Inspired to put pen to paper, or fingers to the keyboard, but don’t know where to start or how to keep going?
We spoke to Karen Marwood who set up Write by the Sea, a Folkestone based group for local writers and booklovers – a thriving group where people hone their skills for free.
Karen, who blogs at Karen’s World, realised that writing can be a hard, lonely struggle at times. “I wanted to provide a safe, inclusive and constructive environment for local writers to share and discuss their work. So in 2018 I started Write by the Sea, and we now have around 50 members, 20 or so who attend any given event. The group includes anyone who has a part to play in the making of a book, including illustrators, photographers and editors, so it’s rich mixture! It’s a joy to meet up and see how people are doing, whether its writing exercises, appraising each other’s work or discussing the latest news from the book world.
“We meet twice a month, once for an author event where we meet published writers (novelists, journalists and so on) and take the opportunity to pick their brains and learn new skills, and once for a general group meeting. It’s all free, and everyone is welcome” Karen says.
Even over lockdown Write by the Sea kept going, thanks to the wonders of zoom, email and whatsapp, and members put their time to good use. The productive group has been busy – they’ve produced a series of three anthologies, all set in the Folkestone area, even with maps so you can read the stories in their location.
GHOSTS BY THE SEA
Write by the Sea members performed at Folkestone’s Living Advent Calendar in December 2919, collaborating to write stories and poems about some of our landmarks, and then wanted to write more.
What could a perturbed headmistress, an impetuous collie, a friendly bellhop, a Dickens-loving signalman and a hapless drunk have in common? The answers are all to be found in ghost stories about the Grand, the Harbour, the Viaduct, Folkestone School for Girls, the Leas Cliff Hall and the Hideaway Café.
The contributors were Deborah Jones, Karen Marwood, Mark Brophy, AL Marchant, Carol Grimes, Jane Cottle, Suzannah Gisby, Andrew Paul, Nicholas Irwin, Paul Robinson, Jana Chatters, Lynzy Heartfield, Carol Harte, Aleksandra Michalska, Tony Hulse, Chani Barnes, Margaret Harland-Suddes and Mary Leadbetter.
DOORWAYS BY THE SEA
When lockdown eased, group members were able to meet up for walks, often down by Folkestone’s beach huts at Mermaid Bay.
Inspiration led to stories including an imp with a crafty plan, a brave little speedboat, a group of fifty-somethings gathering for a birthday reunion, old bones, old soldiers and two scatty girls with a Ouija board. In Debby Jones’ story, ‘With Impunity’, set many years in the future, the beach huts have lost their sea view and are on the verge of being pulled down when a mysterious discovery is made beneath them…
JOURNEYS BY THE SEA
Spring 2023 sees the launch of a new anthology, with over 30 stories – “it’s wonderful to ‘sea’ where our members’ inspiration takes them – and us!” says Karen.
Thirty-seven stories and poems are themed on journeys to, from, in and around Folkestone. Spanning the centuries from the Dark Ages to the present day, a teacher with a secret past, deadly assassins, old soldiers and airmen, spies, an 18th century midwife and a traveller in search of the elixir of life journey down highways and byways, into cars, on and off trains, ferries, buses and even an airship.
Journeys by the Sea will be launched at the Folkestone Bookshop, date to be confirmed.