ZOE Sharp is up there among the thriller writing elite and offers chapter and verse on her literary life in the opening event of November's Furness Litfest

As a novelist, success first came in 2001 with Killer Instinct, the first book to feature her ex-Special Forces heroine, Charlotte 'Charlie' Fox, a self-defence instructor with a slightly shady military background and a painful past. Zoe says that the character evolved after she received death threat letters in the course of her photo-journalism work.

Bad Turn is her 13th and latest sortie into the action-packed world of Charlie Fox often described as the female version of fellow thriller writer Lee Child's hard guy Jack Reacher.

In fact, Lee is a big fan of Zoe's work and has famously said that "If I were a woman, I'd be Zoe Sharp. If Jack Reacher were a woman, he'd be Zoe's main character, Charlie Fox."

Zoe is joined on Saturday, November 2, at Dalton-in-Furness Community Centre (9.30am) by Helen Phifer, a bestselling crime and horror novelist, author of the Annie Graham and Lucy Harwin series. Her debut novel, The Ghost House, reached number one on the Amazon Contemporary Horror charts in both the UK and the US, apparently pushing her hero Stephen King off the number one spot.

Furness Litfest runs over the weekend of November 2-3.

Dalton-in-Furness remains the festival’s hub but there are also events at Art Gene in Barrow and Ulverston's Coronation Hall.

The Saturday is packed with workshops and interviews with writers from around the UK. There'll also be yarn bombing, a book market for local writers to sell their books, stories for children and an open mic and ceilidh courtesy of both Poem and a Pint and Furness Tradition to round off the day.

"We’re expanding because our first event was so successful and because it’s something for which our audience asked," said Ron Creer, the festival’s director. "The weekend very much builds on our first festival but we have more workshops and more evening events where we’re working with local partners Poem and a Pint at the community centre with music courtesy of Furness Tradition.

Budding scriptwriters can join one of the region's most successful writers, Zosia Wand, for a workshop to learn some tips of the trade. An author and playwright with a passion for stories, Zosia has had a number of plays broadcast on BBC Radio Four and her stage plays performed in theatres such as The Royal Court. In 2014 she penned the script for The Dukes theatre's outdoor spectacular Hansel and Gretel and More Tales from the Forest, staged at Lancaster's Williamson Park. Zosia first two novels, Trust Me and The Accusation are published by Head of Zeus.

Ann Grant and Kate Davies will be running a poetry workshop at Barrow's Art Gene. Kate’s poems have been implanted on sound benches, sung throughout a 12 hour tide cycle, embroidered on clothes and printed on shopping bags. Her collection The Girl Who Forgets How To Walk was published by Penned in the Margins in 2018. Ann’s work has appeared on restaurant walls, sonic benches and in anthologies. She writes blogs for the MS Society and is the host of Verbalise, a monthly spoken word night at Kendal's Brewery Arts Centre.

Also playing her part will be Caroline Gilfillan, author of The Terrace. Caroline will be leading a workshop on self-publishing. Festival goers can also join Janet Pickering, winner of an Undiscovered Voices award in 2018 and illustrator of two books for thriller writer A J Hartley, for a workshop on book illustration. Tom Ashton, who has had three stories from his Grenton Village collection published since 2018, will be running a session on short stories, and Gill Jepson, who has written four books on the history of the local area, is leading a workshop on Writing Local History.

Alternatively, for readers rather than writers, festival organisers have paired up authors to talk about their work.

Food lovers can check out cook and writer Julie Jones, who has appeared on BBC Television’s Yes Chef. Julie's book Soulful Baker describes her life with her mother who was diagnosed with dementia and how baking together became a form of mutual therapy for them both. Julie will be joined for the festival's Foodies Forum by Maria Whitehead MBE, owner and director of Hawkshead Relish.

Lovers of Relationship Fiction can join Linda Gillard and Brooke Powley. Linda is the author of eight novels, including Star Gazing, which was shortlisted for Romantic Novel of the Year 2009 and House of Silence, which quickly became a Kindle bestseller. She will be joined by Brooke Powley who began writing The Missing Half after her husband told her that writing a book wasn't as easy as she thought. Proving him wrong, she’s now published three books.

Joffre Write and Gill Jepson will be talking about Fantasy Writing. Joffre, is a UK Patron of Reading and passionate about the importance of literacy. His novels include Frog and its sequels, fantasies for children and Earthland, a dystopian fantasy. Gill was inspired to write her debut novel Out of Time by Furness Abbey. She’s since added a further two novels to the series and written Guy the Grumpy Gargoyle, which is aimed at three to seven year olds.

The final chapter in the sumptuous weekend of scribes ends with Tales from the Coro on Sunday, November 3, the culmination of Furness Litfest's storytelling project; it concludes on a musical note with the Furness Tradition ceilidh.

For further information and tickets go online at furnesslitfest.co.uk.