A celebration of Guernsey writing talent
Local writers, novelists, poets and dramatists will have their work – and themselves – on display at the Writers’ Fair in the marquee on the lawn next to the shop in Castle Cornet on Friday 12 May. Also there will be a stand for a publisher of Guernsey-linked writing, a local children’s book club, and the Guernsey Society.
The Writers’ Fair will be part of the event organised by the Guernsey Literary Festival in conjunction with Museums at Night, which includes performance poetry, book talks, live music, children’s activities and tours. Museums at Night is from 5.30 to 9pm.
Writing can be a solitary art and the local Writers’ Fair gives writers the chance to meet their readers and to encourage new readers of their work. They will have their books for sale.
Those having stands this year are:
Anne Allen is the author of The Guernsey Novels, a series of stand-alone but linked stories all set in her favourite island. To date, there are five books published – Dangerous Waters, Finding Mother, Guernsey Retreat, The Family Divided and Echoes of Time. The sixth, The Betrayal, will be out later this year. The stories are a mix of family drama, mystery and love and, although they are primarily contemporary, all have a reference to the Occupation.
Christine Le Poidevin has also written five novels, all of which will be on sale. They all take place in the 1960s in Lancashire and follow the fortunes of women trying to ‘make it’ in the world of music. They have plenty of humour, with a dose of irony. Also available will be booklets of her sketches of all manner of musicians, sketched as they played at Saint James during its heady first year. Some of them are famous, they include some locals. Christine is also hoping to have a slim volume of her poems available on her stand.
Veronica Cossanteli‘s writing, for children from seven upwards, has been described as ‘darkly humorous’, ‘Dahl-esque’ and ‘completely bonkers’. The Extincts, published by Chicken House in 2013, was nominated for the Carnegie and various other awards; The Halloweeds came out in 2016. Guernsey has been Veronica’s second home for over 30 years. When not on the island, she’s in Southampton, sharing a house with one large son, three cats, six bearded dragons, Delia Smith the corn snake, a giant frog, several tarantulas and miscellaneous invertebrates – many of whom have accompanied her to school/bookshop events. She will be at the Writers’ Fair with books, bones, Cecil the Hissing Cockroach … and a Carnivorous Cabbage.
Juliet Campbell is a retired diplomat whose last post was as British Ambassador to Luxembourg. She recently published her father’s memoir of WWI with the title One Small Island and Two World Wars. The small island is Guernsey, where her father, Wilfred D’Auvergne Collings, was born and spent the last decades of his life. His army career as a regular officer in the RASC took him to France, Gallipoli and Mesopotamia in WWI, and to North Africa, Greece and Western Europe in WWII which he ended as Director of Supplies and Transport to Montgomery’s liberating army. Copies of the book will be on sale.
Mya Roberts will be selling signed copies of her children’s book The Dragons of Herm. She is competition co-ordinator for Guernsey Writers and adjudicates for the Guernsey Eisteddfod. She writes plays, articles, poetry and short stories, some of which have won praise, prizes, performance and publication. Her most recent work is Song of the Sea, an historic novel based in Guernsey and the Maritime Provinces of Canada. The Dragons of Herm was inspired by Mya’s love of that tiny special place and the many hours she has spent wandering across its varied landscape. The motif for Herm is a seahorse – a seahorse that looks rather like a dragon. ‘As I wandered or sat in tranquillity, my mind drifted into Writer Mode, and my Dragons were born.’
Guernsey-born Maurice Sangan was evacuated to Lancashire in 1940. He returned to Guernsey and then served in the RAF for 23 years before returning to his island home. Maurice’s writing has won prizes in the Eisteddfod, been read on BBC Radio, universities and in the Town Church. He has presented items on stage at Beau Sejour and has works distributed in 12 countries.
Magnus and Charlie Buchanan are a talented couple – Charlie is an artist and Magnus a writer. They have collaborated on a number of projects, including Soul of the Sea, a work in which Magnus retold Victor Hugo’s Toilers of the Sea as an epic poem and which Charlie illustrated. Charlie wrote and illustrated Osmond the Owl Boy, and the Buchanans are currently working on a project based on a folktale collected by Marie De Garis.
Jason Monaghan normally writes crime novels, but his latest book is an historical romance with a supernatural edge. Set against the background of Guernsey during the Great War, Glint of Light on Broken Glass combines Jason’s interest in the island’s folklore, landscape, mystery writing and military history. Jason has written a number of essays on his blog as to the way Guernsey’s language and the experience of the Great War was conveyed in his novel. Follow ‘Jason Monaghan Books’ on Facebook. Copies of Glint of Light on Broken Glass will be available to sign and discuss and Jason is also talking about his book in the Hatton Gallery at 5.30.
Richard Fleming, who will be on the Blue Ormer stand (see below) is an Ulster-born poet and short-story writer, currently resident in Guernsey. His work has been broadcast and widely published and will be familiar to listeners of BBC Radio Guernsey, BBC North-West and Radio Ulster. He has performed at various literary festivals in the UK and Europe, has two collections of verse in print and a third, with accompanying CD, is scheduled for publication in 2016. He describes his work as “Poetry for those who think they don’t like poetry.”
Blue Ormer was established by Steve Foote in 2014 to publish Genius Friend, Edward Chaney’s biography of G B Edwards, author of The Book of Ebenezer Le Page. This was launched at the Guernsey Literary Festival in September 2015. Earlier this year, they republished G W J L Hugo’s Guernsey As It Used To Be, an illustrated account of St Peter Port in the late Victorian period.
In May 2017, Blue Ormer will be launching two new publications: The Trail of Ebenezer Le Page – a guide to the island locations associated with The Book of Ebenezer Le Page and its author; and Stone Witness, a new collection of verse from local poet, Richard Fleming.
Little Dreamers Book Club is Guernsey’s first children’s book subscription and gift service. They stock well written, quality picture and chapter books from a huge range of authors which can be purchased individually or as part of a book subscription package. They also sell handmade, personalised book bags and book cushions which can be created in the fabrics of choice. In order to keep children actively engaged with reading and writing they also supply unique story stone sets which are a fantastic literary tool for children of all ages.
The Guernsey Society is an organisation for Guernsey people worldwide. Its aims are to promote, maintain and stimulate interest in all matters concerning the Bailiwick of Guernsey, its past, present and future and keeping alive the ‘Spirit of Guernsey’ both in the island and overseas.
The Society publishes a magazine, The Review, three times a year which is circulated to members around the world. It includes articles on local history and current affairs as well as poetry and reviews of new books with a Guernsey theme. This year, the Society is proud to be associated with the Guernsey Literary Festival, through sponsorship of the events by Duncan Barrett and Nuala Calvi, aimed at encouraging local writers.