With two writing groups and a book group,Wellington WI are keenly interested in the art of writing, so this month’s speakers, successful Taunton-based crime writers Chris Ewan and Clare Donoghue, were warmly welcomed. This was a return visit by popular request for Chris, who spoke to us last year, and who invited Clare to come along as well this time.
He and Clare kept our interest with a lively conversation about their very similar backgrounds, and their very different approaches to writing. Both had lived away from the south west for many years, returning comparatively recently; this had resulted in Clare relocating her leading characters west as well, to make research easier.
When a new book is in the offing, Clare creates detailed spreadsheets of characters and plot development, whereas Chris writes more organically, starting with a question, then identifying a character and some of the action for the first few chapters before starting to write.
Their routes to success have been equally different. It took Chris several years of submitting work before a manuscript was accepted, whereas Clare did a Master’s degree in creative writing which led to an introduction to an agent.
They have both had disagreement with their publishers about the titles of their books – the publisher always has the last word here. While Clare will continue to work with a publisher, recent editorial changes have led Chris to move towards self-publishing soon.
After the meeting, members had the opportunity to purchase signed copies of both authors’ books, and to sign up to Chris’ newsletter.
Most of the rest of the meeting was taken up with discussion of the two proposals for resolutions to be voted on at the National Federation of WIs AGM. WIs can support both, either or neither of them. This year’s proposals are to reduce the quantity of microplastic fibres which find their way into the oceans every time we wash synthetic clothes, and cause major damage to sea life, and for WIs to work with statutory services to raise awareness of the causes and impacts of loneliness and identify lonely people who can be offered support. Our recommendations will be passed to our representative at the AGM, who will vote on our behalf.
Members were also updated on all the activities on offer before the next meeting, including group meetings and a range of one – off activities such as theatre trips and quizzes.
Our next meeting is on 18 May, 7.00 for 7.30 pm at the Beambridge Inn. It will be our AGM, and the talk will be on the history of the Minack Theatre. Guests are very welcome.