All posts by Leslie Tate

BEN DRAKE COLLECTIVE – THE SONG COMES FIRST

Left to right: Ben Drake, Becky Blackwell, Arup Ghosh, Gary Bates and Simon Parry

The Ben Drake Collective are folk/rock musicians who work as a team, rather than as competing individuals. Ben Drake himself says: ‘the song is greater than any of us; it’s not everyone playing just to be heard. If a song sounds better with one of us not playing on it then that person is happy to sit that one out – that includes me.’ The collective performs as a big-sound rock band with guitarist Ben Drake and Becky Blackwell on vocals, Arup Ghosh  on drums, Gary Bates and Simon Parry on guitars,  Paul Kimmett on keyboards and, Liz Townsend on cello. The line-up for their acoustic sets is Ben, Becky, Gary and occasionally Paul. I asked Ben about where their multi-layered, eclectic sound comes from. Continue reading BEN DRAKE COLLECTIVE – THE SONG COMES FIRST

NATASHA COLLINS – CAKE-PAINTER EXTRAORDINAIRE

Natasha Collins

I asked expert cake-painter Natasha Collins about the creative and practical skills that go into her range of painted ‘Nevie-Pie Cakes’. Natasha is well-known in the industry for her work with The Stay Puft Company which has included The Kerrang awards, the bridge of cake for Westfield’s opening, ‘Cakey Perry’ high teas and a Christmas range for Selfridges.

Leslie: What you do at Nevie-Pie Cakes, and what are and the materials and skills that go into what you do? Continue reading NATASHA COLLINS – CAKE-PAINTER EXTRAORDINAIRE

RICK CROSS: THE VIEW FROM INSIDE NASA – AUTHOR AND WHOVIAN SPEAKS (Part 2)

Rick Cross

In part two of his interview, author and senior NASA media writer Rick Cross talks about his creative methods, his struggles with personal illness and the humane face of science.

Leslie: How as an author do you go about finding ideas and making your themes ‘scientifically plausible’?

Rick: I suppose the idea part comes the way it does for nearly every writer: I entertain internal fantasies about situations, unspool these little mind-movies in which unlikely scenarios unfold behind my eyes. Sometimes there’s not much there: a single image or moment, a snapshot. And sometimes things will play out at length, over time. Continue reading RICK CROSS: THE VIEW FROM INSIDE NASA – AUTHOR AND WHOVIAN SPEAKS (Part 2)

RICK CROSS: THE VIEW FROM INSIDE NASA – AUTHOR AND WHOVIAN SPEAKS (Part 1)

Rick Cross portrait taken with an ancient hand-cranked camera by his friend and fellow writer George Evans.

I talked to Rick Cross, senior NASA media writer and winner of the Silver Snoopy award for his interviews with astronauts and his coverage of early spaceflight missions. Rick is also the author of short stories and the novel Times Squared, a licensed Doctor Who spinoff. I wanted to find out how Rick’s unique access to the premier location for space exploration might help and inspire his work as a sci-fi author.

Leslie: Could you explain what you do as senior media writer at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Centre in Huntsville, Alabama. What’s it like to work there? Continue reading RICK CROSS: THE VIEW FROM INSIDE NASA – AUTHOR AND WHOVIAN SPEAKS (Part 1)

THE TIME OF TRIAL

This is a man’s, man’s, man’s, man’s world but it wouldn’t be nothing, nothing without a woman – James Brown.

In the Milgram experiment the experimenter (E) convinces the subject (“Teacher” T) to give what he believes are painful electric shocks to another subject, who is actually an actor (“Learner” L). Many subjects kept giving dangerous shocks despite pleas of mercy from the actors.

I was nine when the bullying began. l remember walking home from school followed by a gang of small boys. They hunted in a pack, laughing and shouting out names from a distance. Every afternoon I shut out their calls and kept going in the hope they’d get tired and try someone else. As I walked I told myself I wasn’t really there. Part of me felt that they had the upper hand – so if I fought and lost that would be shameful but if I beat them up then I’d be the bully. I was afraid that if I turned around they’d see my tears and call out even more and if I tried to catch them they’d dodge like flies, jeering at my clumsiness. And like those flies, they were dirty and demanding, and there was nothing I could do to shake them off.

So why did it happen?

Continue reading THE TIME OF TRIAL

TINLIN – A LIFE IN MUSIC

I find that the best songs always come really quickly, in that white heat of creativity when all the stars are aligned properly. These are wonderful gifts, that only come along every so often.                                      – Alex Tinlin

Tinlin

I interviewed prolific musical duo Tinlin, who have appeared in the Glastonbury Festival as well as numerous concert halls in the UK, Europe and Australia.

With seven years of touring behind them, Alex and Rolf Tinlin are highly-respected instrumentalists and songwriters. Their fifth album, Strangely Blue, was welcomed by Time & Leisure as, ‘mixing folk balladry with a modern complex arrangements and chord structures’, and their folk/indie sound was praised by The Messenger Online as, ‘intelligent songs full of modulation, minor keys and harmony’. Continue reading TINLIN – A LIFE IN MUSIC

THE HEALING POWER OF CAKES AND STORIES

I started helping Michael to write down his Chocolate Land stories… We progressed to making figures and creatures out of sweets and fondant. I took his ideas and fleshed them out… into cookbooks with a story for children.                                                                                              Robbie Cheadle

Robbie Cheadle

It was only because of her son’s serious illness that Robbie Cheadle discovered her gift for combining children’s stories with cake making.

Robbie says about herself: “My father died when I was three months old and my mother immigrated to South Africa from the UK. Since then I’ve attended fourteen different schools – this gave me lots of opportunities to meet new people and learn lots of social skills!” Robbie has written textbooks as a chartered accountant, but her real love is the Sir Chocolate series of books that she co-authored with her eleven year-old son, Michael.

Robbie writes: Continue reading THE HEALING POWER OF CAKES AND STORIES

THE ROMANY SPIRIT AND THE GIFT OF ILLNESS

Acting photo of Raine

I interviewed Raine Geoghegan about how her writing and stage work have been affected by M.E. and Fibromyalgia. Raine, a former actress, dancer, theatre director and choreographer, worked in the West End and London Fringe. She has now moved into writing prose, poetry and teaching short courses in drama and voice work. Raine has an MA in Creative Writing and has been published in Anima; Poetry & Jazz Magazine; Reflections of the South Downs, Mslexia, and Creating Connections, a disability living magazine. Currently Raine is working on a project with a mentor based on her Romany Heritage. She has had M.E. and Fibromyalgia for twenty years. Continue reading THE ROMANY SPIRIT AND THE GIFT OF ILLNESS