I have just come back from a most enjoyable weekend in Plymouth, attending the 55th Congress of the West Country Writers Association. I live in the north of England now but love returning to my roots occasionally, and I find it very inspiring to meet and talk with other writers. The decibel level in the dining room of the Astor Hotel rose alarmingly once we all started chattering! The Congress was a wonderful mixture of talks and socialising, with plenty of time to exchange ideas over coffee or drinks in the bar. This year there were four main speakers, Katie Fforde (who gave a wonderfully entertaining talk about her eight years to overnight success), Sara Macdonald, a contemporary novelist who allowed us an insight into the inspiration for some of her novels (this included a chance meeting with an old lady on a lonely beach - fascinating!), David Benedictus (a man who seems to have been everywhere and done everything), and David Wood, actor and writer of children's books and plays, who proved that he can coax audience participation from even the most adult audience.
Writing can be a very lonely profession, and occasionally it is good to get together and share ideas and experiences. The weather in Plymouth was wonderful, the people welcoming, and it was a lovely holiday before the launch of my next book, Gentlemen in Question, which comes out next month.
Melinda Hammond (Sorry I don't have any holiday snaps yet)
Anyone who is interested in the West Country Writers Association can find out more at www.westcountrywriters.co.uk