Spine-chilling tales of vampires and werewolves by a local author are amongst the highlights of a day-long feast of storytelling at a Wrexham shopping centre.
Marie Anne Cope from Wrexham, who has been compared to master of horror James Herbert, specialises in nerve-tingling yarns weaved around horror themes.
Following its smash-hit debut event last year, the literary festival Carnival of Words opens for a second chapter on May 7 aiming to enthrall and entertain people with a passion for words at a host of events at venues across the town.
And once again playing a key role in the week-long literary extravaganza is Eagles Meadow Shopping Centre which hosts a superstar cast of national and local authors and storytellers on Sunday May 8.
Marie Anne will be doing live readings from her second novel, Tales From a Scarygirl, on the day.
She moved from Manchester 11 years ago to a small cottage on the outskirts of Wrexham which she shares with her three cats and helps her create the perfect spooky atmosphere for her stories.
Also a business improvement consultant and yoga teacher when she’s not trying to scare people out of their wits, Marie Anne said: “In essence, the stories in Tales From a Scarygirl cover vampires, werewolves, curses, serial killer, schizophrenics, superstition – a bit of everything.
“It was my second novel, published in 2013. It followed on from my debut book, Bonds, and came before my latest work, Broken Bonds.
“Bonds centres around the unusual relationship between Becca Martin and Antony Cardover and their story continues in Broken Bonds.
“Bonds reached the quarter-final of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award 2012 and some people have been kind enough to compare my work to that of James Herbert.
‘I’m extremely honoured to be invited to participate in Wrexham’s Carnival of Words and to be asked to take part in the major storytelling event at Eagles Meadow.
“It’s fantastic that Wrexham holds such a festival and gives self-published authors like myself the valuable exposure we need, but which also shares with the public the fantastic array of talent that exists amongst them.
“I am excited and scared to death, to be honest, as I have never done anything so public before, but am really looking forward to it and to meeting fellow storytellers.”
Marie Anne will also perform a reading from her book Bonds and sign copies at Waterstones bookshop in Regent Street, Wrexham from 11.30am-1.30pm on Saturday May 7.
Also appearing in the Storytellers Relay, which runs at Eagles Meadow from noon to 3pm, are Jacqui Blore, who will narrate Julia Donaldson’s The Gruffalo, Jude Lennon, who is bringing in her VW camper van from which to tell a couple of her favourite stories from the Little Lamb Tales, Carol Wainwright, who will entertain youngsters with her Turtle Road Show, and children’s storyteller Vonny-Bee Matthews.
For a second year a group of literary figures, including writers and poets, have teamed up with Wrexham Council’s library service and Glyndwr University to organise the Carnival of Words, which will see live performances and guest appearances at a number of venues throughout the Wrexham area, including Eagles Meadow.
The carnival opens on Saturday May 7 with the Performance Poetry Relay, organised in Queen Square by l ocal poet and playwright Peter Read with the aim of presenting the largest number of performing poets in the history of Wrexham. Each poet will read for three minutes in any language and then pass on the baton to others.
Also on May 7 there’s a repeat highlight from last year, the Literary Bus Tour, which will visit local areas of importance in Welsh language literature, such as ID Hooson in Rhos, Bryan Martin Davies by Clawdd Offa in Ruabon and Dafydd ab Edmwnd in Hanmer.
The bus will then head over to Whittington and the border area, the setting of the 9th century cycle of poems Canu Heledd, and ends its run by remembering the Ceiriog Valley’s most famous poet, John Ceiriog Hughes, with a visit to the Glyn Ceiriog Institute.
Fans of Ragnar Lothbrok from the TV series Vikings, can hear best-selling author Robert Low, famous for the Oathsworn series, talk about the programmes, the realities of Viking daily life, their legacy, and the joys of writing about this period at an event entitled Ragnar in Wrexham on the evening of Monday May 9 at Saith Seren Welsh Centre in Chester Street.
Wrexham Library will be hosting a Victorian murder mystery evening on Tuesday May 10 with book prizes for whoever manages to solve the whodunnit.
The mystery, entitled Who Killed George Hargrave?, is written by award-winning crime writer Martin Edwards, who will host the evening.
While solutions are being judged, Martin Edwards will give a reader development talk on Victorian and present-day crime fiction.
Wrexham Playwrights present three new short plays as script-in-hand productions from Wednesday May 11 to Friday May 13 in the Creative Industries Building at Glyndŵr University.
Again helping to mastermind the event is Wrexham-based historical fiction writer David McCall who under the pen name David Ebsworth has written a series of novels on topics from the Zulu War to Jacobite intrigue in the 18th century.
He said: “The aim of organising the Carnival of Words has been to come up with an inclusive series of events for anyone who has a passion for books and writing.
“Last year’s inaugural Carnival of Words was a huge success for Wrexham and was not your normal literary festival but real community-based events for books and poetry lovers.
“But this year it’s even bigger and better. There are 22 headline events with some really big names.
“And to get things off to a flying start, on Sunday May 8. I’m delighted to say that we’ll be back at Eagles Meadow for the Storytellers’ Relay – some brilliant local storytellers are going to be keeping shoppers amused with a whole batch of great tales. All free too!
“The team at Eagles Meadow gave us fabulous support last year and it’s great to be working with them again.
“We are also in partnership with Glyndwr University, which we are grateful to for providing some of the larger venues for the carnival, and also Coleg Cambria which has also given its support this year.
“I’m sending out a warm invitation to anyone who loves books and writing to come and join us at some point that week.”
Eagles Meadow centre manager Kevin Critchley said: “We are delighted to help host Wrexham’s second Carnival of Words following the success of the event last year.
“As a keen reader myself I’m pleased to do all I can to encourage a love of books and the written word.
“There’s a very varied programme not just at Eagles Meadow but at venues across Wrexham and I’d urge as many people as possible to get involved in this fantastic event.”
Outline of Events
Saturday May 7, 10am-noon: Performance Poetry Relay, Queens Square, Wrexham; time to be arranged: Saturday 7 May Literary Bus Tour leaves town centre; 11.30am-12.30pm: Read It, Dream It, Live It at Wrexham Library; 11.30am-1.30pm: Scary Stories read by Marie Anne Cope at Waterstones, Regent Street, Wrexham; 1pm-2.30pm: Donut Diaries, author Anthony McGowan’s insights into his children’s tales at Wrexham Library.
Sunday May 8, noon-3pm: Storytellers Relay at Eagles Meadow Shopping Centre; sunset/twilight: Betwixt and Between poetry performance outside Marks and Spencer.
Monday May 9, 3.30pm: Image and Word Workshop at Wrexham Library; 7-8.30pm: Ragnar in Wrexham at Saith Seren. Tickets £6.47.
Tuesday May 10, 7-9.30pm, Who Killed George Hargrave, Victorian murder mystery at Wrexham Library. Tickets £6.47.
Wednesday May 11, 3.30pm: Image and Word Workshop at Wrexham Library; 11.30am-12.30pm: Revelations of a Medieval Queen with Anne O’Brien; 1-1.45pm: Friday 13 May, Thursday 12 May, Wednesday 11 May Wrexham Playwrights present three new short plays at the Creative Industries Building, Glyndŵr University, Mold Road, Wrexham; 6-7pm: An Evening with Lucienne Boyce, novelist talks about the role of North Wales women and David Lloyd George in the fight for votes for women; 8pm: The Writer’s Journey with fantasy author Jasper Fforde. Venue to be confirmed.
Thursday May 12, 1-1.45pm: New plays by Wrexham Playwrights at Creative Industries Building, Glyndŵr University; 7pm: Celebrating the New Welsh Language Poetry Collection, Llinynnau, with Aled Lewis Evans at Wrexham Library, 10am-4pm (and until Saturday): Thursday 12 May A Pilgrimage through the Poetry of RS Thomas with Susan Fogarty at Wrexham Methodist Church.
Friday May 13, 1-1.45pm: New plays by Wrexham Playwrights at Creative Industries Building, Glyndŵr University; 5-6.30pm: Wrexham Writers’ Group Reception, Glyndwr University; 7-9.30pm: Historical Fiction Night at Glyndŵr University. Tickets £6.47.
Saturday May 14, 11.30am-12.30pm: Read It, Dream It, Live It, at Wrexham Library; 1pm: Collective effort to find the Wrexham Workers’ Poem at Wrexham Library; 1pm-3pm: From Crime Fighter to Crime Writer at Wrexham Library. Tickets £5.