Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Share Your Poetry with family, friends or the world with Poem Pigeon

Do you have a poem to share?

Simply upload your poem to Poem Pigeon and the poem pigeon will deliver it to a loved one, family, friends ... or even the whole world!

Poems can be as public or as private as you like - Poem Pigeon is here to deliver more poetry into the world. Poems can be as long or as short as you like and follow any format ... rhyming couplets, sonnets, blank verse, haikus, poems for occasions, little ditties written when you really should be working ... serious and high-minded, humourous, romantic ... there's a home for it all at Poem Pigeon.

It's free to register and there is a free competition currently on - upload a poem by the end of March and you could win £100!

Follow the Poem Pigeon on Twitter @poempigeon.

Please visit for further information on their service and how to use it. You can contact Poem Pigeon here too.

Meet Julia Donaldson

At Seven Stories, Newcastle: Thursday 4th April, 12pm 

Meet Julia Donaldson, current Children’s Laureate and award-winning author of Room on the Broom, Squash and a Squeeze and The Gruffalo. Join Julia for an hour of storytelling and a whole lot of fun. Followed by a free public book signing at 1.45pm. Tickets: £3 per person in addition to admission fee.

For further information please visit 

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Our Pick of Current Poetry Competitions!

Lindfield Arts Festival : Poetry for the People Competition | Closing Date: 31-Mar-13

Poets are invited to contribute one A4 page of their poetry (one or more poems) to be displayed in the windows of village shops, cafes, restaurants etc. for the public to read and, if they so wish, to rate by a mark out of 10 on voting slips inside the premises. No prizes but exposure of the most popular in local media and a souvenir booklet. See website for full details.

Entry Fee: £0.00 

Contact: The Poetry Organiser, Lindfield Arts Festival, 45 Meadow Drive, Lindfield, West Sussex RH16 2RS

Poetry-next-the-Sea Competition 2013 | Closing Date: 06-Apr-13

For poems up to 40 lines. Maximum of three poems per entrant. Judge: Heidi Williamson. First prize, £100; then £50 and £25. Part of the Poetry-next-the-Sea Poetry Festival.

Entry Fee: £2 for 1 poem; £4 for 2 poems and £5 for 3 

Contact: Full details and entry form at:
Send your entries to:
Poetry-next-the-Sea, 93 Queen's Road, Fakenham, NR21 8BU
Cheques payable to: Poetry-next-the-Sea

The SCJ Poetry Award | Closing Date: 30-Apr-13

Poem up to 40 lines. Themes (which may be broadly interpreted): Childhood. Culture. Education. Prizes: Adults: 1st £1000 2nd £700 3rd £300. Under 18: 1st £250 2nd £150 3rd £100. Commendations (£10 book tokens): five adult, ten under 18. Judges Moniza Alvi and Catherine Smith. An anthology will be published. This competition is in aid of Cardiac Risk in the Young which raises awareness of heart conditions and funds investigations and screening programmes for those at risk of sudden death.

Entry Fee: £0 for under 18s. Adults: £5 for up to 3 poems. 

The New Malden Health Centre, 4 Blagdon Road, New Malden, Surrey KT3 4AD
Cheques made payable to CRY

Templar Poetry Pamphlet and Collection Awards 2013 | Closing Date: 07-May-13

Short collections of poetry of between 18 and 24 pages are invited, containing poems of any length or style, provided each page contains no more than forty lines. Submissions should also include Title & Contents information. Winning poets receive publication in a Templar Poetry Pamphlet, a Launch Reading at the 2013 Derwent Poetry Festival and an opportunity to submit a collection for consideration and publication. They also receive a cash prize of £250. Up to 30 runners-up will be published in a Templar anthology. The judge is Alexander McMillen. See website for full details.

Entry Fee: £20 (online); £18 (postal) 


 Please contact the organisers directly with any questions, thank you!

Monday, 25 March 2013

'Hats Off To Our Heroes' Poetry Comp for Notts School Children

Budding writers could be in with a chance to see their poem published in a souvenir programme to commemorate Notts Armed Forces Day.

On Saturday 29th June, Nottingham will play host to the fifth Armed Forces Day National Event - a day to celebrate the outstanding work undertaken by the Servicemen and women who make up our Armed Forces, past and present. 

Organisers are inviting primary and secondary school children in Nottinghamshire aged seven to 18 to take part in a poetry competition on the theme of ‘Hats off to our Heroes'.

Winning entries, no longer than 100 words, will get a £50 voucher and will have their poem published in the official Armed Forces Day souvenir programme.

Entries should be sent on email to or posted to Learning, Engagement & Collections Team at Nottingham City Museums & Galleries, c/o Communities Courtyard, Wollaton Road, Nottingham, NG8 2AD by Thursday 28th March.
Source: Worksop Guardian

Ketchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher has won the 2013 Waterstones Children's Book Prize.

Annabel Pitcher also won the Best Book for Teens category earlier in the evening, before being crowned the overall winner of the prize this year. Last year, Annabel Pitcher was shortlisted in the same category for My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece.

The teenage protagonist of Ketchup Clouds reveals a terrible secret through a sequence of letters to a condemned murderer in a Texan jail. The idea was inspired by the author’s own experiences of writing to a death row prisoner as a teen.

Melissa Cox, Children’s New Titles Buyer for Waterstones praised the winner: “It may not sound the most obvious subject for a teen bestseller – a girl writing to a condemned prisoner confessing her own dark secret – but Ketchup Clouds is a classic coming of age story featuring death, betrayal and redemption. Annabel Pitcher’s handling of the subject is beautifully wrought and peppered with humour, layering the everyday teen experience with the extraordinary and traumatic. It’s an unsettling yet fantastically fresh and brave take on the teen confessional. Pitcher is a genuine literary star.”

The Waterstones Children’s Book Prize was created to reward and champion new and emerging talent in children’s writing. It is unique in that it is voted for solely by booksellers across the country. Now in its ninth year, the Prize consists of three categories, to reflect the breadth of quality in children’s books: Best Picture Book; Best Fiction for 5-12s; and Best Book for Teens.

The winner of Best Fiction for 5-12s is Wonder, a debut novel by US author, R J Palacio.

The winner of Picture Book is Lunchtime by Rebecca Cobb triumphed in the Picture Book category with Lunchtime.

As category winners, Annabel Pitcher, R J Palacio and Rebecca Cobb each received a cheque for £2,000. As the overall winner, Annabel Pitcher is awarded a further £3,000. The winning authors will see a significant boost in sales, and the promise of an ongoing commitment to their writing career from over 280 Waterstones bookshops nationwide.

The shortlist:

Picture Books
  • Lunchtime by Rebecca Cobb (Macmillan Children’s Books)
  • Rabbityness by Jo Empson (Child’s Play)
  • Oh No George! by Chris Haughton (Walker)
  • The Worst Princess by Anna Kemp & Sara Ogilvie (Simon & Schuster)
  • The Journey Home by Frann Preston-Gannon (Pavilion Children’s Books)
  • Can You See Sassoon? by Sam Usher (Little Tiger Press)
Fiction 5-12
  • The Wolf Princess by Cathryn Constable (Chicken House)
  • Atticus Claw Breaks the Law by Jennifer Gray (Faber and Faber)
  • Wonder by R.J. Palacio (Random House Children’s Books)
  • The Secret Hen House Theatre by Helen Peters (Nosy Crow)
  • The Chronicles of Egg: Deadweather and Sunrise by Geoff Rodkey (Puffin)
  • Barry Loser: I Am Not A Loser by Jim Smith (Egmont)
  • Seraphina by Rachel Hartman (Random House Children’s Books)
  • Skin Deep by Laura Jarratt (Egmont)
  • Insignia by S.J. Kincaid (Hot Key Books)
  • Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas (Bloomsbury Children’s)
  • Ketchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher (Indigo)
  • Geekhood: Close Encounters of the Girl Kind by Andy Robb (Little Tiger Press)
Source: Waterstones and World Book Day

Friday, 22 March 2013

Faber Fiction Roadshow and Other Events

Life Below Stairs: True Lives of Edwardian Servants
Peterborough Central Library
Saturday 4th May, 2pm
£5 (£4 conc and heritage pass)
Book at any Peterborough Library, Waterstones Peterborough or Peterborough Museum
A fascinating talk about the true lives of Edwardian servants. Author and journalist Alison Maloney will be talking about her book Life Below Stairs. This intriguing book uncovers the real-life experiences and first-hand accounts of what life was really like working in a grand Edwardian house.

For further information, please visit:
Faber Fiction Roadshow
Afternoon Tea with Three Authors
Saturday 11th May, 2-3pm
John Clare Theatre, Peterborough Central Library
£3 (£2 concessions, free tickets for reading groups)
Tickets from any Peterborough Library or Waterstones, Peterborough
Marcel Theroux, Susie Steiner and Nadeem Aslam will be presenting a panel event. Come along and hear a group of writers talking about their novels, and be inspired to try something different.

Afternoon Tea will also be provided enabling readers to chat individually with the authors afterwards.

Susie Steiner is a former Guardian journalist. Her novel “A Homecoming” is the story of a Yorkshire family. A warm, enjoyable and funny debut novel, reminiscent of Anne Tyler and Marina Lewycka.

Marcel Theroux is a screenwriter, a broadcaster, and an award-winning novelist.
“Far North” was a finalist for the U.S. National Book Award. He is currently working on a new novel “Strange Bodies”. Nicholas has been dead for months. So when a man claiming to be him turns up to visit an old girlfriend, deception seems the only possible motive. Yet nothing can make him change his story.

Nadeem Aslam is the author of three previous novels. Maps for Lost Lovers was longlisted for the Booker Prize. Born in Pakistan, he now lives in England. His new novel “The Blind Man’s Garden” is set in Pakistan and Afghanistan in the months following 9/11 – a story of war, of one family’s losses and of the simplest, most enduring human impulses.

Their books will be available for purchase and signing on the day.
For further information, please visit: 

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Rosie Garland reading poems from her collection 'Everything Must Go' are now available

Holland Park Press are very excited to announce that six videos of Rosie Garland reading poems from her collection 'Everything Must Go' are now available.

Rosie Garland, author of 'The Palace of Curiosities', recites ‘Fortune teller’, ‘Moratorium’, ‘So Long’, ‘Good Behaviour’, ‘Donor's Card’ and ‘Dignity’, powerful poems describing her battle with throat cancer.

You can listen to the poems on this page or through the Holland Park Press YouTube channel.

Listen and get carried along with Rosie’s story.

Here is our book review of 'Everything Must Go', from August 2012:

‘Everything Must Go’

By Rosie Garland Published by Holland Park Press
RRP £8.99 (paperback)
ISBN 9781907320224

Wow. ‘Everything Must Go’ is breath-taking in its laid-bare honesty. Rosie Garland’s poems tell of her battle with cancer from the moment she’s told until she receives the news its in remission. It’s not a pitiful or melodramatic narration, or even negative – Rosie expresses her experiences; her initial numbness and shock, her hair loss, her sickness, the wanting to disappear, the hospital, the pain and weakness, the treatment, the loss of her feminity – it’s heart-breaking but Rosie is so strong in her poems that’s it’s somewhat uplifting. My personal favourites from the collection are ‘Camouflage’ and ‘Dignity’. Quite stunning and bought a tear to my eye.

Highly recommended

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Red Squirrel Press Launches Short Story Competition

Red Squirrel Press has announced the first annual Sara Park Short Story Competition, created in memory of short story writer and poet Sara Park, who died in September 2010. The prize is publication in pamphlet anthology by Red Squirrel Press.

The prize will be judged by Kathleen Kenny and Ellen Phethean. You can enter up to 2,000 words, and each entry will cost £6.

The deadline for submissions is 30th April, and full details are available at:

Good Luck!

Poetry Book Review of ‘Addressing Anorexia and Treating Myself’ By Marion Lawson

‘Addressing Anorexia and Treating Myself’
By Marion Lawson
Published by Barny Books
RRP £5.00 (paperback)
ISBN 9781906542504

Right from the foreword, this book is raw, emotional and invites us into the very personal journey through illness and recovery of Marion Law.

The poetry is heart-felt and sincere, Marion’s brutally honest, sharing her anxiety, her anguish and her despair alongside her hope, her happiness and her future. I loved ‘Lecturing Me’, my personal highlight of the collection. I am sure anyone in a similar situation will find comfort and solace in Marion’s words, and for anyone else that reads this book, admire Marion’s bravery, honesty and poetry.

Highly recommended

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Guest Blog from Leanne Moden, Fenland Poet Laureate 2013

Performance Anxiety

If I could travel back in time and speak to my sixteen-year-old self, no doubt she would be horrified to learn that I perform poetry. In front of other people! On stage! Out loud!

I can see her blushing beetroot-red at the very thought of it.

Like many people, I spent much of my life as a closet poet. I wrote poetry and read poetry and enjoyed watching people perform their own poetry at events. But there was no way I was going to expose my poetry to the light of day. The closest I came to that was the work-shopping sessions in my creative writing group at university. Each Wednesday morning I would walk to class, dizzy with anticipation, knowing that we would be discussing one of my poems. And the thought of reading my work aloud? It made me feel physically sick.

So what changed?

Well, for me, it was a combination of several things: my nan died, I spent a bit of time out of work, and I moved away from home, all within the space of a year or so. This upheaval in my personal life gave me the shot in the arm that I so desperately needed. I decide that if I wanted to have a fulfilling life, I would need to go out and embrace every opportunity.

So I did.

When I was offered a five-minute open mic slot at a poetry cabaret night in Norwich in 2010, I jumped at the chance, even though the thought of getting up in front of people still terrified me. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, as they say.

As I read my first poem, I felt so nauseous that I genuinely thought I was going to be sick on my shoes! Perhaps, if that had happened, I could have explained it away as performance art? Who knows.

I've now been performing for two years. I've worked with some incredible people and done some amazing things. I've recited poems in the back rooms of pubs, performed in tents at festivals, and competed in a poetry slam on stage at the Roundhouse in Camden. I worked alongside the likes of Steve Larkin, Richard Tyrone Jones, Hollie McNish, Fay Roberts, Young Dawkins, Mark Niel, and the actor Miriam Margolyes. I've collaborated with some very talented people, worked on fantastic projects, and made some wonderful new friends.

But I still get nervous before every performance.

This year, as Fenland Poet Laureate, I'm hoping to give other closet poets the opportunity to engage more actively with poetry, through a series of local workshops and events. I want to spread my own enthusiasm for poetry and foster a supportive environment in which local people can experiment with poetry. I really believe that poetry should be accessible to everyone, regardless of their background, education or level of confidence. With the support of Karen Harvey at Atelier East, Poet Laureate Emeritus Elaine Ewart, and David Wright at the Wisbech and Fenland Museum, I hope to promote poetry in the Fens and work with other organisations to bring local poetry firmly into the mainstream.

Just as long as my nerves don't get the better of me!

Leanne Moden is the Fenland Poet Laureate 2013.

You can find her on twitter @crimsonebolg and you can check out her blog at

If you would like Leanne to write a poem to celebrate a Fenland community project, or if you are interested in booking her for your own event, please email

Monday, 18 March 2013



The Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award is now open for entries. The prize is for young writers from across the world. Last year's competition attracted entries from a staggering 7,351 young writers from 60 countries worldwide, making it one of the largest literary competitions in the world.  

Since it began 16 years ago the Award has kick-started the career of some of today's most exciting new voices. The phrase 'Former Foyle Young Poet', is now commonly found in professional biographies as alumni continue to make their mark on the wider literary world, their names appearing on bookshelves and at festivals the world over. The Poetry online Alumni Library  celebrates the successes of these exciting new voices.

 "I am absolutely delighted to be judging the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award this year. I am certain we will discover some really exciting new voices." 
Foyle Young Poets of the Year 2013 Judge, Hannah Lowe

"This journey has been transforming and surreal. I would encourage all young writers to submit to this competition while the chance still remains."
Sara Henry, former Foyle Young Poet of the Year

Find out more at

Open for Submissions: 11th March 2013 
Deadline: 31st July 2013 
Judges: Hannah Lowe and David Morley

Friday, 15 March 2013

Collective Noun: An Evening with 4 Poet Laureates

This is an evening performance to celebrate the contribution of 4 of our local Poet Laureates and to also say a big thank you to St John's Poet-in-Residence, Pete Cox. This will be a event full of beautiful and exciting verse that will display the imaginative of these East Anglian bards and the things and places that have inspired them in their laureateship.

The night includes the wonderful following:

Pete Cox, Poet-in-Resident at St John the Baptist Church
At Easter 2012 Pete Cox was appointed Poet-in-Residence for St John the Baptist Church. Hear some of the work he has produced in that time and about some of the events he has attended.
“Cox is a poetic wildcard, spinning off all kinds of funny, bizarre and fanciful versa…” Neal Wilgus, Small Press Review (USA)

 “Is there no end to this man’s versatility?” Keith Walker, Fanzine Fanatique (UK).

Elaine Ewart, Fenland Poet Laureate
National award-winning poet and Fenland Poet Laureate Emeritus, Elaine Ewart is currently studying for an MA in ‘Wild Writing: Literature and the Environment’, at the University of Essex. She writes poetry and short fiction, as well as creative non-fiction about the natural world. Elaine, a former lawyer, lives in Ely and volunteers at the Wildfowl and Wetland Trust at Welney.
Enjoy her work and follow her poetic adventures online at:

Simon Stabler, Peterborough Poet Laureate

The last time Simon performed in a church was as a boy soprano more than 20 years ago. While he still has his medal from the Royal School of Church Music, his ability to sing left him many years ago, thanks in part to underage smoking and barking along to punk records. He may have given up smoking some years ago but still enjoys a spiky rant, with his poem 'This Is Peterborough ...' and 'We Deserve More' earning him the title of Peterborough Poet Laureate at last September’s finals. Having known Pete for many years, Simon is honoured to be at tonight’s celebration and for once, will be turning down his irreverence settings.

Darren Rawnsley, Stamord Poet Laureate
Take a brief journey with Darren Rawnsley, from the 1960s to the present day. A weave of reflection, truth and empathy. From buttercups to riots, intimate cafes to traditions passed down through generations. A 'Box of Allsorts' for the listener to digest.

Please take a poetic pew at our very own St John the Baptist, Peterborough, just behind the Guildhall in Peterborough City centre.

When: 23rd of April 2013
Time: 7:30pm-10:00pm
Price: £3 and please pay on the door, no advance tickets.

For further enquiries please visit the Facebook Event page.

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Could You Be Stamford's Next Poet Laureate?

John Hegley performing at Verse 2012 after Stamford's first ever Poet Laureate, Darren Rawnsley, had been announced

 The role of Stamford Poet Laureate was established in connection with Stamford's first poetry festival Verse in March 2012.

If you, or someone you know, is a secret Wordsworth, Keats, Burns- or perhaps something totally new and extraordinary, the role is a fantastic opportunity for you to showcase your talent and hold the honorary title of Stamford Poet Laureate.

Although the role is unpaid, the title is recognition of your talent and a launch pad for your poetry career, giving you a unique role in the community and further afield.


  • To fulfil the Poet Laureate tenure of one year
  • To promote and raise the profile of poetry within the community - to be 'the face' of poetry in Stamford.
  • You will be expected to work closely yet flexibly with Stamford Arts Centre on poetry activities/events. 
  • To write poems on request themed around Stamford/a specific event/season/etc.
  • To attend local events and make appearances.
  • To be willing to raise the profile of poetry in local and national media. This will mean you will be available for interviews with newspapers, magazines, radio and TV stations when necessary.
Closing date for applications is 31st March 2013, you need to submit the application form and a typed copy of one of your own poems. The Poet Laureate final is on 24th April 2013. For further information and to download an application form, please visit

Good Luck! 

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Exclusive Interview with T D Griggs, Author

What drew you to writing about characters against a 19th century backdrop?

No matter how far back in history you go you can always find the seeds of the present. But the 19th century is so very close. We can trace our modern attitudes and afflictions, as well as our triumphs, trials and tragedies, directly back to the Victorian events and personalities which spawned them. I’m not quite ancient yet, but my own father was born way back in 1907 - he only missed being a Victorian by six years. My grandfather would have been born around 1875, before the Zulu Wars. He’d have been about the same age as my hero Frank Gray in DISTANT THUNDER. That’s not all that long ago.

Having worked and lived on different continents, do you feel you have an upper hand in being able to write novels set (or partly set) in foreign places?

I think travel definitely helps. You do need to be able to conjure up the atmosphere of foreign places, and you simply have to have spent some time in them to do that. Of course it’s difficult to cover all the bases: I haven’t visited the Sudan, which features in my book, but I have lived in the Sahel region of Africa, and that was close enough.

I’ve always been fascinated by the world’s wild places, and while I’m no hairy-chested adventurer I’ve certainly moved around a good deal and lived I some odd locations. It definitely feeds into my writing. I have kept a diary of these travels over 40 years, and I refer to it a good deal for local incident and colour.

What are the limitations of writing about events taking place in a past era?

There is the temptation to treat people from earlier era as if they had all the same attitudes that we have today. Ideas about women or race, for example, were radically different in the 19th century from those of today (fortunately), even among people who considered themselves liberal. To be fair, they were radically different from today just 20 or 30 years ago, at least in their outward expression. On the other hand, historical writers very rarely tell it exactly as it was. A writer may wish to keep his or her characters’ attitudes entirely true to history, but very few really have the courage to do so. Most Victorians - even heroic and honourable ones - would have been considered racist misogynists by present standards, and that would shock a modern reader.

On the other hand, people from the past did not have different DNA from ourselves. There can be a temptation in historical writing to adopt a mannered and sonorous approach, especially in speech, on the principle that it sounds and feels more like what the reader will expect. In fact, a glance at the letters of Victorian soldiers, for example, will show that they expressed themselves very much as we do now, and that many words and phrases which we consider modern were in common parlance. My favourite is the expression ‘to hang out’, meaning to meet regularly with friends in some watering hole, which I had always assumed was a product of the 1960s: I discovered it recently in a letter written by Keats, circa 1810.

Another danger is that of making simple factual mistakes - giving people electric light before it was actually introduced or having them travel on underground trains before they were invented.

That said, though, readers are often surprised by how early some technological advantages actually did make their appearance. Did you know that there were electric cabs - yes, electric ones - in London by the mid 1890s? They were called ‘hummingbirds’: rather sweet, isn’t it? Unfortunately they weren’t very reliable, and good old-fashioned horses remained popular for another ten years and more.

The theme of revenge is quite a common one in the modern novel. What sets ‘Distant Thunder’ apart from other stories about revenge?

I like to think DISTANT THUNDER is not so much about revenge, as about the damage it does. I have tried to show how this burning sense of mission distorts Frank’s life, and thus the lives of those who love him - Grace, Mrs Rossiter, his brother Gifford. You might also argue, though, that as Frank’s leitmotif revenge is also responsible for everything else that happens to him. He would never have met Grace at all, for example, if it were not for this.

Would you describe ‘Distant Thunder’ as a story about revenge or love, or something else altogether?

To a large extent, it’s a story about the Empire. True, it’s a love story, and a murder mystery, and a tale of high adventure. But it has a lot to say about the way the British had acquired their empire, and prefigures the way they were soon to lose it. The Sudan campaign, for example, was in itself an act of revenge: Kitchener was sent to avenge Gordon’s death of fifteen years earlier because the British could not be seen to leave a defeat unanswered. They were afraid that would be interpreted as weakness and lead to rebellion in other subject territories. They had acted the same way towards the Zulus after the British defeat at Isandhlwana, and would do the same again against the Boers following the destruction of the British force at Majuba Hill. So Frank’s obsession is very much mirrored in the wider politics of his world.

It is also a story about the position of women within Victorian society. The 1890s, when Grace grows up, was a period of extraordinary revolution in women’s politics. The Pankhursts were already active, women were leading strikes (Annie Besant), writing in newspapers (Flora Shaw), travelling alone to darkest Africa (Mary Kingsley), and campaigning for reform (Octavia Hill). Readers have sometimes told me that they find Grace too bolshie and independent for the Victorian age, but in fact she had many contemporary role models. It would be 1918 before women got the vote (and even then only for the over-30s) but feminist activism had already started to free women from supine obedience to men long before that.

Grace and Frank are almost polarisingly different characters. What, to you, is the key thing that draws them together?

The fact that they are polar opposites is what attracts them. Frank is at the bottom of the heap, and has learned to manipulate for his own ends the power structure which put him there. Grace is wealthy and privileged and somewhat ashamed of it, which makes her the champion of people she does not truly understand. They complement each other. Frank, though he becomes a soldier, is never committed to the Empire. She, though she sacrifices a great deal for her socialist principles, never entirely frees herself of her love of wealth and power. Each of them would like to make the other happy, but can see no way to do it. Each of them senses that the other would make them complete.

Your novel, ‘Redemption Blues’, is an entirely different kind of story to ‘Distant Thunder’. Which genre do you find it easier to write in - mysteries like ‘Redemption Blues’ or epic love stories like ‘Distant Thunder’?

I’m comfortable with both. From where I’m standing, they’re just my stories: I don’t set out to write something deliberately different. It’s simply that one story gets labelled as belonging to one genre and the next is assigned to another. For the record my other book currently out in English, THE WARNING BELL (Orion Books, 2010, written under my former pen-name, Tom Macaulay), is different again, a modern-day father-son story with strong links to WWII and Occupied France.

I’m not alone. Lots of other writers mix genres. Sebastian Faulks, Robert Harris, Martin Amis, Graham Swift….

Your novels are almost notorious for the tense mood that grips the reader throughout. What tips can you give aspiring authors wanting to maintain tension in their own stories?

Avoid some of the mistakes I keep trying to correct in my own writing! Start the story far enough into the action to grip the reader from the get-go. Avoid too many flashbacks, especially at the start. Keep the chapters short and try to end them on a note which forces the reader to turn the page. If the reader cares about the characters, there is tension implicit in the very smallest shift of emotion or action and no need for big explosions and lots of carnage. There is virtually no violence in ‘REDEMPTION BLUES’, for example, and that sold a million and was hailed by everyone as the ultimate page-turner.

Of the novels you have written, which is your favourite and why?

That’s like asking me which of my kids do I love most! Actually it’s harder to answer than that, because I don’t have any kids. For colour, action and scope I like ‘DISTANT THUNDER’; for a painstaking exploration of the alliances we make when we fall in love I like ‘REDEMPTION BLUES’; for an exposition of how wartime trauma can echo down the generations I like ‘THE WARNING BELL’.

Do you have any projects in the pipeline you’d like to share with us?

Sure. I’m currently writing the sequel to ‘DISTANT THUNDER’, which will appear next year. And before that look out for the English-language debut of ‘THE END OF WINTER’, which is closer to a genuine crime mystery than anything else I have written. I’d expect to see that in e-book within the next few weeks and in print copy very soon after that.

Where can fans find out more about you and your work?

Try my website, follow me on Twitter @TDGRIGGS1 or just Google my name. And bear in mind, I’m happy to talk at readers’ groups, conferences, colleges, festivals, schools … just contact me through the site and we can discuss it.

Thanks to Tim for answering questions by Katy Hawkins.

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Man Booker Prize judges take part in Woodland Trust’s Jubilee Woods Project

Friday 8th March saw the judges of the 2012 Man Booker Prize for Fiction reunited as they travelled to the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Wood (QEDJW) in Leicestershire to plant trees with the Woodland Trust.

In contrast to their meetings during last year’s prize, this gathering saw the group donning their wellington boots and picking up spades to plant 12 saplings in the heart of the National Forest. These trees will become a living commemoration of the ‘Booker Dozen’ – the 12 titles longlisted for the 2012 prize.

They will be the fifth judging panel to take part in the prize’s ongoing collaboration with the Woodland Trust, providing a symbolic gesture to compensate for the trees felled in order to produce the hundred-plus books submitted for the prize each year.

Times Literary Supplement Editor Sir Peter Stothard, who chaired the panel, was joined by: Dinah Birch, academic and literary critic; Amanda Foreman, historian, writer and broadcaster and Bharat Tandon, academic, writer and reviewer.

Actor Dan Stevens was unable to make the trip due to filming commitments in America, but sent a message of support to his fellow judges: ‘Beautiful trees make beautiful books. Having turned more pages than I care to remember last year it's good to take a moment to recognise the provenance of paper, to encourage more to be made sustainably in the hope that more great works of literature will be printed on it.’

Ion Trewin, Literary Director of the Man Booker Prizes, joined the four judges and added: ‘Symbolic they might be, but each year's grove of trees is living testimony to the Man Booker prize and the great fiction chosen annually by our judges.'

The QEDJW is the centrepiece of the Woodland Trust’s Jubilee Woods Project, which will see 6 million trees planted to create hundreds of woods across the UK. The 460 acre site will be planted with 300,000 trees to link existing wildlife habitats, which already provide a home for skylarks, spotted flycatchers and butterflies.

Laura Judson, Head of Regional Development at the Woodland Trust, said: ‘Our aim is to increase the amount of native of woodland in the UK and creating woods on a large scale really captures the public imagination. Our partnership with Man Booker helps us highlight the need to sustain our native woods.’

For more information about the Jubilee Woods Project visit For further information about the prize please visit or follow on Twitter at

Monday, 11 March 2013

Mark Tredinnick, Australian Poet and Winner of Cardiff International Poetry Competition 2012 on a Tour of Wales

New Welsh Review is thrilled to announce that acclaimed Australian poet Mark Tredinnick will be visiting Wales this March in a celebratory tour organised by the literary magazine. His poem ‘Margaret River Sestets’, published in NWR 97, won the 2012 Cardiff International Poetry Competition, with a hefty £5,000 prize attached. Tredinnick has published eleven acclaimed works of poetry and prose, including his first lauded collection, Fire Diary (Puncher & Wattmann, 2010) and is regularly invited to read his work worldwide.
The tour dates are:

Monday 18th March | 19.00 – 21.00 | Free
The Ends of the Earth, The Atrium, Glamorgan University, Adam Street, Cardiff
Reading alongside poet and critic Jeremy Hooker
For more information contact:

Tuesday 19th March | 18.30 – 20.00 | Free
Aberystwyth University, Arts Centre Bookshop, Aberystwyth
Chaired by poet and novelist Katherine Stansfield
For more information contact:

Monday 25th March | 19.30-22.00 | £3.00
Poems and Pints, Queen’s Hotel, Carmarthen
Includes an open-mic
For more information contact: or (07772) 649316

Thursday 28th March | 19.30-21.30 | £4.00 / Conc.
Poets at the Dylan Thomas Centre, Somerset Place, Swansea
Includes an open-mic
For more information contact: (01792) 463980 or

Tuesday 26th March | 16.15-18.15 | £2.00 / £1.00
The Writers’ World, The Quad, University of Wales, Trinity Saint David, Carmarthen Campus
For more information contact: or

Friday 29th March | 19.30 - 00.00 | £3.00
Cellar Bards, Cellar Bar, Cardigan
Includes an open-mic
For more information contact: /
(07971) 660025 

Read our exclusive interview with Mark Tredinnick here.

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Guest Blog from Pete 'Cardinal' Cox, Poet

Sometimes your past comes back in an unexpected form. When I was a lad at school there was a band I was associated with, though what I did with this band would never have been described as singing. The other members were far more proficient at their respective chores (guitars, drums, etc.) than I was though this is where I first started writing for an audience. This band went through a variety of line-ups and through the late-Eighties/early-Nineties we were known as the Sonic Energy Authority. It happened that this coincided with me getting to know a small number of authors to whom I gave CDs of our work and some of them (including Jon Courtenay Grimwood, Peter F. Hamilton and Robert Rankin) were kind enough to slip mentions of the band into a novel or two. Well we’ve just got one of the tracks we recorded about twenty-five years ago onto the latest This is Peterborough CD from Rowdy Farrago Records (Peterborough Goes Forth). I doubt if it is available from HMV (due to their current situation) but can be downloaded via Amazon and other websites. As well as us (and you’ll quickly realise why we avoided fame) there are twenty more bands, many of whom are much better than us, including a track from the current Poet Laureate of Peterborough, Simon Stabler.

In one of my first contributions to the Book a Poet blog I mentioned that the really rather spiffing magazine Earth Love had folded. This was a shame as it had published a good variety of writers, from beginners through to editors of other publications, and raised money for a number of ecologically-related good causes. Fortunately Tracy Patrick, the editor of the lamented magazine, has been able to put together an anthology of the best poetry from the magazine. Yes, I’ve managed to get a poem in, but don’t let that put you off. A very nice book that deserves to be on the shelves of poetry fans. For details about ordering go to
Enough of this reminiscing, I’ve just been enlisted into the poetry team for an arts event in Peterborough called “Find me, Keep me” and if any of our plans come together, it looks like it will be pretty bonkers. With several teams ranging from sculpture through to theatre, this could make the Easter weekend one to remember. The poetry team is co-ordinated by Keely Mills (a fellow former Poet Laureate of Peterborough) and includes the current Laureate Simon (who I mentioned above) and MC Mixy (yes, another former Poet Laureate of Peterborough, and someone you can find out more about elsewhere on the Book a Poet website).”
© Pete Cox 2013

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

The Third Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Author is Announced!

Eleven Doctors. Eleven months. Eleven authors. Eleven stories.
A year long celebration for the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who!

The third instalment in a sensational series of stories celebrating the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who is written by Marcus Sedgwick, multi award-winning author of ‘Floodland’, ‘My Sword Hand is Singing’ and ‘Midwinterblood’. 'The Spear of Destiny' is out on the 23rd March 2013.

Doctor Who is the longest running sci-fi TV show in the world and celebrates its 50th anniversary on 23rd November 2013. To celebrate, Puffin – in partnership with BBC Worldwide – is publishing an exclusive series of eleven ebook short stories each based on one of the Eleven Doctors, priced at £1.99 and released on the 23rd of each month from January to November 2013. Each story is written by a different author, bringing together some of the most exciting names in children’s fiction, from commercial blockbusters to literary award-winners. These authors will each bring their own interpretation and reimagining of their chosen Doctor to create a unique Doctor Who adventure in their own inimitable style.

On 23rd January Artemis Fowl author Eoin Colfer launched the series with his story based on the First Doctor, A Big Hand for the Doctor, followed on 23rd February by Michael Scott’s adventure based on the Second Doctor, The Nameless City. The authors of the subsequent eshorts will continue to be unveiled on the BBC Worldwide Doctor Who Facebook page on the first Tuesday of every month throughout the year.  A promotional video featuring the author will be released on the 11th of each month on the BBC Worldwide Doctor Who YouTube channel.

Marcus Sedgwick commented: “To me, Jon Pertwee is the quintessential Doctor – a hero of both thought and action. When I was young he seemed like a schoolmaster you were a bit afraid of, and yet really liked at the same time. Bringing him back to life and pitting him against his old nemesis, The Master, was a huge thrill for me and I hope fans will recognise Jon in the pages of my story."

The Third Doctor and Jo Grant are trying to track down the magical spear of Odin when they find themselves caught up in a vicious battle between two Viking tribes. But one of the Vikings is even more dangerous than he appears to be. Can the Doctor stop the spear getting into the wrong hands before it’s too late ... ?


Photo credit Maureen Hansman, 2012
About Marcus Sedgwick

Marcus Sedgwick was born and raised in East Kent in the South-east of England. He now divides his time between a small village near Cambridge and the French Alps. Alongside a 16 year career in publishing he is established as a widely-admired writer of YA fiction and winner of many prizes, most notably the Branford-Boase Award for a debut novel ('Floodland'), and the Booktrust Teenage Prize ('My Swordhand is Singing'). His books have been shortlisted for over 30 other awards, including the Carnegie Medal (four times), Edgar Allan Poe Award (twice) and Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize (four times). His latest title in the UK is for younger readers: 'Monster Mountains', book two of the Elf Girl and Raven Boy series. 

Find out more at  
You can follow Marcus on Twitter @marcussedgwick

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Opportunity for Young Writers: Festival Young Critics

Are you a budding young writer or journalist aged 8-18 years? Interested in chatting to some award-winning children’s authors and getting published? 

The Festival has teamed up with Cardiff youth magazine theSprout to put together a group of Festival Young Critics. Throughout this year’s Cardiff Children’s Literature Festival (20th – 24th March) we are offering young people the chance to review, discuss and report on a festival event, in exchange for a complimentary ticket plus publication online.

The Festival Young Critics will be able to meet fellow young writers, not to mention some fantastic authors. Please note: young people under 16 must be accompanied by an adult when reviewing events.

To apply to be a Festival Young Critic and for further information, click here.

Info from Literature Wales.

Monday, 4 March 2013

Richard Tyrone Jones's Big Heart

How do you fight back when your own heart tries to kill you?

A spoken word show about heart failure. But with jokes. Shortly to become a BBC radio 4 mini-series, broadcast in Autumn 2013.

For his thirtieth birthday RTJ, the healthy, gym-going “Ringmaster of Spoken Word" (4 stars-ThreeWeeks) at Edinburgh's Free Fringe got an unexpected present: heart failure.

Now join him as he relives his perilous journey to the operating table and back again with his long-awaited, understandably-delayed debut solo show: a healthy prescription of cardiomyopoetry, (re)animation and anecdosage, not just for spoken word fans but for anyone who has a heart. Or failure ...

“fascinating, sobering, hilarious, and ultimately uplifting.” -  New Scientist  

Directed by RSA fellow Anthony Shrubsall (Zena Edwards' Security), with interactive projections from five-star animators and, on tour, surgical support from the UK's finest local spoken word artists.

"masterfully manages the listeners' mood as it oscillates between laughter and despair... It is a big-hearted show, and a valuable lesson in making the most of whatever life throws at you. Highly recommended." - Fringe Guru

"This show was the most thought-provoking I have seen this year at the Fringe... touching yet funny, gruesome yet poetic, informative yet uplifting." -  Buxton Fringe

Big Heart has opened Peterborough Arts Festival, received a 'Best spoken word show' nomination at the Buxton Fringe, as well as appearing at the Camden Fringe, been recommended in the Ham & High, New Yorker and Time Out. At the 2012 Edinburgh Fringe Richard won ThreeWeeks magazine's Editor's Choice award. September 2013 will see the show at the Vancouver Fringe.

“Well worth an hour of your time, this is a curiously life-affirming show from a charismatic and likeable performer.”- The Skinny.

In 2012, Richard won support from Wellcome Trust to develop the show with audio-visuals and organise a UK tour taking in Liverpool's Disability Arts festival, Canterbury Festival and collaboration with local live spoken word, comedy and science promoters. Big Heart also has support from the Cardiomyopathy Association, for whom Richard has raised £700+ at gigs.

“raw, at times graphic, and very funny.” - BBC Ouch!

Show duration: 55 minutes but can be expanded or contracted to suit.
Technical requirements: Room for our own screen, projector, sound and studio-size stage preferable, but can be adapted to suit.
Show style: Accessible poetry linked by amusing true-life narrative and scientific explanation. Only one swear word but still not recommended for children or the very squeamish.

“a refreshing innovation in the spoken word scene... a testament to how far we can all recover from even the darkest diagnoses.” -

Supporting workshops: Richard is an experienced and CRB-checked (1320279696) workshop leader who has worked with adult writing groups, vulnerable adults, museums, universities and schools. He was a poet on Apples & Snakes' Shake the Dust schools slam project and recently provided live interactive art for the Wellcome Collection (blog here).

He has a variety of workshops including those themed around illness and tackling other life problems which can follow on from a performance  of the show in your school, or offer cut-price tickets. Richard is based in London, but will travel across the UK and beyond.

"His manner of storytelling is engaging and compassionate. In many ways he is like a doctor with patients, explaining complex medical terms and experiences of trauma to a lay audience... I left feeling uplifted and inspired by a tale of such optimism in the face of death." - On the Fringe

"Stories about heart failure shouldn't be this cheering. An engrossing tale with rousing poetry." - fringebiscuit.

"I would have been mortified to have missed a second of this thoroughly engaging show... not only a magical use of the English language but the performance and presentation skills of an accomplished stage actor... I urge you to see this show!" - remotegoat.

If you are interested in booking Richard Tyrone Jones' Big Heart spoken word show or would like further information, please email

You can purchase Richard's poetry collection 'Germline' from Amazon.