25 November 2011

Headline herey*

Last night I read at the University of Bolton's Live Literature night, just little old me and the poet Steven Blyth, who was a very nice man indeed. This was the first time I've read an extended set - about 20 minutes in the first half and another 15 in the second; probably about 10 stories in all.

It was petrifying but really nice to get such a lovely reception: lots of laughing and clapping and people saying how much they enjoyed it. I even had to sign books (!) and do a Q&A, and when I was asked about flash fiction, I had to pretend to be all intellectual, like. Ah, you know me. Mentioned Ernest Hemingway; that seemed to do the trick. That, or the patent red high heels.

Anyway, I got quite a buzz from doing it, despite serious jitters beforehand and some awful shakes during (not the DTs, for once). So if you need me to perform at your spoken word night, wedding or Bar Mitzvah, just let me know.

The Live Literature nights are back in the new year. February is Zoe Lambert and Jon Glover, both of whom were in attendance last night and very supportive. The month after it's Jane Rogers and Gwendoline Riley. Can't ruddy wait. Check out the Bolton Uni website for more.

*That's a subbing joke.

21 November 2011

Points of sale tales

Ah, site-specific story-telling: this year's new black. But it doesn't matter if everyone seems to be at it; the great thing about writing about place is how the tales vary between writers: even one small location can open up so many different interpretations. At last week's Re:Tale, the location was the Jigsaw clothes store in Manchester's slightly odd Triangle shopping centre. Six writers who know each other largely via the monthly Bad Language spoken word night brought a crowd of 30-odd six very different imaginings of life in the retail sector, some of which linked together to form a coherent whole.

Kicking off with my Flashtag colleague Fat Roland and his many props, we were then taken past the wonderful glazed green tiles of the staircase to the circular personal shopping area where Nici West told the tale of deaths on the shopfloor. Nici led us on to Dan Carpenter in the main shop, where he disconcerted us with his store assistant stalker and a Polaroid camera.

Following a break for liquid sustenance, we were treated to the inimitable style of Joe Daly: exiting a changing room, he instantly had people in stitches with his shoplifting stockbroker story. Next up was another Flashtag member, Dave Hartley, till rolls a-go-go; then the event was rounded off by Nick Garrard, with the Triangle's lovely dome roof and glittering festive lights providing the backdrop.

I have to admit, I wasn't quite sure what to expect and was slightly concerned that this kind of thing has been exhausted, but this was a really inspiring, engaging and enjoyable event. And I want all the clothes, if someone could sort that out. Ta.

You can read another review of the event on Cultural Shenanigans, by Laura Maley (pictured above grasping the end of one of L'il Dave's till rolls).

01 November 2011

Books n blogs

So the bulk of Manchester Literature Festival is over, bar a couple of "bookend" events (Anthony Horowitz on Thursday; Jeffrey Eugenides on Sunday), and I'm just doing the last bit of mopping up as this year's digital marketing person. It's been really great, experience and fun wise, and I've been kept massively busy running the Twitter and Facebook accounts, writing e-newsletters and articles for the likes of Manchester Lit List and Creative Times, and editing the official Manchester Literature Festival Blog.

This in particular has been fab and has seen me introducing some new features in the run-up to the Festival to whet people's whistles: a redesign; "Writes & Reads" Q&As with some of the writers taking part during festival fortnight; "My Festival" top five picks with authors from in and around Manchester; a series showcasing the various themes running through the festival, and a number of jointly blogged events, which was also a first. I've also been to loads of events and blogged a few myself. Here are some of the reviews and previews I wrote this year:

Patricia Duncker
Manchester Fiction Prize
MLF VIP launch
Theme #4: Literary Tours
Theme #3: Family Fun
Theme #1: Modern European