Friday, September 1, 2017

Festivals and Workshops: Dorchester Literary Festival

Welcome to Elaine Roberts with another in her interesting series about literary festival and workshops. This month Elaine interviews Janet Gleeson from the Dorchester Literary Festival.

Welcome to the RNA blog Janet. Can you tell us something about your festival, how it came about and how long its been running?
The Dorchester Literary Festival started three years ago after a chance conversation with a friend and
fellow writer, with whom I work on Antiques Roadshow. We wondered why it was that Dorchester, a county town rich in literary legacy, and the birthplace of Thomas Hardy, didn’t have a literary festival. We chatted to the manager of the local Waterstones, to the County Museum, Tourist Information Centre and Library Service, as well as to local writers such as Tracy Chevalier, Minette Walters and Julian Fellowes, and decided there would plenty of support so off we went.

Who are your main speakers this year?
This year we have around 24 events, with speakers including Tracy Chevalier, Thomasina Miers, Val McDermid, Henry Blofeld, Fergal Keane, Penny Junor, A N Wilson, Adam Nicolson, Alastair Sawday, Amanda Craig, Jane Corry, Marianen Kavanagh and Katie Hickman.

As our blog is for writers can you tell me how your festival would benefit our members?
The festival provides a wonderful opportunity for would be writers to hear and meet some of the nations most successful and creative authors talk about their books, to discover how they work and how their ideas evolve. Many venues are relatively small so the events tend to have a very personal and informal atmosphere, and there is always time to ask questions.

Is there anything to enter (maybe a writing competition), if so could details be provided?
We are launching a new writing competition at this year’s festival. More details will be announced nearer the time in our brochure and on our website

How about staying over for the whole event. Where can people stay?
There are lots of hotels and bed and breakfast accommodation nearby, if you stay for a few days you will be able to soak up the wonderful Dorset scenery as well as attend the talks.

What does it cost to attend?
Most adult events cost £10, but there are tempting discounts for those who spend more than £30.

Do workshops/talks fill up quickly?
Talks for popular events can sell out quickly although we do sell tickets on the door if there are any still available.

How much time does it take to organise the festival?
Almost as soon as the festival closes we start preparation for next year, contacting publishers to find
out what will be coming out and deciding who we’d like to invite. Organisation is time consuming but it is hugely worthwhile to bring so many great writers to such a great county town.

This year’s festival will take place 18-22 October.


Thank you for taking the time to talk to visit the RNA blog, Janet and we wish the festival every success.

About Elaine:

Elaine is a member of the RNA’s New Writers’ Scheme and is currently working on a family saga. She has sold short stories worldwide and enjoys attending RNA events such as the London chapter and our annual conference. Elaine is a great fan of writing retreats either week long by the sea with friends or one-day retreats with fellow writers in her hometown of Dartford. Elaine runs a writing blog along with writer, Francesca Capaldi Burgess called WriteMindWritePlace.

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