gathering to illustrate this blog.