Chelmsford City Theatres host some of the Essex Book Festival’s most popular events later this month. It’s the first time ‘A Criminally Good Day’ has been held in the city and the 2021 line-up is as gripping as a blockbuster. So, if crime is your genre of choice, or you’d love to try writing a novel, don’t miss out on this chance to be inspired on August 22.

Thrilling workshops to hone your skills

Budding crime writers can learn from the best at workshops and talks throughout the day. If thrillers are your thing, Samantha Lee Howe, USA Today Bestselling author and screenwriter is on hand with a session on character-driven action and how to increase suspense in your story.

Author Alec Marsh’s historical thrillers starring Cambridge historian Ernest Drabble have been described by Alexander McCall Smith as an ‘immensely readable treat’. He’ll be exploring how to bring the past to life with his Period Writing Workshop.

The final session of the day is perfect for anyone trying to write (and enjoy) their first novel alongside a busy schedule. Mat Osman, the bassist in Suede, has just written a novel called ‘The Ruins’ about twin brothers, music, and murder. He’ll be ready to help you navigate working as an author and coping with life’s many other demands at How to Start Writing a Novel (even if you’re not a rock star).

Inspiring conversations with authors

Mat Osman and Samantha Lee Howe will also be appearing to discuss their work, and if you’re a reader rather than a writer, these could be the events for you. Barrister, author and campaigner Alexandra Wilson, known on twitter as @essexbarrister, will also be discussing her memoir. ‘In Black and White, A Young Barrister’s Story of Race and Class in a Broken Justice System’ has sparked much-needed debate about the legal profession and you can hear Alexandra Wilson for yourself on the Sunday afternoon.

Alec Marsh, Alexandra Wilson and Barry Forshaw will all be appearing. The picture of Alexandra Wilson is by Laurie Lewis

Events celebrating female writers

It wouldn’t be A Criminally Good Day without the annual Dorothy L Sayers Lecture and this year the UK’s leading crime fiction expert Barry Forshaw takes to the stage. He’ll be talking about the ways female writers have energised crime fiction from the Golden Age of Sayers, Christie and Allingham to the present day.

Authors Frances Fyfield and Nigel Simeone join Geraldine Perriam for another key festival event celebrating the psychological thrillers of American novelist Patricia Highsmith, who was born in 1921. This Centenary Discussion is a must for anyone who’d like to find out more about the author of ‘The Talented Mr Ripley’ and ‘Strangers on a Train’ and her legacy.

Essex Book Festival runs until 29 August

Find out more about all these events and book yourself a spot on the Essex Book Festival website. Don’t forget that the festival runs right up until 29 August and if you’re looking for a book to read over the summer, check out the festival’s online bookshop.

Chelmsford City Council is a partner of the Essex Book Festival as part of its commitment to culture in the city and making Chelmsford a better-connected place.

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