This week I was delighted to attend the presentation of the prize for the Jo Powell Memorial Writing Competition at Edge Hill University. Jo, a highly-respected creative writing tutor at the university died of a brain haemorrhage in May 2011 and the £1,000 prize was set up by family and friends to reward the best short crime story written by a student. I was one of the judges and the award went to 24-year-old James Harker with Gary A Love Story. James, originally from Weymouth, studied at Manchester Metropolitan University and is now working on the Young Writer Programme at the Everyman and Playhouse Theatre in Liverpool. He’s definitely a writer to watch. I’m a fan of competitions. My first novel was published as a result of entering one, in my case a prize organised by Commonword community publishers for the best North West debut. That was Sal Kilkenny’s debut and helped launch my writing career. It goes without saying – but I’ll say it anyway – that writing is a really tough field to break into. Finding an agent, getting a publishing deal, getting another one after that are all very difficult to achieve. Entering competitions can be a great way to discipline yourself so you finish work, meet deadlines and send stuff out. They provide an opportunity to make a mark and get recognition for your work and if you’re successful they’re a real boost to your confidence and your profile. There are lots of places to find out about writing competitions and a quick search online led me to these: http://www.booktrust.org.uk/books-and-reading/short-stories/prizes/ https://www.writers-online.co.uk/Writing-Magazine/ http://www.writersandartists.co.uk/competitions
He was a looker. Nice. Made her laugh. Then he said it. Three words. I don’t dance. Killed it stone dead.
*Originally published by www.the-phone-book.com (now archived)
Recently I was invited into Radio Leeds to do a One on One programme with presenter Liz Green. This involved an hour’s in depth interview, talking about my life and work and choosing a number of pieces of music that had special importance or significance for me at particular times. A little like Desert Island Discs. I could only pick 10 and that was so difficult but I winnowed it down and I’ve listed them below – without the associated memories. What would your ten tunes be?
(On another very vaguely related note, I am sometimes asked if I write to music. The answer is a resounding NEVER! I would have to work hard to block out the sound if there was music playing, even if it was instrumental. And it would interfere with me writing dialogue which I frequently speak aloud, playing all the parts myself.)
1. Getting to Know You (The King and I: Deborah Kerr/Marni Nixon)
2. My Boy Lollipop – Millie
3. Twist and Shout – Beatles
4. Ride A White Swan – T Rex
5. Sitting on the Dock of the Bay – Otis Redding
6. No Woman No Cry – Bob Marley and the Wailers
7. White Man at Hammersmith Palais – The Clash
8. The Wedding – Abdullah Ibrahim
9. Warm and Tender Love – Percy Sledge
10. My Baby Just Cares For Me – Nina Simone