Posted by: Tim Dodds | May 22, 2011

Looking forward to the 2012 Literary Festival

Tired but happy, the inaugural Surrey Heath Literary Festival is complete. Think the organisers took on quite a big job to create a four-day festival in such a short time. Not quite four days in reality, as two of the days were just a single evening presentation.

In brief, here’s the good and the bad.

  • Every event ran as planned
  • Every event drew high praise from their audiences
  • Most authors are hoping for an invitation to next year’s Festival
  • Strong demand from the audience for a 2012 Festival
  • Impressive expertise shown by everyone in Camberley Theatre
  • Hayley Long’s talk to students at Collingwood College went down a storm
  • Over 300 short stories submitted by local children to the short story competition, and the prize giving event was a joyous occasion.
  • Success of the Big Read Debate of Nigel Farndale’s The Blasphemer due to stimulating contribution from the panel.
  • Terrific support from bookseller Waterstones throughout the Festival
  • Pent up demand for a regular writer’s workshop
  • Great to have support from our MP Michael Gove, at the prize giving ceremony and the Big Read Debate.
  • Juliette Foster’s ‘in conversation’ sessions with the authors added a professionalism and intellectual gravitas to the event, which the audience and authors enjoyed and appreciated.

I won’t say bad – here’s the not so good:

  • Audience numbers weren’t as high as expected or needed
  • We didn’t get the scheduling of the events quite right
  • We probably need a couple of bigger names in any future festival, and publicity for the events need to start much earlier.

Finally, it’s a pleasure to thank the contributions of the team of organisers: Trish and Steph from the Camberley Theatre, Pippa and Helen from Watersones, Kay and Louise from Surrey Libraries, and not forgetting Lesley from author’s agents Pollinger Limited. Massive thanks to Juliette Foster for reading four books for the festival, one for the Big Read Debate Panel, and three for hosting the ‘in conversation with Juliette talks’. We also received help from Craig of Creative Presentations in Bagshot. Without all their help, there’d never have been a festival.

Ooops: mustn’t neglect to thank Paul Deach for all the superb publicity in the Surrey Heath Residents Weblog, and coverage in the Camberley News & Mail.

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Surrey Heath Literary Festival - Rusty Firmin ex SAS officer Until the 5th of May in 1980, the Special Air Service (SAS) were relatively unknown. But the Iranian Embassy Siege catapulted this elite regiment to become the most famous special forces unit in the world. Rusty Firmin was part of the crack team that liberated the hostages from the Iranian Embassy and you have chance to meet him and ask questions at the Surrey Heath Literary Festival. I remember watching the assault on the BBC news. I must have b … Read More

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Walking On the Bones of the Dead - Surrey Heath Literary Festival The name is largely unfamiliar in the West although it rolls fairly easily off the tongue, yet the history of Russia’s Vladimirka road cuts through the soul of this nation with the searing accuracy of a surgical tool. It was famously painted in 1892 by Isaak Levitan, whose canvas depicts a hushed, un-peopled territory that almost looks tranquil. But don’t be fooled! Beneath the rutted tracks and dense vegetation are the bones of dead people. They … Read More

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Posted by: Tim Dodds | May 19, 2011

Writer’s workshop uncovers a need

The festival’s Writer’s Workshop by Mary B Lyons uncovered an unfilled need in our borough – that of regular opportunities to improve writing skills.

Mary’s workshop had almost 40 people last night, many of whom said that they’d like to attend regular workshop events to improve their writing. Reports indicate that the workshop was enjoyed by all.

Now this is what I’d call a result.

Fangs For The Company - Whitby Vampyrrhic Vampire stories, like the movie genre they’ve spawned, are a bit like marmite: you either like them or hate them. Personally I don’t mind the spread but I do draw the line at bloodsuckers. Maybe my prejudice was shaped by Christopher Lee, whose brilliant depiction of the elegant Count Dracula in the Hammer horror films always scared the living daylights out of me. How I survived those memories of fangs embedded in jugulars is a bit of a mystery. … Read More

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Posted by: Tim Dodds | May 18, 2011

Children’s short story winners chosen

No, we can’t tell you who they are yet. All will be announced at 5.0pm on Saturday 21st May at the Camberley Theatre.

At the end of last week the selection committee reviewed the shortlist, from which we selected the winners of the children’s short story competition. Over 150 entries were received, showing the amazing creativity, and writing talent of the children in our Borough. Children do seem to like to write dark stories, no doubt influenced by Harry Potter adventures.

At the prize giving event, a number of the stories will be read out. This will be followed by our MP Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Education, presenting prizes to our winners in these categories.

  • Overall Winner
  • 2nd place in the younger category
  • 3rd Place in the younger category
  • 2nd place in the older category
  • 3rd Place in the older category
  • Waterstones Special Recognition Award
  • Surrey County Libraries Special Recognition Award
Attendance at this event is free. Do come along to support the budding writers of the future.
Posted by: Tim Dodds | May 18, 2011

Andy Robertshaw’s talk opens the Festival

The new Surrey Heath Literary Festival began on Monday with a most encouraging  attendance for Andy Robertshaw’s talk about the research for his book Ghosts on the Somme, Filming the Battle June – July 1916.

Andy Robertshaw, curator of the RLC Museum in Deepcut, is a wonderfully engaging speaker. He explained to an attentive audience where the truth lay in the famous film of the Battle of the Somme. Fascinating stuff.

I queued up as did many others to get Andy to write a commemorative not in my copy of his book.

Posted by: Tim Dodds | May 10, 2011

Display of Festival books

If you pass by Waterstones in Camberley you’ll see their splendid display of all the books in our Festival.

Don’t think we could ask for more in the way of festival promotion. There’s an advert outside, a window display, and plenty of information on their What’s On wall behind the counter.

You’ll be able to get authors to sign any books you’ve bought after their talks at the Festival. Waterstones will also have all the Festival books in the Camberley Theatre Foyer, along with book plates that you can insert into your book at a later date.

Posted by: Tim Dodds | April 23, 2011

Jeremy Poolman: The Road of Bones

Jeremy’s talk on Saturday 21st May at the Camberley Theatre from 8.30pm – 9.30pm concludes the 2011 Surrey Heath Literary Festival.

Jeremy Poolman’s talk about his latest book – The Road of Bones – is an adventure travelogue into the heart of Russia. In the Guardian’s My Travels series, Jeremy tells of his experiences travelling through Russia. BBC TV News presenter Juliette Foster introduces Jeremy, inviting you to listen to the anecdotes he collected on an epic journey along of Russia’s greatest road. Read More…

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