Bournemouth Writing Festival 2024

Bournemouth Writing Festival 2024

24 days ago

Last weekend was a whirl of activity and fun. Bournemouth Writing Festival took over the Pavilion Dance in Bournemouth town centre, and having dipped a tentative toe in the water last year,  this time I threw myself into as much as possible. I attended talks and workshops, networking meals, and on Saturday afternoon I was interviewed on the main stage along with fellow author Jude Hayland. Chloe May from The Book Guild, who has worked with both of us, steered the conversation and we had a great time. More importantly, the audience seemed to find our observations on our respective routes to publication helpful, with several people telling me afterwards that it had changed their thoughts about what to do next with their own work.

I was meant to have ten copies of Dead Man Singing on the bookstall  – more than enough for the weekend – but somehow we ended up with 20 copies instead (long story short, the original ten were sent to me in error, so a replacement set was sent to the Festival and the plan was for me to bring the others along for Chloe to take back with her at the end of the day). Happily, the book sold well on Saturday, so it was agreed to leave the extra ten just in case they were needed.

The community that has grown up since last year’s inaugural festival is a lovely, encouraging group of writers, from eager beginners to seasoned professionals and all stops in between, and the sense of friendship and support is palpable. One of the first people I met this weekend was Vikki, who I had sat next to at one of last year’s workshops. We remembered each other immediately, and she recalled me telling her about Dead Man Singing at the time. It’s somehow fitting that she was the first person to buy the book at this year’s event. I signed several books over the three days, but that one was particularly gratifying – thanks, Vikki, it was great to catch up with you and hear a bit about how your writing is going.

On Saturday evening I took a break from the official programme and enjoyed the hospitality of Sophie, Queen of the Bookstall (pictured above, in the centre, alongside two of the many brilliant volunteers who sold books for the speakers all weekend), and her husband Nick. I found myself sharing a lift to their house with fellow guest Brian Sibley who, among many other claims to fame, co-wrote the 1981 Radio 4 adaptation of The Lord of the Rings that I eagerly taped from the radio (all thirteen hours of it) as a child. I don't think I ever imagined then that I'd be meeting and socialising with him one day. The guest list was a perfect mix of people I already knew and liked from the festival and others who I hadn’t met before but who were equally fun to hang out with. It was a perfect laid-back finish to a tiring but enjoyable day.

But there was still one more day to go, and Sunday was more of the same. I wasn’t presenting anything, but I had a steady stream of workshops, talks and meetings to go to, as well as all the unscripted encounters with people that made the Festival so much fun. And Dead Man Singing kept on selling: by the time Sophie and her team were preparing to shut up shop, there was just one copy left. Selling 19 out of 20 would have been an amazing result (particularly as there were only meant to be 10 copies to start with), but… enter Tiffany. I know Tiffany from previous Festival-related social events through the year, and as we were chatting she suddenly asked, ‘Are there any copies of your book here?’ A few moments later I was officially a complete sell-out. Tiffany’s own book, The Heart Snatcher is coming out via Amazon very soon, so if any of you are fans of the bloodier end of the crime genre, keep an eye out for it.

Bournemouth Writing Festival 2023 was good for me. 2024’s event was fantastic. Will I be involved in 2025? Just you try to stop me. If you’re at all interested in writing and live anywhere nearby, join the Bournemouth Writing Festival Writing Group on Facebook, come along to the networking events between now and next year, and get to know the most wonderful, supportive, encouraging group of creatives I know. You won’t regret it.

Photo credit: Gary Dalkin 


A brilliant write-up and so pleased the festival works so well for you. Definitely see you next year!

Leave a comment

Your comment will first need to be approved before it is visible.