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?

DARK HORSE THEATRE ROCKS

I interviewed Amy Cunningham, artistic lead for Dark Horse Theatre, about how the company put on innovative and powerful shows by learning-disabled actors that reverse audience expectations. Amy also talked about her work as a trustee of  Theatre in Prisons and Probation (TIPP), making “People who are perceived to be less valuable become more valuable.” Continue reading DARK HORSE THEATRE ROCKS

MAGGIE BRALEY’S MUSIC – A LIFELONG SOUL JOURNEY

Maggie Braley on guitar and singing

I interviewed indie musician Maggie Braley who composes her own songs and leads community singing. Maggie, who is a rock climber from Belper, Derbyshire and a passionate environmentalist, says that learning to sing both folk and classical music, “has been a lifelong soul journey.”

Leslie: What were the early experiences that led you towards being a musician? Continue reading MAGGIE BRALEY’S MUSIC – A LIFELONG SOUL JOURNEY

MARGALIT FOX: FROM SHOVELING COMMAS TO CHANGING THE NEW YORK TIMES’ OBITS – FOREVER! (2)

Margalit Fox – The Riddle of the Labyrinth

In the second part of my interview with Margalit Fox, whose writing in The New York Times has helped develop a new literary approach to obituaries, I asked about her nonfiction books. They include Margalit‘s story of the race to decipher the mysterious Bronze Age script known as Linear B, The Riddle of the Labyrinth. That book was chosen as one of the hundred best books of the year by The New York Times and received the 2014 William Saroyan Prize for International Writing.

Originally trained as a cellist, Margalit holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in linguistics from Stony Brook University and a master’s degree from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. Her work is prominently featured in The Sense of Style (2014), the popular guide to writing well by Steven Pinker, and Obit., the behind-the-scenes 2017 documentary by Vanessa Gould. Continue reading MARGALIT FOX: FROM SHOVELING COMMAS TO CHANGING THE NEW YORK TIMES’ OBITS – FOREVER! (2)

MARGALIT FOX: FROM SHOVELING COMMAS TO CHANGING THE NEW YORK TIMES’ OBITS – FOREVER! (1)

Margalit Fox

I interviewed  one of the leading literary stylists in American journalism, Margalit Fox, about her 24-year-career at The New York Times. As a member of the newspaper’s celebrated obituary news department, Margalit has written the Page One send-offs for Betty Friedan, Maya Angelou, Seamus Heaney, Adrienne Rich, Maurice Sendak, and many more. Margalit has also written the obituaries of many of the unsung heroes of history, including the inventors of the Frisbee, the crash-test dummy, the plastic lawn flamingo and the bar code. She is the author of four narrative nonfiction books, with the newest, The Confidence Men: How Two Prisoners of War Engineered the Most Remarkable Escape in History, published on June 1 by Random House. 

Leslie: Can you tell us, please, what led to you writing obituaries for the New York Times. What have you learned about the stylistic/emotional considerations and researching someone’s life? What’s been ground-breaking about your obituary writing? Continue reading MARGALIT FOX: FROM SHOVELING COMMAS TO CHANGING THE NEW YORK TIMES’ OBITS – FOREVER! (1)

A WILLOW ARTIST SPEAKS

Hazel Godfrey at work, Christmas showcase

Interview with willow artist Hazel Godfrey, who says about her work: ” I am inspired by nature and love working with natural materials. I grow willow locally in North Herts and this provides for the mainstay of my weaving. I also use other natural materials such as cane, bark, leaves and found items, and have recently added beeswax to my repertoire – an interesting sculptural material to explore.”

Leslie: Looking back, what’s the story of how you came to be a willow artist? Continue reading A WILLOW ARTIST SPEAKS

INCLUSIVE SHAKESPEARE WITH 1623 THEATRE

Ben Spiller

I interviewed Ben Spiller Artistic director of 1623 Theatre Company who are: ‘marginalised people working creatively for social justice with you and Shakespeare’.  Ben talks about adapting Shakespeare’s works to reflect the experiences of People of Colour, LGBTQIA individuals, people who are disabled as well as people with mental health conditions. Ben’s interview ‘holds up a mirror’ to the remarkable characters Ben works with – and how they challenge negative and restrictive stereotypes.

Leslie: Can you tell us about what you do as Artistic Director of 1623 Theatre Company, please. What have you learned from carrying out this role? Continue reading INCLUSIVE SHAKESPEARE WITH 1623 THEATRE

TELLING THE STORY BEHIND ANTIQUE TEXTILES

I interviewed embroiderer, book artist and printmaker Annwyn Dean about how she uses antique textiles, “… to draw the viewer into the piece to consider the history of the designer, maker and wearer of the textile.” Annwyn‘s exceptional Collagraph-printed books also make the connection, “… between the viewer, myself the artist and the original fabric, so encouraging consideration of the original textile and its history.” Continue reading TELLING THE STORY BEHIND ANTIQUE TEXTILES

A BANK THAT IS ETHICAL, SUSTAINABLE & TRANSPARENT

Neil Sellers

To find out about sustainable banking I talked to Neil Sellers, Head of Credit Risk at Triodos Bank UK. Neil offers his views on how we can change banking in line with the 5th report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and what personal experiences have led him to be a part of Triodos.

Leslie: You work as Credit Lead for Triodos Bank UK. Can you briefly introduce the bank and your job, please? Continue reading A BANK THAT IS ETHICAL, SUSTAINABLE & TRANSPARENT

Author and Poet