Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Welsh writers are coming out of the hills! – David Thorpe

Writers in South Wales seem suddenly to be realising that it does them good to get out of their solitary office chairs and meet each other.

A Welsh children's writers and illustrators branch of SCBWI was begun last year and now boasts 32 members on its Facebook page. It was begun by the regional network coordinator Marie Basting with help from yours truly and now is administered by new young children's writer Zoe Thomas.

Zoe Thomas
Welsh SCBWI's Zoe Thomas.
We have regular meetings, usually either in Carmarthen or Cardiff. There have been expressions of interest from writers and illustrators in North Wales, but they grumble at having so far to come, so we wait with bated breath for them to form their own North Wales Gog chapter. (For the non-Welsh, 'Gog' is Welsh slang for North Walians!)

The Society of Authors recently encouraged members to form local chapters as well, and so author Tony Riches has taken on the awesome responsibility of organising one in South Wales. This is also on Facebook and anyone wanting to be a member should let Tony know here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1798769160336943/.

It only has 15 members at the moment and needs to reach a certain critical mass before the Society will back it. The Society offers to send out emails and help with publicity for regional meetings but only if 100 members in a given area sign up to join.

The Society has 142 members in South Wales, so expecting 70% to sign up is a tall order, but we'll see.

Welsh children's publisher Firefly was represented at the Tenby book fair last month, organised by writer Judith Barrow, where editor Janet Thomas talked about what she was looking for in submissions and awarded prizes for a children's writing competition.

Firefly's Janet Thomas and competition winner
Firefly's Janet Thomas and competition winner. 

Janet Thomas Firefly Press and winners
Janet and another winner.

Sharon Treegenza, fellow ABBA blogger, was also there and wrote more about this yesterday. Among the prize winners were Catrin Thomas, Leo Robertson, Olivia Robertson and  Libby James, William Russell, Darcy Conbeer, and Zihan Lin.
Catrin Lawrence
Winner Catrin Lawrence
There was also a Young Adult Flash Fiction Competition for entrants aged 12 - 18, a 100 word Creepy Tale, sponsored by Cambria Publishing Co-operative, which also publishes children's and YA books. This was won by Gracie Ardolino, Catrin Lawrence and Zack Spencer. Catrin, aged 18 (pictured), has already decided that she wants to be a pro writer and enrolled on a Swansea University creative writing course.

Bookfairs seem to happen faster than sunny days at this time of year, with another last week in Carmarthen and another one next week in Crickhowell.

Writer Christoph Fischer is organising a further bookfair in Llandeilo for December and a fully fledged literary festival in the town for next spring.

Finally, my own new writing class which I am running in my new hometown of Llandovery (an absolutely delightful place) has drawn over 20 writers out of the hills.

David Thorpe at the Tenby Bookfair
Me at the Tenby Bookfair

All of this demonstrates to me the enormous appetite of the Welsh to continue their rich literary tradition in the year of the Roald Dahl centenary.

[David Thorpe is the writer of Marvel's Captain Britain, the sci-fi YA novels HybridsDoc Chaos: The Chernobyl Effect and the cli-fi fantasy Stormteller.]


Sharon Tregenza said...

Great post, David, and it was good to see you at the Tenby Book Fair.

David Thorpe said...

Likewise. Sorry I didn't have much time to chat what with being on the stand, and the presentation, etc.! Good to see your pics. I've amended my post to refer back to yours.

Zoe Coghlan said...

What a busy time for writers and illustrators in Wales! It's fantastic to see so many people connecting and spreading the word about all the talent in this fine country - long may it continue...

Claire Fayers said...

Great post. It's really encouraging to see so many Welsh festivals and groups springing up.

Sue Purkiss said...

Scotland and Wales seem to be the places to be for children's writers!