“Love Across a Broken Map” launch

I’m a member of The Whole Kahani, a collective of South Asian writers. Earlier last year, we are approached by Dahlia Publishing to put stories forward for an anthology that the press was considering putting out.

We workshopped quite a number of stories, and although not all of them could be included, finally came up with what I think is a pretty good, thematically consistent collection. The overarching theme was “love, longing and friendship” – so a fairly wide range of stories could be considered eligible!

Once the stories had been workshopped, Dahlia Press considered our list, and put together a working copy of the anthology. After a good few iterations, we’re proud to have had the launch of The Whole Kahani’s first anthology: Love Across a Broken Map!

The launch took place in May in the Nehru Centre, which is a fantastic location. Authors read excerpts from their stories, and took questions at the end. There are some official photos coming soon, but here’s a sneak preview of me reading from my story, “Watermelon Seeds”. Many thanks to Dahlia Publishing and to the other members of The Whole Kahani for putting together such a fabulous anthology!

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Words and Women

And to continue catching up, way back in March I was very pleased to be included in the third Words and Women anthology. These showcase the work of women writers in the east of England, and are published by Unthank books. Unfortunately, I seem to have put my copy of the anthology in a Very Safe Place, so here’s a picture of the first one instead:

 

20160705_WWThe launch was held in Norwich, so my husband and I went up for the weekend. If you haven’t been, it’s definitely worth a visit! There are loads of literary events on this summer, and the Norwich Writers’ Centre is a great site for information.

Of course, there’s also the Words and Women blog itself. This has information on competitions, festivals, submission opportunities and workshops. Have a look, and for those of you who are eligible, keep an eye out for next year’s competition call.

Creative Writing MA

So it’s been a very long time since I posted anything here – long enough for me to have forgotten how to actually log in!

So what’s been happening since then?

Firstly, I’ve enrolled in a Creative Writing MA at City University, to begin in September. The City MA is slightly different from many others, because it focuses on completing a novel. To that end there are no modules on writing plays, articles, poems or short stories. Each year the students publish an anthology, and I’ve been lucky enough to grab a copy of last year’s. Curiously, I can’t actually find out where you’d buy them – if you have any idea, let me know!

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Fugue II anthology launch

Friday was the launch of the Fugue II anthology, from Siren Press. The editor, Lucy, organised a fantastic evening of reading, wine, nibbles and – of course – books, at Enitharmon Editions in London.

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Fugue I had some wonderful reviews from, amongst others, Sabotage Reviews. Reading the other stories on the tube home, Fugue II seems a worthy successor. The stories include a macabre and beautiful Northern-set tale of an abbatoir, a zombie outbreak, Edvard Munch, a lesson plan gone wrong and a dream house that is far from what it seems. As well as me, the other authors are Catherine McNamara, Sally Oliver, Clare Fisher, Brandon Robshaw, Darren Lee, L.D. Lapinski and Alyson Hallett. Very pleased to be in their company!

I’m also pleased to have found a home here in Fugue II for my story Spring Tides. This was a very enjoyable piece to write, and I think it’s a perfect fit for the offbeat nature of the Fugue anthologies.

The stories were supplemented by some absolutely amazing artwork by Alexandru Savescu. Here’s me with the picture he drew for my story:

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All in all, a fantastic evening, and many thanks to Lucy and the Siren team for all their hard work! Their website is definitely worth checking out at http://www.thesiren.co.uk/ for some more books and upcoming event info.

Updates and catching up

So this blog has been languishing for far too long, reaching for its smelling salts and swooning at the touch of fresh air. Hopefully this will be just the pick-me-up it needs to start pulling its socks up and being a decent member of society.

So what’s been happening since the last update?

* The launch of the Siren Press Fugue II anthology is on 24th July, and I’m lucky enough to have a story in there. Siren Press is an independent press based in the UK, and the first edition of their Fugue anthology series was a huge success. The launch is in Enitharmon Editions in London (at http://www.enitharmon.co.uk/) and you can get tickets for free at https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/book-launch-fugue-vol-ii-tickets-17330114840. Here’s the publicity poster – doesn’t it look good?

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* I’ve been fortunate enough to win the 2015 Asian Writer Short Story Competition. This story was a particular favourite of mine, and it’s been revamped a number of times before I felt it was right. Have a look at http://theasianwriter.co.uk/competition/ for next year’s competition; it’s a good one to win!

* I also won the 2015 Winchester Writers Festival short story competition. Very pleased with this one, although I couldn’t make it to the festival. It’s definitely worth going to if you can make it, though, and they had the brilliant Sebastian Faulks as a guest speaker this year. You can find more information at http://writersfestival.co.uk/

* Shortlists have also included the Rubery Book Award short story prize, the Fiction Desk Newcomer prize and the WriteIdea prize. Here’s a photo from the WriteIdea prizegiving ceremony. The fabulous Melanie Whipman is on the left of the picture, then me, and the amazingly talented row of Tracy Fells, Farrah Yusuf and Rowena Macdonald. Alex Wheatle was the dedicated and tireless judge.

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Midsummer Opera performance

A very belated update, but a few weeks ago I played in the Midsummer Opera performance of Puccini’s La Fanciulla Del West. It was held at St John’s Church in Waterloo, which is an absolutely beautiful venue. The acoustics are great (why do I always want to spell that with two ‘c’s?), and the church itself is very imposing.

Zoe South played Minnie, and John Upperton was Dick Johnson (Ramerrez). Special acclaim to Zoe for singing while recovering from a chest infection! Also a special mention has to go to the Midsummer Opera Men’s Chorus, who were standing at the back of the violins. When you’re sawing away at some of the more emphatic sforzando bits, it’s always a help to be joined by what sounds like the massed ranks of the Russian Army! Some wonderful singing.

Also, of course, David Roblou as conductor is a force to be reckoned with. He managed to keep an entire hall spellbound for two nights, and a sell-out audience. Keep an eye on http://www.midsummeropera.org.uk/ for the date of the next performance, and come along to have a look!

Willesden Herald Short Story Results and Launch

Last night I went to the results and launch event of the Willesden Herald Short Story Prize 2014, and a Good Time Was Had By All ™. Some of the stories were performed by the Liars’ League (http://www.liarsleague.com/liars_league/about_the_league.html) which is a liaison between professional actors and short story writers. They have branches in London, Hong Kong, New York and Leicester, so if you’re globe-trotting then do check them out!

My story Rock Pools was read by the lovely Helen Belbin, who brought a depth of perspective and realism to it that blew me away.

Here we are in the interval:

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Other stories included Megan Taylor’s Rash – which had half the audience members surreptitiously scratching – Dan Powell’s Rip Rap, Angela Sherlock’s Postman’s Knock, Joan Brennan’s Such is her Power, and Nick Holdstock’s Ward. Huge congratulations to the overall winner Nick Holdstock, and the runners-up Angela Sherlock and Joan Brennan!

Charles Lambert was the judge this year, and said a lot of awfully nice things about the stories. I dipped into the anthology on the way back, and can thoroughly recommend it! If you’d like to buy it, it’s available from http://www.amazon.co.uk/Willesden-Herald-New-Short-Stories/dp/0985213337/

Of course, many thanks go to Stephen Moran for coordinating and organising the event, as well as reading the entries. If you’d like to enter the next one, keep an eye on http://www.willesdenherald.com/competition/welcome.php for submission dates.