London’s top literary locations

London is jam-packed with inspiration for literature lovers. If you’re in need of inspiration, here’s my top five literary locations worth a visit in the city…

IMG_14981. If you want to combine some literary attractions with socialising with your not-so-book-geeky friends, Fitzrovia’s pubs are overflowing with literary history. The historically bohemian area has been home to many literary greats – from Virginia Woolf to George Bernard Shaw. The Fitzroy Tavern and the nearby The Wheatsheaf were both frequented by some of the UK’s literary stalwarts in their day. The Fitzroy Tavern in particular is full of photographs and steeped in history and tradition – George Orwell and Dylan Thomas were regular drinkers here.

2. The British Library often hosts literary events and talks. They currently have an exhibition on called ‘Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination’, which looks the impact of the gothic theme has had on our culture, featuring iconic works like Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Bram Stoker’s Dracula and going all the way through to Twilight! I haven’t been yet, but it’s on my to do list! If you explore the events page on the library’s website, there’s usually something on to suit all ages and interests.

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3. For second hand book-lovers, the book market under Waterloo Bridge is a must see. It’s open every day and usually offers a huge selection of pre-owned or antique books for great prices. It’s just outside the Southbank Centre and the river bank itself often plays host to events and food festivals, meaning there’s always plenty more to do and see in the surrounding area.

4. Southwark’s Shakespeare’s Globe theatre is another one that has to feature on this list. Today’s theatre is a reconstruction of the famous Elizabethan playhouse. Performances of Shakespeare’s works are as authentic as possible – there are no spotlights or microphones and all music is performed life – and all of the materials used in the building mirror the original, right down to the fact that the theatre has the only thatched roof allowed in the city since the Great Fire of London in 1666. Although plays are only performed during the summer months, thanks to the open-air nature of the building, educational tours are available all year round.

5. Finally, Bunfields Burial Ground is the resting place of some of the UK’s literary greats, including William Blake and Joseph Defoe, and is always worth a visit. It may seem macabre, but it’s just a short walk from Old Street tube and the park attached to the cemetery is a beautiful spot to enjoy on a sunny day.

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Getting to the bottom of fan fiction

In general, I’m not a reader of fan fiction. But I am a fan of Hugh Howey, and when I saw that he was encouraging writers to set their own stories within the universes that he creates, I thought I would take the plunge and give it a go.

Howey famously became a household name after self-publishing his ‘Silo’ series and signing a unique print only deal with a publisher. Since then, he’s given his permission for indie authors and fans to write stories based in his fictional worlds, and encouraged them to sell their work on Amazon for a profit.

I recently read ‘Dunes of Danvar’, a piece of fan fiction written by indie fantasy author Michael Bunker, which is set against the backdrop of Howie’s ‘Sand’. It’s a short, three part story that introduces new characters to the mix, although it follows roughly the same timeline established by Howie.

The characters are well developed in a relatively short space of time, and because the world is already established, Bunker doesn’t have to dedicate too much time to building up the back story – he can jump right into the action. It’s this fast pace that keeps ‘Dunes of Danvar’ feeling fresh and exciting. He mixes the familiar with the new in a way that feels entirely natural and it really does help to make the fictional universe feel more real. Continue reading