Monday, 12 June 2017

Charlie Higson in Nottingham

Young Bond Author - Charlie Higson to launch ‘Storysmash’ project

higons
Nottingham City Libraries are delighted to welcome Charlie Higson, actor, comedian and author of best-selling Young Bond books, to launch their Storysmash project.  Charlie will deliver an inspiring, interactive masterclass workshop, talk and book signing.
Saturday 24 June, 3pm - 6pm at Nottingham City Library. Tickets available for £12 and can be booked online at www.storysmash.co.uk or you can visit the ground floor help desk at Nottingham City Library.





Higson's Young Bond series has now sold over a million copies in the UK and has been translated into over 24 different languages. All five novels entered the children’s bestseller charts in the top five.
Find out more at Storysmash.

Saturday, 10 June 2017

The Particle Beast book launch

The Particle Beast by Ian C Douglas is being launched at the Nottingham Writers’ Studio, of which he is a founding member, on Thursday 22nd June at 7:30pm.  Expect a couple of readings, a Q&A, and plenty of chat at this free event with complimentary wine and snacks.

They say the truth can set you free. Yet on Mars the truth can kill. Zeke Hailey is happy at the Chasm School for psychics, but an answer to a secret compels him to choose between his friends and his missing father.
Sneinton’s Ian C Douglas regularly visits local schools and runs creative writing workshops. The Particle Beast is the third book in his YA sci-fi saga. He first became known to me for his excellent book Children's History of Nottinghamshire. When he swapped the caves of Nottingham for the craters of Mars, it seemed a radical, not to say risky, departure. So, what made him move into science fiction?

“History is fascinating, but astronomy was my first love. When I was a little boy, my father took me outside our holiday caravan and traced the constellations in the night sky. As a wartime pilot, he’d needed that knowledge to get across the English Channel safely. From that moment, my imagination was fired up by the idea of distant stars. Today we’re living in a golden age of discovery about Mars and the universe. These advances rekindled my boyhood obsession.”

Ian used these advances in cosmology to create a unique vision of Mars, where colonists battle ancient Martians. “The stories are highly imaginative, but the science is rock solid,” Ian explains. Book Three in the series, entitled The Particle Beast, is launching in June. It is for younger adults, but anyone who loves a fantastical tale with thrills and humour, will enjoy this. One independent reviewer described the series as 'Harry Potter meets Star Wars by way of Grange Hill.'

The hero, Zeke Hailey, is a teenager enrolled at a school for psychics on Mars. In-between telepathy and precognition lessons, he fights a cosmic demon with a taste for the human race. In this new book, Zeke must brave an alien ghost town suspended in a bubble universe. Not only is this home to a terrifying monster, but also a danger that could unravel the fabric of time and space. Can Zeke and his best friends save humanity?

Find out more about Zeke Hailey and his strange, deadly world at www.zekehailey.com

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

G J Martin Guest Post

Guest Post: The author, and former Nottingham teacher, G J Martin, on the launch of his latest novel A Sane Asylum, and being a writer in Nottingham.

My name is Garry John Martin and I am a writer. No matter what else I have done to make a living, writing has underpinned all that I am. For most of the last two and a half decades of my professional life, I was a teacher of English literature. Sixteen of those years were spent at Nottingham High School. I first came to Nottingham twenty-five years ago. I had just returned from a trip to Iraqi Kurdistan, encouraged and tutored in my travels by a colleague from Cranleigh School.

My years at the High School were enriched by the presence of so many talented and rewarding students. In the early days, the Assisted Places scheme ensured a social mix and gave opportunities to so many young men from the area. I myself had won a place at Grammar School in Burton on Trent and one of our hardest rugby fixtures was against the High School. The last match I played in was an honourable draw.

A number of former pupils have become friends, particularly the brilliant writer on nature, Robert Macfarlane. Jonny Sweet, the comic actor, David Ralph, the director and writer for the theatre [I have just seen his latest play at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield], the painter Alex Massouras, the athlete Andy Robinson, and dozens more exciting and enterprising young men made my years as a teacher in Nottingham so memorable.

For the past decade I have been able to write full time. I am a member of Writing East Midlands and with their inestimable help, I have had many books published during this time. One of the stories from the third volume of ‘Beneath Napoleon’s Hat – Tales from the Parisian Cafés’ won a mentoring prize and Anne Zouroudi worked with me for over a year on the ‘The Boy Who Made God Smile’.

I am also a member of the Nottingham Writers’ Studio and have enjoyed their support in all my writing ventures.

Jane Streeter, that intrepid bookseller, launched the last of my Parisian pieces ‘Sylvia Beach and the Melancholy Jesus’ at the Bookcase in Lowdham. We launched ‘Patchwork’ the following year at the Lowdham Festival. There are number of scenes in that novel set in Nottingham, some at the school and one in the Hard to Find Café. ‘The Boy Who Made God Smile’ was launched at Waterstones in Nottingham last year. Dan Donson, the events manager at the shop is hugely supportive of local writers. So too Radio Nottingham, who have been enormously helpful offering opportunities to talk about my work, particularly Alan Clifford. Nottingham is a good place to be a writer.

My latest novel ‘A Sane Asylum’ is based on that journey I made to Iraqi Kurdistan just after the First Gulf War in 1992, reporting back to the BBC World Service. It is a compelling story and an adventure that is both a personal and political journey. Its concerns are current and its revelations urgent. The world that it portrays is viewed at street level in the bustling cities or in the mountains, amongst the people and their private places, as well that of the country’s new leaders and their fledgling Parliament.

This story is mostly true. I was not captured like Joe, but the places, the politicians and the major players are all real. I could still smell the aftermath of war, with a burnt out tank around most corners, every bridge and telephone mast flattened, a whole country reduced to ruin.

We launch the book at Waterstones, Nottingham, on Thursday, June 15th at 6.30 pm. I will be interviewed by Eve Makis, the award winning author, whose novel ‘The Spice Box Letters’ explores the tragic aftermath of the Armenian genocide. Our fictional paths cross in Eastern Turkey.

The event is free as is the wine. It should be a fascinating conversation.

 

Monday, 5 June 2017

Don't Look Back in Anger

People are reacting with anger to the recent terrorism on our streets. This is understandable, a natural gut-reaction to the horrific events. Phone-ins are busy with people spouting Theresa May’s latest tagline ‘enough is enough’, proposing solutions that include rounding up Muslims and locking them up. This shows how easy it is for perverted, extreme views to arise. For each terrorist that wishes us dead there’s seems to be someone wanting indiscriminate revenge.

It’s easy to shout down these distorted opinions, to call these people racist, but this is the wrong tactic. Don’t Look Back in Anger, the unofficial anthem of the people of Manchester, should be the adopted position. Anger is exactly what the terrorists want to elicit. And who doesn’t feel anger at the recent murders? It’s our anger, when turned towards Muslims, that exasperates the problem and helps create the next jihadi.
There are many calls for the Muslim community to act but it’s up to all of us to act, and that means responding in a way the terrorists hate to see - fighting hatred with love. This is not a natural or easy thing to do but nobody claims the war on terror is easy. I'm not suggesting we love the terrorists, but whenever we feel anger we must use it as a motivation to find reason. When we come across anti-Muslim rhetoric we must meet ignorance with understanding. When we see fear in a young man's eyes, we must meet it with acceptance and love. We are one. Only hate can divide us.

Allow me to a final point. What the terrorists don’t want to see is:
 
Our dancing policeman, PC Paul Taylor, in a group, having fun. More than business as usual. More united than before.

What the terrorists do want to see is:


A Conservative government. Aside from wiping £600 million off the police budget, cutting tens of thousands of police staff and reducing our number of police stations, Theresa May prefers to hold hands with Donald Trump than with the police. With May on Trump’s lap our involvement in the war on terror will get bloodier, fuelling more anger while our response on home soil will be insufficient to cope with the extra threat. The terrorists want a divided Britain. Enough is indeed enough. Don’t give the terrorists the result they want. Vote the Tories out on June the 8th. Choose love instead.

Friday, 2 June 2017

Bold Strokes Festival

The 8th Annual Bold Strokes Book Festival

Nottingham’s LGBTQ Author Festival!
Saturday 3rd June 11:00 - Sunday 4th June 16:00 at Nottingham
An amazing weekend of LGBTQ Literature from the Authors of Bold Strokes Books, one of the largest LGBT publishers in the world.

Over two days, eleven authors in eight events with after parties nearby in the city, there will be readings, author Q&As, discussion panels and workshops for aspiring or established writers to develop their work and pitch it before our editorial panel!
All of these events are free to attend.

Saturday
•11:00 WELCOME!
•11:15 - 12:00 WHERE TO START?
◦Authors talk about the inception of a book.
◦I. Beacham, Michelle Grubb, Amy Dunne
•12:15 - 1:00 TALK TO ME: WRITING GOOD DIALOGUE
◦The tricky bits of talking to each other on the page.
◦Anna Larner, Brey Willows, Crin Claxton
•LUNCH: 1:00 - 2:00
•2:15 - 3:00 DANGER, CONFLICT, UH-OH
◦What makes for a good story? These authors can tell you:
◦Jane Fletcher, Lesley Davis, Rebecca S. Buck
•3:15 - 4:00 WHERE TO END?
◦Happily ever after? Or happy for now?
◦Robyn Nyx, Crin Claxton, Matt Bright
•4:30 - 7:00 AUTHOR-READER AFTER PARTY AT FARADAYS (Just up the street)
 
Sunday
•11:00 - 11:20 PITCH SESSIONS
◦(email boldstrokesuk@boldstrokesbooks.com to sign up)
•11:30 - 12:15 PUBLISHING BRUNCH: THE DO’S AND DON’TS
◦Authors offer tips and thoughts on gettng published.
◦Matt Bright, Lesley Davis, Michelle Grubb
•12:30 - 1:15 FRESH AND FORTHCOMING
◦Authors discuss their new and upcoming works.
◦Anna Larner, I. Beacham, Robyn Nyx, Brey Willows, Lesley Davis, Michelle Grubb, Jane Fletcher
•1:30 - 2:30 QUIZZICAL QUEERIOS!
◦Authors versus audience! Hands on the buzzer...
◦Jane Fletcher, Rebecca S. Buck, Brey Willows, Amy Dunne, Matt Bright, Lesley Davis
•3:00 - 5:00 LAZY LUNCH
◦Provided by The New Foresters * Last chance for signed books! (0.5 mile away)

Thursday, 27 April 2017

The Song of the Stork


Former Notts’ council estate lad Stephan Collishaw is now firmly back in Nottingham after living abroad spending some time in Lithuania. His first novel, The Last Girl, was about an elderly, impoverished poet in Vilnius, and he’s returned to the same part of the world for his latest book, this time set during the early ‘40s. The Nottingham school teacher’s new release is called The Song of the Stork. Here’s the NottsLit review:


The Song of the Stork tells the story of a teenage girl called Yael who’s on the run/hiding from Nazi Germans. After a companion falls to the harsh environment she’s forced to find shelter as winter kicks. She hides in a chicken coop on the grounds of an isolated farm. The coop belongs to a cottage that’s home to Aleksei, an outcast, thought of as an idiot by some on account of him being mute. It’s unclear if his lack of speech is physical or psychological but he soon becomes aware of the fifteen-year-old hiding nearby. Aleksei is, understandably, reluctant to help as harbouring anyone Jewish is punishable by death. He even leaves a Nazi pamphlet in sight of Yael to show her the law and its warning. Despite their fears, Aleksei and Yael grow close, and as their relationship blossoms his kindness and sensitivity become evident. Actions not words maketh the man. And yet, words are hugely important to our mute hero. They may not fall from his lips but the written word is his thing, a pastime he touchingly shares with Yael. The lack of two-way oral conversation may even have its advantages for her. Who better to help hide you than a man of solitary existence who can’t gossip or talk of your whereabouts? No loose lips here.
Yael is our protagonist, the story is told by her, the hope is hers. There’s an innocence to Yael that’s reflected in Collishaw’s accessible, spare prose, a normalcy too; in ways she’s a typical teenager but one put in an extreme position. Her own will to survive is tested and it’s only the drive to hear from her brother Josef that keeps her fighting. This hope is joined by the wish to be reunited with Aleksei as the second half of the book sees them parted. Yael is forced to join a group of partisans in the forest where she continues to come of age. They are fighting a war in which there seems no possible victory as defeating the Nazi threat will only bring conflict with Stalin and the Red Army. The only future seems to be, as the stork flies, the way of Palestine as the prospect of a new state suddenly looks appealing.
There is more action in the second half as the partisans live in the woods but Daniel Craig’s film Defiance this is not. A lack of set pieces however doesn’t slow the page turning. It’s an easy read of a hard history, in part due to the world being seen through Yael’s eyes. When the holocaust is told via a young individual’s experience the living in fear and the horror is telling. The persecution of any individual for no reason other than their religion or race is abhorrent and, incredibly, as relevant today. That it’s 2017 and people are still being killed because of labels attached to them is a strong reason to keep revisiting history. We may not be learning from the warnings of the past but we can’t be allowed to forget them.
The Song of the Stork is full of humanity, hope and smart metaphors. Many of the loose ends and plot threads are ultimately left untied in a way fitting of contemporary literary fiction, and of life itself.