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On The Table Read Magazine, “the best book magazine in the UK“, Chris Butterfield talks about being inspired to write his book, Wainwright Memories, about the famous fellwalker, and his creative writing process.
Written by JJ Barnes
I interviewed Chris Butterfield about his life and career, what about Alfred Wainwright inspired him to write, and the creative work that went into his new book, Wainwright Memories.
Tell me a bit about who you are.
My name is Chris Butterfield. I am originally from Yorkshire and have been a keen walker for many years. Through being an outdoor enthusiast, I became enthralled by the works of Alfred Wainwright. With my growing passion for his Lakeland guidebooks, I eventually became a Wainwright archivist and author. I have spent the last six years preserving the stories behind Wainwright’s publishing and printing history to help keep his legacy alive for future generations.
When did you first WANT to write a book?
In 2019, I uncovered a previously untold story, which featured as a leading article in The Times, about Wainwright working on a follow-up book to his 1973 A Coast to Coast Walk. This highlighted how important these stories about the late great fellwanderer were. I worked with his former publisher, Andrew Nichol, on other stories that had never been published in full before, and we decided they should be made public.
When did you take a step to start writing?
The writing began in early 2020. I had already been to the Lake District, capturing some photos for the book. Shortly after, due to the pandemic, the location work was put on hold, which hindered the writing for a few months.
How long did it take you to complete your first book, from the first idea to release?
The book took three years to complete and was a team effort. The photography was just as important as the writing, and the location work took us to Cumbria and the Western Highlands.
What made you want to write Wainwright Memories?
It was essential to preserve these stories about Wainwright, or there was a risk that they could be lost forever. Some individuals involved in the stories were unsung heroes. I wanted their positive contributions to Wainwright’s life to be acknowledged. Finally, it was my way of thanking Andrew Nichol for everything he’d done for me. He’s been my Wainwright mentor for six years now.
What were your biggest challenges with writing Wainwright Memories?
The most challenging aspect of writing the book was making sure everything I wrote was factually correct. The book is very much about people and their life, so everything being authentic was the most critical part of the project.
What was your research process for Wainwright Memories?
I worked closely with Andrew Nichol, the former book publishing manager at the Westmorland Gazette and a friend of Wainwright. He helped to ensure the stories were correct. In addition, finding the exact locations to go with the narrative took some time. I received help finding several places in Scotland, which was crucial before visiting them.
How did you plan the structure of Wainwright Memories?
The book featured three stories that ran over three consecutive years. The plan for the book was not only to bring to life these stories from the past but also to revisit the original locations and recreate the photographs taken years earlier. Essentially each story was split into two parts to highlight the timelessness of the Lake District and the Highlands of Scotland.
Did you get support with editing, and how much editing did Wainwright Memories need?
My brother-in-law, Glenn Adams, designed and edited the book, as well as taking part in the location revisits. Friend Alan Gwyer assisted in editing the narrative and proofreading.
What is the first piece of writing advice you would give to anyone inspired to write a book?
My advice to anyone writing a book would be to write about what you know. Research your topic well, and be disciplined enough to dedicate time to write every single day and not be distracted.
Can you give me a hint about any further books you’re planning to write?
My next book project is loosely connected to my latest book: Wainwright Memories. That is the only hint I can give.
And, finally, are you proud of your accomplishment? Was it worth the effort?
I am immensely proud that part of Alfred Wainwright’s history, along with many others, has been preserved in the book’s pages. All the hard work was worth it, and the result is thanks to many people coming together, including family and friends. I couldn’t have done it without them.
Pop all your book, website and social media links here so the readers can find you:
Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/AlfredWainwright
The book is available from both websites below –
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