I asked author Peter Street to speak about his extreme experiences as a gravedigger and talented, autistic poet. What follows is a shocking, surprising, expressive record of survival against the odds.
Peter says about himself: “I left school barely able to read and write. I have very little logic which has held me back lots of the time, but it’s also given me a kind of freedom. It has separated me from the rest of society – I don’t feel a sense of failure or fear. I keep saying I was born outside the box.” Continue reading BORN OUTSIDE THE BOX→
I talked to Karen Eisenbrey who, in her own words: “Writes fantasy and science fiction novels, as well as short fiction in a variety of genres and the occasional poem if it insists.” Karen also sings in a church choir, plays drums in a garage band, and wrote songs for her debut YA novel The Gospel According to St. Rage , a finalist for the 2016 Wishing Shelf Book Awards .
Vici, who has written, directed and toured numerous plays, says of her work: “Anyone working in socially engaged work, in work that is a call to arms for equality in the arts, and particularly anyone working in Disability Theatre feels both a sense of responsibility to ‘get it right’ and also to create a piece of work that stands on its own artistic merits. Anyone making theatre does so because they want an audience to have a fantastic experience, and to see an exemplary piece of work. Even 27 years into my career, it always feels like so much rests on the work. Broadly in wider arts, there is an unspoken fear that disability work brings extra risk with it – ‘will people want to see it, will it be any good, does it have a place in our building’.” Continue reading DISABLED-LED THEATRE NOW→
I interviewed musician Ben Comeau about his innovative combinations of classical, jazz, pop and world music. Ben, who graduated top of his year in music from Cambridge University, UK, won the 2011 Northern Ireland International Organ Competition. He has performed his compositions in the Royal Albert Hall, the Wigmore Hall and Birmingham Symphony Hall as well as on BBC Radio 3. Ben has improvised live soundtracks to several silent films and is a committed environmentalist. In his own words, Ben is: “Always looking for ways to connect music to important social and political issues of our time.”
I interviewed Sue Hampton, author of 37 books for all ages, ambassador for Alopecia UK and climate activist about her latest novel Intact. I wanted to know how far my wife’s novel draws on real-life experience.
In Sue’s words, “Intact is the story of Mags, whose husband leaves her as she is about to turn sixty… As her life restructures itself again she remembers the foster child, Georgie, who loved her but was rejected by her father because he wasn’t a ‘proper boy’. Perhaps she can find him again, and recover the person she was meant to be.”
I interviewed Northern Irish author Caroline Grebbell about her many creative projects. Trained in animation and set design, Caroline has been an Art Director in film and television for over twenty years. In 2017, she achieved an MA with Distinction in Creative Writing from Edinburgh Napier University, and has since been nominated for a British Science Fiction Association Award. Her speculative novella Cala Briste is to be published later in the year. Caroline is a contributing writer for Extinction Rebellion.
I interviewed children’s book illustrator Sarah Lodge, who has been shortlisted for the AOI World Illustration Awards New Talent Award, asking her what goes into her artwork for books and exhibitions. Sarah says about herself: “I would get more enjoyment and purpose out of a child picking up a book I had illustrated than I would from an artwork hanging on a gallery wall.”