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Enjoying the Talk at The second English Writing Festival

October 15, 2016


Last Sunday, we had the immensely enjoyable experience of putting on another English Writing Festival. We held the first one in May this year at the Treehut in the Hague branch of the American Book Center, and it was so popular, we decided to have another to celebrate the National Novel Writing Month that’s coming up in November, otherwise known as NaNoWriMo.


Mary Hong


Natali Drake (NJ Simmonds)

This time we focused on different genres of fiction writing, but we also had a creative non-fiction slot and a travel writing speaker. As before, we had a good audience. Not quite all the people who signed up for it actually came, but we had 21 visitors in all, which was a great turnout and I was really happy to see some returning participants from last time.


A great audience with Floris Kleijne



Floris Kleijne

The categories of fiction were literary, romance, fantasy and YA fiction. I’d scheduled the literary fiction as first off in the afternoon, which turned out to be a good opener as Mary Hong talked with authority (she has a PhD on the subject) on the differences between pure genre fiction and literary fiction.

This gave us a good platform on which to move forward and Natali Drake (writing as NJ Simmonds and who has a 3 book contract with Accent Press) talked about what writing Romance involves, and she gave some great tips to NaNoWriMo hopefuls. Natali has a lovely, bubbly personality and the audience really enjoyed her quips and jokes. Then came Floris Kleijne, an award winning short story writer, who gave a really entertaining talk about writing fantasy fiction and read one of his very special stories. Floris has actually done NaNoWriMo himself, so shared some of his experiences with the audience, which was a fantastic bonus.



After a short break, I explained how YA fiction can cross all genres and even be literary fiction, but that the writer needs keep his or her audience in mind, and even try and be that audience when writing. I also explained how my novel, The Skipper’s Child was one I wrote for myself – both my younger and my current self, meaning that even if a book ticks all the YA boxes, it can appeal to a much broader audience than just teenagers. After all, the Harry Potter novels have catered for the entire YA age range, but have also been read widely by adults too.


Me on YA fiction


Olga Mecking

After my talk, Olga Mecking, a well-known blogger in the Netherlands, spoke about the possibilities offered by creative non-fiction and showed how it can be as interesting in terms of writing styles as a novel for the author. Creative non-fiction writers have the freedom to use a variety of devices to tell their stories, and do not need to adhere strictly to the bald facts in delivering the truth. It was quite inspiring to hear her talk and made me want to get back to my latest memoir that I’ve sort of put to one side lately.


Elizabeth Joss

Lastly, Elizabeth Joss, a lovely travel writer and blogger who has a special cultural travel blog, The Museum Times, talked about her passion for writing about cultural travel. She comes from South Africa and told us about why and how she has come to develop her blog with its unique cultural approach and also how it has taken her on some fantastic paid-for trips.

The audience asked some excellent questions and there was some good discussion about the different demands of the NaNoWriMo challenge, so we all enjoyed this lively and stimulating afternoon. Now, of course, those who came are asking about the next one! Many, many thanks to ABC for hosting the event again, and especially to Simone and Sophie for their support and help. I really hope we’ll be able to make it a regular bi-annual event, and I hope more writers will be able to join in and share their experience with us in future!


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