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Author Nicholas Evans to attend Sidmouth literary festival

PUBLISHED: 12:00 16 May 2016

Sidmouth Lit Fest

Sidmouth Lit Fest

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Author Nicholas Evans is looking forward to speaking at a literary festival in Sidmouth, as he explains to Annette Shaw

Nicholas Evans, author of The Horse WhispererNicholas Evans, author of The Horse Whisperer

“I’ve had links with Devon since childhood,” says Nicholas Evans, known worldwide as the man behind The Horse Whisperer.

“Sidmouth always seemed terribly demure and Edwardian with stunning scenery. It’s the perfect venue for a literary event and I’m looking forward to speaking there. I finally feel I’ve got my life back after a prolonged brush with dialysis, and books are beckoning!”

Nicholas is just one of the guests and he will be in conversation with journalist and radio presenter Judi Spiers, talking about his life and work.

Renewal, new beginnings and moving forward seemed to be recurring themes during research for Sidmouth’s 2016 Sun, Sea and Books Literary Festival, which will be based at Kennaway House.

Organisers David Lloyd and Jane Corry (also writer in residence and novelist) suggested we met in the extended and refurbished Sidmouth Harbour Hotel. With stylish yet serene colours and views over the bay to inspire all muses, it felt incredibly appropriate to be talking about creativity in all its glory and diversity.

And it’s worth adding - that we’re following in visiting footsteps of some very famously talented people, namely Elizabeth Browning, H.G. Wells and Beatrix Potter.

“There are many literary festivals and each one offers wonderful opportunities to hear the background to a novel or understand how personal circumstances may have led to a story,” says David, speaking as chairman of the festival.

A prime example is Falklands War veteran, writer and inspirational speaker Simon Weston CBE. He has the opening session on Saturday 11 June and will be talking to BBC presenter David FitzGerald.

“We’ve got a stellar line-up covering a range of subjects from crime to fiction,” continues Jane. “The guest list includes Dame Penelope Lively, Veronica Henry and Robert Goddard. Local author Linda Finlay is joining us and it’s worth noting that she’s doing well with historical fiction, often with Devon links in the story.”

However, Sidmouth 2016 has a secret weapon, an added attraction that will definitely appeal to the creative communities of Devon and beyond, as Jane explains: “We’ve developed our own Unique Selling Point offering aspiring writers the chance to have one-to-one meetings at the festival with leading publishers and agents who will give advice on how to get into print.”

With a long-established track record in journalism at national level and more recently as a novelist, Jane feels that central to the plot, literally, is finding your voice. In other words, discovering your particular way of writing and choosing a genre that works for you.

As part of the event, editors from Penguin (Katie Loftus), Pan Macmillan (Georgina Morley) and Endeavour (Richard Foreman) will be available for one-to-one discussions and pre-arranged feedback interviews.

In addition to all the talks, visitors to the Festival can also enjoy the Charlotte Bronte Tea at 4.15pm on Friday 10 June to celebrate the 200th anniversary of her birth.

The accompanying lecture will be given by Juliet Barker. Her book The Brontes: Wild Genius on the Moors: The Story of a Literary Family was very well received and she has compiled a fascinating collection of correspondence titled The Brontes: A Life in Letters.

Winstone’s Independent Book Shop started the event last year along with a team of volunteers who now form the committee. The orgainsers expect the festival to grow on the success of 2015.

“We anticipate a much broader audience this year,” says David. And with guest speakers like Nicholas Evans, something tells me he’s right.

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