Charroux - a different litfest

You know the score – a crowd of writers keen to learn and interact and readers eager to adore the great ones, hurrying from pillar to post, same old topics thrashed over, expensive food, even more expensive drink, lots of undercurrents and exclusive events, groups and cliques and a carefully orchestrated bookshop with selected titles.

Well, that wasn’t what happened at the Charroux LitFest in southwest France.

With Barbara Erskine

Difference 1
Like many other writing events, his litfest had keen writers and readers, all eager to learn and interact, but there were no groups or cliques or barriers. Everybody mixed with everybody else. I had some fantastic conversations about characters, history, self-publishing and promotion throughout the weekend and managed a quick chat with Barbara Erskine on Day 3. She wanted to ask me more about alternative history, but she had a plane to catch!

Difference 2
The Programme 2017 – Festival de Littérature à Charroux wove together a schedule of events in English and French and was designed to bring fresh perspectives on essential topics. In our history panel, the audience was surprised to see me wielding my (replica) Pompeii gladius and talking about blade lengths and compositions, then types of pistols and rifles used by modern Roma Nova military while a colleague writing about French resistors in the 1940s laughed and said he steered away from specifics when it came to weapons. That surprised our audience!

Talking about Roma Nova!

As well as delivering my own topics (talking about the Roma Nova books, the historical fiction panel, and new writers’ workshop) I was delighted to get to Barbara Erskine’s interview with Tracy Warr and Andrew Lownie’s fascinating glimpse into Stalin’s Englishman, aka Guy Burgess.

Difference 3
What a lovely bookshop efficiently run by Christine and Bernard Godfrey! They were unfailingly helpful, provided author drinks and, treasure beyond everything on a sweltering weekend, an air conditioner! Definitely the cool place to be. It was also the friendly place to be and I even bumped into a schoolfriend from several decades ago.

The New Writers’ workshop panel getting ready! (Photo courtesy of

Difference 4
The other remarkable thing about Charroux – people had come from long distances, booking up accommodation for the three days even though it was quite a small festival in numbers.

However, the buzz was deep and intense; you could almost touch the concentration in each session.

Trying to convince writers about promotion!

The New Writers’ Workshop led by festival patron Susie Kelly, with contributors Jane Lythell, Harriet Springbett, Stephanie Zia (Blackbird Books) and me, flowed with advice on publishing and promotion. But in the interactive session in small groups, I learnt a lot from other writers while giving them tips about promotion. Here are my tips: Promoting your book

Difference 5
The sandwiches, quiches, cake and tea, coffee and soft drinks available on the spot were delicious and plentiful. And cheap! There was a fish & chip van for heartier appetites. Charroux and area is blessed with excellent eateries of every type for very reasonable prices.

Chris and Kate

But above all, the conference was friendly, interactive and fun. Now, this takes skill, dedication and hard work. I’m surprised the organisers, Kate Rose and Christine Collette, and their volunteer teams still had the energy to breathe by the end of the three days. Smiles and a genuine desire to address your question or need instantly were the hallmark of their modus operandi. Chapeau to them!

Oh, and I sold a ton of books, both the Roma Nova titles and the paper version of The 500 Word Writing Buddy which has tips for new writers.

Fab people, fab food, fab atmosphere – what a weekend!


Alison Morton is the author of Roma Nova thrillers INCEPTIO, PERFIDITASSUCCESSIOAURELIA and INSURRECTIO. The sixth, RETALIO, came out in April  2017. Audiobooks now available for the first four of the series

Find out more about Roma Nova, its origins, stories and heroines… Get INCEPTIO, the series starter, for FREE when you sign up to Alison’s free monthly email newsletter

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