Writing Groups in Devon


Blog posts : "North Devon Writers"

The North Devon Author's Present 'Writers in a Cabin'

Our latest meeting at Latte and Lunch cafe on Bideford quay was spent in discussing our forthcoming ‘Writers in a Cabin’ residence. Nestled at the bottom of the hill in the little fishing hamlet of Bucks Mills, lies The Cabin. This two-roomed hut began life as a fisherman’s store before being acquired by Judith Ackland’s family. Together with her friend Mary Stella Edwards, Judith used the building as an artists’ retreat for half a century. The solitude and spectacular views across the rugged North Devon coastline make it ideal for those seeking inspiration. Now in the care of the National Trust, the Cabin is almost exactly as the artists left it in 1971.

From 29 April – 1 May, it will once again be a setting that encourages creative talents to flourish. Between 10.00 and 4.00, the seven members of the North Devon authors’ group will take it in turns to use the cabin and its wonderful surroundings as their muse. The work of all these writers is rooted the past, in the local landscape, or both. They look forward to discussing their work, both past and forthcoming and signing copies of their books. This will be a unique opportunity, not only to view inside The Cabin, which is rarely open to the public but also to talk to enthusiastic and friendly authors about their writing.

The Writers in the Cabin will be:

Ruth Downie writes crime novels set in Roman times. Ruth’s book Medicus has recently attracted a ‘Discovered Diamond’ award for historical fiction.

Janet Few is an author of local, social and family history books, including a history of Bucks Mills Who Lived in Cottages like These?: the inhabitants of Bucks Mills. She is now working on an historical novel set in North Devon.

Susan Hughes writes books set in the first half of the twentieth century. Her debut novel A Kiss from France was long-listed for the Historical Novel Society Indie Award 2017. She is now writing her second book.  

Wendy Percival is the author of mystery novels featuring genealogy sleuth Esme Quentin, which include The Indelible Stain, set on the North Devon coast, near Hartland.

P J Reed is a poet and author who writes of the beauty and ethereal nature of the changing countryside. Her latest anthology Flicker was published last month.  

Liz Shakespeare’s books are inspired by the people, history and landscapes of Devon. Her latest novel The Postman Poet, which was launched last month, is based on the true story of Edward Capern who composed poems and songs whilst delivering letters in Victorian North Devon.  

Pamela Vass writes North Devon based fiction and social history. Her novel Seeds of Doubt debates whether the Lynmouth floods of 1952 were an Act of God or the Act of Man.


by Janet Few


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Choosing A Title and other Author Chat

Today the North Devon ‘Authors in a Café group met in Bideford’s Latte and Lunch to take advantage of their January coffee and cake special offer. Any attempts at dieting were suspended for the duration. The focus for our discussion was titles – how to choose one, what makes a good one? What do particular titles tell us about the content? What kind of audience might a particular title attract? All agreed that the title and the cover image are inextricably linked. We were able to offer helpful suggestions to those amongst the group who are currently searching for a captivating title.

We hope that we will soon be able to announce an exciting ‘writers in residence’ event for our group, in a stunning and inspirational location. All we can say at present is, if you would like to come and chat to us about our work, keep part of 29 April – 1 May free.

Our next meeting will be on Thursday 9 February and amongst other things,  we shall be discussing Susan Hughes’ blog post, which poses the question, how far can historical fiction writers can ‘bend’ the facts to suit their plots?

By Janet Few

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Authors in a Cafe

Six authors and a sartorially elegant teddy bear met in Latte and Lunch café on Bideford Quay to chat about our writing, our marketing, our progress and in some cases, the distinct lack of the same. Let us just say that Rupert the Bear may have been more productive than at least one of us over recent weeks.

An occupational hazard of such meetings is the dangerously tempting array of cakes. Some members of our group found it impossible to resist the allure of pastries and muffins.  We did suggest that the proprietors might take pity on us and serve less appealing fare but strangely, this did not strike them as a sound business plan! If we carry on like this we may need to relocate to a gym to work off the extra pounds.

The discussion ranged from radio promotions, in-residence opportunities, multi-media book launches, the pros and cons of deadlines, to the use of software to aid the writing process. We can even pass off all this enjoyable socializing as ‘work’! Does this make the cake tax deductible?

We will gather again after the holiday season. Writers and aspiring writers are welcome to join us on 11 January at 10.30am for book chat and mutual encouragement by Jane Few

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Authors in a Café and not a Pigeon in Sight

What do a poetry-writing postman, a genealogical sleuth, an anorexic young woman and a warlock have in common? They are all characters in the creations of the Devon authors who gathered in Latte and Lunch café this week. We are still finding our way as a group but we exchange ideas, sympathise with the lows and celebrate the highs of each other’s work and take a break from pen and keyboard. As we are talking about our writing it even counts as work …. surely …. doesn’t it? Tell me it does. No pigeons to entertain us on this occasion, so the only distraction was Latte and Lunch’s delicious cakes.

With trepidation, we hope to start ‘authors in a café writers in residence’ before we next meet. This means that one of us will sit alone in the café writing or researching, promoting her own work and that of others in the group and chatting to customers about what we do. This may well result in the chosen victim looking very foolish and chatting to no one at all, so support from Devon readers and writers will be very welcome. We will publicise the date and hope that someone (ideally several someones) will come and say hello, enjoy a latte or a lunch (other food and beverages are available) and perhaps even purchase a book or two. We should here remind you that there are only not very many days to the present giving season. Books by most of the members of our group are available at Walter Henry’s, the local independent bookshop round the corner.

Our next group meeting at Latte and Lunch on the quay will be on Wednesday 23rd November at 10.30am.

by Janet Few

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The First Meeting of the North Devon Writers Group and Pigeon!

Take three authors, a promoter of books in Devon and a pigeon, mix them with the excellent menu on offer at Bideford’s Late and Lunch café on the quay and you have a recipe for #authorsinacafe. We aren’t quite sure exactly where we are going but at least we have started from here. The general idea is to provide mutual encouragement,  promotion and support, as well as a break from talking to ourselves and our characters.
We will certainly be meeting in the café again (Wednesday October 19th 10.30am). Hopefully, we will establish some kind of ‘writer in residence’ programme using the café as a base. We were clear that our local library and independent bookshop, Walter Henry’s, should be part of our future plans in an as yet unspecified way. By coincidence all of the authors, as well as two others who we hope will join us, have an historical slant to their writing but don‘t let this put you off joining us, we can time-travel. Special thanks to Ian Hobbs of Devon Book Club for taking a morning of his holiday to join us. 
Oh, the pigeon, I hear you enquire. Being on the riverside, café goers are used to protecting their paninis from the ravages of the seagulls but this time a wayward pigeon was tempted by the gorgeous muffins on offer. He flew in from the quay and alighted on a table. He obviously picked the right one as the resourceful occupant competently grabbed the offending bird and deposited it outside amidst resounding cheers.
By Janet Few

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5 blog posts