With so much fascinating history in the Forest, have you ever thought about writing your own historical short story or novel? The highly acclaimed local author Andrew Taylor will be talking about his approach to writing historical fiction on Friday 23rd March at Coleford's Baptist Chapel. The event is being put on jointly by Reading the Forest and Forest of Dean Local History Society. Andrew has a distinguished and award-winning career as a writer of detective crime fiction but has more recently turned to historical fiction. Still very much with crime and mystery at their heart his novels such as The American Boy are set more than a hundred years earlier than, for example, the Lydmouth series, whilst 2017's The Ashes of London was set in the 1660's. And in his latest novel, The Fire Court, Andrew returns again to the period as London begins to rebuild after the Great Fire.
Andrew will be talking about how he approaches historical fiction writing. So whether you just want a fascinating and entertaining evening's conversation - or perhaps pick up expert tips for your own writing project - come along! Tickets cost £2 (free for FoDLHS members).
This event is supported by University of Gloucestershire, Foresters' Forest, and Forest of Dean Local History Society.
Coleford Festival of Words celebrates its 10th year, and its marking it with a its annual competition for writers. Reading the Forest is especially pleased to once again be supporting the young writers category. The competition is open NOW with a closing date of 13th May. The theme is 'Ten' and entries should be no longer than 1,000 words. Details of how to enter below...
Join BBC Radio Gloucestershire's Jo Durrant in conversation with Sarah Franklin the author of Shelter an acclaimed first novel set in the wartime Forest of Dean.
Friday 23rd March 1.10pm-2pm
The Library, The Main Place, Coleford
Sarah Franklin's first novel, Shelter, was published in 2017 (available in paperback this summer). The idea for Shelter began when the Conservative government announced that they were going to sell off some of Britain’s forests, including the Forest of Dean, where Sarah grew up.
‘The concept that my formative landscape could be sold off randomly was just unfathomable.
I wrote about it for The Guardian and realised that this, maybe, was the book I needed to write.
I didn’t want to knock out an angry contemporary polemic, so I started to think about other times in history when this centuries-old forest might have come under threat.’
Sarah turned to the Second World War, when the Forest served the national purpose as a sanctuary and a timber resource. Italian prisoners were brought to work in the Forest and the newly-formed Women’s Timber Corps had its training HQ in the Forest of Dean, bringing hundreds of young women into the Forest to learn how to manage Britain’s timber stocks.
Against this background people were thrust into an alien environment, sometimes against their will, and from this the characters in Shelter were born. The story of loss, identity and new beginnings - centred on the experiences of the independent, wilful Connie - are told against the turmoil of the changing forest.
Sarah is senior lecturer in publishing at Oxford Brookes University, promoter of literary events and judge for the Costa Book Awards.
Jo Durrant has interviewed authors at the Cheltenham Literature Festival and around Gloucestershire. She recently interviewed Andrew Taylor. Jo is familiar with the tradition of Forest authors from her work on BBC Radio Gloucestershire's programme on Leonard Clark and more recently, Winifred Foley. She is currently researching and recording a series that illustrates the influence of women’s writing from the Forest of Dean over the last century.