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Writing projects in Cumbria, and the Borderlines Festival, Carlisle.

The books I bought at Borderlines Festival, Carlisle.

The books I bought at Borderlines Festival, Carlisle.

It’s been a while since my last blog post, my utmost apologies. I’ve been going through the motions of getting settled in Cumbria and joining the working world, so my blog posts have taken more of a hit than first expected.

In regards to writing, I am now writing for an online music journalism website called The Mixed Tape, which is very exciting! I’ve already reviewed a couple of things on there, so feel free to have a look to try and find me!

My creative writing projects have mainly been writing little bits when I can, but nothing huge. I’ve made a bit of progress with a novel idea thanks to a train journey last week, but other than that it’s mainly been poetry or small chunks of prose. It’s a habit I’m going to have to get back into, which is something I didn’t really want to do as a writer.

One fun thing I’ve done this month, however, was visit Carlisle for the Borderlines Festival on the 5th of September! I started the day at a Poetry Breakfast hosted by Malcolm Carson and John Lucas. It was a nice start to the day, sipping a cup of coffee surrounded by fellow poets. I even performed a couple of poems myself! It wasn’t the best place for it, however, because the Tullie House cafe had Museum guests enjoying a breakfast and having light conversation in the same room as the event. It would have been better in a smaller coffee shop that could let your voice carry a bit better, and even possibly have a microphone and speakers. It was still fun and I left with (another) poetry book for my book collection by John Lucas.

The next event was a lot more concerned with providing a guide for writers, as Marian Veevers (whose pen name is Anna Dean), where we looked at using local record offices for inspirations to crime novels. It was a lot of fun (after a few tech issues!) and the tasks were really interesting and insightful. Definitely something for me to consider when novel writing!

After lunch, I sat down to a talk by Tom Harper and Simon Toyne, who were talking about their latest novels (Black River and Solomon Creed, respectively) and how to write thrillers (without becoming Dan Brown). It was definitely my favourite event of the day, as they discussed fun stories, how to edit with fellow writers, the idea of using a location vs creating a location, and much more. I, again, left the event with a book. A signed first edition of Solomon Creed with some really lovely black trimmed pages. Definitely something I’m looking forward to reading!

The last event was listening to a book reading and talk by Katherine Norbury, who has recently released The Fish Ladder, which is part travelogue, part memoir, and was an interesting change in content from the other events.

The only problem, now, is that I have to wait until next year for the Borderlines festival to come back around (unless I go off on adventures to other reading and literary festivals in the future), but as a Borderlines Festival virgin, I was very much impressed.

I’ll be posting some updates about my writing in the near future, as well as typical rants and comment pieces more than likely working themselves onto here, too.

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States of Independence Review – De Montfort University, 14th March, 2015.

Logo owned by States Of Independence

Logo owned by States Of Independence

On Saturday, I went along to the annual States Of Independence book festival in Leicester, hosted by the Leicester Centre for Creative Writing and Five Leaves Bookstore from Nottingham.

I went to the festival last year and it was a lovely day, but this year was extra special, the official launch of the novelette I co-wrote, Going Nowhere, and I was selling it at the festival along with fellow students’ work.

The day got off to a great start, the official launch of the publications. This featured readings or summaries of each book, and a chance to sell our books for the first time, which was very exciting! Unfortunately, this meant that I have to miss out on a talk about Leicester murders, but I’m glad I had the opportunity to go up with my co-authors, Charlotte and Thom, and read extracts from the book we worked so hard towards.

Photograph by Ambrose Musiyiwa - CivicLeicester

Photograph by Ambrose Musiyiwa – CivicLeicester

The next event I went to was The Speculators – A Model for Tea Drinking and Writing. The name pretty much sold it to me. It was an interesting talk, with conversations about the Leicester based writing group and how they came to be, as well as conversations about Fantasy and Sci-fi, which were also interesting. It wasn’t what I expected, but that isn’t a bad thing! I also want to apologise to the people at WORD! for missing their talk, I’m sure it was a lot of fun, as it always is!

Next up was Rod Duncan’s Steampunk Safari, which was probably my favourite event of the day. He ran through lots of different aspects to Steampunk culture, from video gaming, to cosplay, to Steampunk literature! (Though the last one was expected, given his Phillip K. Dick award nominated Steampunk book, The Bullet Catcher’s Daughter.)
The talk was very interesting and Rod covered a lot of ground (impressive for 40 minutes…), and definitely opened my eyes a lot more to Steampunk. The event ended with a delightful extract from Rod’s book, before answering a few questions from the audience.

Photograph by Ambrose Musiyiwa - CivicLeicester

Photograph by Ambrose Musiyiwa – CivicLeicester

Torn between a talk on Doctor Who and the future of future-fic, I decided to go with the latter, and saw Alex Davis cover the tricky subject of what’s going to happen to dystopian, fantasy, and sci-fi novels in the future, and, potentially, all novels in the future. This resulted in a great discussion between the crowd and Alex, the man who runs Boo Books in Derby, and was a very thought-provoking and interesting talk, especially to those who are writers and readers of future-fic, such as myself.

Photograph by Ambrose Musiyiwa - CivicLeicester

Photograph by Ambrose Musiyiwa – CivicLeicester

Last but not least, we have the delightful East Midlands Book Awards Shortlist! A pretty much packed lecture theatre watched over glasses (okay, plastic cups) of wine as the nominees were announced, followed by a short reading from each of their books. To my surprise, one of my current course tutors, Rod Duncan, was announced in the shortlist with The Bullet Catcher’s Daughter! Even though this resulted in hearing the same passage from the book that we heard at Steampunk Safari, it was great to see that he was a contender! Another nominee which was a surprise for my friend was Kim Slater, with her book, Smart! Both are great contenders for the book, so I wish them both the best of luck!

Photograph by Ambrose Musiyiwa - CivicLeicester

Photograph by Ambrose Musiyiwa – CivicLeicester

Then it goes on to the book stalls at the festival. As usual, the festival was filled with tables full of books all around the ground floor of DMU’s Clephan building. It was a beautiful sight for readers, not so much for the bank accounts of said readers. I started out by buying other publications by fellow students. These were Let Me Explain by Graeme Tait and Adam Womersley, The Other Half of Me by Jennifer Masters, A Citizens’ Guide to Lungsod by Maw (Matt Watts), Jamp (James Parnell), and Suzwo (Suzi Woolley), and The Nemophilist by M. Haggerty-Wood and Gryphon Moffat! I will comment and cover their books on a separate post some other time.

Third Year DMU Students' publications

Third Year DMU Students’ publications

Next book I bought was After The Fall, which is an anthology of short stories about what would happen if technology failed us, and the effects it had on the world. This is an anthology by Boo Books, and it features work by Adam Roberts, Allen Ashley, Mike Chinn, Caren Gussoff, and more.

Boo Books anthology, After The Fall

Boo Books anthology, After The Fall

After that, I got Kim Slater’s book, Smart, after the shortlist was announced, and got it signed by the author. It’s the story of a teenager with learning difficulties who finds a body of a homeless man, who then decides to investigate when the police don’t care. It has been compared to The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time, and looks like a fantastic read.

Smart and Incognitum definitely win my choice of best cover designs!

Smart and Incognitum definitely win my choice of best cover designs!

Then it comes to the poetry books. The first purchase was Incognitum by Aubrie Marrin. What first attracted me to the book is its absolutely beautiful cover. The poetic content inside was just as fantastic, too. I am very excited to read through it.

The next few poetry books were all one large purchase. Nine Arches Press had a 3 for 2 sale, so I kinda did that. Extra poetry books (or just books in general) are a great way to get me to buy things

The first book I picked up was Earth Records by Alistair Noon. It looks at place, and, like the title suggests, has content which covers most of the world with a turn of the page. The next was Issue 14 of Under The Radar. I’ve wanted to buy previous issues of this anthology but never got around to doing so, so it was good to finally get a copy. The third book (that I was also looking at before Earth Records) is After the Goldrush by Peter Carpenter. Just flicking through it, I found some great poetry, and was definitely worth getting.

Nine Arches Press' poetry books!

Nine Arches Press’ poetry books!

Overall, States of Independence was a fantastic (yet costly) day for me. As usual, it delivered a large amount of culture and book related fun right on my doorstep, bringing the East Midlands writing community together for an entire day of talks, book launches, shortlist announcements, and more. The only problem is we have to wait until next year to do it all over again.

Photograph by Ambrose Musiyiwa - CivicLeicester

Photograph by Ambrose Musiyiwa – CivicLeicester

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