Blade Runner 2049 is almost upon us and I can barely conceal my excitement. Blade Runner is one of my favourite films. They better not fuck it up; but going by the trailers and previews it looks like they’ve managed to get it right. We’ll know for sure on Friday. When I’m not working on my novel, or marketing my collection, I’ve got a sideline in movie memoir. I’m collecting together pieces about films I’ve seen with family. Here’s a shortened version of the one about Blade Runner.
Tears In Rain – The First Time I Saw Blade Runner
We made and odd couple, my Dad and I, walking into the dilapidated late night cinema. I was fifteen and he was in his mid-fifties. I had Sun-in hair and too much black eye-liner, waif-like in the way that only teenagers can be, while he was tall and solid, his bulk made bigger by his sheepskin coat. It was winter 1982 and we’d gone to a midnight screening, both of us wanting to see different films on the double bill. In 1980s northern England there no instant movie streaming like there is now; if you wanted to see an obscure American movie you had a window of about a fortnight and even then only at selected cinemas. If you missed this opportunity you sometimes had the chance to mop it up at a repertory screening. And so it was that Dad and I braved the Yorkshire winter to go and see a double feature of Blade Runner and Firefox. You’ve probably only heard of one of those films, and with good reason, but in December 1982 I first had to sit through Clint Eastwood’s mediocre cold war offering in order to experience one of the greatest films ever made.
I was a film mad teenager. I consumed movies the way other people ate food – they were necessary for my survival. Severe hip-dysplasia had meant a childhood of surgeries and immobility. I spent a lot of time watching television, lying in bed or, when I was feeling up to it, on the sofa in the lounge, from which I’d watch mid-morning reruns of classic Hollywood movies. I was born late to my parents, my mum was 46 and my Dad 40, we were not just one but two generations apart. A love of cinema helped Dad and I bond. He introduced me to all the greats, John Ford westerns, Busby Berkley musicals, screwball comedies. He liked both Marylin Monroe and Ingrid Bergman, James Stewart and Robert Mitchum. His all-time favourite was Humphrey Bogart. I suspect that as a young man he’d been told he looked like the morose movie star because he often emulated his idol; in any given film Dad knew many of Bogart’s lines by heart and often wore a Philip Marlow mackintosh and chewed a match. There was indeed a striking resemblance. Dad had the same pleading eyes and thin upper lip, a square jaw and a slightly dissatisfied expression. We’d watch the movies together over and over; Key Largo, The Big Sleep, The Maltese Falcon, To Have and Have Not, The Caine Mutiny and, of course, Casablanca.
Most of the films we watched were on TV, trips to the cinema were rare, especially as I moved towards adulthood and away from a love of Disney. I began to go with friends to see modern horror movies and comedies. I’d read about Blade Runner in my beloved film magazines and was intrigued – a sci-fi movie in film noir style! I watched for the listings at my local cinema but it never appeared. I’d just about given up hope of seeing it when I saw the ad for the double bill in Leeds. I showed it to Dad knowing he liked Clint Eastwood and to my surprise he said we could go.
‘It was strange thing to do,’ said my sister, home from college a week later, when I told her about it. It had been an experience. As you can imagine, those attending a Saturday midnight screening were not the usual cinema audience. It had been freezing outside, a few scant snowflakes making an appearance as we walked up the stone steps to the old-fashioned picture palace, slightly out of town. The doors were art deco, their brass handles worn from the many hands that had held them open. Inside we were hit with a blast of acrid heat and the odour of stale popcorn mixed with cigarette smoke hung in the foyer. The bored looking woman at the box office eyed us suspiciously as she sold us our tickets. We opted for the balcony because they were the best seats in the house. There were a few single men dotted around the aisles, some obvious junkies in from the cold and a row of drunk students at the back. Firefox was on first. It had a ridiculous cold war plot about Clint Eastwood stealing a spy plane from a Russian airbase. My Dad loved it, I watched his face more than the film, saw the delight on it, the joy when the hero saved the day.
‘That was fantastic!’ He declared and nipped out for a cigar in the interval, leaving me to sip my cola and stare at the patched velvet curtain closed in front of the screen, even at that age aware that it would not be a good idea to catch anyone’s eye. He arrived back in his seat just as the camera panned across Los Angeles 2019, accompanied by the first notes of the Vangelis score, and I decided that I was going to be a film director. I sat open-mouthed throughout. Here was a movie that had managed to incorporate all my beloved classic films into something shiny and new. It felt like it had been created specifically for me. I must be the only person who likes the original voice over version the best because it’s the most like those old Bogart movies my Dad loved so much. Dad wasn’t so keen. He snored softly at one point. Afterwards as I enthused he said it thought it was ‘a bit boring and so damn dark you couldn’t see anything’. Within a week I’d dyed my hair auburn, started smoking and wearing vintage clothes and put the poster on my wall. I still have an antique VHS version of the film somewhere, though nothing to play it on.
I never became a film director. But I did study film at University and managed to get a research job at The British Film Institute in London where I stayed for fifteen years. During that time I went to West End premieres, special preview screenings and Q&As with famous directors but still nothing beats that screening of Blade Runner in terms of raw cinematic experience.
Now I’m a writer I use cinema a lot in my work. I often write about people going to the cinema, using the way they respond to certain films as a way of developing character. In my current collection (15 Minutes) I have two stories in which films feature heavily. The first is Lost In Translation which sparks an unhealthy Scarlett Johansson obsession in my protagonist and the second features a teenage boy obsessed with Blade Runner. He listens to the soundtrack, talks like Deckard’s voice over and smokes unfashionable Marlboros.
As we walked from the cinema in the pre-dawn, the snow had turned to rain. It pattered on the car windows on the silent drive home, windscreen wipers creaking. Dad concentrated wearily on the road ahead while I watched the city lights flick past and imagined that I was riding into the unknown with Deckard, searching for immortality. My Dad is no longer with us. I often think of the night we went to that midnight screening. I sometimes imagine the times he went to the cinema as a young man, on dates, to shelter from the rain or just because he wanted to catch the latest Bogart before anyone else. Only he knew about those times and now they are gone – moments lost in time, like tears in rain.
amwriting, anthologies, books, craft, creative writing, criticism, crowdfunding, ediotrs, editing, feedback, Fifteen Minutes, publishing, Rattle Tales, short stories, short story collections, The Brighton Prize, writing
I am currently co-editing an anthology of short fiction. I also supplement my paltry writers’ income with freelance editing projects. I’m not a proof reader; the edits I offer are structural, though I will pick up on any punctuation that has gone awry. Editing is something I enjoy. The idea of helping a writer to perfect their work makes me happy but I also find that editing other people’s work makes me a better writer. Editing not only raises my awareness of common writing pitfalls, it also reminds me to put away the resistance to criticism that all writers experience.
I’ve been lucky enough to have been on the receiving end of dedicated and improving edits for both my books. Uppermost in my mind is my collection of short stories, Fifteen Minutes, which has recently undergone several in-depth edits with Unbound Publishing. This was an amazing learning curve and the book is vastly improved as a result. When the first edit arrived I opened a manuscript which was literally covered in red marks and comments. My editor had forewarned me that this was normal in her email but even so it was quite a shock. I have had short stories edited professionally before, for publication in journals like Rip Tide and The Manchester Review. The editors of those journals did brilliant job and, yes, each manuscript was covered in crossings out, with sentences shifted and lengthy comments inserted. Again, I was a bit shocked by the extent of the mark-ups. For a moment I wondered if the writing was any good after all.
This seems to be a common experience for most writers. When faced with a manuscript covered in mark-ups and comments we tend to take it personally. The self-doubt nags, we mutter things under our breath like, ‘obviously they haven’t read it properly,’ and, ‘they wouldn’t know a joke if it got up and bit them.’ What we forget is that as writers we can become too immersed in a piece to see the flaws and the gaps. The writing is obviously great or it wouldn’t have been selected for publication. However, the editor has read it more closely than anyone else ever will. Their mark-ups don’t mean that the writing isn’t good, just that as the writer we have become too used to what we have written. We think that because we can picture it in our head our readers will be able to too. This is not always the case. If an editor points something out as not being clear, and you have to use a paragraph to explain to them why it is clear, the editor is right and you are not.
Obviously editors are not infallible. This is why they often work in pairs. The first edit of Fifteen Minutes suggested alterations that the second editor then suggested should be changed back. At this point it was up to me to decide which worked best. Often it was the original – but not always – sometimes it was something completely different. You can always negotiate. If you truly believe that your piece is better without the changes, that the reader you have in mind will know exactly what you mean, then go ahead, argue your case. What is interesting is that as you progress in your career you will get comments such as ‘still not clear’ from a professional editor a third or fourth time no matter how much you plead. If this happens you have no choice but to adhere to their suggestion. If you are arguing about the placement of commas and the cutting of single words you are being too precious. Go with what the editor suggests; it’s what they do for a living. They know what they are talking about. The real shock will come when you get your proofs back and realize you know nothing about punctuation!
For further information on my freelance editing services please email firstname.lastname@example.org I specialize in shaping up short stories for publication or competition but I have edited full-length manuscripts from children’s books to spy thrillers.
One of the great things about crowd-funding through Unbound Publishing is that there is a real sense of community amongst the authors. We all keep in touch via a private Face Book group, swap news of achievements and frustrations and give each other tips on all aspects on writing and publishing. Sometimes we even meet up, as a few of us did at Unbound’s fifth birthday party in November. They’re a great bunch and today one of them is the first guest contributor to this blog. Shona Kinsella, who has just released her brilliant fantasy novel Ashael Rising, gives some tips on world-building that are very useful for writers of any kinds. Personally, I’m a pantser that stops halfway through for a bit of obsessive map drawing!
Approaching World-Building by Shona Kinsella
One of the most enjoyable and challenging parts of writing fantasy is the world-building. There are fantasy writers who spend years creating a world before they feel ready to write a story set there. They have maps, detailed histories, notes of the flora and fauna and knowledge of political factions in every country – but they don’t have a book.
I’m very different from this. I’m what is sometimes known as a pantser (as in flying by the seat of the pants) although the term I prefer is discovery writer. What this means is that I discover the story, and the world, as I write.
When I sat down to write Ashael Rising, I knew very little about KalaDene. In fact, it didn’t even have a name until the third draft or so. My world-building was all done as I went along. I once heard an excellent description of the process; it explains just what it feels like to me so I’m going to share it here. World-building is like walking through a tunnel (the world) with a torch (the story) so I can see as much of the world as the story shines a light on and a little bit around the edges but everything else is just fuzzy shapes in the darkness, with maybe a puff of cool air indicating that there might be a door to somewhere else off to the left.
There are advantages and disadvantages to both approaches. For example, sometimes I could spend most of a day’s writing time trying to figure out how the limits to the magic system worked or whether the climate I’ve described would support the plants that I have my characters eating. That’s not a particularly efficient use of my time and would not have come up had I built my world in advance. On the other hand, people who have created an entire world before writing a book will often find that they have wasted time in building details that they do not need for the book – time that could have been spent writing.
It also means that I made substantial changes between my first and second drafts, tightening up world-building details, as well as improving the plot, and fitting in things that I changed or introduced over the course of writing the first draft. My understanding is that this is common for discovery writers while people who have plotted and world-built in advance will often have something close to the finished work at the end of their first draft. This probably balances out though – they spend the time up front, before they start writing, and I spend it at the other end.
One of the things that I like about my approach is the massive amount of flexibility it gives me. If I find myself inspired by something I see on a nature documentary (something that happens more often than you might think) I generally have space to work it into my world somewhere. I already have a few notes to myself about elements I’d like to fit into book two.
The only major drawback that I’ve experienced is that, since I make things up as I go along, I have no idea what will end up being important and I must try and keep the elements of an entire world straight in my head – something the planners don’t have to do. I have taken to keeping a world-building file open while I write, somewhere to make notes of characters that I’ve introduced, plants that I’ve made up along with their uses, distances between places and so on. The thing is, I’m pretty bad at actually updating the file. While I’m writing, I’m too involved in the story to keep stopping and starting and switching files. More than once I’ve found myself having to search back through the text to check how I spelled something a few chapters ago or whether or not I said a particular plant was poisonous or what someone’s name is. Again, not the most efficient use of my time. Still, efficient or not, it is the way that works for me and it’s the way I’ll continue to work for the time being.
It is Saturday morning and I have woken to the news of Muhammad Ali’s death. The TV and radio are full of iconic clips and interviews. My short story collection is fast becoming a book of the dead. Many of the celebrities in it are no longer with us.
There is a story in it about Ali. It was one of the first sucessful stories I ever wrote, unexpectedly runner up in a competition and published in an Australian literary journal. It is about a boxer with Alzheimer’s and the doctor treating him. The doctor remembers being taken to see Cassius Clay fight Henry Cooper in 1963 when he was a little boy. My Dad loved Muhammad Ali and the story is inspired by his own difficult descent into dementia. Even now I can remember watching the Parkinson interview with Ali in the 1970s and my Dad explaining why it was so important. I couldn’t have been any more than six or seven years old. The story is about memory more than anything, but it is also about witnessing an early victory from an individual who would go on to change the world. Ali became the most famous man on the planet and the doctor in my story never forgets seeing him in a moment of transformation – becoming the butterfly.
I did think that the celebrities in my book were all perfunctory to the main characters but, in some cases, they prove to be a catalyst for change. Ali, Bowie and Andy Warhol all influence the characters for the better and actually set them onto a path of becoming something else. Celebrity culture is not all bad. It’s funny how you can think you are writing one thing when actually you are writing something else. The influence some people have on the world goes beyond celebrity, they transcend sport or art or music and change humanity for the better.
Earlier this week I was interviewed by The Short Story and the resulting article explains quite a lot about In The Future Everyone Will Be Famous For Fifteen Minutes. Please share with anyone you think might be interested.
If you know anybody who is looking for a creative writing mentor, or anyone who would like to take part in a workshop, I am offering these as pledging options. We are so close!
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A lot has happened since I last blogged here. I was stuck around the 45% mark for what seemed like an eternity, thinking that I was never going to get this thing funded. Last week I had a conversation with a Twitter friend, the fab short story writer Safia Moore, who not only pledged to the book but suggested that the pledge options I should be pushing were the ones for large sums, the short story appraisals and mentoring packages. She pointed out that I am the director of a short story prize, have been short-listed in a few myself, and am a tutor! She is of course right on all counts. It’s funny how when you are in the middle of something you can’t see it for what it is. I started pushing these options on social media and so far someone has pledged for £400 of mentoring and four people have pledged for short story appraisals. I suddenly find myself 81 % funded, so thank you Safia for reminding me of what I have to offer!
If you keep getting nowhere when sending out short story submissions, or entering competitions, perhaps you could do with a little help from the director of a prize, who has been published in Riptide and The Manchester Review and short-listed for The Bristol and Fish prizes. I am an experienced tutor, mentor and editor with an MA (dist) in Creative Writing and an acclaimed novel.
On offer as part of crowdfunding for In The Future Everyone Will Be Famous For Fifteen Minutes are:
Short Story Appraisal up to 5,000 words with full edit and notes – £100
Mentoring, 4 face to face sessions (skype, email or phone for those too far away) up to 20,000 words with full edit and notes. This can be part one manuscript or several short stories. £400
2 hour Short Story Workshop for 5 people (South East and possibly Yorkshire) £200
These packages are offered at a much lower price than my usual rate and at a much lower price than most literary consultancies. Not only will they greatly benefit your writing but you will facilitate the publication of a book of short stories that would not otherwise be published.
You could of course just prove all the people who think short stories aren’t worth publishing wrong and pledge £10 in support of the book. You will be a patron of the arts and I am so very grateful that so many of you have already done so.
Beach Hut Writers, Brighton, crowdfunding, crusades, dreams, Exeter Street Hall, medieval, Myriad, Myriad Editions, publishing, Rattle Tales, reading aloud, short stories, spoken word, Umi Sinha, Unbound, writing
As I write I am 44% funded. This means that well over a hundred of you have supported my book. To my new supporters I want to say a massive thank you, you are making this happen. I have until the end of May to reach 198 pledges, it’s time to take it up a notch.
Regular readers will know that I am a Director of the spoken word group Rattle Tales. We have a show coming up at Brighton Fringe Festival and we’re selecting stories for it now. Last night I had a dream that only five people turned up to our show. Our previous Fringe shows have all been sold out, sometimes we’ve had to turn people away, and the show has been a Pick of the Fringe by The Independent newspaper. It’s extremely unlikely that no one will turn up. In my dream not only did no turn up but I forgot my story and when I tried to phone home to get someone to bring it to me my i-phone snapped in two, the venue staff were busy jousting in the back garden and the only person in the bar was a medieval knight dressed in crusader armour – he didn’t know what an i-phone was.
I’ve been trying to analyze this dream all day. I think it’s to do with the event I did recently to an audience of seven. It’s definitely to do with asking people to pledge to my collection and most of them resembling a medieval knight with no knowledge of i-phones when asked. Lots of people have said they are happy to help and will definitely pledge but then don’t. Some people have been very affronted to be asked. In response to a recent mail-out through Rattle Tales one person accused us of begging and hoped the project failed. You can just ignore the request you know, or just say no. I’m not begging. I’m asking you to choose to buy a book in advance, in much the same way as you would choose to buy a book in a book shop – you don’t have to but you might want to. The same mail-out brought me ten new pledgers and for that I am very grateful
I have a few events coming up and I really hope that a. people will come and b. some will pledge to the book. I will be appearing at Exeter Street Hall on May 13th with lots of other Beach Hut Writers, ten in fact, all talking about the when, why and what of writing for a living. I’m also going to talk at Brighton University on May 10th with the author of Belonging, Umi Sinha, and Vicky Blunden from Myriad Editions and then I will be reading Sourdough (recently published by New London Writers) from In The Future Everyone Will Be World Famous For Fifteen Minutes at the Rattle Tales show on May 26th. Please come along to any or all – don’t leave me alone with the medieval knight.
For the rest of the week I will be sending out press releases, pitching articles and generally trying to get my book notice in the hope of attracting more pledges. Thanks again to my new supporters – you really are making a difference!
Catherine Smith, crowdfunding, Dianna Vickers, fame, fiction, Gethin Anthony, James Ellis, Latitude Festival, poetry, publishing, short stories, short stoy collections, social media, spoken word, stars of the week, Unbound, Word Theatre, writing
Crowdfunding a book is overwhelming. There is so much marketing to do just to eek out one or two supporters. Unbound (the crowdfunding publisher I have signed to) send you a pledge update once a week so you can see who has pledged and what level they’ve opted for. Everytime someone pledges I want to shout their name from the rooftops. In fact my book In The Future Everyone Will Be World Famous For Fifteen Minutes is, as the title suggests, about fame and I am going to offer to give top pledgers the star treatment on social media.I will make you famous for a week. This is not necessarily about the amount pledged. Here’s the first:
Last week I was a bit despondent having only achieved 13% of the required funding in a month. This week I am 26% funded! Over a quarter of the way there! This is a big deal for me; I am beginning to think that it can be done. There is about 8 weeks left to pledge. If I work really hard I can do it but I can’t do it without your help.
Amongst my pledgers this week was my old Creative Writing tutor, the wonderful poet and short story writer, Catherine Smith. When I first started writing Catherine made me feel as though I was actually good at it. She also taught me that adding a bit of poetry can lift prose into something really meaningful and thought-provoking. I write poetically, I can’t help it, I like language to flow, to alliterate, to unfold like a movie in your mind. (These days I don’t like too many similies so I don’t know why I wrote that last bit.) Catherine left me a message on my last blog post:
I loved Starlings and am so glad you are going down this route, Unbound is an excellent model, though I think UK publishers need a kick up the arse to be less prejudiced against publishing short stories, which as we know is a transcendent and exacting form.
Take note UK publishers and thank God for Unbound, who really are enabling many writers outside of the mainstream to get published.
Unbound have a Facebook support group on which shell-shocked writers can exchange experiences and come up with new ways to get pledges. One of the writers, James Ellis, is a Rattle Tales regular and I asked if he wanted to do a funding event in Brighton. Other authors in the group expressed an interest too so I’m going to book a date at The Brunswick Cellar Bar and see what happens.
I have a sort of plan – when to contact certain people, when to push Facebook/Twitter ect. how to drawn attention to the project. One of the stories (Underneath) was performed by Games of Thrones actor Gethin Anthony and Diana Vickers at US spoken word group Word Theatre’s UK shows a couple of years ago. I contacted Word Theatre to ask if they could help promote and was told there was a video of one of the events. I was lucky enough to see the performance at Latitude Festival and it remains one of the thrills of my writing career. Here’s a short extract:
Please pledge to this book of short stories. There is something in it for everyone. For just £10 you can help bring this book to life.
agents, Araminta Hall, Beach Hut Writers, Bridget Whelan, Brighton, Brighton Gin, crowdfunding, Kate Harrison, Laura Wilkinson, literary agents, publishing, Sarah Rayner, short stories, Sue Teddern, The Beach Hut Writing Academy, Unbound, Write by the Beach, writing
Week three already! This week I reached 11% funded thanks to some lovely friends and one or two people I’ve never met who are taken with the idea of In The Future Everyone Will Be World Famous For Fifteen Minutes. I got some promotional postcards made and started carefully compiling the blanket email I’m going to send out to everyone in my adress book. I gave some of the postcards out on the school run, swallowing the embarassment of approaching people, and got three more pledges.
On Saturday, I was one of the organisers of Write by the Beach, a writers conference in Brighton at the truly gorgeous Angel House. We had 56 delegates and lots of speakers from the industry. It was a great success and I’ve been on a high ever since. In my duties as a co-organiser over the last few months, I have come to realise that if you ask people nicely for something they are almost always happy to oblige, and if they can’t, or don’t want to, the worst that can happen is that they say no. We had authors and agents, literary consultants and publishers all delighted to be a part of our little conference. We even finished off with a tasting event organised by Brighton Gin (it was a brilliant and delicious way to end the day!) I put one of my promotional postcards in each of the goodie bags in the hope that some of the delegates might be cajoled into pledging. I spoke to anyone who would listen about crowdfunding my book. There was a lot of interest. Perhaps with an eye on their own projects, a lot of people wanted to know how to go about crowdfunding and why it was different from vanity publishing. (The difference is that you have to submit to Unbound for consideration and then when you are fully funded your book is given the editorial attention of a traditional publisher.) Not that there is anything wrong with self-publishing. In one of the panel sessions sucessful authors Kate Harrison and Sarah Rayner talked about wanting to publish self help books but having to go it alone when they couldn’t find anyone to publish them. Kate’s book was about the 5:2 Diet (when no-one else had written anything about it) and Sarah’s was about Making Friends With Anxiety. Over-eating and anxiety are common author ailments, all that sitting alone typing all day long, fear, rejection, thoughts of inadequacy. Both books were incredibly sucessful and not just with writers! I was greatly inspired by the go for it attitude of both writers and the incredible success they achieved.
At the end of the day I also felt that I may have been a little harsh about agents and publishers in this diary. Those that attended Write by the Beach as speakers were helpful and approachable, all committed to their love of books and the search for great writing. The trouble is they have to make money or go bust and to do that in this climate you have to publish books that have more chance of selling ie. crime and celebrity endorsements. I do still think that there is some room for other forms, that the future of the publishing industry actually depends on there being some room for other forms, otherwise it is in danger of becoming very homogenized and boring. I didn’t speak to one person at the conference who didn’t like short stories. In fact, since I have been writing them, I’ve only met a couple of people who have turned their nose up, yet short stories are still considered unpopular. Please help me prove that this isn’t the case, pledge to my new collection on Unbound. I will be very grateful – did I mention there will be a launch party?
Araminta Hall, Bridget Whelan, Brighton, Catherine Quinn, competitions, Cornerstones Literary Agency New Writing South, David Headley, Emlyn Rees, Jo Rees, Kate Harrision, Laura Wilkinson, literature, Lizzie Enfield, Myriad Editions Julia Crouch, publishers, Rattle Tales, Rilke, Sharon Bowers, short stories, Simon Toyne, Simon Trewin, Small Batch, spoken word, starlings, Sue Teddern, The Angel House, The Beach Hut Writing Academy, The Short review, William Shaw, Write by the Beach, writing
And now we welcome the New Year. Full of things that have never been.
Rainer Maria Rilke
Isn’t that a glorious quote for the new year? January is a difficult month, everyone is full of lethargy and Christmas excess. This year it seems like all our heroes are dying. The weather is awful. The nights are long and dark. It’s hard to get motivated. For a writer it can be the most depressing time of year. I have often found it hard to get started. If I haven’t written for a couple of weeks, getting back into stride can feel like climbing a mountain. It’s all a matter of perspective of course, as Rilke’s quote illustrates. This year I am determined to see the new year not in terms of the past but in terms of what’s to come.
Rilke was himself was a wanderer, a traveller of no fixed location, he sought lovers and patronage and never truly settled. He moved from one possibilty to another, across Europe into the Middle East and Russia, back to Paris and then, fatefully,Switzerland where he died at 51 of leukemia. A short and packed life of longing and regret that produced breathtaking poetry. Read some.
This year my resolution isn’t to lose weight or drink less! I probably will, but under no pressure to do so, 2016 will instead be a year of action. I have plans. I have words to write and opportunities to exploit. I have a fully finished short story collection and a half finished novel. This year I will find an agent and a publisher and move things on and if I don’t find either I will move things on anyway. There is always a way. There are always things that have never been.
The first Rattle Tales show of 2016 takes place on Feb 16th at The Brunswick in Hove. We had an amazing response to our call for submissions and we are reading through them all now to come up with a programme as varied, entertaining and thought provoking as all our shows. Do come along and see what we are all about.
I am involved in two very exciting projects this year. Firstly, The Brighton Prize (of which I am a co-director) enters its third year and we are in a position to expand. The competition will go international for the first time and we are adding categories for flash fiction and local writers. I will have more information on this very soon but we recently asked for volunteers to help us develop the prize, and Rattle Tales in general, and were literally overwhelmed by the response. I’m really looking forward to the group taking this project forward and to working with new, talented and enthusiastic people.
I am also involved in The Beach Hut Writing Academy, a new writing school established by professional writers in Brighton. I did my first course for them last year, co-teaching on short story practice with Bridget Whelan, and it was a very enjoyable success. The new courses begin on Jan 21st with a Fiction Writing course run by best-selling author Aramanita Hall and then a TV and Radio course taught by Sue Teddern and Hannah Vincent. Our most ambitious plan for early 2016 is a writers conference in Brighton on March 12th. Write by the Sea will feature, best-selling authors, publishers and agents taking part in panel discussions, workshops and one to one pitches, all at the beautiful sea front venue The Angel House. We have agents Simon Trewin, David Headley and Sharon Bowers, Cornerstones Literary Agency, local publishers Myriad Editions, The Writer’s Guild of Great Britain, authors Simon Toyne, Julia Crouch, Lizzie Enfield, Laura Wilkinson, Araminta Hall, Catherine Quinn, Kate Harrison, Sarah Rayner, Sue Teddern, Bridget Whelan, Jo and Emlyn Rees, William Shaw and me. There will also be one to ones where you can pitch or discuss your current project. The full programme is available on our website and the early bird rate is in place until Jan 24th.
Before I had a publisher for Starlings I attended a similar event at The Jubilee Library run by New Writing South. I met other writers, agents and publishers and came away with a wealth of advice and contacts that really helped me get my book published. Rattle Tales is sponsoring a session on Writing A Prize-winning Short Story and so two worlds collide. You’d be crazy to miss it.