AUTHOR Raynor Winn has experienced runaway success with her book on her experience of walking the South West Coast Path with her terminally ill husband.

The pair decided to do the epic walk after being made homeless.

The Salt Path is a Sunday Times bestseller and was shortlisted for the Costa biography award.

Ahead of her sold-out talk on Friday at this week's Dorchester Literary Festival, Raynor tells us a bit abut her experiences of walking to Dorset leg of the coast path and what's next for her.

For those who have missed out on tickets to see Raynor in Dorchester, there'll be another chance to hear her speak at Sherborne Literary Festival at 2pm on Wednesday, October 23. Raynor will also be appearing at Yeovil Literary Festival, where her talk has sold out.

*You’ve experienced so much success with The Salt Path. What is about the book that you think has resonated so well with readers?

"I think we all go through difficult times in our lives, points where things fall apart. Maybe not in the same way that it did for us, but for financial, emotional or health reasons life goes off track. That’s just part of being human and I think anyone can relate to that."

*When did you first realise that becoming homeless then walking the path would become a book? Did you ever have a plan to be a writer?

"When we were walking there couldn’t have been anything further from my mind than writing a book, my main thoughts were about food and shelter. It wasn’t until about two years after we stopped walking that I came to realise it hadn’t been just a physical journey, but a hugely emotional one too. That’s when I began to write. I’d had a dream of being a writer when I was a child, but life took me in a different direction. Until now."

*What were your experiences of walking the Dorset stretch of the South West coast path like? Do you have any particular memories of the places you stopped at there and the people you met? And also do you have any particular links with the Dorset area?

"As a teenager I was a huge fan of Thomas Hardy’s books and always imagined myself walking through the green lanes of Dorset. When we came back to the path after a break in our walk we arrived in Poole intending to walk west. I was carrying this Hardy-esque image of what Dorset would be, but found it was completely different. Rather than leafy countryside we were on open headlands of rocks and history. And Dorset wasn’t populated by grumpy country folk who lurked in the hedgerows, but full of vibrant communities and friendly people. But my overriding memory of Dorset is of quiet, still, windless days, when the sea was calm and the main sound was gentle waves moving the pebbled shoreline."

*A lot of people walk the South West Coast Path but most for different reasons. Do you think the walk was what you and Moth needed at this particular point in your lives?

"Undoubtedly it was. We needed time and space to work through the shock of what had happened in our lives. But above all else we needed a map, something not only to give us direction but also a purpose, a reason to go on."

*You’ve talked at a number of literary festivals now. How have you found these experiences and what strikes you most about readers’ relationship with The Salt Path? Have you inspired anyone else to do the walk do you know?

"I’ve talked at lots of festivals now, this summer has been really busy and the festivals continue until the end of November. Not only do readers connect with the emotion of the book, many have either a history of time spent in the south west or just a love of walking in general. I’ve had many messages from people who have been inspired to walk the path themselves. I met a group of backpackers this summer when I was on the coast path. We chatted about walking and camping and as they we going they said ‘we were inspired by a book called The Salt Path, great book, you should read it.’ I didn’t have the heart to tell them……."

*What can you tell us about your second memoir Wild Silence?

"Wild Silence follows on from the Salt Path, it’s a memoir of looking forwards and back through walking. It describes a strong connection to the natural world and its ability to heal us physically and mentally, also an unusual offer that came from someone who read The Salt Path…….."

*Sherborne Literary Festival, October 23 to 23. Raynor Winn will be at The Merritt Centre at Sherborne Girls School on Wednesday, October 23 at 2pm. See for tickets.