One of the most surprising things about organising the Prestwich Book Festival is the number of local historical novelists who have got in touch. They’re sadly too late for this year, but next year's festival will be full of talent if this lot are anything to go by.
First up is Alrene Hughes, originally from Enniskillen, and now based in Unsworth. An assistant headteacher by day, Alrene has found time to whip up an entertaining historical novel, Martha's Girls, set in second world war-era Belfast, about a troupe of singing sisters. It's just been published as an ebook. Watch this space for more details and forthcoming events featuring Alrene.
Elaine Powell is another local writer who is just about to hit the big time. Her novel The Fifth Knight now has an agent (no mean feat in this day and age) and has already won acclaim in various historical and romantic writing competitions. Then there's Malcolm Barber from Sedgley Park, whose novel Treasure Quest of the Third Reich was published a couple of years ago and is now out as an e-book.
Finally there’s Bill Jones from Summerseat, a former Bolton Evening News journalist. His non-fiction book The Ghost Runner: the tragedy of the man they couldn't stop , about the forgotten life of runner John Tarrant was shortlisted for the William Hill Sports Book of the Year 2011.
All this confirms my hunch: the North side of Manchester is full of fine writers. And if you still don't believe me, check out the first event of the first ever Prestwich Book Festival takes place on Thursday 17th May, 8pm at the Church Inn, Prestwich. New Writers from the North West features local bloggers Kate Feld, Aaron Gow, Claire Massey, Ben Judge and Sarah-Clare Conlon. It’s free, so arrive early to guarantee your seat.