Category Archives: Books

Libraries Week 5th-10th Oct.

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Follow on Twitter @librariesweek to stay up to date with this year’s campaign. A good way to discover what your local library is up to, or further afield (the joy of online).

The main website is here http://www.librariesweek.org.uk/libraries-hub/

Inspiration, ideas and resources:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/articles/h6KWK7cc2BcQvWVqhtM0Zq/the-novels-that-shaped-our-world

The panel have chosen these novels on the theme of Identity: Beloved by Toni Morrison; Days Without End by Sebastian Barry; Fugitive Pieces by Anne Michaels; Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie; Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi; Small Island by Andrea Levy; The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath; The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy; Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe; White Teeth by Zadie Smith

© 2020 BBC

https://readingagency.org.uk/hub/

I have been amazed at the Library Service over this time, they have offered so much to us all in isolation. We are back to renewing our books online ourselves, which means the library is open again! Whoop!

Hay Festival Digital 2020 The Outstanding Moments

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I am delighted that Lockdown has brought Creatives out in force, there have been so many festivals, workshops and opportunities and it is also a way of supporting each other (those millions of self-employed, some of whom are artists) and a way of rallying together to lift spirits and improve people’s mental health during this isolation, during this fear of the pandemic, during this strange time that none of us have experienced before. And this week was the turn of Hay.

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The Hay Festival is one of the world’s top literary festivals, staged in the small town on the Wales-England border. ©2011 BBC 

It is well known to be a particularly pricey festival, it is epic and brilliant if you have a chance to experience it in real life – I have always loved Hay-on-Wye (famous for all the bookshops – Richard Booth is credited with transforming the town into a global attraction for second-hand book lovers after opening his first shop in 1962) and I love the Hay Festival, the tents, events, atmosphere, joy and buoyancy you will experience there cannot be compared to many things other than a sugar rush! Some others have said it more eloquently!

Memorable quotes at the festival: “The Woodstock of the Mind” – former US President Bill Clinton.

“In my mind it’s replaced Christmas” – former Labour cabinet minister Tony Benn.

“One of the finest, most thought-provoking literary gatherings I’ve ever attended” – Junot Díaz, Dominican-American writer and creative writing professor. © BBC

HAY BANNER

However, it is not one I can afford to attend every year. I fully expected the events to be ticketed so waited expectantly for the programme to be released and was OVERJOYED (Yes! I’m shouting) when they provided it all for FREE! That in itself is astonishing.

I know they all wished it could be happening as normal, but let’s face it – there is not much that is normal anymore. I honestly didn’t feel like I was screen bound and experiencing a digital festival. It had the real Hay feeling. It helps that they could use the HAY music and screens that would have been playing in the tents as we found our seats. Although HAY is a HUGE festival, the tents don’t take 100,000 visitors and they had an international audience of over 10,000 at the big events and on average I was watching with around 5000 other people, some of whom will never experience Hay and so have had a true blessing to get a little of the 2020 action digitally. Hay has over 250,000 during the course of the week, but I think data for this year will sky rocket that!

I know a whole team was involved in decision making but using Crowd Cast was a good move, chat can be turned off and the screen can (as with the entire internet) be full screen, our lounge furniture is infinitely more comfortable than auditorium seating (although it’s not bad), refreshments were free and MOST importantly sessions were short (suiting the human attention span) and there were intervals between. Perfect.

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I missed some events I wanted to see but hope to subscribe to the Hay Player later in the year when I have a cash flow that can be spent beyond mortgage, household bills and food.

The events I saw were well worth it and because the programme was open and unlimited I attended talks I wouldn’t have chosen, extending my learning and experience//field. It was a most enjoyable week, a busy one already – but busy right now, is good!

I had some particular favourite events and moments from the week. Some real highlights and gold-dust and I realise how subjective this list is – but here it is anyway, in chronological order because trying to do an actual Top 10 is an impossible feat and those who read on will notice it is a less-than-Top-10-Top-list!  The dates link back to the AWF blog reviews:

MY GOLDEN HAY

Friday 22nd May

Wordsworth 250: A Night in with the Wordsworths

ALL STAR CASTintroduced by Shahidha Bari with readings by Simon ArmitageMargaret AtwoodBenedict CumberbatchMonty DonLisa DwanInua EllamsStephen FryTom HollanderToby JonesHelen McCroryJonathan Pryce and Vanessa Redgrave.

 

 

 

Saturday 23rd May 

Jonathan Bate

THE POET WHO CHANGED THE WORLD: WILLIAM WORDSWORTH AND THE ROMANTIC REVOLUTION

 

 

 

Sunday 24th May 

Without hestitation…

Inua Ellams

AN EVENING WITH AN IMMIGRANT IN A TIME OF PANDEMIC – OR AT LEAST A HALF HOUR

and watching this multiple award winning poet win another one – The Hay Poetry Prize – was a very special treat! I love that he had no idea and thousands of people watched his expression of shock and felt his words of gratitude.

The film itself is amazing and another book for the birthday wish list. I am delighted that he was honoured/recognised by Hay, much deserved for this immensely hardworking poet.

 

 

 

Wednesday 27th May

Jackie Morris

PAINTING THE LOST WORDS

 

 

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Thursday 28th May

Claudia Hammond talks to Guto Harri

THE ART OF REST

 

 

I got a chance to try it the next day (which was extremely busy) I had 10 minutes of absolute rest and it powered me through a whole afternoon’s list of To Do.

 

And another absolute gem. The deliverer of gold-dust himself, Roger Robinson. I think if there was a Top 10 there would be a joint winner!

Peter Frankopan and Roger Robinson

THE ROYAL SOCIETY OF LITERATURE ONDAATJE PRIZE

 

 

An additional joy of this event was the feed – people who have never read Roger or heard him talk/read. Reading their reactions was like discovering rain has turned to gold. Such a rich experience. And I knew, having met the man, spoken with him, read him, I was buckled in and ready!

 

Saturday 30th May

Allie Esiri, Helena Bonham Carter and Dominic West

SHAKESPEARE FOR EVERY DAY OF THE YEAR

 

 

 

This event, Inua Ellams and Roger Robinson were all re-watched. They just had to be!

 

What an incredible week of Digital Hay 2020 it has been!

 

RELATED LINK:

Hay Festival Blog

The Last Day of Hay – 31st May

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During the last weekend of Hay I was working hard on some deadlines of my own (more on that soon) so apologies for the delay in posting the last day of events (31st May). We also had an incredible mini-heatwave and the rain was already forecast, so the garden was calling too. You all got Hay Player though? £10 for a year, archived material from the mid-90s.

I had to watch the Shakespeare event from last night again because it was so enjoyable, delightful, well presented, theatrical and a such a feast that you need to have a second helping at least. It was a gorgeous event – and certainly made it to my Top 10!

Also there is something magical about Shakespeare in the morning!

Allie Esiri, Helena Bonham Carter and Dominic West in SHAKESPEARE FOR EVERY DAY OF THE YEAR.

 

William Shakespeare wrote at least 37 plays, 154 sonnets and a handful of longer poems and you can discover them all here. Each page of this unique collection contains an extract, which might be a famous poem, quote or scene, matched to the date. Allie Esiri’s introductions give her readers a new window into the work, time and life of the greatest writer in the English language.

Shakespeare for Every Day of the Year is perfect for reading or sharing and brings you Shakespeare’s best-known and best-loved classics alongside lesser known extracts. Esiri’s entertaining and insightful thoughts on each entry will fill your year with wonder, laughter, wisdom and wit.

Publisher: Pan Macmillan 
ISBN: 9781509890323 
© Waterstones 2020

This is definitely on the birthday list! Get your copy here.

I also re-watched David Mitchell talks to John Mitchinson, mainly because the sound kept dipping out yesterday and it also clashed with an event I was involved in.

HAY DAY 12 DAVID MITCHELL UTOPIA

It was a fun discussion about the book Utopia Avenue, music and the writing process and I wanted to give it my full attention. 

 

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On Sunday afternoon I watched Hallie Rubenhold and Lisa Taddeo. It was an interesting interview/discussion on the politics of gender.

Hallie Rubenhold and Lisa Taddeo

EIGHT WOMEN

Virtual venue: Baillie Gifford Digital Stage

A conversation between the authors of two of the most successful non-fiction books of current times.

Rubenhold’s Ballie Gifford Prize-winning The Five is a reclamation of the lives of the women murdered by Jack the Ripper, and is the subject of a recent Hay Festival podcast.

Taddeo’s Three women is a record of unmet needs, unspoken thoughts, disappointments, hopes and unrelenting obsessions.:

All Lina wanted was to be desired. How did she end up in a marriage with two children and a husband who wouldn’t touch her?
All Maggie wanted was to be understood. How did she end up in a relationship with her teacher and then in court, a hated pariah in her small town?
All Sloane wanted was to be admired. How did she end up a sexual object of men, including her husband, who liked to watch her have sex with other men and women?

Chaired by Stephanie Merritt.

 

 

I then caught up with this event, with Diana Beresford-Kroeger. I knew about the importance of trees and how they communicate. This aspect of nature has been in my research radar for a few years and has manifested in poetry for various nature//eco projects.

Diana Beresford-Kroeger

BLACK MOUNTAINS COLLEGE LECTURE 2020

Virtual venue: Llwyfan Cymru Digidol – Wales Digital Stage

The renowned Canadian botanist, biochemist and visionary has underpinned a quiet revolution in the way that we see trees. Her research includes the discovery of mother trees at the heart of a forest; the fact that trees are a living library, have a chemical language and communicate in a quantum world; the major idea that trees heal living creatures through the aerosols they release and that they carry a great wealth of natural antibiotics and other healing substances; and, perhaps most significantly, that planting trees can actively regulate the atmosphere and the oceans, and even stabilize our climate. In this talk she tells the story of how she came to uncover these startling insights of tree function and behaviour and explains why healthy intact forests are essential to the survival of humans on planet earth.

Black Mountains College asks: What is an education for the future? We know that the way we live our lives is broken and BMC  has designed an undergraduate degree dedicated to changing it.  Underpinned by neuroscience, the teaching methods, contextual learning, the collaborative culture and interdisciplinary curriculum will maximise the potential of students to re-engineer our society and systems for the better. Diana Beresford-Kroeger embodies exactly the kind of maverick inter-disciplinary thinking that BMC aims to foster.

Chaired by Owen Sheers and introduced by Ben Rawlence.

 

 

 

And I finished Hay with my ticket live to watch Sandi Toksvig close the festival.

It was everything I thought it would be entertaining, amusing, hard hitting, informative and necessary!

Sandi Toksvig talks to Lennie Goodings

BETWEEN THE STOPS

Virtual venue: Baillie Gifford Digital Stage

The View of My Life from the Top of the Number 12 Bus: the long-awaited memoir from the star of QI and The Great British Bake Off.


HAY LAST DAY SANDI

Hay Festival The Final Weekend

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Once again I had the joy of catching events in real time. Starting with Hilary Mantel – which was an audio only event. Hay have been great at managing all sorts of event set ups digitally this year. It is wonderful to see people from all over the world too and over 10,000 people watching and that doesn’t include the overflow for these popular weekend events!

It will be released as a podcast next week if you miss the Overstream on You Tube or were unable to view. It was magical to hear her talk about her characters and the tricks of memories. Giving characters worthy opponents.

‘Finding an imaginative truth’ (Peter on using History). Hilary talks about the inventions used in the story, the personal and private life historic figures as well as dealing with multiple and differing accounts.

It was a fascinating and well structured interview. Love Hilary for admitting that she is a ‘paper cook’ (reading the recipes and not cooking them). me too! Although I don’t fancy most of the historical dishes I know of.

“If you knock on those doors your characters are always there waiting for you.”

Hilary Mantel talks to Peter Florence

THE MIRROR AND THE LIGHT

Virtual venue: Baillie Gifford Digital Stage

The novelist discusses the final volume of her Thomas Cromwell trilogy. Both Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies won the Booker Prize. Spoiler alert – please save this gig for when you’ve finished the book…

You can hear Hilary Mantel discuss Bring Up the Bodies at Hay 2012 on HayPlayer

IT WILL BE RELEASED AS THE HAY FESTIVAL PODCAST ON THURSDAY 4 JUNE

This event will be audio only in a special edition of the Hay Festival Podcast
HAY Day 12 Hilary Mantel
Hilary, like Inua Ellams(Poetry) earlier in the week also picked up the Hay Prize for Prose, unfortunately as this was pre-recorded audio we didn’t get to witness her response, but she did send a message.
I was really looking forward to take a break today with this one, recorded and beamed again to over 10,000 people and Allie was live with us on chat, which was special – like Jackie Morris the other day.
Great idea for Shakespeare every day of the year. Allie was amusing and informative and she was reading from her book, I know a fair bit and still learnt more. This is a read anybody who enjoys Shakespeare will cherish. It is also clever how the calendar days and chosen text reflect significant modern events. I cherished this event.
Dominic West brought Shakespeare alive for us and made it look easy! Helena as Shylock was brilliant – I am so glad that they did it this way, after all in Shakespeare’s day boys had to play the female roles.
And they included sonnets!
I had to miss part of the live event due to overlapping double bookings (even in Lockdown)! But I planned to re-watch it all again anyway. It was a highlight event – superb!
And I now have another book to add to my Birthday wish list!
‘Shakespeare anchors us to our humanity.’

Allie Esiri, Helena Bonham Carter and Dominic West

SHAKESPEARE FOR EVERY DAY OF THE YEAR

Virtual venue: Baillie Gifford Digital Stage

Take a journey through the year with Shakespeare, and join curator Allie Esiri and acclaimed actors for this illuminating celebration of the greatest writer in the English language. The show will include insights into Shakespeare’s work and times alongside dazzling readings of some of his best-loved – and lesser known – scenes, soliloquies and sonnets.

IF THE CROWDCAST REGISTRATION FOR THIS EVENT IS FULL. It was also streamed LIVE on the You Tube channel. 

 

 

I knew I would already be in a different place on the internet when this started but I decided to catch some of it live and then do a catch up watch later – because a new book from David Mitchell is a treat.

 

David Mitchell talks to John Mitchinson

UTOPIA AVENUE – EXCLUSIVE HAY PREVIEW

Virtual venue: Baillie Gifford Digital Stage

‘The great rock and roll novel – an epic love letter to the greatest music ever made and the book the music has always deserved’ Tony Parsons.

Utopia Avenue might be the most curious British band you’ve never heard of.

Emerging from London’s psychedelic scene in 1967, folksinger Elf Holloway, blues bassist Dean Moss, guitar virtuoso Jasper de Zoet and jazz drummer Griff Griffin together created a unique sound, with lyrics that captured their turbulent times. The band produced only two albums in two years, yet their musical legacy lives on.

This is the story of Utopia Avenue’s brief, blazing journey from Soho clubs and draughty ballrooms to the promised land of America, just when the Summer of Love was receding into something much darker – a multi-faceted tale of dreams, drugs, love, sexuality, madness and grief; of stardom’s wobbly ladder and fame’s Faustian pact; and of the collision between youthful idealism and jaded reality as the Sixties drew to a close.

Above all, this bewitching novel celebrates the power of music to connect across divides, define an era and thrill the soul.

David Mitchell’s novels include Number9Dream, Cloud Atlas, Black Swan Green, The Bone Clocks, Slade House and The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet. Q&A.

John Mitchinson is the founder of the innovative publisher Unbound.

 

 

 

I have been looking forward to this since I booked tickets but the buffering made it almost impossible to watch in real time. Considering it was a recorded event it didn’t feel like it and I enjoyed the readings and music.

Polly Samson and David Gilmour

A THEATRE FOR DREAMERS

Virtual venue: Baillie Gifford Digital Stage

A special performance and Q&A with the novelist and guitarist celebrating A Theatre for Dreamers.  1960. The world is dancing on the edge of revolution, and nowhere more so than on the Greek island of Hydra, where a circle of poets, painters and musicians live tangled lives, ruled by the writers Charmian Clift and George Johnston, troubled king and queen of bohemia. Forming within this circle is a triangle: its points the magnetic, destructive writer Axel Jensen, his dazzling wife Marianne Ihlen, and a young Canadian poet named Leonard Cohen.

Into their midst arrives teenage Erica, with little more than a bundle of blank notebooks and her grief for her mother. Settling on the periphery of this circle, she watches, entranced and disquieted, as a paradise unravels.

Burning with the heat and light of Greece, A Theatre for Dreamers is a spellbinding novel about utopian dreams and innocence lost – and the wars waged between men and women on the battlegrounds of genius.

This event is prerecorded, but there will be a  live Q&A afterwards.

 

Hay Festival Bank Holiday

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Bank Holiday Monday saw lots of Hay events which I was interested in. This digital version of the festival means I have been able to attend many more events than I would have managed in real life, both on a financial basis and time restrictions. I have enjoyed experiencing Hay for real and there is no way that can be recreated digitally but this year’s festival has taken on a new version of brilliance. I am particularly loving the international reach and those who are physically unable to attend the real festival being part of the events. When you catch the events live, it feels as special as watching the live stage and if you’re busy at the scheduled time you have a whole day to catch up!

The final Trans.MISSION II event was great. It focused on the DRY project in the UK, looking at grasslands and global warming and included a wonderful animation project showing the overarching project. Adaptation and transformation.

Sarah Ayling, Lindsey McEwen and Patrice Lawrence in conversation with Andy Fryers

TRANS.MISSION II: DROUGHTS AND WATER SCARCITY IN THE UK – LAUNCH OF THE TRANS.MISSION II ANIMATION WITH CHRIS HAUGHTON

Virtual venue: Llwyfan Cymru Digidol – Wales Digital Stage

Hay Festival and the UK Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) present Trans.MISSION II, a new global project pairing leading environmental researchers with award-winning storytellers to communicate cutting-edge science to new audiences.

The UK strand of the Trans.MISSION of the project features writer Patrice Lawrence and a team of experts led by Dr Sarah Ayling and Professor Lindsey McEwen. Using Dr Ayling’s work as inspiration, Patrice has a piece of creative writing to highlight the issues around UK droughts and water scarcity. Dr Sarah Ayling is a plant physiologist based at the Department of Geography and Environmental Management at UWE, Bristol. She has studied the effects of drought and the root environment on plant growth in the UK, USA and Australia. Prof Lindsey McEwen is Professor of Environmental Management within the Department of Geography and Environmental Management at the UWE, Bristol, and Director of the Centre for Water, Communities and Resilience.  Patrice Lawrence is a British writer and journalist, who has published fiction both for adults and children. Her writing has won awards including the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize for Older Children and The Bookseller YA Book Prize.

The story that Patrice has created is called “Day Zero and Chips” and will be launched on 25 May.

The overarching strand of the Trans.MISSION II project is a new animation by award-winning illustrator and author Chris Haughton. Chris has taken the three stories, written by Erika Stockholm (Peru), Juan Cardenas (Colombia) and Patrice Lawrence (UK) and responded with an illustrated animation, drawing together the main themes and commonalities that the research in these three countries is revealing.

I have always been interested in life in other parts of the world, cultural/revolutions and stories based in real experiences. This is a harrowing story where millions of families lost loved ones due to action from this time. I enjoyed hearing about Lan Yan’s relatives and a little of their stories too. Yan talks about herself as a witness to the history. Philippe Sands says writing the book is an act of civil courage, I would have to agree.

Courage, resilience and keep hope (lessons her Grandfather passed to them).

In all misfortune events you can always draw some positive energy (what her grandmother taught her).

It is a profound interview.

Lan Yan talks to Philippe Sands

HOUSE OF LAN: A FAMILY AT THE HEART OF A CENTURY IN CHINESE HISTORY

Virtual venue: Llwyfan Cymru Digidol – Wales Digital Stage

The history of the Yan family is inseparable from the history of China over the last century. One of the most influential businesswomen of China today, Lan Yan grew up in the company of the country’s powerful elite, including Zhou Enlai, Deng Xiaoping, and other top leaders. Her grandfather, Yan Baohang, originally a nationalist and close to Chiang Kai-shek and his wife, Soong May-ling, later joined the communists and worked as a secret agent for Zhou Enlai during World War II. Lan’s parents were diplomats, and her father, Yan Mingfu, was Mao’s personal Russian translator.

In spite of their elevated status, the Yan’s family life was turned upside down by the Cultural Revolution. One night in 1967, in front of a terrified ten-year-old Lan, Red Guards burst into the family home and arrested her grandfather. Days later, her father was arrested, accused of spying for the Soviet Union. Her mother, Wu Keliang, was branded a counter-revolutionary and forced to go with her daughter to a re-education camp for more than seven years, where Lan came of age as a high school student.

In recounting her family history, Lan Yan brings to life a century of Chinese history from the last emperor to present day, including the Cultural Revolution which tore her childhood apart. The little girl who was crushed by the Cultural Revolution has become one of the most active businesswomen in her country. In telling her and her family’s story, she serves up an intimate account of the history of contemporary China.

 

The lovely thing about Hay is the diversity of events. I dipped into this lecture next. Our family holidays used to be in Wales every year, so I enjoyed hearing the language again. Mererid Hopwood is so passionate about language, it is easy to feel buoyed by her enthusiasm. ‘Language is the blood of the soul, the vehicle of ideas’before the words comes the music, the babbling, every language has its own tune. 

Mererid Hopwood

THE ANTHEA BELL LECTURE: WHAT’S WALES IN WELSH?

Virtual venue: Llwyfan Cymru Digidol – Wales Digital Stage

What is Language? It’s not just words. That much we know. It’s grammar. It’s context. It’s meaning. It’s communication. It transacts. It conveys. It imagines. It thinks … Is it an external frame or an internal engine? And what is it then to live in a bilingual mind and a multilingual world? Hopwood is the only woman to have won the three main prizes for poetry and prose in the Eisteddfod – Wales’ national cultural festival. She has been Children Laureate for Wales and was awarded the Glyndwr prize for her contribution to literature. Her collection Nes Draw won the poetry section of the Welsh language Book of the Year Awards, 2016. She writes mainly in Welsh and has degrees in Spanish and German language and literature. Mererid has taught throughout her career and is now at the University of Wales, Trinity Saint David. Chaired by Guto Harri

HAY MERERID

I wrote a whole post about Libraries – what they mean to me – the new town/city pilgrimage I would take to discover them, the need for books, records, memories and the situation in worn torn countries. I also cherry picked some quotations from the event and then for the past hour the connection has been shaky and WordPress has gremlins in – although they may be mid-upgrade. I lost the text, have since closed the Hay site and do not have time to go and source the material again. If you can, just watch the event.

John Simpson, Bettany Hughes, Paul Boateng, Edmund de Waal

MORE THAN BOOKS: WHAT IT MEANS WHEN LIBRARIES ARE LOST TO CONFLICT

Virtual venue: Baillie Gifford Digital Stage

As places where human knowledge, thought and experience are held, libraries are often vulnerable during times of conflict. Like places of education, they are frequently targeted in an attack on collective knowledge and freedom of thought, as was the case when IS destroyed the Iraqi University of Mosul’s library in 2015.

Renowned BBC World Affairs Editor John Simpson leads historian and broadcaster Bettany Hughes (whose latest book is Venus and Aphrodite), Book Aid International Chair Lord Paul Boateng and the award-winning sculptor and author of The Hare With Amber Eyes and The White Road. in a discussion on what it means when libraries become targets during conflict and how individuals and communities are affected.

 

 

 

INKSPILL 2018 Bookshop

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The INKSPILL Book Shop posts provides you with access to this year’s Guest Writers books and other books featured over the weekend.

Our Guest Writers give their time for free and the whole weekend is free for you to access… so if you are in the market for a book, you have come to the right place.


Kate Garrett

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The Density of Salt

These are poems of journeying, transformation, and growth, woven through with fairytale and myth, forest, sky and sea; they are elaborations of the dark times that make us look for light. This book is a place where love is never the same feeling twice, and neither is revenge.

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You’ve never seen a doomsday like it

These are poems about surviving doomsdays. People use the word doomsday to describe the apocalypse, and apocalypse simply means ‘an uncovering of knowledge’. Every life has its share of apocalyptic moments—not only great catastrophes, but also small secret revelations, and surprise twists of good fortune as well. They leave you with lessons learned, and stories to tell.

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Deadly, Delicate 

Here are fourteen poems circumnavigating the world of historical piracy, presented at a slant where the men are dangerous and the women are lethal. The violence and the sweetness, the freedom and the acceptance of death are all given equal footing. Never straying from the brutality of a lawless life on the seas, Deadly, Delicate welcomes you to the depths…

Three Drops Press and Picaroon Titles can be found here – 4 pages of books.

Spotlight Kate Garrett

 

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Bonnie’s Crew Poetry Anthology 

The Bonnie’s Crew poetry anthology is here! Our tiny A6 paperback contains 41 poets and 52 pages of poetry. It’s a limited first print run of 200, and they’ve been flying out my front door – but we do still have plenty available.



Kevin Brooke

jimmy-cricket-front-cover YA

Jimmy Cricket

‘Seen through the eyes of the main character, Jimmy Latham, this story shows how teenagers can, with the right support, survive just about anything. Set just after Jimmy’s fifteenth birthday and a year after the death of his parents in a car accident his life is in disarray. But then…he’s given the chance to focus on something positive.’

Published by Black Pear Press

Max & Luchia–The Game Makers

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Max & Luchia–The Game Makers takes you on a magical journey into an online game invented by the imagination of Max & Luchia. Illustrated throughout by the super-talented Seraphim Bryant, this is an exciting, engaging read that young readers have said is unputdownable! 

Published by Black Pear Press

The Roman Citizens From Class 6B

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Ben has an amazing talent – his pictures come to life! When he and his friends Calum and Maisie are transported onto a Battlefield, their Roman adventures begin. Aimed at an approximate reading age of 6-10, the story includes a chariot race in the Circus Maximus, a day in the Roman Senate and a daring rescue of a slave girl called Phina from the lions in the Colosseum. After hiding in the Catacombs, Ben draws one last picture and he, Calum, Maisie and Phina are transported back to England – 61AD England to be precise where they are soon charging towards the Roman Army alongside Boudicca, the Iceni Queen.


Alison May 

All That Was Lost

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In 1967 Patience Bickersleigh is a teenager who discovers a talent for telling people what they want to hear. Fifty years later she is Patrice Leigh, a nationally celebrated medium. But cracks are forming in the carefully constructed barriers that keep her real history at bay.   

Published by Legend Press

Click below to buy a copy.

INKSPILL 2018 Feature – Interview with Alison May ALL THAT WAS LOST

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What inspired you to write All That Was Lost?

All That Was Lost is an idea that I’ve had on the back burner for a long time now. I started writing a rom com about a stage medium years ago, but the subject matter was pulling the story in a darker direction. And my rom com heroine had a mother, who was also a medium, and had been in the business for years and years. She was a total pro at what she did. And that character seemed so much more interesting than my twenty-something main character. So the rom com (and the daughter) got ditched and I put my old pro centre stage, where she belongs.

 

Patrice isn’t a classic heroine. What drew you to that character?

I’m fascinated by the question of to what extent our personalities are formed by our upbringing and to what extent we get to choose who we are.
Patrice is an extreme example of that. It seems that she’s based her whole life on a lie – what does that do to a person over fifty years? Does the lie become truer because someone sells it hard enough?
I was also really excited to write a slightly older heroine than I’ve written in the past. Patrice has decades of good and bad experiences that colour every decision she makes. I think we often cast older women as supporting characters – someone’s mum (as Patrice started out!), someone’s grandmother, someone’s wife – so putting all the complexity that Patrice has built up over her life at the heart of a story felt good.

What are your top tips for new writers trying to write or publish their first novel?

Just write the sodding book. That is always the top piece of advice. There’s lots of stuff you can learn and develop in terms of craft and understanding story structure, but none of that will help you if you don’t get some words down on the page.
Following on from that, listen to advice, but make your own decisions. There are a lot of writing tutors and consultancy services out there – I’m one of them – but what none of those people can do for you is find your voice and work out what sort of stories you want to tell. That has to come from you, so don’t let all the advice that’s out there overwhelm who you want to be as a writer.

 

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INKSPILL 2018 Feature – All That Was Lost By Alison May

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2018 VERSION GUEST POETS TO USE

Alison May was a Guest Writer for INKSPILL back in 2015. We are delighted that this September Alison launched her latest novel ‘ALL THAT WAS LOST’. This afternoon we are happily featuring Alison May and her new book on INKSPILL.

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Author bio

Alison is a novelist, short story writer, blogger and creative writing tutor who grew up in North Yorkshire, and now lives in Worcester. She has worked as a waitress, a shop assistant, a learning adviser, an advice centre manager, a freelance trainer, and now a maker-upper of stories.

Alison won the RNA’s Elizabeth Goudge trophy in 2012, and her short stories have been published by Harlequin, Choc Lit and Black Pear Press.

Alison has also been shortlisted in the Love Stories and RoNA Awards.

Alison writes emotional fiction, and her seventh book, All That Was Lost, was published by Legend Press in September 2018.

She also writes modern retellings of misunderstood classics, in collaboration with Janet Gover, under the penname Juliet Bell. Alison is currently Vice-Chair of the Romantic Novelists’ Association.

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You can find out more about Alison on her website: www.alison-may.co.uk, by following her on Twitter or Instagram @MsAlisonMay or on her facebook page: www.facebook.com/AlisonMayAuthor/

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‘Intriguing with a cast of complex characters that keep you fascinated, this is a page-turner and surprisingly tender’ Katie FForde

‘A resonant, emotional story about grief, loss and love with a complex, tragic heroine—a fake psychic reaching the end of her career. Although it’s about death, this story is never depressing, and ultimately it’s about recovery and healing’ Julie Cohen

‘A beautiful and compelling story that delves into what is real, what we are willing to believe and the power of grief’ Liz Fenwick

‘”All That is Lost” is a bold, beautiful thought-provoking novel, that sensitively confronts difficult themes’ Rowan Coleman

‘It is a triumph. What Alison May has produced is an intimate and affecting study of loss, grief and identity that is just wonderful.’ Linda’s Book Bag

‘What an interesting and unique book… a fascinating, at times heart-wrenching, look at secrets, the cost of keeping them hidden, and whether hiding them requires lies.’ Fireflies and Free Kicks

 

 

INKSPILL 2018 Bookshop

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The INKSPILL Book Shop posts provides you with access to this year’s Guest Writers books and other books featured over the weekend.

Our Guest Writers give their time for free and the whole weekend is free for you to access… so if you are in the market for a book, you have come to the right place.


Kate Garrett

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The Density of Salt

These are poems of journeying, transformation, and growth, woven through with fairytale and myth, forest, sky and sea; they are elaborations of the dark times that make us look for light. This book is a place where love is never the same feeling twice, and neither is revenge.

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You’ve never seen a doomsday like it

These are poems about surviving doomsdays. People use the word doomsday to describe the apocalypse, and apocalypse simply means ‘an uncovering of knowledge’. Every life has its share of apocalyptic moments—not only great catastrophes, but also small secret revelations, and surprise twists of good fortune as well. They leave you with lessons learned, and stories to tell.

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Deadly, Delicate 

Here are fourteen poems circumnavigating the world of historical piracy, presented at a slant where the men are dangerous and the women are lethal. The violence and the sweetness, the freedom and the acceptance of death are all given equal footing. Never straying from the brutality of a lawless life on the seas, Deadly, Delicate welcomes you to the depths…

Three Drops Press and Picaroon Titles can be found here – 4 pages of books.

Spotlight Kate Garrett

 

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Bonnie’s Crew Poetry Anthology 

The Bonnie’s Crew poetry anthology is here! Our tiny A6 paperback contains 41 poets and 52 pages of poetry. It’s a limited first print run of 200, and they’ve been flying out my front door – but we do still have plenty available.



Kevin Brooke

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Jimmy Cricket

‘Seen through the eyes of the main character, Jimmy Latham, this story shows how teenagers can, with the right support, survive just about anything. Set just after Jimmy’s fifteenth birthday and a year after the death of his parents in a car accident his life is in disarray. But then…he’s given the chance to focus on something positive.’

Published by Black Pear Press

Max & Luchia–The Game Makers

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Max & Luchia–The Game Makers takes you on a magical journey into an online game invented by the imagination of Max & Luchia. Illustrated throughout by the super-talented Seraphim Bryant, this is an exciting, engaging read that young readers have said is unputdownable! 

Published by Black Pear Press

The Roman Citizens From Class 6B

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Ben has an amazing talent – his pictures come to life! When he and his friends Calum and Maisie are transported onto a Battlefield, their Roman adventures begin. Aimed at an approximate reading age of 6-10, the story includes a chariot race in the Circus Maximus, a day in the Roman Senate and a daring rescue of a slave girl called Phina from the lions in the Colosseum. After hiding in the Catacombs, Ben draws one last picture and he, Calum, Maisie and Phina are transported back to England – 61AD England to be precise where they are soon charging towards the Roman Army alongside Boudicca, the Iceni Queen.

 

INKSPILL 2018 Guest Writer Kate Garrett Bonnie’s Crew

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INKSPILL GUESTS Kate G

This year Kate Garrett embarked on a new project Bonnie’s Crew. Kate tells us more about this in our final interview.

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1) Can you tell us a little background on Bonnie’s Crew?

Bonnie’s Crew was originally just going to be a little A6 print anthology, put together from work sent in by my friends in the poetry community, and sold via JustGiving to raise money for the Children’s Heart Surgery Fund. Leeds Congenital Hearts – which is funded by the CHSF – saved my daughter Bonnie’s life when she was born, but they did it without surgery (so far – she does have a condition that often requires surgery later in life). Other babies, children, teens, and adults need the unit’s help in much more complex ways. Our time on Ward L51 opened my eyes to congenital heart disease and made me want to do something to help.

 

2) At what point did you realise poetry was your way of giving back?

Almost immediately – it’s where my own heart lies (aside from my family unit of course, but even then my husband and closest friends are poets too!), and poetry is where my people are, where the community is for me.

 

3) Please tell us about the Bonnie’s Crew anthology and webzine.

The Bonnie’s Crew anthology is fiftyish pages of poems, mostly by poets in the UK, printed in A6 size with beautiful original cover art by Marija Smits. The poems range from those written just for Bonnie to suitable reprints, and everything in between.

The webzine has become far wider-reaching – poets from all over the world submit to Bonnie’s Crew! For both mediums, I wanted poems touching on hearts and hope, above all else, but also hospital experiences, grief, loss, love (romantic or otherwise) – as these are all very universal things, we all have a body, we all have emotions, and when we experience health issues, or loss, or family problems, or anything that moves us deeply, it’s good to have a place to express those things and find solace in other stories.

Sometimes our poems are inspired by news articles that aren’t even about human beings, but are relevant to our moral dilemmas (I’m thinking of Jude Cowan Montague’s brilliant ‘the sadness of the experiment’ https://bonnieandcrew.wordpress.com/2018/04/21/poem-the-sadness-of-the-experiment-by-jude-cowan-montague), and sometimes the poets themselves have been in hospital for heart conditions. It varies, but the writing is always beautiful.

We currently publish two poets a week, on Wednesdays and Saturdays, but from February 2019 we will be publishing in a web journal format every other month. BC #1 will be released on 9th February – and there’s still space for more work. To read what we’ve published so far, and to submit your own work, visit http://bonnieandcrew.wordpress.com

4) How many poems have been published on the zine?

I’m not exactly sure! Over 150, or around that… at the time of answering these questions there have been 105 posts published or scheduled, and quite a few of those include multiple poems. We’ve been publishing since the first week of February 2018.

 

5) How did it feel to hit your fundraising target?

Amazing, unbelievable. And I was so moved by the fact that through poetry we were able to raise over £1,000 in 6 months. We’re still going, and still have anthologies left to send out, so if people are interested, our JustGiving page is https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/bonnieandcrew and if people would like an anthology after donating (£5 minimum for a book, but even a £1 donation helps!), please email me at bonnies.crew.poems@gmail.com. I’d love to raise £2,000 by the time Bonnie turns one in January, or at least by the time the print anthology turns one in May.

6) When did you decide to include visual art?

When I decided to change to a bi-monthly web journal format. Our webzine has been characterised by me pairing public domain images with the poems we publish, and people always remark on the lovely combinations. I’d like to carry on the visual aspect when we change to releasing work in issues, but I wanted the art to come from submissions instead of public domain resources.

7) What have you enjoyed most about this project?

What haven’t I enjoyed! It’s honestly the most rewarding bit of editing and publishing I’ve ever done. If I had to stop editing/publishing everything else tomorrow, I would not be able to put Bonnie’s Crew down. It’s made such a difference to people, not just the heart unit, but regular people who come across the poems and feel soothed by reading them.

 

8)What is the future for this project?

Well, as I say, I’d love to raise more money (which means selling the remaining anthologies), hold an event in Leeds with readings, and see where the new web journal format takes us. I’m accepting creative nonfiction articles and essays now as well, alongside the poetry and visual art. Bonnie’s Crew’s tagline has always been ‘poems helping hearts of all sizes’ and it’s grown to helping hearts in both literal and figurative ways. It would be lovely to keep that momentum going and reach even more people.

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