Little bit late telling you all this, but last December I was absolutely thrilled by the news that the awesome folk at Firewords Quarterly were lovely enough to nominate my story ‘Things the Sea Brings Us’ for The Pushcart Prize. This is a prize that celebrates the word of small presses and indie magazines throughout the year. (You can see the very stiff competition here!) It’s an absolute honour and very affirming to be nominated.
You can read ‘Things the Sea Brings Us’ in Issue 5 of Firewords Quarterly – buy a copy here – and I can’t recommend it highly enough for the truly lovely quality and beautiful illustrations throughout, it’s an absolute gem of a publication.
Last week saw the final week of the Chester Literature Festival 2015 and I was lucky enough to be part of it. Chester Writers, now chaired by Suzanne Iuppa (who is as talented at event organisation as she is at prose and poetry) staged an event titled Storybout as part of the festival fringe. This saw several authors reading out work over several varied and interesting locations.
The first of these locations was very special indeed – on Thursday 22 August, me and my musician friend Nala Rollo were privileged to become the first people to perform to a small group in the current building site that is the brand new Chester RE:NEW Arts Centre. This event was jointly organised by Suzanne Iuppa, Paul Lavin of Chester Performs, and in association with Chester Fringe (and thank you very much to Site Manager Dan for guiding us). This makes us the first people to ever perform in this wonderful new complex, and that’s an honour indeed. It was a bit of an adventure, the whole group having to wear safety boots, goggles, hi-vis and hard hats to enter the working site. We took our place in the space that is destined to form part of the new library. Nala played a few of his own songs (‘Rose in cellophane’ is a particular favourite of mine) and a couple of covers, one ‘Not going back to the harbour’ fitted in particularly well with the story I read, ‘Things the sea brings us’ (which is due to be published very soon in the Autumn 2015 edition of the brilliant Firewords Quarterly).
We then got a private tour around the theatre site, seeing the stalls and stage taking shape.
- Read the Chester Chronicle article – featuring a short video of me performing – here
- Read the Chester Culture blog article here
- View photographs of the event on Nala’s Facebook here
- Pre-order Firewords Issue 5 here
Next up was Saturday 24 for the full Storybout experience – a whole day of various atmospheric Chester locations, with music and stories from lots of talented individuals (and me again!) The day kicked off early at Becknick’s Wonder Emporium with some wonderful acoustic guitar from a guy whose name I sadly didn’t get, then a charming children’s story of ghosts and griffons from Eva Nienkirchen and a brilliant tale of much less charming children from David Hill (who contributed an equally excellent story to ReVamp).
Then it was on to Artichoke by the canal, a session I sadly missed due to a prior commitment, but I’m assured that Luned DeSimon and Ravi Raizada read wonderfully.
I again met up with the group in The Albion to listen to some original songs and a cracking cover of Peter Greenwood’s ‘Oh well’ by the guitarist from excellent local band Fire Door. Then came some nostalgic readings by Ian Edmonds – sparking a lot of discussion about eleven plus exams! Finally, I read my almost-a-zombie-story ‘This is the life’.
Then there was a break for dinner (during which time I nipped over to Soul Kitchen and did a very credible impression of a Chuckle Brother helping to put up a gazebo – I’d very much recommend people in Chester check out the kitchen and pop down at some point if you can spare some food). After that, it was time for the after-hours section of the night, with an acoustic set from another insanely talented singer/guitarist (whose name I have also forgotten, argh). Luned DeSimon read a surprising tale of holiday love and leaving, I read my latest publication ‘Whole Wide World’ (which is out now to buy in the ever-excellent The Fiction Desk’s latest issue ‘Long grey beard and glittering eye’) and the event ended with a bangin’ full band blues set from Fire Door.
Thanks to everyone who organised, participated in and came to listen to Storybout, and also special thanks to the guys who were taking photos throughout the event (again, my terrible memory fails me for names, but you were superstars).
I’m delighted to announce that through Chester Writers and Chester Fringe, as part of Chester Literature Festival, I will be reading and Nala Rollo will be performing some acoustic songs inside the RE:NEW arts centre in Chester at 1pm on Thursday 22nd October.
Due to it still being a construction site (we’ll be the very first to perform there, how exciting is that?) places will be limited and hard hats will have to be worn, so please let me or Nala know asap if you’d like to come and listen to us perform.
Well, it’s been a while, but I’ve been busy – not least with my latest collaboration with the ever-awesome Earl Foolish who invited me back once again to write some flash fictions to accompany their latest jewellery collection for Autumn/Winter 2015.
They’ve smashed it once more, with ‘Celestial Bodies’ – the collection theme revolving around bones and stars. I think this was the most inspiring collection to write about to date for me, here’s an example of the flash I wrote:
We are made of the universe. We are made of stars. Look at your skin: closely, closer; see the stellar net of it, the snowflake constellation, infinite, as our bones return to stardust.
There’s six flashes altogether, so please go and have a look at the collection pages, read some free flash fiction and get tempted to buy some gorgeous, exceptionally high quality, handmade indie jewellery – the pre-order is now on!
Remember when I read ‘The Audsley Chimera’ at the first Voices from the Reading Room at Gladstone’s Library? Well, if you missed the live event you can now listen to the whole evening broadcast this Saturday 23rd May 10am -11am and then repeated 5pm – 6 pm on Vintage Radio.
The programme is introduced by Suzanne Iuppa and features three short stories from me, Kemal Houghton and Luned DeSimon and one performance poem from Sophie McKeand.
I’m told you can listen on the radio but I’m not sure of the frequency, but you can definitely listen online at the Vintage Radio website.
If you follow my social media you may have read by now about Matchbook, the A7 zine of illustrated six word stories that I recently created. Since I holed up in my attic and spent the day making this thing a reality, I’ve been hand-making a load of these little books to give away for free. Each one is an A4 photocopied sheet that’s then folded, stapled, block printed in red ink with a custom made rubber stamp and finally any folded page edges are razored. It’s been time-consuming, but I’ve made a stack of these tiny books, many of which have already winged their way off to be distributed in Canada, America, Australia, Sweden, Scotland and all over England (and I gave one to the amazing David Ford at a recent gig too – check out his wonderful music and the charity he supports, Reverse Rett).
I’m hoping that this taster of my illustrated work encourages even just a few people to check out my other writing and maybe buy a copy of 365 Lies in aid of the Motor Neurone Disease Association. I spent the morning holed up in the attic again (with Fix to keep me company) making up the final batch (see photo!) these are the last ones that I’m going to make of Matchbook, so if you haven’t already snagged a free copy, you can do so exclusively by bumping into me at the following places and saying hi (or asking me for one if you bump into me anywhere else, for that matter!)
- Friday 15 May – Cafe 21, Blackpool, open mic night 6.30pm – late
- Sunday 17 May – The Harvest Moon cafe, Chester, open mic night 5pm – 8pm
- Sunday 17 May – The Commercial Hotel, Chester, poetry night 7.30pm – late
- Thursday 21 May – The Custom House pub, Chester, Chester Writers meeting 7.45pm
- Friday 22 May – Hay Literature Festival, Hay on Wye, all day
- Thursday 28 May – The Boot pub, Chester, Chester Poets meeting, 8pm (possible)
- Saturday 13 June – Chester Library, flash fiction workshop 2pm (free, but ticketed)
- Tuesday 16 June – Chester Library, flash fiction workshop readings 6.30pm
All of these amazing events are free (except if you want to go to specific events at Hay) so please come down to at least one, because there is so much great stuff going on if you look for it. I’m sure to be at more stuff, which I’ll update on my Twitter.
In other awesome news, the ever-marvellous Earl Foolish has hooked me up with Crush and Create Records who are a DIY record and zine label based in Malmo in Sweden. They’ll very kindly be distributing Matchbook for me over there. Check out their site for the true DIY or die, you dig?
So, my terrible blog titles are probably one of the things that marketers would probably point out as holding me back from writing success, but you know what – I don’t care! Here are some fantastic things that this indie writer is digging this week:
- I was honoured to be the first reader at the first ever Voices from the Reading Room, which took place last Monday in the gorgeous surroundings of Gladstone’s Library, Hawarden. It was a lovely, intimate little secret event featuring me, amazingly talented performance poet Sophie McKeand, the moving writing talents (not to mention recording skills) of Kemal Houghton and a beautiful coming-of-age piece from Luned DeSimon. I met some absolutely lovely people there and we were all given posies of violets and lemon balm as a thank you for reading. The recording will eventually be broadcast on Vintage Radio – I’ll post the link when it’s up.
- I was feeling pretty disillusioned (again) yesterday with the writing industry and the whole mechanism and concept of ‘success’ so I switched off my phone and laptop and hid in the attic for ten hours, during which time I built a little book by hand from start to finish, with no stopping for breaks, just because I felt like it. To say it cheered me up is an understatement. I’m quite proud of this flammable little volume, which I’ve named ‘matchbook’, and will shortly be making copies of it available to anyone who wants them, for free. All you have to do is ask. No really – just ask! Watch my social media for updates.
- Finally, please read this amazing review of Spirit Houses by the incredibly talented Alys Earl. I’m totally floored by it.
Do what you love, love what you do, and dig that underground – peace out, fairytale creatures :-*