All posts by Leslie Tate

WELSH-ENGLISH POET WITH ONE FOOT IN NEW ORLEANS

clare potter – who chooses lower case for her writer name – pictured at the Hay Festival by Paul Musso.

I interviewed multi-talented Welsh writer clare e. potter, who has won the John Tripp Award for Spoken Poetry and danced in Gary Clarke’s production of Coal – an on-stage experience clare spoke of as, ‘life-changing’.

clare has been active in the Literature Wales Dylan Cross-Art Form projects, which she described as: “Run by two paired artists who went into schools and pupil referral units to make work based on Dylan Thomas. The ensuing creations could be expressed through film, dance, a scene from a play, poems or sculpture.” She is also one of the Arts Council of Wales’ practitioners for the Lead Creative School initiative where, she says, “I worked with a sculptor and an actor/gamer with a group of ‘disengaged’ primary school children.” Continue reading WELSH-ENGLISH POET WITH ONE FOOT IN NEW ORLEANS

HIRAETH, SACRED STORIES AND THE HISTORICAL NOVEL

Elizabeth Jane Corbett outside the Welsh-speaking centre Canolfan, named after Hywel Dda (Howell the good), the Welsh king credited with codifying Welsh law. Elizabeth says: ‘My current work in progress is being written from the first person point of view of Owain Glyndwr’s wife. I wanted to understand the laws of Hywel better.”

I interviewed Elizabeth Jane Corbett, who won the Bristol Short Story Prize and was shortlisted for the Allan Marshall Short Story Award. Elizabeth lives in Australia, where she teaches Welsh, is an author and librarian, and writes articles for the Historical Novel Review and blogs at elizabethjanecorbett.com. Elizabeth says about herself: “I live with my husband, Andrew, in a renovated timber cottage in Melbourne’s inner-north and I like red shoes, dark chocolate, commuter cycling, and reading quirky, character driven novels set once-upon-a-time in lands far away.” Elizabeth’s debut novel The Tides Between , shortlisted for the HarperCollins Varuna Manuscript Development Award, is published by Odyssey Books.

 Leslie: Can you tell us in a nutshell about your young adult historical novel The Tides Between, please? Continue reading HIRAETH, SACRED STORIES AND THE HISTORICAL NOVEL

AND THEN THERE WAS BLUE

The first book in the trilogy, Purple, is a coming-of-age novel, a portrait of modern love and a family saga. Set in the North of England, it follows the story of shy ingénue Matthew Lavender living through the wildness of the 60s and his grandmother Mary, born into a traditional working-class family. Both are innocents who have to learn more about long-term love and commitment, earning their independence through a series of revealing and closely-observed relationships.
Although Blue is the second book in the trilogy, it stands on its own and makes sense without having read ‘Purple’.

Blue, the second book in the Lavender Blues trilogy, was based on my experiences in the 80s as a member of a feminist-led collective – but shaped and adapted to fit the logic of fiction. The words and the characters were my main guide, taking me to places I hadn’t expected. The themes were feminism, marriage and open relationships, but only as they developed in their own sweet way. What I had to establish was the ebb and flow of feelings as an authentic experience, and this meant that the beginning was seminal. Like the first few bars in a symphony, the opening paragraph signposted the key, tempo and mood.

So what did I hear at the start?

Blue begins with a quiet, observational figure – with moments of unease and the word ‘enough’ running through the mind of my protagonist, Richard Lavender. By contrast, my second subject, his wife Vanessa, sails in noisily with a messy exchange with her children and her close friend Ruth. Then the narrative voice kicks in, taking us back through the first ten years of Richard and Vanessa’s relationship. The emerging pattern is: intro – smooth exposition – back to theme, using the word ‘enough’ as leitmotif. Continue reading AND THEN THERE WAS BLUE

THE MUSIC OF RESISTANCE

Joe Rhinewine

I interviewed psychologist and musician Joe Rhinewine about his recently-released anti-Trump album, ‘Monkey Grasps at Uranium’. I wanted to get a picture of The Resistance in America and how the President’s election has changed the lives of concerned citizens like Joe. 

Leslie: Can you tell us about how the album began, please, and its most important influences? Continue reading THE MUSIC OF RESISTANCE

JENNIFER SMEDLEY AND PLANTAPRESS – GROWING AN INDIE PUBLISHING HOUSE

Jennifer Smedley signing books to her cousin.

I interviewed grassroots publisher and author Jennifer Smedley about running an independent publishing house and writing her own novels.

Leslie: As owner and creative director, can you tell us the story in a nutshell of Plantapress from how it began up to today?

Jennifer: I started to write my debut novel Snofjell in 2002, setting myself a target of a chapter per day. I was 23 at the time, and I must say I write very differently now! Continue reading JENNIFER SMEDLEY AND PLANTAPRESS – GROWING AN INDIE PUBLISHING HOUSE

MICHELLE PAYETTE-DAOUST ON CREATIVITY – Part 3: EACH OF US IS A WORLD

Michelle Payette-Daoust

In the third part of her lyrical essay exploring creativity, Michelle Payette-Daoust  examines the personal  stories we tell, using pieces appearing over the last three years on this site to illustrate her ideas.

Michelle writes:

‘Reading through the posts on this blog, I’m reminded that there are as many stories as there are human beings. And then some.

This is so easily obscured by our tendency to define ourselves by our attachments to family, social class, faith, race, ancestry, nation, or any other allegiance that allows us to feel kinship to a tribe, no matter its size. Continue reading MICHELLE PAYETTE-DAOUST ON CREATIVITY – Part 3: EACH OF US IS A WORLD

MICHELLE PAYETTE-DAOUST ON CREATIVITY – Part 2: TIGHT FISTS OF FEELING

Gwen Hardie, Fist I; National Galleries of Scotland

In the second part of her lyrical essay exploring creativity, Michelle Payette-Daoust writes about ‘otherness’ and ‘opening the door to suffering’, using as illustrations, blogs published over the last three years on this site. As in the first part, Michelle also looks at my creative role as link-man and commissioning editor.

Michelle writes: Continue reading MICHELLE PAYETTE-DAOUST ON CREATIVITY – Part 2: TIGHT FISTS OF FEELING

JOHN MACKENNA INTERVIEW – THE THINGS UNSPOKEN

John MacKenna

In this special guest post, John MacKenna, the winner of the Hennessy Literary Award, the Irish Times Fiction Award and the C Day-Lewis Award, was interviewed by children’s and adult novelist, Sue Hampton.

Sue’s introduction: Once We Sang Like Other Men is a new short story collection by award-winning Irish poet, playwright and novelist John MacKenna. I found it compelling, bleakly beautiful, sometimes disturbing and often deeply moving. The blurb says:

‘These wide-ranging stories follow the disparate disciples of the Captain – a mysterious, powerful and magnetic figure whose violent and chaotic death at the hands of the army radically alters their lives in myriad ways. From rural North American farms and dive bars to the suburbs of Ireland and the sands of Palestine, we witness their struggles to find a place, a peace, in a world that is fractured and incomplete.’ Continue reading JOHN MACKENNA INTERVIEW – THE THINGS UNSPOKEN