Travels in Southern England – The Bath Literature Festival

March 5, 2015

Day 5

5 March 2015

Books about real historical figures are very much in evidence at this year’s Festival. This afternoon I attended a talk by Matthew Plampin about the artist Turner. However the book he has written is a historical novel about one week in his early life when he competes for a commission against fellow artist Tom Girtin. The author showed slides of both artists’ paintings and compared their styles.

Girtin died at a much younger age than Turner (probably from asthma) and had he lived longer might have become the more famous but for some reason Girtin was not motivated to paint for posterity. The contrast between the two seems to be a fascinating idea for a story which I suspect is well worth a read.

Keith Jahans
Editor, Peatmore Press

William Turner & Tom Girtin
Will & Tom by Matthew Plampin is published by The Borough Press
and is available in hardcover, paperback and as an ebook.

Travels in Southern England – The Bath Literature Festival

March 4, 2015

Day 4

4 March 2015

Having been a working microbiologist for almost 40 years I knew that Helen and William Bynum’s talk about their book, “Remarkable Plants That Shaped Our World” would be too good to miss and I was not disappointed.

They split the plants they discussed under different headings: Transformers, Taste, Healing & Medicines, Technology & Power, Cash Crops, Landscape, Revered & Adored and Wonders of Nature. While these categories had nothing to do with the accepted nomenclature of scientific biological classification they certainly worked as a way of looking at how plants have been utilized by humans over the centuries.

More than half of the talk concentrated on the ways they have been used in medicines and how new medicinal properties were being developed from them in the modern day. It was a commendable presentation as both speakers expertly conveyed how important plants have been in developing our world.

Keith Jahans
Editor, Peatmore Press

Remarkable Planta Cover

Remarkable Plants That Shaped Our World by Helen Bynum and William Bynum is published by Thames and Hudson Ltd and is available in hard cover and as an ebook.

Travels in Southern England – The Bath Literature Festival

March 3, 2015

Day 3

3 March 2015

I have never been very good at promoting my writing which is why I was delighted to see that the Festival was running a workshop on “How to Promote your Self Published Book” in Bath’s Central Library. It was led by the literary agent Flick (Felicity) Everett who edits the magazine, “Candis. She stressed the importance of understanding how the title and the cover should be made to appeal to prospective buyers.

The participants were a mixed group of mostly fiction writers encompassing a variety of genres plus a few who were writing non fiction and poetry. We were advised to check the title in our genres with others on Amazon to see how they ranked as best sellers as this might be a way to determine whether our endeavours could be successful. We were also shown the importance of creating an “elevator pitch”, blurb and press releases. Flick gave us examples of each and we were encouraged to write our own and utilize social media such as Twitter and Facebook.

Most of this I already knew but I managed to pick up some tips of which I had been previously unaware. I met some enthusiastic novice writers with wonderful ideas for creating books and made some useful contacts. On the whole I found it an enjoyable and extremely worthwhile experience.

Keith Jahans
Editor, Peatmore Press

Travels in Southern England – The Bath Literature Festival

March 2, 2015

Day 2

2 March 2015

Today I visited Bath’s Guildhall to hear a talk by historian Marc Morris on his about to be published book on King John. There has always been a debate about John on whether he was good or bad. Eight hundred years ago he signed the Magna Carta which brought about the beginnings of democracy and there are currently celebrations marking the event. So he must have been good. But there is evidence that he treated his contemporaries appallingly so he has been thought of as bad.

I was reminded yesterday of Winston Churchill and the Suffragettes. Churchill died fifty years ago this year and there have also been occasions this year to mark the passing of a leader who led England in its finest hour of the Second World War. However, yesterday’s speaker told how as Home Secretary he encouraged the police to sexually molest the Suffragettes because there was not enough room in Britain’s then overcrowded prisons to lock them up.

A TV dramatization of Hillary Mantel’s novel “Wolf Hall” about Thomas Cromwell has just finished on television. Hither to regarded as a villain he was portrayed in the novel and TV series as a good guy. Today’s speaker described him as the new improved Thomas Cromwell.

What is certain is that how great figures of the past are portrayed will change in time and between different points of view. Their very greatness means that they are larger than life characters so the good and bad that they do is bound to be perceived differently from ordinary mortals. As far as King John is concerned, today’s speaker definitely considered him as bad.

IMGP6095Outside Bath’s Guidhall

Inside Bath's GuildhallInside Bath’s Guildhall

Keith Jahans
Editor, Peatmore Press

Travels in Southern England – The Bath Literature Festival

March 2, 2015

Days 1 and 2

2 March 2015

I am in the city of Bath visiting the city’s Literature festival. Yesterday I went to a talk on Sophia: Princess, Suffragette given by BBC Radio 4 presenter Anita Anand at the Masonic Hall. It was a strange place to give such a talk. Ms Anand stood in front of the Masonic throne in a room surrounded by Masonic shields and other symbols. I suspect that the Suffragettes would have been horrified by the surroundings. However, it was a nice talk given by an expert who had done a great deal of research on the life of Princess Sophia Duleep Singh, heir to the Kingdom of the Sikhs, exiled in the early 1900s to the Victorian court.

Keith Jahans
Editore, Peatmore Press

Fiction and Lies

February 23, 2015

Fiction by its very nature is not true. Writing novels and short stories means writing lies. But for good fiction to work it has to be believable which means that it has to be a good lie.

In 2010 Peatmore Press published a police procedural crime novel, “Victim of Compromise”. The author took great pains to make the police procedures described in the story as accurate as possible but it is practically impossible to get every detail exactly right. Police and forensic methods change over time and between different forces. Many crime writers set their stories before the advent of technologies such as genetic finger printing and the widespread use of CCTV cameras to save the need to describe up to date modern forensic techniques. Indeed when writing such tales even when setting stories in the present day it is best to make it clear when and where the story is set particularly if you hope it will be read again in the future.

To celebrate this theme within fiction writing, Peatmore Press has posted the short story, “The Lie”, taken from its “New Beginnings” collection published in August last year, on its website. It is available to read for free at and there is also a link to it on the side panel of this blog. We hope you find it both enjoyable and thought provoking.

Valentine’s Day

February 9, 2015

Valentine’s Day is yet another chance for promoting writing which should not be allowed to pass, particularly if you write romantic fiction. Peatmore Press has posted yet another short story from its ‘Crime and Passion’ collection on its website promoting the day.  It is a tale with a very dark twist and will remain on the site until the end of February 2015 so there are not many days left to check it out.


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