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EXETER AUTHORS ASSOCIATION

Writing Groups in Devon

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The Exeter Authors Association indulge in a little medieval murder...

Members of the Exeter Authors Association enjoyed a fantastic evening in the company of Karen Maitland and fellow Association member Michael Jecks, who were at Crediton Library last night. Michael and Karen, along with Ian Morsen, Susannah Gregory, Bernard Knight, Christopher Sansom and Philip Gooden, write as The Medieval Murderers, in addition to their own individual titles. Between them, they have written a series of 10 books and Michael has the longest series of crime books of any author currently living.

The evening, organised by the Friends of the Library, started with a lively and entertaining talk, with Michael and Karen regaling us with stories about the advantages and drawbacks of plotting books in the pub and the love/hate relationship between an author and their copy editor. They also gave us some fascinating glimpses behind the curtain by describing how they work, what helps/hinders concentration and the pros and cons of killing off all your main characters in each book and starting afresh every time. It was interesting to see the differences in their working practices – Michael favours gadgets more than Karen and enjoys listening to music as he writes, whereas Karen prefers to work without the distraction of background noise.

After a break, during which we all enjoyed drinks and snacks provided by the Friends, there was a Q&A session, which sparked discussion about plotting, research, unruly characters and adapting your book for the American market, amongst many other things. Michael and Karen know each other and their craft very well and were clearly well-practised at speaking together. It was a real privilege to be able to listen to two authors at the top of their game who can tell a story just as well in person as they do on the page and who kept us laughing with their anecdotes.

 For me personally, it was lovely to meet Karen, whose research has taken her along the same path I am now treading as I prepare to embark on my non-fiction book. There is no way to adequately describe the joy of meeting someone who has researched the same sort of medieval remedies and medicines and who does not even blink when you mention “ye snayles for the curing of deafnesse” but joins you step-for-step as you segue into a discussion about the use of earthworms in remedies for the King’s Evil.

The event was filmed, so keep an eye on Michael’s website if you would be interested in watching.

Michael’s website: www.michaeljecks.co.uk

Karen’s website: www.karenmaitland.com

by Tracey Norman

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