#chesterculture – Chester Library: Inspired by Gothic – Thursday 21st and 28th April 2016

To link with the Grosvenor Museum’s exhibition “Inspired by Gothic: Ruins, Romance, Revival” Chester Library has created a series of events this April.

Inspired by Gothic: ‘Wuthering Heights’ by Emily Bronte – Thursday 21st April 2016
Join a group reading of this classic Gothic novel of the thwarted love and passionate obsession of Cathy and Heathcliff.
The evocative descriptions of the lonely moorland setting and the poetic grandeur of vision combine to make this unique novel a masterpiece of English literature.
Come along to take part or just to listen

Inspired by Gothic: Gothic Literature Workshop – Thursday 28th April 2016
Gothic literature combines horror, mystery, romance, suspense and the supernatural in an atmospheric setting, triggering strong emotions in the reader. Explore the gothic style and the history of gothic literature with local writer Chris Mapp. There will also be the opportunity to create your own piece of writing.

Thursday 21 April 2016
Inspired by Gothic: ‘Wuthering Heights’ by Emily Bronte
Chester Library, Northgate Street
Free drop-in.

Thursday  28th April 2016
Inspired by Gothic: Gothic Literature Workshop
Chester Library, Northgate Street
£3 including refreshments, book at Chester Library 01244 977380

#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 – Preview: Weaver Words Literature Festival – Wednesday 6th to Sunday 10th April 2016

Weaver Words, Frodsham’s Literature Festival, is back with five days of fantastic talks, events, outings and workshops for you to enjoy, many linked to the festival theme of ‘The Good Life – happiness and well-being’.

Tim Frith, Patron of Weaver Words said: “What better food for the soul than poetry? Our 2016 programme includes performances from Liverpool legend Roger McGough and former Canal Poet Laureate Jo Bell aboard a boat along the River Weaver.

TV historian Dan Cruickshank takes us on a world tour of beautiful buildings, Merseyside footballing giant Neville Southall promises to share his literary goals and actor Gerald Dickens makes a welcome return to present a Victorian evening inspired by his great great grandfather Charles Dickens.”

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The  full programme of events can be found here.

In addition to these events the festival also host a flash fiction competition and a Children’s writing competition, both of which are now closed.

Weaver Words Literature Festival
Wednesday 6th to Sunday 10th April 2016
Various venues in Frodsham
Events vary in price and can be booked here

#ChesterCulture – Waterstones Chester’s Easter Egg Treasure Hunt

Every day this weekend Waterstones are holding an Easter Egg Treasure Hunt.

Search the store to find all eight eggs and you’ll receive a free World Book Day book. 

It should only take you about five minutes to find them all and then you can have something to read this Easter weekend, for free!

Don’t forget to have a browse of their fantastic selection of literary delights whilst in store!

All Easter Weekend

Waterstones Chester


#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 

Literature Delights- Book Explorers

submitted by: Tara Stych

School days. Everyone remembers them.

Some more fondly than others.

As someone who attended school in the eighties and early nineties and has been working in high schools for the last 8 years, I can assure you that they have changed dramatically.
Today’s high school students are taught to hit the marking criteria to ensure they gain the most marks, to avoid giving an examiner to not award marks. A piece of writing may be absolute brilliance but if it hasn’t got the required elements….
Creativity and imagination have little place in our exam system. There is nothing within the mark scheme to award such talent and there is no sign of this improving. New GCSEs favour a 100% exam approach. Students will have a short amount of time in an examination hall, which will inevitably be freezing or roasting you alive, to produce a creative piece of writing. No time for thinking, crafting, redrafting to make it your best. Instead students will probably be taught to ensure they include a selection of techniques and elements from a list they’ve had to revise. There will be no time or reward for a developed, carefully considered response to a question on a novel. By the way, the exams will be “closed book”, which means revision will be filled with learning quotes by rote.
Erm…let’s just take a moment to pause (a luxury students will not have).
Would this excite you about reading and writing?! Would this encourage you to pick up a novel and relish its pages? Would this mean you would ponder on the meanings in the novel, what you could learn about yourself and life around you? Would you want to pick up a pen and paper and craft a beautiful piece of writing? Playing around with the words and structure, manipulating your reader?
Me neither.
Hence the reason I left teaching. It was no place for a literature lover who wanted to share their joy and excitement for what can be found inside those dusty, but beautifully-smelling, pages. I wanted to encourage reading and writing, not discourage it.
It is no secret that with the advance of technology, there are less people reading. There are too many other distractions. As a teacher and a parent, I saw the impact this had (one page of a student’s writing was enough to tell me if they read regularly), but could also appreciate the difficulties and practicalities of getting our young ones to read regularly. Rather than making our lives easier, technology has simply made them busier. Jam-packed in fact. With the constant demands from our offspring, and demands from schools to complete a variety of homework pieces, spellings and reading from the tiny age of 4, it is no wonder that reading becomes one of those other chores you are expected to get done and the TV, mobile, ipad and laptop the much needed, and very much deserved, break from the insanity.
However, we can’t escape the facts. “Reading is more important to children’s cognitive development than their parents’ level of education or social class” (The Reading Agency, 2013).
But what can we REALISTICALLY do about this?
My answer was Literature Delights. I left my teaching career behind and embarked on a new journey, starting my own business to promote the excitement, enjoyment and benefits of reading and writing. We are still in our early days but there are big plans.
My time in the classroom showed me that it was crucial to start when children are young. I have therefore started Book Explorer classes for young children. We start with a story time and to encourage focus and attention on the story, children are given an interactive story bag. These contain a variety of objects that link to the story we are reading. Children are able to explore these objects and connect them with the story. They become excited to discover “what is in the bag this week?” Recently for a Peter Rabbit tale, children had coconut shells to make the sound of the horses of Mr and Mrs McGregor’s gig, rabbit ears to wear and pears and onions that are found in the garden the rabbits climb into.
The children then take part in a variety of activities that bring the story to life. We often include sensory or messy play activities. After hearing the myth of Icarus, children were given water beads, sand, shells, sticks, lego characters and playdoh to recreate the story or their own imaginary island in a tray. So much learning and discovery takes place during these activities whilst still being fun and creative. Parents will often enjoy these activities too, not least because the tidying up is done for them! However, they also get to meet other mums and build their confidence in making reading exciting for their little ones.
Let’s be realistic. This is not something we, as busy parents, have time to do at home with every book or even on a regular basis. I know how many hours I spend planning and preparing these classes and I have a first class honours degree in literature, a teaching qualification and experience. Our lives are already crammed full and we are told that so many things are important are crucial. There just isn’t room for everything.
Hence the Book Explorer classes.
These are currently running in Hoole and Tarporley. You can find out more by visiting our website http://www.literaturedelights.com or our facebook page http://www.facebook.com/literaturedelights.
It is from these foundations that we will build and promote a fascination in literature for all ages. It is time for the arts and creativity to be more highly valued, not diminished as is the current position. The evidence for the benefits of reading for pleasure is overwhelming. It is not just about academic ability but about your wellbeing too. Dr Josie Billington conducted research into the benefits of reading for pleasure amongst adults and found “higher levels of self esteem and a greater ability to cope with difficult situations”, that they found “it easier to make decisions, to plan and prioritise” and had “greater understanding and empathy with others” (2015, p.4) amongst many other benefits. Her report can be read here: http://www.quickreads.org.uk/assets/downloads/docs/Galaxy-Quick-Reads-Report-FINAL%20.pdf
We have plans for classes, clubs, sessions and courses for a variety of age groups in both reading and writing. We will work with individuals, groups, businesses and charities. Anyone who feels they want to read or write. If you have any requests then don’t be scared, get in touch!Hoole book explorers

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/