My guest for 'People & Books #4' is Jason Griffiths. After leaving the Forest of Dean to study English in London, Jason returned to the area and is now actively involved in the research and promotion of Forest of Dean literature, past and present. Along with Dr Roger Deeks, Jason is a founder member of the Reading the Forest project. Here he explains his background and his commitment to Forest of Dean authors and readers.
I first met Val back in November 2021, at his Russian event at the English Bookstore Maastricht, and I'm delighted to be able to interview him about his work. Originally from the USA, Val spent some time in Russia as a young student. This experience inspired his fiction writing, but he has also explored memoir and travel writing. Here Val talks about how he began writing, describes his completed body of work and his plans for future projects.
Walk away from the centre of Maastricht and through the Central Station, and you'll find yourself in a quieter area of the city. Here, on Frankenstraat, you'll find a hidden gem - the only bookstore in Maastricht which is dedicated solely to English-language books. The bookstore has been open for just over a year and is making a mark as part of the local community. I asked its owner, Shakib, about the background to opening the store, what it currently offers and his plans for its future.
Having recently moved to Maastricht, in the Netherlands, I set out to find links with the English reading, writing and book community. Via a chance phone call to Maastricht’s English Bookstore, I met Kirsty after we both joined in the store’s Halloween event. Kirsty is also relatively new to Maastricht and it was after her arrival there, that she made her move into writing and self-publishing, as she explains here.
There's always a fantastical or weird element to my writing, sometimes a bit too sinister for my own liking! I often start my stories in the real world, but they always move to somewhere else, either an unreal place or a context where unreal things happen. Where does this come from? One thing is certain; I know I've been inspired by the books I read in my early and teen years. Here's a list of the 5 books that I think helped to nurture my speculative side.
Students at the 21st Century Global School in Haarlem, the Netherlands, are taking part in the Save the White Stag project. Check out these pictures from the opening two chapters, showing main character Caro searching in the forest and at her home in the traveller camp. Thank you so much, Ingrid (headteacher) & the students, for your wonderful art work!
Today my White Stag Project goes live and I'll be sending out the first chapter of 'Save the White Stag' to participating schools and home-schoolers. So what is it about? The story is a follow-up to 'Footprints in the Snow', my middle grade story set in the Forest of Dean. This story first introduced Jamie to his new traveller friends, three siblings called Caro, Finn and Molly, and centres around the urban myth that there is a black panther living in the forest.
After leaving a job and changing countries, I expected to work on a particular children's book, but something else pushed its way through and wanted my attention. The result is 'The Things We've Seen: Speculative Tales from the Care Home Writing Club'. Instead of working with children in mind, I've loved creating a set of elderly characters, their interaction, their personal stories and the secrets they finally share through a writing club project. I'm very proud of the result!