August is the time of the month that I go to the Writers’ Retreat in a nice little Derbyshire village of Swanwick. Based at the Hayes Conference Centre, Swanwick Writers has been in existence for nearly 70 years, with me attending the last 8 of those years.
There is a magic to the place for many new and established writers coming to be inspired. Theatre and music also plays an influential part to its magic. A chance to reunite with old friends and make new ones adds to the thrill of Swanwick.
For me this particular Swanwick was an important year because it is my first as a published author with Cursed Horror Stars taking pride of place in the book room alongside many other established authors. It is certainly a thrill to make it, but one I’ll share with novelist Elizabeth M Hurst, whose own debut work Siren Spirit was on sale next to mine. Well done Liz!
To explain my week will take forever so I’m keeping it as brief as possible – still going to be my longest blog to date.
As I was very much busy on part of the entertainment programme this year with hosting a buskers night and providing the music for the end-of-week panto, I just attended one excellent course on creative non fiction taught by writer Kathryn Aalto, a friend of one of my Swanwick mentors, BBC journalist and all round good egg Simon Hall (both pictured).
Kathryn was also one of the many evening speakers who gave an entertaining talk on their writing careers. One day I may give my own talk! Perhaps by next year? Will I be ready for that daunting task!
When not doing coursework or jamming with my fellow buskers for the end-of-show finale, it was a time to sit quietly by the lake playing guitar and takeing in the ambience of the place.
I’ve been running the Swanwick buskers night for the past five years, and there hasn’t been a bad night yet. Nice that we have it in the lounge area not far from the bar! In addition to writers, we have some amazingly talented singers and musicians, and thanks to their input, it looks like my buskers night will be running for many years to come.
Finally I must tell you about the traditional dregs party on the lawn. Its a chance to dress-to-the-nines and bring our left over bottles of wine, cans of beer, pringles, nuts etc. and have a good old drink up before dinner, followed by the pantomime.
There’s so much more I would love to add, but lets keep it brief.
Now that I’m back, my next gig is at the Whitley Bay Film Festival on 16 August where Chris Phipps is interviewing me about my book prior to a screening of Tales of Terror (1962). Not only have I been featured briefly in August’s edition of NARC Magazine, my BBC Radio Newcastle interview is scheduled for earlier that day. This is very exciting.
Exact times will follow ASAP.