Monday, 30 September 2013

Kirklees Libraries Writing and Poetry events October 2013

Here are the latest events round-up for Kirklees Libraries:

Mike Pannett

Hebden Bridge Library Thursday 3 October 2013 at 7.30pm (01422) 288040

Todmorden Library Tuesday 8 October 2013 at 7.30pm (01706) 815600

Central Library Halifax on Thursday 17 October 2013 at 7.30pm (01422) 392630

FREE but please book a place with the library

Don’t miss one of Yorkshire’s best-loved authors talk about his life as a rural policeman. Author of Now Then Lad and other light-hearted tales of a Yorkshire bobby, Mike is a passionate spokesman for the county and appears regularly on TV and radio news programmes.

UPDATE: Book Launch with Char March- Something Vital Fell Through
Thursday 3rd October  8pm
The Book Case, Hebden Bridge
THIS EVENT IS NOW FREE- previously advertised as £5 ticket with £5 off Char’s book.

The Book Case, 29 Market St, Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire, HX7 6EU
01422 845 353

‘Char March – local poet, playwright and fiction writer – always gives grrrreat value for money! She’s a rip-roaringly good writer, a mad stand-up, a cheeky raconteur with a host of great stories, and a brilliant performer of her work. She’s won a shed-load of awards and tonight is the World Premiere of her new collection of short stories: ‘Something Vital Fell Through’. Come and have a fabulous emotional roller-coaster of an evening in the company of Char and her inimitable wit.’


Roy Hutchins in Forbidden Fruit by Heathcote Williams + your own writing!
7.30pm Saturday 12 October
Tickets £12/£10

Square Chapel Centre for the Arts, 10 Square Road, Halifax HX1 1QG
Box office: 01422 349422

A performance of the latest poetic meditations from award-winning writer Heathcote Williams. This evening will include a showcase of the work of local poets: if you’re interested in performing your work, please contact Emma Booth on 01422 353073 or


Walking the Line Readings and Open Mic
7.30pm Friday 18 October
Free but please book your place with Hebden Bridge Library.

Hebden Bridge Library, Cheetham Street, Hebden Bridge HX7 8EP
01422 288040

Poets Gaia Holmes, Michael Stewart, William Thirsk-Gaskill and Julia Deakin will be walking the Stanza Stones Trail over four days from 17-20 October 2013, with evening readings along the way. For more information about the poets, the walk and the events, click here:

Poetry Reading- Paul Farley- Ted Hughes Festival
7pm Friday 25 October
Tickets £7/£5

Hebden Bridge Library, Cheetham Street, Hebden Bridge HX7 8EP
01422 288040

Paul Farley is the prizewinning author of four collections of poetry, including The Ice Age (Picador), which was awarded the Whitbread Poetry Prize in 2002 and most recently Dark Film. He is also the co-author of Edgelands (Jonathan Cape, 2011). In 2012 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. As a broadcaster he has made many programmes with the BBC on art, landscape and literature including Auden: Six Unexpected Days, The Larkin Tapes and Children of the Whitsun Weddings.

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Harvesting the Heart book review

Front Cover

As a huge Jodi Picoult fan, I have to admit to being a little disappointed in this book.  All the usual elements were there, a moral dilemma, an in-depth look at a career choice and Jodi’s excellent prose, but the characters were not as imaginative as I am used to – Paige, the poor troubled girl with Mummy issues marries Nicholas, the rich and pretentious doctor.  I really liked Paige’s ability to draw people’s souls into their portraits and wish Jodi had done more with this quirk that brought the character to life, but unfortunately she did not and as there was no huge plot twist at the end (as is usual), it read as a modern romance for an older reader. 

As it is Jodi’s second novel after Songs of the Humpback Whale, which I just could not get into (thankfully I started reading Jodi’s later novels first), it could just be that she is still finding her true voice with this novel.

In many parts it just did not read as believable, e.g. the ease with which Paige found herself a job at the Hospital to enable her to be close to Nicholas, and I found it particularly hard to warm to the characters as they (and Paige’s mother) came across as selfish.  There wasn’t enough emphasis given to Paige’s self-doubt as a mother (which was the most realistic aspect to the plot) to grab you and keep hold of you when the story then becomes a tired will they/won’t they get back together romance.

 ‘You love your baby, but you just can’t cope with being a mother.  What would you do?’         5/10

Saturday, 28 September 2013

NAWE Conference York, 15-17 November

The latest information from NAWE:

The Higher Education Academy is supporting the NAWE Conference 2013 as a sponsor. The Conference will include the launch of "Beyond the Benchmark", the HEA's new report on Creative Writing in HE.

The Conference includes the NAWE AGM, at which a new HE Committee will be announced. If you work in higher education and would like to stand for election, please complete the form available on our website and return it no later than 30 September 2013.

NAWE will have a presence at the AWP Conference in Seattle, 2014, and we are still accepting bookings for advertisements in the booklet that will be used to promote UK writing programmes. If your university would like to have a page in the booklet, please log this as soon as possible. The deadline for receiving copy and payment is 16 December 2013.

Meanwhile, we hope you can join us at the NAWE Conference in York (15–17 November), at which our special guests are Grace Nichols and Terry Waite, CBE. The Conference will also launch the short story publishing website, "Cut a Long Story" – an opportunity for writers to sell their stories as downloads for e-readers – followed by the NAWE launch of "Overheard: stories to be read aloud", edited by Jonathan Taylor. There will also be a Barbican Press reception and launch of novels written as Creative Writing PhDs.

Friday, 27 September 2013

Poetry performance 27 September

A Story I Am In: A benefit performance for James Berry

Join us at this special fundraising event at the Tabernacle on Friday 27th September where nineteen outstanding poets, musicians and performers will share the stage to mark James Berry's life in words.

Tickets £35 (£45 after 20th September)
Price of ticket includes a Caribbean buffet meal

Acclaimed poet James Berry celebrates 90 years of poetry, stories and song in 2014. James was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease nine years ago and has been in residential care, a number of care homes and has spent many months in hospital. Despite the serious nature of his illness he continues to enjoy listening to poetry and talking about everything under the sun.

Collaborating organisations and contributors on the night will bear witness to Berry's contribution to the transformation of the national, Caribbean and international literary landscapes.

The Alzheimer’s Society’s programme ‘Singing for the Brain’ is a beneficiary of the James Berry Trust. Part of the proceeds of this Benefit will be donated to ‘Singing for the Brain’.

For more details visit our website or

Support on social media: @JamesBerryPoet #JamesBerryFund

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Writing Workshop, 25 September 2013

PictureCreative Writing Workshop for Adults
Wakefield Library

2-4pm Wednesday 25 September 2013

Writer and Poet John Irving Clarke and Wakefield
Museum Curator John Whitaker

Presented in partnership with Wakefield Libraries

John Irving Clarke is the author of ‘After the Storm’ (Macmillan) and ‘I Was Ready to Fall in Love’ (Currock Press). He is the Chairman of the Black Horse Poets, founder of Currock Press and co-organiser of the Red Shed Poetry readings. for details of further workshops.

#WakefieldLitFest           @Wake_Lit_Fest

Attended this workshop yesterday and it was inspiring to see the fascinating artefacts from Wakefield's past which influenced the creative writing done at the workshop. 

We started with writing four separate things on brightly coloured card, e.g. a time of day, the colour of something and after swopping them with fellow attendees, used them to make a poem.

Mine was:

When my feet first touch the ground
Roses wilt too suddenly
The price of beauty or the lack of sun
As it's yellow, green as bile
Is blocked by the lady with the shopping bag

John Whitaker then showed us a Celtic head which is normally on display downstairs in the Museum.  It came to the Museum in the 1980s, having been found in the 1970s in a rockery in Chapel Thorpe, near Wakefield.  It is believed to date from the Iron Age with a Yorkshire Brigantes connection as the people believed that the head's had supernatural/superstitious power and were healing/spiritual icons.  We speculated that it was someone of status, if not a spirit person, and John told of some of the history of the Brigantes and the Romans.

John Irving Clarke suggested that we think about our creative writing from the point of view of the inanimate object and let the artefacts we see in our Museum tour inspire our pieces.  There were indeed some amazing objects and themes, including the selection from Charles Waterton in the 1800s, the history of the police and Wakefield Prison (including the Mulberry Bush connection) and the 30 year fight by Sheila Capstick to enable women to play snooker in Working Men's Clubs.

After our tour, John shared some poems with us to show us the different techniques, e.g. Carl Sandburg's Fog (see below) with its economy of form but perfectly captured metaphor:


The fog comes
on little cat feet.

It sits looking
over harbour and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.

John challenged us to write a quick metaphor for weather and I came up with this:


The blizzard comes
It's flour tears falling
as a crying sieve

We were then left to come up with some creative writing of our own and at the end of the session we shared prose, poems and even a short story with our fellow attendees.

I chose the cobra that Charles Waterton had killed using his own braces, which is displayed in a glass case:


Waiting for the shadows
to lengthen to a threat,
I wait in my invisible prison,
you see me here, but yet

You do not feel the fear
nor shiver at my touch.
The grey of decomposition
could never dull my lust.

When it came, it was forked
the chains around my neck,
coiled as hollow ribs,
just another to collect.

Hold fast to this moment
before the jaws of truth can bite.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Meet the Murder Squad Crime Panel evening, Birstall Library

Crime scene tape

Attended this event last night with my Mum.  Sadly, Jane Thynne was not able to attend, but Cath Staincliffe and Margaret Murphy (aka A. D. Garrett) were, so the evening went ahead as planned.

A. D. Garrett is the pseudonym for the writing collaboration of prize-winning thriller writer Margaret Murphy and forensic scientist Professor Dave Barclay.

Margaret Murphy is the author of nine psychological thrillers. She is founder of Murder Squad, a touring collective of crime writers. Professor Barclay is a forensic adviser to the police forces and the media. He is currently working for several UK police forces and a state of Australia on high profile murders. He is part of the 'Murder, Mystery and Microscopes' team which aims to explain the real science behind popular crime fiction via a national series of public lectures. Everyone Lies is their first book'

Cath Staincliffe is an established novelist, radio playwright and the creator of ITV's hit series, Blue Murder, starring Caroline Quentin as DCI Janine Lewis. Cath's Sal Kilkenny private eye series features a single-parent sleuth working the mean streets of Manchester. Trio, a stand-alone novel moved away from crime to explore adoption and growing up in the 1960s, inspired by Cath's own experience. Cath's latest stand alone books, Split Second and Blink of an Eye, examine hot topical issues and tell stories of ordinary people, caught up in the criminal justice system. Bleed Like Me is Cath's second novel based on the popular Scott & Bailey TV series.

Margaret and Cath were joint winners of the CWA short story dagger in 2012 with The Message, Margaret Murphy and Laptop by Cath Staincliffe, which both appear in the anthology Murder Squad: Best Eaten Cold and Other Stories.  The Murder squad are seven crime writers who produced the anthology, including Barry Forshaw, Ann Cleeves and Martin Edwards.

Cath started by explaining that she has been writing for 20 years and the last 2/3 she has done Private Eye Novels and the Blue Murder series for television and she felt like challenging herself to do something different, but her publishers weren't that keen as the TV series writing was successful, so she wrote some standalone novels and found another publisher willing to take a punt on them.  She wrote 3 originally and then another 2 and the common theme to them is what 'would you do in this situation?' e.g. in The Kindest Thing, a husband is terminally ill and he wishes his wife to end his life and she wants the reader to wonder what it would be like to be her and does she do it?  Well, she does as the story opens as she is awaiting trial for murder.  All her novels are some sort of crime but not detective novels as they are always from the point of view of the families of the victims, the accused etc.  In the 4th novel Blink of an Eye, it centres around the family of a daughter who gets into the car drunk and kills a little girl and it is how she and her Mum face this tragedy.

She was writing her 3rd novel Split Second when she got the call from her agent telling her that Transworld wanted her to write a prequel based on the Scott and Bailey TV series.  As she had written a police series before, knew Manchester well and she was a fan, she was excited but fearful about getting it wrong.  Also it was the end of September when they asked and they wanted it for January!  She normally takes a year to write a book, so 80k words in 3 months felt overwhelming, but as her partner agreed to take up the other commitments in order for her to do it, she said yes and although it was intense and hard work, she achieved it.  She met with the production company and the writers who had created those characters and asked for background information and suggestions for what to include in the prequel, then when she had written 30/40 pages she sent it to them for a response.  She needed reassurance that she had got it right before carrying on and finishing it.  After that, it was just little questions like what football team the characters support etc.  It was completed for January and the publisher was happy, so wanted another 2 books.  She has been writing 2 books a year, but as the end of contract is due soon, she will decide what she wants to do next as this is a heavy workload. 

Cath then read from Blink of an Eye, a scene after the tragedy when the parents of the car driver go to see where the accident happened, which was very different from the Scott and Bailey TV series.

Margaret Murphy revealed that she found the Blink of an Eye emotionally terrifying in terms of description in the first chapter.  Before Margaret wrote under her own name she was a scientist and teacher, so science always features in her novels. 

In 2008 she was approached at the BA Science Festival in Aberdeen to put together a panel where crime writers read from their work and scientists comment on the science in that novel (featuring Val McDermid, Sue Black and Dave Barclay).  Lorna Dawson, the professor who approached her can find and identify soil and tell you which is yours and which is your neighbours by going down to the molecular level, which is vital for cases in which a car has been used to dump a body and the pollen/flora within an area can identify a suspect, e.g. in the Ian Huntley case.

In 2010, Margaret was at the Harrogate Crime Writing Festival and she saw Dave Barclay again and he gave visual proof that a trail of fuel being lit with a cigarette that one sees in TV programmes is not scientifically possible by lighting a beaker of petrol in front of the audience!  Dave collaborated with Margaret on Everyone Lies to do the science.  Reviewers say that it is grittier/tougher than the other novels she has written as it deals with subjects such as the deaths of drug addicts.  Margaret explained that DCI Kate Simms was not fast-tracked in her career because Professor Nick Femanore compromised one of her cases (the murder of his own wife) and although she has gone from London to Manchester for a job to get away from this past, she approaches the Professor in Aberdeen for his advice even though he is the last person she should.   She then read from chapter one which was not only funny, but really drew you into the story.

A break for refreshments then followed before the floor was opened up to questions.

Cath agreed that writing is like driving at night in the fog, because you don't always know the outcomes before you start writing.  She feels it varies from book to book, within the accepted rules that you have to reveal what/how it happened by the end, the truth if not justice.  When she started she was like that, but now she plans a bit more, but she still gets diversions.

Margaret agreed but felt that it is the evolution of the writing process.  She has been published for 17 years, but when she wrote The Dispossessed it was following a daydream she had behind a bin lorry, a vision of a woman's body falling out of the back of it.  In Everyone Lies, it was interesting in that the forensics of burned bodies was the initial idea, but they were limited, so this body turned up a third of the way through and the ending changed, as it'll be boring to know everything.

When asked what was left that scared them stiff, Margaret said when it is dark and the curtains are still open.  In Darkness Falls, she has a character staring out of a kitchen window and there is a man outside that is staring in that she is unaware of.  Cath writes about things that scare her.  She reads other crime writers a lot and has a completely different response to real crime, but feels that the figuring out of the puzzle is the attraction and that someone else is doing the scary stuff.  It allows you to explore the scary notions and how we would react - you feel it, experience it, but yet it is safe.  Margaret felt it is about answering questions and understanding/rationalising what you see and experience.  Cath feels it is about goodies and baddies, but she has never written from the point of view of the serial killer as she's interested more in the detectives and the victims.  Feels it is the fairy tale element in that they are moral tales - setting the world to rights, a resolution at the end.

Crime is the most popular genre borrowed in libraries as it is such a broad genre.  It is character based as well and with a series you can revisit the characters lives.

When Cath was asked who her favourite authors were, she listed James Lee Burke, Walter Moseley, Kate Atkinson, Laura Wilson and Ed McBain.

Both authors felt that location was very important, as is lots of research, though via police officers not gangsters.  As Cath sets all her novels in Manchester, there are certain places that suggest scenes, i.e. Alderley Edge is perfect for a chase through the woods.  Margaret agreed that you need a clear sense of place when you're writing a scene and she described Hope Street, near the Cathedral in Liverpool, which has a sandstone quarry arch and there are tombstones that have been put in the tunnel to protect the sandstone - she felt it was perfect for killing someone off in that scene.

Margaret revealed that she has wanted to be a writer from the age of 10 and when asked if they could commit the perfect crime, Margaret said she had contemplated it, but Cath said that she wouldn't be able to sleep at night and she'd have to turn herself in.

The evening ended with an announcement that York-based author Helen Cadbury (To Catch A Rabbit) will be coming to Dewsbury Library on 12 October.


Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Tamworth Poetry Workshop

Thanks to Blog About Writing for the following information on Poetry Workshops:

Poetry Workshop

If you live in the Midlands, you might be interested in some a poetry workshop, which Malcolm Dewhirst, Staffordshire’s Poet Laureate, is running at Tamworth library later this month.

Poetry Workshops at Tamworth Library
Saturday 28th Sept 2013 – 10:30 – 14:30
Telephone: 01827 475646

Phone the libraries to book your place! There’s more information on Malcolm’s blog.

Monday, 23 September 2013

Peacocks the play at Theatre in the Mill, Bradford 27 September 2013



Shazia Ashraf

Shows: Friday 27th September 7.30pm - Saturday 28th September, 2.30pm & 7.30pm
Tickets: £5/£3
Call 01274 233200 or email

Buy online

Theatre in the Mill Commissions: 
Loosely based on Shakespeare’s Othello but set in modern-day Bradford using historical figures from the time of Mughal India, Peacocks follows Khurram’s struggle from reluctant Prince to proud Emperor.  Peacocks explores ideas of social acceptance and how we can succumb to presumptions about gender, race and status.
Peacocks is a new piece and its journey from page to stage can be followed on twitter @PeacocksThePlay

Shazia Ashraf
Shazia Ashraf is a Wakefield based writer, her training began at West Yorkshire Playhouse where she was also a writer-on-attachment. Her experience as a writer includes the Street Voices scheme with Freedom Studios, mentoring from the BBC Writersroom/ Screen Yorkshire scheme Northern Voices and writing for Chris Goode and company. Shazia also runs My Big Phat Writers Group, a group to support BAME writing @mbpwg  

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Manchester Literature Festival October 2013

As tickets are now on sale, I thought my followers may be interested in this:

Manchester Literature Festival

The Festival Programme includes:
Jo Nesbo
Eoin Colfer
A Celebration of Barbara Pym
Graphic Novels
Fiction Debuts
Tash Aw
Patrick Ness
Tour of the Midland
Afternoon Tea with Adam O'Riordan
Thomas De Quincey's Manchester
David Morrell
Commonword Superheroes of Slam Final
CK Stead and Michael Hulse
The Manchester Man Walking Tour
Jordi Punti
A Highland Romance: Poetry Performance
Louise Doughty
Sarah Dunant
Suzanne Joinson and Asli Perker
The Great Gatsby Uncovered
A Highland Romance: Poetry Workshop
Open the Windows
Xiaolu Guo
Hey Wayne! The Art of Cartoon
New Writing Award
Northern Classics Literary Coach Tour
Elaine Feinstein
The Little Red Hen
Neil Gaiman
AD Miller
Poetry in the City
Manchester Cathedral Poetry Competition
Michelle Green and Sara Maitland
Manchester Crime Scene
Shackleton's Man Goes South
First Editions & Rarities Walking Tour
Owen Sheers
Blog North Awards
The Palace of Curiosities
Jacek Dehnel
Afternoon Tea with Rachel Cooke
The Art of the Short Story
Catalan Poets
Ian McMillan and Owen Sheers
Deborah Levy and Sarah Hall
Conor O'Callaghan and Clare Shaw
Iain Sinclair
The 2013 Manchester Writing Competition
Writing a Path Through Palestine
Poets and Players
Boho Literary Pub Walking Tour
Catherine O'Flynn
Dommy B
Anthony Browne
Cerrie Burnell
Louis Golding and Maisie Mosco
Steve Hartley
Artful Playground



Saturday, 21 September 2013

Dr Who author Mark Wright event, Brighouse Library

Took my son Lucas (pictured above in the green with author Mark Wright and Lucas' friends Stanley and Frankie) to this event this morning and what a fascinating time we had.

We started by 'learning to speak' monster - this involved saying Doc-torrrrrr in a very terrifying way, because of course, no monster ever talks to the Dr in a normal voice.

Mark gave us his background as a fan of Dr Who, his start in writing and plenty of facts about all things Dr Who.  Mark still finds it hard to believe that when he was little, when his Mum sat him in front of the television to see the new Doctor, it started him on his journey to his fandom and becoming a writer.  If someone had told him at that age that he would be writing books for Dr Who, he would not have believed them.

The television show was the first time that merchandise was available for children to buy (i.e. Daleks) and as shows were not repeated in those days, the only way to revisit an episode would be to buy the books that were published in conjunction with the programme or the comics.  Dr Who has one of the oldest comic strips and the magazine has been going for over thirty years.  Now available in audio books as well, this was his introduction to realising that he could get a job as a writer.

He first worked as a writer on Inside Soap Magazine, but moved to working on Dr Who magazine, comics, books and audio books.  He brought along some of the work he has done through Big Finish Productions and others, including merchandise for Blake's 7 (he was once in a room with all the cast of Blake's 7 which myself and the other adults in the room were quite envious of).

Mark talked us through the various incarnations of the Dr (William Hartnell, Patrick Troughton, John Pertwee, Tom Baker, Peter Davison, Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy, Paul McGann, Christopher Ecclestone, David Tennant, Matt Smith and the new doctor, Peter Capaldi) and gave us some background information on their character and some of the most iconic episodes.  He explained which of the actors were also Whovians and revealed that Peter Capaldi wrote into the BBC age 15 about Dr Who, so he is a true fan in the same way as David Tennant (David became an actor with the wish to one day play Dr Who).

We were each given a piece of paper with an outline of a man and asked to design a costume for the new Dr (as it has not been decided yet what type of outfit Peter Capaldi will be wearing) and some fascinating designs were produced from super-hero inspired capes, through Quatermass inspiration, to a sinister-looking Mr Ben.  It would be great to think that as Mark was taken with some of the designs, that it may have input into how he will look come the new episodes.

Mark then asked us to come up with words that encapsulated a monster, as our new doctor needed a new foe.  Ours was slimy, had 72 heads and eight eyes upon each head, could spit acid and poison with it's fangs, smelled foul but had the ability to emit attractive odours to lure in it's prey, has the ability to flay the skin of it's victims to wear as a disguise and is known as the MP of Death.  A lot of fun for the boys.

When Mark opened it up to questions, we found out that the ice warriors are likely to make a comeback (one of Mark's favourite new season Dr Who episodes), his favourite master is the original one played by Roger Delgado and his favourite aliens are the Weeping Angels.  His favourite episode was The Seeds of Doom featuring a carnivorous plant and that David Tennant will feature in a special episode to be aired in November.

The event finished with photographs and book signing.

To find out about future writing events run at the Library:

#DrWho #MarkWright

Friday, 20 September 2013

MumsNet Academy writing course 21-22 September 2013

Start Writing: Raffaella Barker and Esther Freud

Start date21-Sep-2013
Duration2 days, 10am-4.00pm
Price£299.00 (inc VAT)
  • Course Description

    Do you want to write but somehow never get round to it? Do you have a story to tell but you don’t know where to begin? Have you started to write and ground to a halt? Do you love words and laugh out loud at the funny things people say and do? Do you wish you knew how to take all this and put it on the page? How do you begin?
    Don’t wring your hands in frustration, the answers are right here. It could be the easiest thing in the world to pick up a pen and begin to write, yet somehow it seems the hardest. And most tantalising: anyone with an abandoned novel or short story gathering dust knows that writing unlocks the imagination and lets the spirit soar.
    Help is at hand to reveal your potential.
  • What's Included

    In a two day workshop, best selling author Raffaella Barker will lead you through the labyrinth to find your voice. Using a combination of practical exercises and discussions, as well as excerpts from some great classic novels and short stories to illustrate the points covered, she will show you how to create characters, set up a story, devise a plot and give it the impetus to get to the end.
    The workshop environment takes the sting out of the fear of the blank page and participants will emerge from their weekend with a set of skills they didn’t know they had and some pieces of writing they can be proud of.
    Tea and cake and plenty of praise help make this weekend a lot of fun and fertile ground for the imagination.
    The course will include a guest seminar on Sunday 22 September with Esther Freud. 
  • Tutor Details

    Raffaella Barker began writing novels at around the time she began having children, and is the author of 9 of the former and the mother of 3 of the latter. The ticking taxi meter of time when the children were asleep or occupied was a great disciplining force out of which her writing grew. Her novels include the autobiographical Come and Tell Me Some Lies, and the best selling Hens Dancing and Summertime, the fictional diaries of slightly loopy mother and Georgette Heyer enthusiast Venetia Summers.
    Her more recent novels, A Perfect Life and Poppyland continue to reflect on the depths and indeed the shallows of family life. She has taught creative writing for a number of years, and on many levels  including the highly acclaimed Arvon Foundation courses, and in workshops and one-to-one sessions. She also works as a newspaper columnist and feature writer.
  • More Information

    The course will take place from Saturday 21 September to Sunday 22 September inclusive at the Mumsnet Towers, Studio 6, Deane House Studios, Greenwood Place, Highgate Road, London NW5 1LB.
    Maximum number of students: 15 places, on a first-come basis.

Thursday, 19 September 2013

New Writing North newsletter

News from New Writing North
New Writing North news
Durham Book Festival plays host to poets
This year the Durham Book Festival is delighted to be hosting the TS Eliot Prize’s 20th Anniversary Tour. Poets Philip Gross, whose new poetry collection, Later, comes out in September, Sinead Morrissey, a Northern Irish poet and writer in residence at Queen’s University, and Deryn Rees-Jones, whose collection, Burying the Wren, was shortlisted for the prize in 2012, will all be reading at Durham Town Hall on 12 October alongside a local poet. The tour will also stop off in Halifax on 25 September, and at the Off the Shelf Festival in Sheffield on 15 October as well a number of other locations across the country.
Sinead Morrissey isn’t the only Northern Irish poet at the 2013 Durham Book Festival either. The internationally acclaimed Paul Muldoon will be donning his laurel leaves as Festival Laureate on Tuesday 29 October in Durham Cathedral Chapter House, where he will premiere a brand-new festival-commissioned poem as well as reading from his award-winning body of work.
Another special festival poetry commission will be unveiled at Voyages of Discovery at St Chad’s on Saturday 12 October when Stevie Ronnie and Linda France will be talking about how their festival-sponsored travel, a global tour of botanical gardens last year for Linda and a trip to the Arctic for Stevie, inspired their poetry. (Linda will also be running a Poetica Botanica poetry workshop on Sunday 13 October in Durham University’s Botanic Gardens.)
There are many more events – over 60 this year, including a number of free events – so have a look at the full programme and book tickets at
My Granny is a Pirate sails the digital seas
New Writing North’s production in association with Sage Gateshead of Val McDermid’s first foray into children’s literature, My Granny is a Pirate, has found a pirate lair online. Go to to find out where you can see the play, learn about the music and craft workshops, and find out more about the cast and crew. My Granny is a Pirate will be weighing anchor at the Durham Book Festival on Saturday 12 October.
Cressida Cowell: a blast from the past
Click here to listen to children’s author Cressida Cowell talking about her hugely popular series How to Train Your Dragon, starring Viking hero Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III at the 2012 Durham Book Festival. Audio from other Durham Book Festival events can be found on our Soundcloud site at
Joy for Avril
Congratulations to Bishop Auckland writer Avril Joy, whose award-winning short story Millie and Bird is included in The Story of Love, Loss and the Lives of Women, an anthology of 100 women writers. The anthology will be launched at London's Waterstones Piccadilly on 26 September at 6.30pm.
In the north
Biscuit takes final bow
Biscuit Publishing has closed its doors. For 13 years the publishing house dedicated itself to promoting good writing, commissioning authors, and running a prestigious competition. It will be missed and we would like to wish managing director and editor Brian Lister all the very best for his retirement.
Fit as a Butcher’s Dog
The third issue of biannual poetry magazine Butcher’s Dog is now open for submissions. Poets and readers can also look forward to at least another two years of the magazine, thanks to funding support from Arts Council England. New Writing North, who supported the six founding poets in setting up the magazine (as well as individually awarding them Northern Promise Awards), is delighted by the publication’s continued success.
Open Clasp bursaries
Open Clasp Theatre Company is looking for three young women (16-25 years old) to act as assistants to the director, writer and facilitator on a new project. There is a bursary of £1,000 for each role. The young women carrying out these roles will each spend 100 hours working with Open Clasp spread out over an extended period (October 2013-January 2015) working on Open Clasp’s Fracking Up North project. The play will tour in the North East and North West in early 2015. Go to the Open Clasp website to apply.
Northern Stage seeks new work for Edinburgh 2014
Northern Stage at St Stephen’s, the venue run by Newcastle’s Northern Stage at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, is looking for expressions of interest for productions for next year’s festival from artists and companies that are based in the north of England, or feel that they have a strong or special connection with the North. Find out how you can be a part of next year’s Northern Stage at St Stephen’s line up at the series of roadshows Northern Stage is putting on in Leeds on Wednesday 18 September, Manchester on Wednesday 25 September, and in Newcastle on Friday 27 September. Email Katie at or go to for more information
Artists for ArtWorks
ArtWorks North East is piloting a series of short courses for artists and media practitioners who work or aspire to work in participatory settings. The short courses offer opportunities to combine practice, theory, debate and reflection supported by a wealth of material, toolkits and online resources. The series runs from September 2013 to March 2014 in venues across Tyneside and Sunderland. For early applicants there are generous fee waivers on non-accredited courses and a limited number of fee waivers on accredited courses. A small number of free places are available on non-accredited courses for current Higher Education students. For a booking/application form and further details, email with ‘ArtWorks short courses’ as the subject line.
Script6 opens for submissions
The Space is looking for submissions for its pilot playwriting competition, Script6. The six playwrights selected will take part in a tailored course of peer-led workshops and rehearsed readings aimed at exploring new writing styles or processes. Play Dead Press have also committed to publishing all six final scripts. One piece of work will be chosen by a panel during the festival, and will receive a full-length run at The Space. The scheme is open to writers who have had a minimum of two full-length plays staged, and are looking to further their development with exploration of different styles and methods of writing. Contact to request an application pack. The deadline for submissions is Monday 28 October.
Newcastle City Council looking for community artists for taster sessions
Newcastle City Council is looking for three artists to undertake the delivery of a taster programme as part of a high quality participatory arts programme. They are interested in hearing from a variety of skilled participatory arts practitioners with an interest in and experience of working with people who suffer from use/misuse of substances including alcohol, drugs and gambling. Deadline for submissions: Friday 20 September. For the full artist brief, email
Wordsworth Trust: Poet in residence
The Wordsworth Trust is looking to appoint a new poet in residence, to run from January-December 2014. This is an invaluable opportunity for an exceptional poet, from any cultural background and writing within any literary tradition, to spend time in Grasmere, Cumbria, in the heart of the Lake District. The poet will be given space to develop their own work and will also be involved in delivering parts of the Wordsworth Trust literature programme, both in Grasmere and throughout Cumbria. The poet in residence will be paid a monthly stipend of £1100, and provided with a cottage for which they will be charged a subsidised rent. For full details, and application procedure, contact Andrew Forster on or 015394 35544. Deadline for submissions: Monday 30 September, 4pm.
The Society of Chief Librarians: Artist in residence
The Society of Chief Librarians is looking for an artist in residence to work on a World War I commemorative project. The artist will be based in the West End Library at Benwell, a vibrant and diverse community whose development was greatly influenced by the Armstrong Vickers armaments factory. The deadline for submissions is Friday 20 September. For the full artist brief, email
York Theatre Royal: Communications manager
York Theatre Royal is looking for an inventive and hard working communications manager to join the communications team. The communications manager is responsible for campaign planning for all productions appearing at York Theatre Royal, managing all press and PR activity, and having an overview of the areas held responsible by the digital communications officer and marketing & press assistant. Deadline for applications: Sunday 22 September. For more information download the application form.
Tyneside Cinema: Curator
Tyneside Cinema are looking for an individual to set the curatorial vision and artistic vision for a brand new gallery and cinema space opening in 2014. They will deliver the inaugural programme of work for this Arts Council-funded space, help shape the future direction of the organisation’s wider artistic programme, and leave a lasting legacy for the future. Deadline for submissions: Monday 30 September. To see the full job specification, click here.
Writers’ Centre Norwich: Development manager
The literary organisation is looking for a new development manager to develop relationships and secure income from a wide variety of sources ensuring the viability and sustainability of the organisation and its activities. This is an excellent opportunity for someone who will enjoy the challenge of being part of this ambitious vision for literature and has at least three years experience of fundraising in the cultural, charitable or voluntary sector. Deadline for submissions: Wednesday 25 September. For more information, see
Courses and workshops
Teeside Talk About Local unconference
Mima, Middlesbourgh: Saturday 28 September, 11am-5.30pm
Community publishers and people interested in local news, culture and digital storytelling are getting together in Middlesbrough later this month for their annual unconference – an event where the attendees set the agenda on the day. Previous events in Stoke, Leeds, Cardiff and Birmingham have included sessions on everything from legal publishing advice to making money online and attracted people from as far afield as the Isle of Wight to Aberdeenshire. This year’s event will also see the launch of a new initiative specifically for Teesside called Talk About Arts, Culture and Place which is being run in partnership with Yorkshire’s The Culture Vulture website.
The event is open to all but free tickets must be booked in advance from Users of social media can follow the event across platforms using the hashtag #tal13.
Jesmond creative writing group
Join Rachael Marsh and her creative writing group on the first Friday of the month at 7pm. All prose writers and poets are welcome. The group meets at 22 Queens Road, Jesmond, NE2 2PP. For more information contact Rachel Marsh at or 07818 431016.
Deadline for the next newsletter
If you have news that you would like to submit for inclusion in the newsletter please contact The deadline for receipt of information for the next newsletter is 23 September. The next edition of The Listening Post, covering October’s literature events, will go out in late September. If you have events that you would like to submit for inclusion for this you will need to send information by 20 September to
While every effort has been made to ensure that the information contained in this newsletter is correct at the time of going to press, things do change, frequently at the last minute and very often without our knowledge.
Share this newsletter FacebookTwitterMore...View New Writing North’s newsletter archive
Forward this newsletter to a friend
Click here to subscribe to our newsletters
NB. By unsubscribing from this newsletter you will be unsubscribing from all of our newsletters
© New Writing North 2013