Litfest Blog

Although the main Litfest takes place over a few busy days in early July, the Litfest team work hard all year to research and plan for the next year’s event.

In the Litfest Blog, we will share our experiences of running a Litfest as well as our thoughts on books and writing new and old. Watch out for guest authors as well as team members.

Lockdown unlocked my writing mind

28 Aug 2021 by Litfest
In this guest blog, Robert Spencer describes how lockdown helped him get those words – lots of them – onto the page Pandemic, people dying, a microscopic virus lingers in every breath. I didn’t need a Lockdown Order to keep me off the streets, out of non-essential shops – even, gulp, out of the pub! […]

Recent news from two of our favourite local writers

12 Mar 2021 by Litfest
If you’re not on Facebook, you may have missed these recent posts: First off, a great blog that takes an often literary look at the Morrab Gardens from a local author who promises the whole alphabet And another great local author – Liz Hurley Muddy Meets Liz Hurley, Author | Muddy Stilettos Cornwall If you’re […]

My lockdown reading list

14 Feb 2021 by Litfest
LitFest team member Robin Knight dips into his reading pile to review some newcomers, dust off an old favourite and get to grips with a couple of classics. One of 2020’s LitFest contributors was to have been Stephanie Bretherton, talking about her debut novel, Bone Lines. Stephanie, who has spent many years writing – for […]

A damning insight into modern day prison life

18 Jan 2021 by Litfest
Book review : “A Bit of a Stretch : The Diaries of a Prisoner” by Chris Atkins The author Chris Atkins was sentenced to five years imprisonment after being found guilty of fraud. He was a successful film producer and his mistake was to agree to become involved with a film financing scheme which was […]

Book Review: Dark, Salt, Clear by Lamorna Ash

25 Aug 2020 by Litfest
Lamorna Ash’s book, Dark, Salt, Clear*: Life in a Cornish Fishing Town (published by Bloomsbury), which is part-memoir/part-love song to the fishing community of Newlyn, would have been real crowd pleaser at the 2020 Penzance LitFest were it not for COVID-19. We very much hope that we’ll be able to lure Lamorna back to Cornwall to take […]

Move over, Mantel

28 Jul 2020 by Litfest
Lin Rogers explains why, sometimes, you just can’t beat a really gripping thriller. I had The Mirror & the Light by Hilary Mantel on order for its paperback release in September. I’d devoured the first two books in the trilogy (Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies); went to the theatre to see the stage productions and then sat through the TV series. Very different, enjoyable but obviously […]

Book Review: The Lost Properties of Love by Sophie Ratcliffe

06 Jul 2020 by Litfest
Review by Paul Hunter Sophie Ratcliffe is a fortysomething Oxford professor of English, who is also a writer and critic. This book is an engaging read and relatively short, although in keeping with the author’s background ends with 40 pages of quotations, further reading and acknowledgements. Loosely it’s a memoir of some parts of Ratcliffe’s […]

Book Review: The Carbon Buddy Manual by Colin Hastings

29 Jun 2020 by Litfest
Review by Linda Camidge Everyone needs an in-house lockdown buddy –preferably one that’s interesting, stimulating and non-threatening.  The Carbon Buddy Manual meets all those criteria, and although it’s disappointing not to be able to welcome Colin Hastings to Penzance Literary Festival in person this year, reading his book is the next best thing. The continuing […]

Quarantine: history repeats itself

15 Jun 2020 by Litfest
LitFest team member Robin Knight, who has a professional background in immunology, explores a medieval practice with renewed relevance for our own time. This year’s LitFest theme was to be Breakaway, but the event had to be cancelled because of ‘the outbreak’. Instead of being free to do as we wished we have been restricted, […]

LitFest in Lockdown: We talk to Liz Fenwick

06 May 2020 by Litfest
In the fourth of our interviews with local literary figures, novelist Liz Fenwick gives Rachel Viney the lowdown on meeting a lockdown deadline, daily ‘plot walks’ and the importance of kindness. You’ve been working on a new novel. Did you make any changes to the story as a result of the coronavirus pandemic? I think […]

LitFest in Lockdown: We talk to Tim Hannigan

16 Apr 2020 by Litfest
In the third of our interviews with local literary figures, the travel writer and regular LitFest contributor Tim Hannigan shares some recent reading discoveries, reveals the one item he’d panic-buy and admits to some ‘judicious trespassing’. Interview by Rachel Viney. You’re in lockdown in Ireland. Are restrictions there similar to those in the UK – […]

LitFest in Lockdown: We talk to Lisa Di Tommaso

07 Apr 2020 by Litfest
In the second of our interviews with local literary figures, Rachel Viney talks to the Morrab Library’s Lisa Di Tommaso about working from home, helpful reads for tough times and the importance of custard creams. What is the biggest ‘plus’ of the lockdown for you as a librarian? I’m fortunate enough to be able to […]

LitFest in Lockdown: We talk to Patrick Gale

03 Apr 2020 by Litfest
In the first of a series of interviews with local literary figures, Rachel Viney talks to our Patron, the novelist Patrick Gale, about life in lockdown, how he’s staying sane, new writing discoveries and much more besides … Which aspect of lockdown are you most enjoying?The excuse to sit at my desk for hours on […]

Borders I’ve known

01 Mar 2019 by Litfest
With cold beer in my hand, I watched the sun setting over southern Angola just across the Kavango River flowing at the bottom of the Guest House garden. Behind me lights were coming on, the town market buzzing with activity, optimism returning now SWAPO had freed Namibia of South African rule. But across that border […]

Wordsmiths of West Cornwall

17 Aug 2018 by Litfest
We all have our favourite local authors –  Patrick Gale perhaps, or Liz Fenwick, or another of the host of other contemporary writers  who know and represent West Cornwall. New voices are coming in all the time – during the 2018 Festival we were delighted to introduce (amongst others) Raynor Winn, Noel O’Reilly, and Ken […]

The Making of Historical Fiction

03 Jul 2018 by Litfest
David Taylor, author of ‘The Man Who Lived Twice’, looks at the difference between historical romance and historical realism, and how his book fits between them.   Is your story true? Historical novelists are often asked this question. Sadly, there is no clear-cut answer. Truth is a relative term not an absolute. The belief that […]

Do Guidebook Writers Go to Hell (and Back)?

20 Jun 2018 by Litfest
Lonely Planet author Des Hannigan paints an honest picture of the difference between travel writing and guidebook writing. Everyone wants to be a travel writer. And so do you… But ask me if I am a travel writer and I will happily demote to being a guidebook writer. Spot the difference… Travel writers write travel […]

Historical Fiction: Inspired or Recreated?

15 Jun 2018 by Litfest
Historical fiction, we are told by literary agents, is set to be one of the biggest literary trends of 2018 and Cornwall is being heralded as the new literary capital of the UK. But what is historical fiction? Is it history written as fiction? Or is it fiction set in a historical setting? Or a […]

Once Upon a Time in the West: How Penzance Literary Festival Began

07 Jun 2018 by Litfest
Back in 2010, at a Society of Authors meeting at the Godolphin Arms, Marazion, history was made.  Peter Levin, founder of the Festival, remembers it clearly. “Somebody said, ‘why don’t we have a literary festival’… I was the person who had the e-mail list, so it fell to me to organise it”. Looking back on that […]

Taking flight July 4th – we’re up and away

13 May 2018 by Litfest
Whatever happens about the proposal for a new helicopter service from Penwith to the Scillies, one thing is for sure – Penzance Literary Festival 2018 has taken off. Want to know more about the turbo-charged 2018 event? The theme is “Taking Flight”, the dates are July 4th to 7th, and the “hub” will be the […]

Penzance? We’ve never been that far west!

04 Oct 2017 by Litfest
It’s true that Penzance is over 300 miles from London, at the end of a long rail journey or tedious drive, and only 10 miles from Land’s End, but when you arrive it’s always worth the trek. Before it was linked to Pirates by Gilbert and Sullivan, Penzance was renowned as ‘the most southern resort […]

Centenaries & Bi-centenary

29 Sep 2017 by Litfest
The long gallery of reminiscence gets longer every year and every year there is a new anniversary, centenary or even bicentenary to remember, celebrate or quietly forget. At this year’s LitFest we will commemorate the end of the Great War in 1918 with a performance of The Lark above the Trenches, with Timothy Dean and […]

Venturing Off the Map and Into the Woods…

03 Jul 2017 by Litfest
  As part of Penzance Litfest’s Uncharted Waters events, pupils from Trythall school ventured off the map and into the wilds of Trevaylor woods to explore nature, poems and stories. There they encountered characters from folktales, learnt how to use their senses to navigate their way in their uncharted surroundings, and met some unusual characters […]

What you know and what you know now…

02 Jul 2017 by Litfest
  ‘Write what you know.’ This piece of advice a piece of advice is usually one of the first given to new writers. It can cover many things from characters to plot to setting. I won’t disagree with it either as I have used my area of Cornwall as the location for all my books. […]

Poetry, Tea and Creativity

30 Jun 2017 by Litfest
In ancient Greek, the word poet means  ‘one who creates‘ and I have always taken a creative approach to poetry – trying to present it in original ways that will delight and inspire others. Some of these ways have included The Poetree, I’ll Eat My Words range of edible poetry, Word M’art featuring poems in […]

All You Need is Pen, Paper and a Smile, from Jenny Kane

24 Jun 2017 by Litfest
Everyone has a story to tell, and everyone has their own way in which to tell it. Life writing concentrates on using your own experiences and turning them into works of fiction. In 2013 I wrote my first contemporary fiction novel, Another Cup of Coffee. The idea for this book came from a conversation I […]

The Book Is Dead – Long Live The Book!

03 Apr 2017 by Litfest
Were you there when they tried to bury the book? Even before there was any news of its demise? The crocodiles were there; the kindled flames of digitalis were licking round a coffin made out of old book covers. The trend checkers were there singing from their iPads about ‘birth cohorts’ and ‘generational trends’. And, […]

Wild Words from Bridget Holding

24 Feb 2017 by Litfest
I like to help writers find the wild, in themselves, their words, and also in the Penzance Literary Festival. In 2014 I ran a workshop in the stunning Morrab Gardens about how to track down your ‘Wild Words’. In 2015 I re-entered that tropical paradise, and it was all about ‘How To Eat an Elephant’ […]

Working with Strangers – Penzance Litfest 2016

29 Jan 2017 by Litfest
Our latest guest blog is from Sue Kittow who took part in The Land and Seascape of Cornwall in 2016. Sue writes… I regularly give talks on how I came to write walks books, and of course publicise my books, and doing it solo is one thing, but getting together with two strangers was another matter. […]

This Christmas, support your local bookshop

13 Dec 2016 by Litfest
Our first guest post on this blog is from Rachael Howorth who, together with her husband, James, owns The Edge of the World Bookshop in Penzance. If, like me, you’re still deciding which books to buy for friends and family for Christmas – or you’re thinking about indulging in a new book or two for yourself (!) […]

Brian Bilston: wonderfully daft poetry

17 Nov 2016 by Spencer Smart
I recently discovered the work of Brian Bilston, also known as the ‘Banksy of poetry’ or the ‘Brian Bilston of Twitter’, through an article on the BBC News website. Clever, amusing and sometimes thought-provoking, his poems are now gathered together in an anthology: You Took The Last Bus Home, available from Edge of the World bookshop.   DONALD TRUMPTON Skew, […]