The slowly setting sun, fire twinkling in the half-light of dusk and the stunning backdrop of Cheddar Gorge rolling away into the distance.
This was the scene at the National Trust's South West Outdoor Festival and the setting for the launch of In Dark Places, a book created and published through a collaboration between author Wyl Menmuir, the National Trust and Falmouth's English and Writing students.
Set in Cheddar Gorge, In Dark Places is an atmospheric ghost story of a honeymooning couple who become separated from each other while exploring the caves. For Benjamin Wilson, a Creative Writing student who managed the PR and marketing for the project, the launch was a magical moment.
"You're always anxious when you're working on a project but everyone who came to the launch seemed to love it," he says.
"A lot of feelings clicked into place for me at the launch; the feeling of ancientness in a fire, in a storyteller, in a crowd; the feeling of accomplishment, the joy in seeing people give Wyl and our project the attention it deserved; but for all the peace and magic of the night, I still had a voice shouting in my head, 'wow, we made a book!'"
The student-led project involved weekly meetings with tutors coupled with support from Katie Bond, Head of Publishing at the National Trust, with the student team responsible for everything from marketing the book to choosing its cover artist.
Benjamin adds: "Working on the book was a fantastic opportunity for all of us. We were able to treat it as a professional project but with support and hand-holding from the National Trust team and our tutors. It's given me very clear, tangible skills I've been immediately able to apply to my career."
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