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.