Together the People Event #Brighton #Bookie Events

11873463_1141573805858130_6494183470167534546_nThis weekend, 5th and 6th Sept, myself and other Beach Hut Writers are appearing on the Soapbox at the Together the People Festival in Preston Park, Brighton.

Each evening at 6.15pm six authors will read a short extract from their work followed by a brief interview. We’re a diverse bunch, writing short stories, crime, literary fiction, women’s fiction, YA and more. Do come along to the soapbox stage if you fancy it. P.s. There are some fab bands appearing too, including Levellers, Super Furry Animals and Billy Bragg!

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Guest interview: Shirley Golden

Award-winning short story writer Shirley Golden has a collection out, Exposing the False Moon, and, despite being shy and private, she agreed to pop over and take part in my occasional, slightly frivolous, interview series. I adore Shirley’s work and Exposing the False Moon is an absolute treat. I’m including my review after our chat. So, thank you for being here, Shirley.

Describe yourself in seven words:

False MoonFanatical about fiction, nature, history and science.

Why short stories?

I like the intensity of reading and writing a short story.  Like a passionate fling, I want to emerge the other side, moved, and perhaps a little wiser.

Novellas or novels – to read and/or write?

I enjoy reading both but sometimes find my concentration falters, which is why I tend to read more short stories.  And as an add-on to the simile above, writing a novel or novella feels more like a long-term relationship.  I have to fall deeply in love with my characters to stay committed to it.

What should readers expect from your stories?

Expectations are difficult to predict as people tend to see different, and sometimes, unforeseen things in a story.  As a generalisation, I think my short stories fall into a no-man’s land between mainstream and literary fiction – perhaps a bit too odd for mainstream, but a bit too obvious/accessible for ‘literary’.  My novels are an even lighter read.  To me, they are adventure stories, which I hope contain interesting characters and plots that entertain.

In ‘Exposing the False Moon’, stories are populated with quirky characters and, in many, a sense of loss.  Where do you think this comes from?

Well, quirky seems to be an inherent part of my nature.  I’m attracted to difference, so I guess it’s inevitable that my characters aren’t going to do the expected.  Yes, loss is a recurrent theme.  I’m very resistant to base my fiction on anything remotely autobiographical.  But it’s impossible to separate imagination from experiences entirely.  My mum died when I was in my early twenties.  I carry that with me.  It leaks into my stories.

What inspires you?

All sorts: images, snippets of conversations, historical characters and events, reading about technological developments, other stories, and sometimes news items and documentaries.

ShirleyYour favourite place to hang out online?

Really, it’s my only place: Twitter.  It’s fast and furious and appeals to me because it is perhaps better suited to introverts.  It’s easy to get lost, and feels less personal than Facebook.

Best thing that’s ever happened to you?

The realisation that it’s okay to be quiet (one of the best things, other than a more conventional answer).

Top Tip for aspiring short story writers?

Keep the language focused, and remember that if you’re writing short stories, your aspirations have already been met!

Thanks, Shirley. Exposing the False Moon is out now to buy from Amazon. Here’s my review, and remember to support  #ReviewWomen2015:

If you enjoy stylish, provocative and downright quirky short stories then you’ll love this anthology from award-winning short story writer, Shirley Golden.

Thematically, the stories in Exposing the False Moon are about exploring new ways of being, whether it’s the disgruntled wife in Kite Flying, who literally and metaphorically, takes off on her own, the grieving mother in Tense learning to live with guilt and finding redemption from an unexpected quarter or the brother and sister learning to love in Outside the Atmosphere (possibly my favourite tale, though I might well change my mind tomorrow; there are so many good ones).

Stories are peopled with battered wives, mute teenagers, girls with tails and shadows too big for their bodies, old men who want to live like a rodent or in tree house. Although many of the characters are troubled – Golden excels at capturing the rage, confusion and ennui of youth – the narratives are delivered with such wit, such lightness of touch that you’ll be knocked sideways by the emotional punches delivered thereafter. There are laugh out loud moments too – in Resting Place a grieving old man lets loose a ‘trickle of relief’ and in the end ‘pissed everyone off’, and in Fabricate a Future ‘we’re a happily-ever-after tale that finished the night before’ and  a lie is an ‘invention … creative sounds better than deceptive’. Golden has a talent for the perfect word or phrase; her prose is lean and muscular and her observations spot-on.

It’s not often that I devour short stories. I had thought I would read a story a night, perhaps two, but in the end I read this fantastic collection in two sittings. Stories moved me, made me think, made me laugh. What more could a reader ask for? Go buy and enjoy.

Rollercoaster Day

Wow, yesterday was an emotional rollercoaster. The day began with an interview at Rosemary Allix’s Book Corner for Coastway Radio. I was there to talk about Public Battles, Private Wars and promote the free for Kindle offer that runs till the end of July. Rosemary is a talented host and an author herself, and an all-round delightful woman. Find out more about her here.

The hour long chat went by in a flash and we both agreed there was so much more we could have discussed about the book’s major themes: women’s changing roles since the 1980s, complex female relationships, thwarted love and betrayal. It was great to hear how much Rosemary is enjoying the novel and the characters. Warms the cockles and all that, but when I talk about that time and the inspiration behind the novel it dredges up all sorts of memories for me – not all of them happy. You can listen to the interview here: http://www.mixcloud.com/RosemaryA/laura-wilkinson-on-coastway/

From the radio station, I bombed home to check emails, talk to a couple of libraries about potential author events and then off to Ginger2’s school for his Year 6 graduation ceremony, a bundle of tissues clutched in my (sweaty) palm – it was 28 degrees here in Brighton (gulp). He is only ten, but off to secondary – yes, secondary – school in September. End of era for him, and for me; a salutary reminder of my own mortality and that my ‘baby’ is no longer any such thing. He managed to control himself during the ceremony – I didn’t, quite – but we both had a good boo when we got home.

Today, I still feel a bit wobbly, but I’ve a client’s novel to edit and my own WIP to return to. Here’s to me getting a grip and getting on!

Oh, What a Night!

Early June, in a Sussex barn – you can hum along to the old tune if you can remember it – seventeen book clubs, fun, food and wine, what a venue, what a night…

The Big Barn (photo by Sarah Rayner)

The Big Barn (photo by Sarah Rayner)

To explain. Last night, along with three other authors – including the wonderful Sarah Rayner whose latest novel Another Night, Another Day is a blinder – I had the privilege and pleasure of talking about my novel Public Battles, Private Wars to members of 17 different book groups in an enormous 400-year-old barn in rural Sussex.

Yes, 17; there were around 100 people present. Added to this was food and wine and representatives from East Sussex Library Service and a book stall selling our wares. The Big Book Club Bash in the Barn is the brainchild of and organised by Diana Carsons, a powerhouse of a woman with a serious passion for reading. Originally, she hails from Rhyl in north Wales, not far from where I grew up, so she has more than one thing to recommend her. Book club members come along with food and drink (and their own chairs) which is then laid out for all to share. After grub and chat, they listen to authors speak about their work and then representatives from each group talk briefly about their favourite reads of the year and those they found more challenging. They share ideas and tips, and as authors we get the opportunity to connect with readers, many of whom might not have been previously familiar with our work.

Diana sandwiched between me and Sarah

Diana sandwiched between me and Sarah

It was an incredible night. I spoke to many gorgeous people and sold all the copies of my novel that I’d brought. I stepped in at the last minute and had no time to get a decent stock, so admittedly this wasn’t too many. But given that I didn’t expect to sell any (I was speaking with best-selling novelists who’ve been around much longer than me) it was the icing on the cake of what was an exciting and memorable evening. Author heaven, I’d say.

Thank you to Diana and Sarah for inviting me. And to the book groups members for listening so attentively and, more importantly, for loving literature. Keep reading.