The launch party was ages ago now but I’ve been hectic, so it’s taken me a while to post about it. It was a delightful evening hosted in the gorgeous events room at New Writing South, well supported by lovely friends and colleagues in Brighton. Debbie and Barbie made the delicious cup cakes and Julia baked Mandy’s favourite cake – Victoria sponge. There was wine and beer and even a few books! Super talented Sarah Smith took the photos and here are a couple. There are more on my Pinterest site – Laura 1765 – so do check out my boards!
So, on Thursday night, I read at my first (and possibly last) slam. Part of the Brighton Digital Festival, and co-organised by Tara Gould of Story Studio and Amy Riley and Tim Lay of Grit Lit fame it was an evening of competitive fiction reading; not that you’d have noticed any competitiveness on the table where I sat with short story aficionado Shirley Golden and fellow female flashers (ooh that alliteration; nasty), Wendy Ann Greenhalgh, Amanda Oosthuizen, and Jo Gatford.
If you’re perplexed by the term Flash Slam – as I was – it involves writers reading extremely short works of fiction in a series of rounds after which authors are knocked out until a winner and two runners-up are declared. It’s the sort of thing I would normally scarper from pronto, were I able to run in my skyscraper heels. But, I’d promised. So, I dragged my sorry ass to the Latest Bar in Kemp town, where I read – with shaking hands and rigid legs (I thought I might topple over with fear) – two 300 word stories. As a writer more comfortable with 100,000 words, the required brevity presented another challenge.
To my surprise I almost enjoyed it. Almost. Reading that is. I LOVED listening to the other flashers’ work. My God, it was good. And some of it was breathtakingly so. Each and every piece I heard had something surprising, something funny, or magical, or touching, or unsettling. If you’ve never been to a slam, or night of flash fiction, I recommend that you try it. The neatness of the form means that as a listener you’re able to fully concentrate on each and every word, appreciate the story in its completeness. Like holding it in the palm of your hand. Gorgeous. There are some great short fiction events in Brighton – Grit Lit, Rattle Tales, and Story Studio to name three. Check one out. I’m sure you won’t regret it.
Here’s a list of all those who took part at the Latest, with a special mention to the (well-deserved) winner and runners-up. I would have found it impossible to judge.
Tom Briars (@Tom_Briars)
Jo Gatford (@minstrelmonkey) 2ND RUNNER UP
The judges were Dave Swann (author and senior lecturer on Creative Writing at the University of Chichester) and Juliet West (novelist, poet and short story writer whose book, Before the Fall, will be released in 2014)
Last Thursday, on a cold and blustery evening I ventured into Hove to attend an interactive story-telling event, Rattle Tales, established and run by a group of Brighton-based writers, including my fellow Beach Hut Writer, Erinna Mettler. The room at the back of the Brunswick was inviting on many levels, not least for the warmth it offered – it was tropical in there by the end of the evening. Laid out cabaret lounge style, with low lighting and a stage, it was a perfect, intimate environment for an evening of pictures and words.
The gig was rammed, though this is not the first time a Rattle Tales night has sold out. It’s easy to see why. Unlike many other spoken word events where the audience sit quietly, and passively, while authors and poets read their work, at Rattle Tales audience members are given the opportunity to question the story-teller about their inspiration, characters and motivation, attracting attention with a swing on the rattle positioned on every table. It’s dynamic and exciting, and the rattles are tiny, but loud. I’m not sure why, but I’d anticipated full size football supporter rattles, but these are an altogether more delicate affair. And so cute!
Hosted by Jo Warburton the evening got off to a cracking start with a piece of flash fiction by Ether Books stalwart Shirley Golden. There were tales of pirates, a tailed girl, collectors of co-incidence, zombie babies and a former miner reflecting on the death of an old woman (Thatcher). They were, variously, funny, moving and thought-provoking. And all were very entertaining.
Images inspired by the tales and taken by local photographers were projected onto a screen as the story-tellers read and this added another dimension to an altogether fascinating evening. Rattling good reads all. For more information about Rattle Tales and the work they do (including creative writing workshops) click here. Rattle Tales Anthologies 1 & 2 are available in paperback and e-book here. Writers who read work (and whose websites and blogs I could find) are listed here. Click on their names for more information: Paul McVeigh, Amanda Welby-Everard, Mike Liardet, Alice Cuninghame, Cahir McDaid, and Craig Melvin.
The photographers can be contacted through Brighton & Hove Camera Club here. They are Chantal Lonsdale, Vicky Lamburn, Chris Wright, Jean Gerrard, Phil Robinson, Andre Jolley, Aileen Beddinson and Rob Mettler.