Among the authors visiting for this year’s Manx Litfest, which starts on Thursday, is one with a special affinity for the Isle of Man.
Jane Holland is better known in the literary world as Victoria Lamb, the name under which she has become an award-winning writer.
She is Essex-born but Manx-raised, and is excited for her return which will see her visit schools and give a talk on the enduring appeal of historical fiction, the genre in which she has made her name.
‘I lived in the Isle of Man for 23 years, I lived in Port St Mary and I went to school at the Buchan,’ said Jane. ‘I left 10 years ago and live in Cornwall now, it looks just like the island.
‘I’m in the Isle of Man for four days for the festival. It will be interesting for me to have a look at Crogga, where my mother lived.’
The mother in question is Sheila Holland, who as Charlotte Lamb was ‘no small time novelist’ as Jane puts it, having produced more than 150 novels.
‘I grew up in a family of writers, my sister wrote for Mills and Boon, and my father was a biographer and a journalist,’ explained Jane. ‘It’s sort of like the family business! Writing was a natural choice.’
She will be carrying out talks and work shops with A level students at Castle Rushen, and Queen Elizabeth II High Schools.
‘At Castle Rushen they have a new A level in creative writing, which is great. I’ll be asking the students to write some historical fiction,’ said Jane.
‘I really like A level students as a group, they are just starting to see themselves in the world, and they’re only a short step away from becoming undergraduates. There’s a chance of inspiring someone who enjoys writing to carry on with it.’
On her own path of turning writing from a hobby into a career, Jane said she ‘just fell into it’.
‘I started writing in 1994, though I didn’t make a lot of money out of it until a Random House publisher’s competition,’ she explained.
‘It led to a decent sum to write a trilogy of Tudor novels, then a follow-up trilogy for younger readers. Next out is a “steamy Tudor” trilogy for adults, under a different pen name. That’s nine Tudor novels, I’m becoming the Tudor Lady!
‘I do write other stuff apart from the historical fiction. My new direction is contemporary crime!’
Is the festival circuit a reality of life for the modern author?
‘I try not to do too many,’ said Jane. ‘Some writers spend their lives doing it. Not all writers get paid equally! I’ve been lucky enough not to need to do too many festivals, though I’m really excited to come back to the island, I can’t wait, my brother and sister still live there.’
Jane’s talk at the Villa Marina’s Promenade Suite on Saturday, September 28, is part of a jam-packed festival schedule following last week’s official launch. Signings, talks, classes, workshops and poetry sessions fill the agenda from next Thursday, September 26, right through to September 28.
See http://manxlitfest.com/ for information and the full schedule, though Jane’s Saturday slot is at 10.30am, with the £5.50 tickets available from by calling 600555, visiting cfvg.gov.im the Villa Marina reception or the Welcome Centre at the Sea Terminal or emailing email@example.com
What does she think draws people to historical fiction?
‘I think it’s the intensity of Tudor fiction. People can have the thrill of imagining themselves in that situation. It’s life and death soap operas; they have all that intrigue and emotional intensity. It’s not just the big gowns!’ said Jane.
‘I’ve always been interested in the story of Illiam Dhone, I wrote an – unpublished – series of poems on his life and death. There’s a lot of emotion and resonance in that story, and a political feel to the emotional life and death stories that I’m drawn to.’