Chipping Norton – who’d have thought it!

I’m recently back from a fantastic weekend at the Chipping Norton Literary Festival. I know, I know… so if you have no interest in writing you can zone out now, because this is all about writing and writers.

I started out booking a couple of workshops on Saturday, then found more I wanted to go to on Sunday so made a complete weekend of it. There was a great atmosphere, and what I loved was the way everyone, from well-known writers to mere mortals like me, simply rubbed shoulders, chatted and got on. Case in point…


Returning from a walk (I had three hours to kill between sessions) I sat and ate my sandwiches on a bench beneath a tree. Opposite was the Jaffe & Neal bookshop where a couple of my workshops were held, and on the right of the picture sipping tea and eating cake are Val McDermid, Stuart McBride and Mark Billingham – three of the UK’s leading crime writers. As I ate my chicken and salad on granary their conversation occasionally wafted over… “Yeah, I visited this coroner’s office, and you wouldn’t believe the things I saw there…”

So while enjoying a balmy afternoon tea in a pretty Cotswold town possibly the next gory thrillers were being discussed and planned.

And what did I learn, other than even people you consider famous are just people after all (although I think I already knew that)?

Well – I picked up some tips on how to improve my self-publishing, heard a talk by Peter James on his latest book, learned something about weaving historical research into a novel and finished off discovering how to create characters that jump off the page.

Now all I have to do is apply all this. My Spanish detective novel is now started. My vision is set. All I need now is time…



Author: David Penny

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