All posts by Leslie Tate


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


Karen Eisenbrey

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 .

Leslie: Starting from childhood, how did you develop as a writer? Continue reading WRITING FEMINIST MAGIC & HOPEPUNK URBAN FANTASY


Vici Wreford-Sinnott standing against the U2 grafitti wall in Dublin. She has short blond hair and the artwork on the wall is of a large eye.

I talked to Vici Wreford-Sinnott,  Artistic Director of Little Cog, a disabled-led theatre company and Creative Lead of a disabled-led arts programme called Cultural Shift. Both are based at Stockton Arts Centre.

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


Ben Comeau at Daylight Music 229 in the Union Chapel 9th February 2019. Photo by Paul Hudson

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.”

Leslie: Could you sum up in a nutshell, please, for someone unfamiliar with your work, what they’d hear if they came to a concert of yours? Continue reading MINDFUL IMPROV & FUGUES


James Mayhew (c) respira fotografia 2017

I talked to illustrator, author, concert presenter and storyteller James Mayhew about his art. James has created books introducing children to great artworks and illustrated stories by Philippa Pearce, Elisabeth Beresford, Jackie Morris, Clara Vulliamy, Joyce Dunbar, Zeb Soanes and others. He accompanies famous orchestras by painting to music and is involved with charities that support refugees as well children’s access to the arts. James has won the New York Times book illustration award and been long listed for the Kate Greenaway Medal.

Leslie: Can you sum up how you use your illustration skills, in books and in performance, to promote an appreciation of art & literature with children, please? Continue reading ILLUSTRATING GREAT ART, MUSIC & CHILDREN’S STORIES


Sue in school with banner and books

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.”

Leslie: Intact, is about a woman, approximately your age, who begins a relationship with a non-binary, cross-dressing man, so how autobiographical is it? Continue reading IS ‘INTACT’ SUE HAMPTON’S LAST BOOK & IS IT A MEMOIR?


Caroline Grebbell reading at Event Horizon. Edinburgh. June 2016.

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.

Leslie: You’ve worked in writing, films, theatre, opera, photography and you’re a climate activist. What have been the tipping points from childhood onwards that pushed you into different forms of expressive activity? Continue reading THE LIFE OF AN AUTHOR, ART DIRECTOR AND XR WRITER


Sarah Lodge (right) with Jane Porter (left) at the House of Illustration Summer Fair

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.”

Leslie: How did you begin as an artist? Who and what has helped and hindered your artistic development? Continue reading THE JOYS OF ILLUSTRATING CHILDREN’S BOOKS