BOOKS AS SPORT, ARTWORKS, WORDSEARCH, CARD TRICKS?

A piece about how the writer’s imagination works, using examples from my recently published novel, Love’s Register.

My thoughts about writing Love’s Register begin with the image of the novel as a house of cards. What I see is an interlocking structure where each word has to be added carefully, judging how much weight it can bear. If the words hold together they support each other, if they don’t the whole caboodle comes tumbling down.

But to keep up that balancing act all the way is difficult. It’s a long hard journey and a well-judged finish – whether it’s a denouement or a reveal – can make all the difference. It’s what I look for when I read with a novelist’s eye, comparing the quality of the first and last chapters. Continue reading BOOKS AS SPORT, ARTWORKS, WORDSEARCH, CARD TRICKS?

SLOWSTITCH, TEXTILE SCULPTURES AND PAST LIVES

Maria Walker – Masculinity Femininity. Maria’s artistic explorations of EMBODIMENT – how we experience the world through our bodily senses – have led her to explore the inside of our bodies from synapses to neurons as well as our bodily relationship with the landscape, pain and dreaming.

I interviewed Maria Walker whose stitched work and sculptures tell stories about working class people and the secrets of the human body. The materials she uses can range from embroidering fine silks onto linen napkins, to stitching car tyres with thick rope and copper piping. These process-led techniques, together with academic research, underpin Maria‘s large-scale, abstract sculptural work and her organic looping structures.

Leslie: What’s unusual and original about your stitched work and sculptures, please?

Maria: I’d like to think that all my work is original, as my inspiration comes from my research and how I react the world on a personal level. I have my own artistic language, which I use to create my art and this is like my handwriting. However the truth is, there will be other artists who have similar interests to me, they may have read the same books and may be doing similar things with similar materials, so perhaps nothing is entirely unique. Continue reading SLOWSTITCH, TEXTILE SCULPTURES AND PAST LIVES

IS HISTORICAL FICTION FACTUAL OR SPECULATIVE?

Leslie Tate reading at a Milton Keynes Foodbank Event, photo by Ashra Burnham

When I started Love’s Register, although the book covers 100 years of family relationships, it didn’t occur to me that I was writing a historical novel. So why didn’t I see what I was doing? Partly because I took it for granted that stories in past tense come from memory, and partly because characterisation (together with language) is my starting point. As a Modernist author I’m less driven by story, more interested in individual and group psychology. In fact, my characters often know more about what will happen next than I do. So to keep my creative freedom, I set out to write social history, avoiding known events or famous people. Continue reading IS HISTORICAL FICTION FACTUAL OR SPECULATIVE?

REVIEWING THE UNUSUAL

CR Dudley

In this interview with CR Dudley she talks about her independent press Orchid’s Lantern, which specialises in crossovers between the arts and “… a range of short fiction, articles and reviews of the unusual.” CR Dudley also talks about Thelema, Jung, and her creative methods as a writer and artist.

Leslie: Can you describe how ‘the unusual’ reveals itself in your different literary and artistic projects? What was the life process from childhood onwards that led to you choosing this creative genre? Continue reading REVIEWING THE UNUSUAL

THE ART OF STAINED GLASS

Tamsin Abbott: Herefordshire Garden.

I interviewed Tamsin Abbott who has been producing innovative stained glass for the last 20 years, as featured on BBC TV’s Countryfile and in Country Living magazine. To reach her current level of expertise, Tamsin studied stained glass and illustration for several years. She then invested in a kiln and studio at her rural Herefordshire home, where she still lives and works with her husband and chair-maker, Mike.

Leslie: As a stained-glass artist and illustrator, can you describe your themes, influences and inspirations, please?

Tamsin: As a child I was always torn between words and pictures and imagined that one day I would write and illustrate my own books. After A levels I completed a degree in English Studies, specialising in medieval literature and immersed myself in the enchanted land of chivalric romance. Continue reading THE ART OF STAINED GLASS

VITAL XPOSURE – DISABILITY LEADS THE WAY, Part 2

In the second part of my interview with the disabled-led theatre company Vital Xposure I talked to the company’s founder, Julie McNamara and its new director Simon Startin about all the exciting shows it has researched and put on, its importance for marginalised people, and the unique qualities of inclusive drama. Continue reading VITAL XPOSURE – DISABILITY LEADS THE WAY, Part 2

VITAL XPOSURE – DISABILITY LEADS THE WAY – Part 1

Vital Xposure describe themselves as, “a disabled-led touring theatre company that promotes hidden voices with extraordinary stories to tell… All our work presents an inclusive experience where access issues do not intrude upon the aesthetic of the productions.”

I was lucky enough to interview the company’s founder, Julie McNamara, who led the company’s creative work for the its first 10 years and its new director actor, playwright and activist, Simon Startin.

Continue reading VITAL XPOSURE – DISABILITY LEADS THE WAY – Part 1

CAITLIN DAVIES – AUTHOR AND CULTURAL ACTIVIST

Caitlin Davies

I interviewed Caitlin Davies, author of several books about powerful women, as well as a teacher, social historian, and ambassador for the Thames Baths project. A former investigative journalist in Botswana (during which she was twice arrested), Caitlin‘s human rights work included coverage of the removal of the Basarwa people from the Central Kgalagadi Game Reserve, and research into violence against women in Botswana’s North West. In 2000 she received an award from the Media Institute for Southern Africa, in ‘recognition of consistent and outstanding journalist work.’

Leslie: You’re a cultural activist in many fields. Where do you think your creativity, adaptability and tendency to work in diverse fields comes from? What are your core skills and how have you nurtured them? Continue reading CAITLIN DAVIES – AUTHOR AND CULTURAL ACTIVIST

A VISIONARY’S SCULPTURES

Clare Ferguson-Walker

Interview with visionary sculptor Clare Ferguson-Walker, who says about her work:  “I find making sculptures incredibly hard work, requiring an enormous amount of patience, but they haunt me in visions almost constantly and the only thing I can do to relieve the pressure of that is to make them.” Clare has a home-based workshop in Wales where she lives with her two children.

Leslie: If I came across your sculptures in a gallery, what would they look like and be made of? What would be their general themes and areas of interest? Continue reading A VISIONARY’S SCULPTURES

Author and Poet