Published on March 23, 2022

Seven of North Hertfordshire College’s creative writing students have formed their own writing group off the back of their short course and are now celebrating the launch of their first book!

Now calling themselves the Fantastic Writers, the group first met on one of NHC’s beginner level courses in creative writing. As they enjoyed the course so much, they then moved on to an intermediate class together. During this second course, Fantastic Writers member Tina Cooper suggested that the group should work together to raise money for the Luton-based mental health charity, CHUMS UK.

Together, the group created a downloadable zine called Elephant in the Room (which is available to buy on JustGiving). This zine features work exploring subjects such as mental health issues, loss, and bullying, along with some comedy poetry from Bob Bootman.

Once this second course has ended, the group was reluctant to stop writing together… so now they meet weekly at the Mrs Howard Memorial Hall in Letchworth. During this time, some group members have experienced mental or physical ill health, bereavement, house moves, job losses, divorce, and new babies, but they still manage to laugh together and enjoy their weekly gatherings.

Martyn Kempson, one of the group’s members, said of their course and their experience: “The writing class reinvigorated me. It enabled me to take up the pen after a gap of years. This bunch of writers provide mutual support and encouragement. We take the subject seriously but have fun and gain pleasure from our scribbles.”

The group’s hard work and commitment paid off, as they have now completed their first published book, Fantastic Writers and Where To Read Them, involving a combination of prose, poetry, novel extracts, and life writing. We’d say that it seems to be doing pretty well, too – the book hit number 13 on the Amazon Bestseller’s book chart!

The upwards momentum of the book doesn’t seem to be ending there, either. The group’s tutor, Kelly Hatley, said: “We are in the process of setting up a book tour and confirming dates with David’s Bookshop, Letchworth Library, and Books on the Hill in St Albans, amongst others. The writers create such a feel-good factor everywhere they go which needs to be shared. Writing doesn’t have to be a lonely business.”

Congratulations again to the group on their publication, we look forward to seeing what they achieve next!

If you’re interested in flexing your creative muscles and trying your hand at creative writing, check out NHC’s list of available adult course options