Yesterday I went along to Wellington Library for a free Writer Networking session run by Writing West Midlands. For no money whatsoever I was given two wonderful hours of talks, questions and answers, and chances to chat one to one with the two speakers, and with our host, Jonathan Davidson
Go to : http://www.writingwestmidlands.org/events/
The first speaker was Pauline Fisk – who I have been lucky enough to meet before- but I realised, as she spoke, I knew very little about…
I knew she had won the Smarties award for her book Midnight Blue – and quite right too! Although it’s a book for children – I have really enjoyed it because its main female character is three dimensional, with flaws and unlikeable bits to her character, and it is a fully rounded exciting story which does not dumb down or patronise. I really recommend it!
Her description of her writing career was so inspiring – she talked about the desire, the need to write – and how she is forced to do some things (like visiting Gap Year students, in Berlize, that were protected by armed guards as they did conservation work – to write the book IN THE TREES) because of this desire/ need that she just couldn’t shake off.
And she talked about her most recent book BEHIND CLOSED DOORS in an English Country Town – based on a blog she decided to write for a year called “My tonight from Shrewsbury” – that attracted readers all over the world – showing what universal appeal a description of local can hold – in the right hands. I have read some of the blog – but can’t wait to read this !
The second speaker was Simon Thirsk, chairman and founder director of Bloodaxe Books – one of UK’s largest and most respected poetry publishers.
What I didn’t know was that he has also written a novel called NOT QUITE WHITE – which was shortlisted for the 2010 Costa Book Awards !
I am most definitely going to buy the book – especially as the judges said ” we all found this novel endlessly funny and constantly surprising”
and this is probably a rather good description of the man himself. Wow. I soaked up his reminiscing of life early on with Bloodaxe, the poets they have worked with over the years, and funding difficulties that even a literary giant such as themselves live with. He is such a likeable man, but with a sharp clear mind; and a wicked sense of humour.
Jonathan Davidson – is a tireless, generous, approachable polymath. He is known by most people in the region as the Chief Executive of Writing West Midlands
He won an Eric Gregory Award in 1990
His first collection of poetry, The Living Room, was published by Arc Publications in 1994. He has published two poetry pamphlets, Moving the Stereo (Jackson’s Arm, 1993) and A Horse Called House (Smith/Doorstop, 1997)
and his most recent collection EARLY TRAIN (Smith/Doorstop 2011) is one of my very favourite poetry books that I return to over and over.
His radio plays have been broadcast on BBC Radio 3 and 4, along with radio adaptations of Geoffrey Hill’s Merican Hymns and W.S.Graham’s The Nightfishing. His stage adaptation of Mary Webb’s novel Precious Bane was produced by Interplay Theatre and toured extensively in 2008 and 2009.
He is director of Midland Creative Projects Limited, for whom he recently produced the theatre production Being Human; and has just launched The Hundred Years’ War – A Poetry in Performance Show – watch out for it !!
I was concerned at one point that the audience was going to turn into the “yes- but” kind of crowd… yes – but you know someone, so that’s why you have succeeded and I haven’t – kind of thing – you must have encountered this?
… but how could they – with these three wonderful hard-working people in the room?
And as Simon Thirsk said – write for the love of it.
Thank you all x