Knox Box of Miscellany

Dawn Knox – A rearranger of words into something hopefully meaningful…

It Happened in Essex by the Basildon Writers

Cover of It Happened in Essex
It Happened in Essex – Tall Tales from the Basildon Writers.

It Happened in Essex – Tall Tales from the Basildon Writers’ Group on sale to raise funds for Basildon Hospital Radio. You can purchase your paperback or eBook here on Amazon If you buy a copy, please leave an honest review on Amazon to give the book a greater chance of being noticed.

So, how did I get involved with the book? Well, about seven or eight years ago, I did something I’d previously been very reluctant to do. I joined a writing group. Some time before, author, Jenny Drew, had started the Basildon Writers Group and had included it on the MeetUp site where I discovered it after carrying out a search of local writing groups.

Feeling extremely nervous, I turned up one Wednesday evening in the hall at the back of the Castlemayne pub in Basildon and met Jen and the other writers. Lack of confidence had been my main reason for not joining a writers’ group in the past, but in having picked the Basildon Writers because they met during the week and because I knew the area well and would hopefully avoid getting lost, it turns out, I made a brilliant choice! Not only was Jen encouraging, but so were all the other members too. Each writer read out a piece of their work at each meeting and then the others in the group offered them advice, made comments or asked questions. But always, people were respectful and positive.

A few years further on, sadly, some people have moved away although many stay in touch and currently it’s not possible for Jen to join us. Our venue has changed twice but still, there is a core of lovely supportive people with some original members and some newcomers. Of course, the pandemic has meant we now meet on Zoom rather than in person.

As a group, we’ve been fortunate to have the support of Jacqui James, chairman of Basildon Hospital Radio BHR 87.7FM, who has invited most of us, at one time or another, to join her or one of her presenters on Basildon Hospital Radio. When she became associated with Basildon’s local radio station, Gateway 97.8FM, Jacqui introduced a book club spot which featured one of our writers each month. So, most of us have been to either Basildon Hospital Radio or Gateway, or indeed, both. Here’s a post about one of my previous trips to Gateway.

Fellow member, Colin Payn’s idea to gather stories from the group and publish them to raise money for BHR 87.7FM was greeted with enthusiasm and it was decided that the stories contributed should have a link to Basildon or to Essex. Amongst our number, we have a designer (Paul Burridge), an editor (Wendy Ogilvie) and Colin, who organised the entire book and drew up the marketing plans.

Initially, we contributed a story each, and they can be found in Part One of our book, ‘It Happened in Essex’. Then, by chance, I was invited to contribute a story to the Hawaii Fiction Writers Fractured Fairy Tale anthology which they are publishing to raise money for their library (how I came to be included in the Hawaii Fiction Writers deserves a post of its own and I’ll blog about that soon!). A fractured fairy tale, in case you’ve never heard the term, is a classic fairy tale or children’s story which is brought into modern times, possibly with a twist added, or characters changed. They are refreshingly different whilst being quite familiar!

I wrote a fractured fairy tale which was accepted by Michael Little from the Hawaii Fiction Writers, who was calling for submissions. It was a variation on Rumpelstiltskin and as I was writing the ending, a different finish occurred to me, so I wrote that down as well. Then, I thought of yet another way of finishing the story and decided it would be a good idea to pick the ending I preferred. Then it occurred to me that perhaps I didn’t need to make a choice at all! If I included all three endings, the reader could decide which conclusion they preferred.

However, I then had a completely different idea and wrote yet another story, which Michael preferred and so my Rumpelstiltskin story was replaced in their book ‘Kissing Frogs, and Other Quirky Fairy Tales’ which will be available later in 2020.

And that, gave me the idea to write the beginning to a fractured fairy tale and to challenge all the Basildon Writers to come up with an ending. Consequently, Part Two of ‘It Happened in Essex’ consists of the Basildon Writers’ fractured fairy tale, ‘Once Upon a Time in Basildon’, which has a variety of endings – one even written by Jacqui James, chairman of BHR!

The writers who have a story in the book are: Colin Payn, Wendy Ogilvie, Saul Ben, Nihal Paul, David O’Neill, GK Lomax, Janet Howson, Emma Marks, Liz Keeble and me

We’ve had support from Essex celebrities such as Richard Madeley, who wrote:
“Basildon Writers’ Group and Basildon Hospital Radio are one of the good things to come out of the Covid crisis – as an Essex man myself, I’m proud of them.”
Richard Madeley (Richard & Judy Book Club)

We also have a statement of support from ‘Diddy’ David Hamilton and from Basildon Mayor, David Sampson-Burton; Basildon MP, Stephen Metcalfe and Baroness Smith of Basildon.

And the Billericay Town Crier, Jim Shrubb, has recorded a great video announcing the launch of the book which you can see here on YouTube

And here’s our book trailer on YouTube

Please buy a copy of ‘It Happened in Essex’ available in paperback and eBook on Amazon here

Hawaii Fiction Writers’ blog can be found here

BHR 87.7FM website can be found here

Gateway 97.8FM website can be found here

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