10 March 2015

Happen you might like this play

Now I'm working oop north, it means I can go to the Octagon for some of my theatre fixes, which is rather jolly good as I like a bit of "in the round" action, so to speak. I unfortunately managed to miss the critically acclaimed David Thacker-directed A View From The Bridge, but to kick off my new Bolton season, I have reviewed Hindle Wakes by Stanley Houghton, a member of the Manchester School of Drama famed for their realism in the early 20th century (I studied the play at uni, first time round, when I did a course on realism). By 'eck, they talk reet Northern. You can read my words of wisdom on The Manchester Review here. It's on until 21 March, so you still have time to catch it, if you happen to be in Bolton, happen.

12 February 2015

Happy Valentine's Day

This Valentine's Day, the Whitworth Art Gallery is inviting you to "fall in love again" as it reopens its doors to the public after a year and a half's worth of £15million renovations. And I promise there'll be something for you to fall in love with - if not the newly uncovered Victorian ceilings in the back galleries, if not the cafe in the trees run by The Modern Caterer with ingredients sourced from places like Frosts of Chorlton, if not the Promenade overlooking the Art Garden and Whitworth Park, if not the exhibitions (including Cornelia Parker's exploding shed in Cold Dark Matter, pictured), if not the pool of water, if not the never-before-seen be-beamed Grand Hall… if not any of these, it'll be because everyone's favourite spaces - the South Gallery and the Sculpture Hall - haven't suffered from re-modelling. Phew. Director of the gallery, Dr Maria Balshaw, could almost be described as giddily excited on the two-hour tour she led the press round yesterday - and rightly so. It might have run behind schedule (don't think we didn't notice the change of date), but it has been worth the wait. And tomorrow at 7.50pm things blast off with a special William Blake-inspired "meteor shower" firework display, featuring Parker tinkering with Manchester-discovered Graphene, the world's thinnest, strongest material. As the Whitworth is just down the road, I think it might become my new destination of choice. And as the cafe is open until 9.30pm Monday to Saturday (7pm on Sundays), it might become a suitable replacement for the soon-to-be-defunct Cornerhouse. Yay, a cultural cafe relay! Out with the old, in with the new…

21 January 2015

New review

I've reviewed the first anthology from Siren for Bookmunch. It's called Fugue, this book, and it includes a short story by my good friend Adrian Slatcher. See the rather lovely cover below and click through to my review here.

05 January 2015

Words and fixtures, quite literally

New year, new live lit night. Well, a new reincarnation. The live literature night Verbose is back with a new host (me) and a new format. Taking place on the fourth Monday of the month at my local gaff, Fallow café in Fallowfield, the event will feature performances by special guests, along with an open mic for folk to read their prose and poetry. It’s free entry and doors are at 7.30pm. Fallow café is at 2a Landcross Road, Fallowfield, M14 6NA. See http://verbosemcr.wordpress.com.

Bringing words to the 'burbs in the first half of 2015 are...

Monday 26 January featuring members of the Inklings writing group, which includes Elizabeth Baines, Sarah Butler, Sian Cummins, David Gaffney and Adrian Slatcher
Monday 23 February featuring independent publishing collective Curious Tales, which includes Jenn Ashworth, Tom Fletcher, Richard Hirst, Alison Moore and Emma Jane Unsworth
Monday 23 March featuring the #Flashtag writers, which includes David Hartley, Benjamin Judge, Tom Mason and Fat Roland
Monday 27 April featuring contributors to Confingo magazine, edited by Timothy Shearer
Monday 25 May featuring poems and short stories from the Centre for New Writing’s The Manchester Anthology, edited by Sarah-Clare Conlon
Monday 22 June featuring commissions from Nightjar Press, edited by Nicholas Royle 

06 November 2014

You may confer

Things have been a bit busy lately, what with running events, performing at events and promoting events, so not only has writing my novel fallen by the wayside, but updating this blog has also been parked on the proverbial grass verge. Sorry about that. Now, I know it's been a while since the Northern Lights Writers' Conference, but I can't let this great image of Will Self slip off unseen, especially as it gives me the perfect excuse to let you all know that he took a chug of my ciggie during the lunch break and was cantankerous, as has widely been reported (well, on the Manchester Literature Festival blog Chapter & Verse, at least), but, actually, I thought, quite helpful. Unless you are a genre writer or a student of journalism, in which case you probably went home and rethought your entire career strategy over a stiff drink or five. His advice that as a writer, you should write anything, pretty much, was sound - features and so forth; the more you put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard, the better you become at the actual craft, at meeting deadlines and at keeping to wordcounts.

Elsewhere at the NLWC - organised by Creative Industries Trafford as part of MLF and held at Waterside Arts Centre in Sale - canal poet laureate Jo Bell left at least one audience member dismayed by divulging that she spends about a third of her work time promoting herself (and others) through social media channels and whatnot. Well, no one is going to do it for you, are they? Unless you have a wad of cash you want to bung at a publicist or are really bloody famous and signed to a publisher with a fabulously enormous press office… Publicity cropped up in one of the afternoon workshops, run by Louise Rhind-Tutt, who kindly sent me a copy of the handout she shared with her group; another was on funding, led by David Gaffney, with both his writerly hat on and his Arts Council one. The third workshop was with Juliet Pickering, an agent with Blake Friedmann in that London, who explained the importance of covering letters and synopses, then patiently re-explained the importance of covering letter and synopses in the Q&A rounding up the session. Other speakers at the day-long event were prize-winning author Joanna Kavenna, with some useful writing tips, and children's literature agent Louise Lamont, backing up a lot of what Juliet had covered - hopefully people were listening this time round.

If you like the sound of this event, there's a similar one coming up in Chorley. Write Now - organised by Chorley & District Writers’ Circle - is all about getting published and has four speakers lined up: including author Carys Bray, a couple of publishers and a literary agent. It takes place Saturday 15 November, 1pm - 4.45pm. Tickets are £10 and are available via an Eventbrite link from the site www.chorleywriters.org.uk. Get on it!