Sometimes all you need is a good book to escape the hustle and bustle of the holidays. For bookworms who are searching for a good read during the festive season, the following list introduces authors who are connected to Dorset…
Bournemouth and the surrounding scenic towns have served as creative retreats for a handful of locally and internationally renowned writers. Best-selling authors such as fantasy novel writer J.R.R. Tolkien, the late master of espionage novels John Le Carré, and Scottish novelist and poet Robert Louis Stevenson lived in or frequently visited the area.
A new generation of writers is finding inspiration and tranquillity in the picturesque coastal towns of Dorset. This list celebrates a few authors who are currently active in the area.
Southbourne-based novelist Lucy Clarke is in her element when surrounded by sand, sunshine, and sea. Her office is a beach hut in Hengistbury Head, where she writes with a perfect view of the horizon.
Lucy’s writing journey began at St. Peter’s Sixth Form in Bournemouth, paving the road towards her library of bestselling books. She studied English Literature there, which sparked her enthusiasm for books – and the beach. Many of her stories trace back to the south coast seaside, particularly her page-flipping, nail-biting fourth novel Last Seen.
Ever since her 2013 debut The Sea Sisters, Lucy has released hit after hit novel. The Sea Sisters, a gripping psychological thriller filled with twists and turns, was a member of the Richard & Judy Summer Book Club, while her upcoming sixth novel The Castaways has already made Marie Claire’s 2021 best reads list.
The Castaways will be available in bookstores from 18th March 2021. In the meantime, keep up with Lucy’s coastal adventures on her Instagram.
Rita Ames, also known as R D Mack, is an indie author from Poole. In her novels, the mundane and macabre often meet. Romance collides with paranormal and horror to create heart-racing psychological thrillers that leave readers scrambling for the lights.
This masterful melange of genres has proven to be successful. Her most popular novel, 24 Hrs to Love, co-written with Audrina Lane, landed a spot as an Amazon Top Ten Best Seller upon its release in 2017. She has also curated a following on the review website Goodreads, where her work averages an overall rating of 4.59 stars.
Rita has established herself as a multifaceted author, poet, and scriptwriter. Two of her poems were published in Australian Times in 2015, and her original script for the pantomime A Knight’s Tale earned her a NODA award nomination. An accolade Rita describes as “the Oscars” of amateur theatre. The play was performed in 2010 by Poulner Players, an amateur dramatics society based locally in Ringwood.
In 2014, she passed her knowledge onto Bournemouth’s budding writers over a ten-week-long Creative Writing course at AUB alongside screenwriter Tim John. This course was the prototype for the undergraduate degree the university currently offers.
Check out Rita’s books over on Amazon, all available on either Kindle or paperback.
Poole-born Louise Tondeur may have since relocated to Brighton, but her work never strays far from Bournemouth. Her debut novel, The Water’s Edge, sees teenager Rice sent to the titular Water’s Edge Hotel in Bournemouth following her mother’s death. There, Rice begins to fall in love with the hotel. And with Esther, the daughter of an old school friend of her mother.
The plot implements Greek mythology themes and characters such as Persephone, the queen of the underworld, who washes up on Bournemouth’s shore and watches over Rice. This inclusion of classical stories with a sapphic twist led to critics comparing Louise to feminist fairy tale revisionist Angela Carter.
Following the publication of her second novel The Haven Home for Delinquent Girls, Louise turned her hand to teaching and penning guides on how to write. After a decade of studying for a PhD, teaching, and starting a family, she returned to fiction with a collection of short stories Unusual Places published in 2018.
For decades, Julie Ratcliffe’s stories were either ideas sitting inside her head or drafts collecting dust in a drawer. It wasn’t until the mid-to-late-2000s when Julie reflected on her published portfolio consisting of copywriting and formal pieces. She realised that her heart lay with fiction writing.
Originally from Northern England, in 1980, Julie was drawn to Christchurch because of the town’s antiquity. Her love of history and writing culminated in the children’s book series A Smugglers’ Town, first published in 2011. Inspired by Christchurch’s background as a smuggling hotspot in the 18th century, A Smugglers’ Town follows a group of young friends’ adventures. They navigate the South Coast rife with smuggling and unearth local mysteries.
While the series is currently a trilogy, Julie has expressed plans to write spin-off stories involving the same characters.
The first book of the series, The Thirteenth Box, was the runner-up of Writing Magazine’s National Self-Published Book of the Year award in 2012. It is also used in schools to teach children about Christchurch’s past.
Rounding off this list is HQB’s very own Dale Hurst. When he’s not critiquing local restaurants over on his blogazine Expensive Tastes or publishing and polishing articles on our website, Dale is recounting the scandals of fictional market town Berylford.
The Berylford Scandals took ten years to come to fruition. Dale first conceived the idea while studying his GCSEs. It wasn’t until 2018 when he independently published the first book in the series, Lust & Liberty. The sizzling sequel Sin & Secrecy, was actually started first and took a total of 12 years to finish, dropping earlier this year. Both instalments are highly rated on Amazon and Goodreads, with readers clamouring for their next visit to Berylford.