#chesterculture – Writer in Residence, Susan Barker at Gladstone’s Library – 12th and 30th April 2016

susan-bakerSusan Barker grew up in east London. She studied philosophy at the University of Leeds and creative writing at the University of Manchester.
She is the author of the novels Sayonara Bar (2005) and The Orientalist and the Ghost (2008), both published by Doubleday (UK) and longlisted for the Dylan Thomas Prize.

Her third novel The Incarnations (Doubleday, July 2014) is about a taxi driver in contemporary Beijing and interwoven with tales from the Tang Dynasty, the invasion of Genghis Khan, the Ming Dynasty, the Opium War, and the Cultural Revolution.


While writing The Incarnations she spent several years living in Beijing, researching modern and imperial China.

She has received grants from the Arts Council England and the Society of Authors, and has been an artist in resident at the Corporation of Yaddo, Hawthornden International Writers’ Retreat and the Red Gate Gallery in Beijing. In 2010- 2012 she was a Royal Literary Fund Fellow at Leeds Trinity University.

Currently Susan is working on her fourth novel while staying as writer in residence at Gladstone’s Library.

On Tuesday 12th April, in a talk that includes readings from her award-winning third novel, The IncarnationsSusan will talk about the process of writing her third novel. She will also discuss the challenges of writing from other cultural perspectives as well as making the fictional leap beyond one’s own identity.

On Saturday 30th April, Susan will be holding a day long workshop at Gladstone’s Library where she will lead the group through the challenges of conveying works of art in prose. Focusing on depictions of visual art and artists in literature, the group will consider literary texts in which works of art are evocatively conveyed, or in which art becomes a prism through which the historical, political and social context of the day is refracted. Works covered include Siri Hustvedt’s The Blazing World, Cat’s Eye by Margaret Atwood, and Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray. Following these discussions, participants will work to produce individual stories about an artwork chosen by Susan.

An Evening with Writer in Residence, Susan Barker
Tuesday 12th April 2016
7.30pm for 8pm
Tickets are priced at £15 which includes a copy of Susan’s latest book.

A Masterclass with Writer in Residence, Susan Barkeray
Saturday 30th April 2016
Tickets are priced at £35 for the day which includes lunch and tea/coffee

Gladstone’s Library
To book your place, please call 01244 532350 or email enquiries@gladlib.org.

#ChesterCulture – Chester Creatives: #1 – K.C. Finn

K. C. Finn was born and raised in Cardiff, South Wales, where her love for storytelling grew at a precociously young age.
 After developing the medical condition M.E. / C.F.S., Kim turned to writing to escape the pressures of disabled living, only to become hooked on the incredible world of publishing.

She is the author of more than fifteen novels and novellas and countless short stories and poems. Her most successful work to date is the award-winning paranormal historical novel The Mind’s Eye set in 1940.  

What’s new with you?

The big news this month is that my first novel with Kindle Press is about to come about, a dystopian young adult novel entitled Legion Lost.
The novel focuses on a teenage girl who poses as a boy soldier to escape government officials in a near-future post-apocalyptic world, and it deals with issues of androgyny and teenage sexuality along the way.
This is the first of a trilogy that I’ll be releasing with Kindle Press and it’s out in digital format on March 22nd, 2016. Hardback and paperback to follow soon after.

Legion Lost can be pre-ordered here.

How long have you been a writer?

I have been writing stories for as long as I’ve been able to write, but in professional terms I’ve been writing for four years. I’ve had a mixture of self published novels and small press contracts so far, until signing a larger contract with Amazon’s Kindle Press earlier this year. 
The journey of a writer is never easy, but I love the reviews and response to my books that keeps coming back.

What inspires you to keep going?

I feel as though I have no other choice. Writing is within me and I don’t stop inventing stories even when I’ve no means to record them. 
For as long as there are characters in my head and issues I want to explore, I will be a writer. Seeing your platform and your work go from strength to strength over the years is a rewarding experience, and I feel very proud of what I’ve achieved so far.

Where can we see you next?

I’ll be showcasing an extract from my latest stage play ‘The Antimime’ at Chester Little Theatre‘s Comedy Showcase on Saturday March 26th (7:30pm). It’s totally free to attend so don’t miss out! 

Amazon author page


K.C. Finn’s Website

You are #ChesterCulture

All too often we still hear cries of

“we didn’t know it was happening until after the event”, 

“nothing ever happens in Chester”,

“Chester has no culture”, 

“nobody supports local artists/musicians/creatives/<insert other here>”

We want to change that.

Keep us updated with any events, shows, clubs or societies that you’re involved with in Chester so we can help others find it too.

Artists, musicians, poets, authors, writers, actors, dancers, creatives of any type – we want to hear from you.

Send us links to/pictures/videos of your work either via email or Twitter.

Tell us who you are. Share with us your creative process. Help inspire others.

Let us know what you’re doing.

Show us your creations – whatever they may be.

We want to be friends and build a creative community here in Chester.
We want to support and encourage creativity by all.

You are #ChesterCulture

Find us on Twitter: @ChesterCulture

or search for Chester Culture on Facebook.

Contact us at ChesterCulture@gmail.com

Image courtesy of @shitchester 

LitFest Review: Unbound with Rachael Kerr

In this world of hyper competitive publishing, online bookstores and self-made authors, Unbound offers a fantastic hybrid to bridge the gap between artistic freedom and the mainstream. On Friday October 23rd, Rachael Kerr represented the Unbound website and attached publishing house to a small but interested crowd, first explaining how the website works. Authors are able to pitch a book project online for any kind of book they’d like to write, then they must spread the word and encourage fans to purchase advance first editions and other great perks to support their project. Once a project reaches 100% support (around 500 people), Unbound will then produce a beautiful hardback and/or paperback of their work, supplying them to supporters as well as major book retailers under the Penguin publishing brand.

Present at the talk were Francis Pryor (of Time Team fame) and Josh Spero, who both worked tirelessly to fund their books through Unbound and were successful in making their publishing dreams reality. Josh’s unusual nonfiction book “Second Hand Stories” would have been unlikely to be produced by mainstream publishing if it weren’t for Unbound, and when Francis Pryor wanted to turn from serious archaeological writing to detective stories, he was able to produce “The Lifer’s Club” through this crowdfunding platform, and is now 85% supported on a sequel.

This is a truly revolutionary publishing tool that aspiring writers will not want to miss out on, and Rachael Kerr fielded plenty of questions on the subject that would set even the most skeptical minds at rest. Find out more about how Unbound works at https://unbound.co.uk/

Find out more about the Chester Literature Festival at: http://www.chesterperforms.com/literature/events/

LitFest Review: Sir Ranulph Fiennes

In terms of grandeur of storytelling, wealth of experience and attention to detail, Sir Ranulph Fiennes was unbeatable speaking at the Chester Literature Festival. On Friday October 23rd, an audience of all ages and walks of life thronged to hear the great fundraiser and adventurer discuss “Heat”, his new memoir. This hefty tome recounts the treasured explorer’s numerous expeditions in climates with extremely high temperatures, including the time that he served in the Sultan’s private army in Oman, and his recent triumph as the oldest Briton to complete the Marathon Des Sables.

Dignified and charming as he sat beside his eager interviewer, Sir Ranulph was well prepared for his enthralling talk. He guided the audience through a series of photographs from “Heat”, discussing the history of adventurers such as Livingstone’s work in Africa, and how the works of these great men influenced his own experiences in the country. Sir Ranulph delighted fans with tidbits from his hovercraft journey thousands of miles up the River Nile, which was at a time when hovercraft technology was brand new and a beguiling thing for native Africans to witness. He also spoke very fondly of his first wife, Ginny, who accompanied him on all his expeditions at that time.

There were countless questions at the end, which Sir Ranulph answered with the same grace and wit that he displayed throughout the talk, and one fan went so far as to commend the adventurer for his love for the country of Oman and the Muslim religion and culture despite current prejudices in the wider world. Overall, his presentation was highly engaging and it was a genuine pleasure to be in the presence of a man who has done so much to aid Marie Curie Cancer Care through his incredible challenges. It certainly makes “Heat” a tempting future read.

Find out more about the Chester Literature Festival at: http://www.chesterperforms.com/literature/events/

LitFest Review: Deborah Moggach

Author of such favourites as “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”, “Tulip Fever” and her new novel “Something To Hide”, Deborah Moggach entertained a collective of devoted fans on Monday 19th October. Another installment of the superb Chester Literature Festival, this evening of book chat saw Moggach divulge the secrets of the births of some of her most popular works, as well as enthralling tidbits from her personal life which often contribute to the flavour of her novels.

Gracious and vivacious as ever in her mid sixties, Moggach’s wealth of experience in the writing industry was fascinating to hear about. “Something To Hide” was her first port of call, as the author described a wealth of global themes which she had collected over the last twenty years that finally came together in this riveting drama. Her central character, Petra, is a woman newly sixty, whose romantic life is a constant stream of disasters and mistakes. Moggach revealed her own chaotic encounters with the world of internet dating, ensuring there was plenty of real life experience to back up Petra’s forlorn search for love.

When discussing “Tulip Fever” and “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”, Moggach described her very different inspirations for the projects: the former from a beautiful Dutch painting which she wanted to walk straight into, and the latter from a theory that Britain’s elderly could be outsourced to India, where their pensions would go a lot further and arthritis would be a thing of the past. She also divulged some fascinating inside information about transferring a novel to the big screen, as well as a few things that she was dissatisfied with during the process.

Moggach fielded several enthusiastic questions from the audience at the end of her talk, and was delightful and chatty when she signed copies of “Something To Hide” afterwards. The evening was an insightful and delightful experience with a writer who really knows how to enthrall her crowd.

For more information about the Chester Literature Festival, visit: http://www.chesterperforms.com/literature/events/