KAREN MAITLAND CONJURES UP THE PAST (PART 2)

Karen Maitland at Le Havre Festival

Continuing my interview with well-known novelist Karen Maitland, I asked her about writing collectively and how her studies and personal interests have contributed to her books. Karen is an authority on ’hidden’ medieval history, has several historical thrillers published by Penguin and Headline, and will be on the panel in two discussions at the Historical Novel Society Conference, 2nd – 4th September. Continue reading KAREN MAITLAND CONJURES UP THE PAST (PART 2)

KAREN MAITLAND – CONJURING UP THE PAST WITH GHOSTS, SAINTS, MIRACLES & CURSES (part 1)

Karen-Maitland

I first met historical-thriller author Karen Maitland as one of the speakers at a Something Rhymed discussion about gender inequality in the literary world. Karen talked about how she writes thrillers that aim to give a more authentic, women-friendly picture of the Middle Ages than the conventional focus on battles, ships and weapons. Afterwards, I asked Karen, who is published by Penguin and Headline, to share her experiences as a major writer and interpreter of the medieval mind-set.

Leslie: You write scholarly medieval thriller fiction with elements of fantasy. What is the story behind you adopting/developing this genre? Continue reading KAREN MAITLAND – CONJURING UP THE PAST WITH GHOSTS, SAINTS, MIRACLES & CURSES (part 1)

CREATIVE INTERVIEW 26 – THE ARTIST AS CARER

Aya Hastwell with some of her portraits of ‘Invisible People’ .

I first met artist Aya Hastwell at her exhibition ‘Invisible People’. I asked Aya about her growth as an artist and how she works on portraits of people who have been marginalised.

Leslie: Can you tell us, please, about the portraits you recently exhibited of elderly people, carers and people with mental health issues?

Aya: In 2013 I decided to do a series of portraits of the Service Users at Guideposts. A major reason why I started volunteering at Guideposts, by the way, was that my son is bipolar. I became a staff member a few months ago,

I suggested the portraits idea to the art group members I was working with and asked them to contribute to the project by designing and painting a background for their own portrait. The background had to reflect their personality, be it related to their mental health issue or to their memories or families, etc. Continue reading CREATIVE INTERVIEW 26 – THE ARTIST AS CARER

Caroline Hagood – poetry as a walk on the wild side

Caroline Hagood

When I interviewed New York poet Caroline Hagood I asked her some very direct questions . Caroline’s answers were even more direct – full of wit, invention and surprises. As a teacher at Fordham University, Caroline has edited a multi-media graduate magazine, writes for The Guardian and Huffington Post and has two published volumes of poetry, Lunatic Speaks and Making Maxine’s Baby. In the words of Joan Larkin, Caroline’s poetry is about ‘the loneliness, wild creativity and valor of survival’.

Leslie: If you had to give a Ted Talk describing your writing to an unfamiliar audience, what would you say about it? Continue reading Caroline Hagood – poetry as a walk on the wild side

CREATIVE INTERVIEW 24 – HOW DEEP IS SCI-FI?

Science fiction isn’t all spaceships and star systems; it’s about the inner demons of the mind as wellDave Weaver.

Dave Weaver

After appearing together at Banbury Literary Live, I asked Dave Weaver, author of two science fiction/fantasy novels and three collections of futuristic short stories, if he would answer a few questions about his writing. Dave, who is chair of Verulam Writers’ Circle, describes his writing as ‘about the weirdness of everyday living’ and ‘a little on the stranger side of life’.

 Leslie: Your novel The Black Hole Bar has been compared to Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales or Boccaccio’s Decameron. Can you explain the similarities and the differences, please? Continue reading CREATIVE INTERVIEW 24 – HOW DEEP IS SCI-FI?

INTERVIEWING PRESIDENT OBONJO – WILL THE REAL COMEDIAN PLEASE STAND UP

President Obonjo
Benjamin Bankole Bello

I interviewed President Obonjo, who is a well-known, larger-than-life performer in alternative stand-up. As The President, he comes on stage in full uniform, requiring his audience to stand in his presence and listen to absurd tales of his iron rule over the ‘Lafta Republic’. Behind The President is a very different persona, Benjamin Bankole Bello, a quiet man whose identity has been stolen by The President and whose wife is in love with the other man.

Obonjo reached the finals of the New Act of the Year 2016 and received a five-star rating at the Edinburgh Fringe last year. He is currently through to the semi-final of the English Comedian of the Year. In the past he’s been Luton Comedian of the Year and winner of Beat the Gong, Beat the Frog, Bath Comedy Gladiators & Hastings Comedian of the month. He often plays to audiences of 150+ up and down the country.

Leslie: Where do you get your sense of humour from? Continue reading INTERVIEWING PRESIDENT OBONJO – WILL THE REAL COMEDIAN PLEASE STAND UP

CREATIVE INTERVIEW 22 – SELKIE MOON AND THE AUTHOR AS MEDIUM

Virginia King Writing in the Outback

I interviewed prolific Australian author Virginia King whose journey of discovery through publishing has led to her Selkie Moon Mystery series. Virginia’s CV includes being a teacher, the author of over 50 children’s books, an audio-book producer, a workshop presenter and a prize-winning publisher. These days she lives in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney with her husband, where she disappears each day into Selkie Moon’s latest mystery. Continue reading CREATIVE INTERVIEW 22 – SELKIE MOON AND THE AUTHOR AS MEDIUM

Guest blog by Andrew Dillon: Rediscovering the Body in Auvillar, France

A summary of experiences at Virginia Center for the Creative Art’s 2014 “O Taste and See” workshop by Andrew Dillon.

Andrew writing the river.

It’s about 2pm in small-town southern France, what feels to me like early spring (although it’s mid-May), and I’m sitting with my back against a picnic table, facing the Garonne, growing frustrated. I’m cold because I only brought one pair of jeans and nothing warmer than a wind-breaker to Europe, but that’s not why I’m irritated. I briefly consider that I’ll never find in Knoxville a rosé better than the one I had with lunch, but that’s not it, either. I try hearing the river flow in this present moment. Just water. I shift forward, crane my neck, and swear. The reason I’m annoyed is that the damn river won’t say anything to me.

Dr. Marilyn Kallet, our literary leader and guide to Auvillar‘s food, wine, flowers, community, and other muses, has instructed us to “let the river answer.” The prompt plays on a line in Leonard Cohen’s ‘Suzanne’. Continue reading Guest blog by Andrew Dillon: Rediscovering the Body in Auvillar, France

Author and Poet