All posts by Leslie Tate


Sherief Hassan

Sherief Hassan is a multi-talented actor, scriptwriter and consultant who has co-ordinated film-based events for Channel 4, Sadlers Wells and the Royal Festival Hall. He is the inventor of the Sine Player ‘edutainment’ app which links film studios, producers and creative researchers in the digital field. He is also a committed environmentalist and chair of Dacorum Green Party. I asked Sherief to talk about what inspires him to be green both in his personal life and in the arts, media and politics.

Leslie: Who are your green heroes and why? Continue reading THE ART OF BEING GREEN

Not The Death of the Author

Skyscrapers are not raised simply to conceal dead mice – Saul Bellow.

Leslie reading Berkhamsted Live 5I find that the best writing comes out of the dark. Often it starts from a single word, a thought or an incident that sets off a search – which I’m experiencing now, writing this blog – involving lots of stops and false starts.

While I’m searching I try out phrases and listen to how the words sound, judging their effect on the reader. I’m also editing every sentence as I go, juggling the phrases to achieve the most elegant formulation and removing words that overburden it. At the same time I’m plugging gaps, enhancing effects and reading back to ensure continuity. In addition, and crucially, I’m writing for feel, mood and flow, visualising the incidents and riding the emotional waves as I go. Continue reading Not The Death of the Author


Marilyn Kallett
I interviewed Marilyn Kallet, poet, translator and author of seventeen books, who is the Nancy Moore Goslee Professor of English at the University of Tennessee and teaches at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts in Auvillar, France.

Leslie: Your poetry/translation work involves dreamwork, vision-questing, ethnic writing and Surrealism. Can you describe the key qualities of these areas, please.

Marilyn: I have translated two major Surrealist poets, Paul Eluard (Last Love Poems) and Benjamin Péret (The Big Game), both published by Black Widow Press, which specializes in Surrealist authors. Continue reading MARILYN KALLET – LIVING WITH IMAGINATION


Every one also gave him a piece of Money, from William Blake’s Illustrations of the Book of Job.

Thirty years ago, when I taught in London, I came across a short story called Bud’s Luck. It was about a quiet, dreamy schoolboy who finds a magic coin that keeps coming back to him. He uses it to clear all the local slot machines of sweets and chewing gum – stockpiling more than he can ever eat. But when Bud shares his ‘winnings’ with his classmates, his luck becomes a curse. Word gets around that Bud has been spotted emptying machines and every evening a different gang show up to bully him and steal the coin. The next day he’s beaten up again because the coin disappeared into the machine and didn’t work. And when the boys find the magic coin resting snuggly in Bud’s pocket, it sets off another beating.

In desperation Bud drops the coin down a drain, leaves it on a railway line and flings it in a river, but every morning the coin returns and he has to set off, alone but quietly resigned, to face school and his angry classmates… Continue reading STORIES LEAD TO STORIES


Mark Crane

‘Once you accept a symbiosis between all things then creativity is somehow easier. We don’t see a tree as separate from the earth or the sky. It needs them all as much as we need it’.

After UK art and stage school my interviewee, Mark Crane, went to the USA to study on-screen make-up under Bert Roth from ABC TV. Mark has worked on film special effects for Labyrinth, Superman IV, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Judge Dredd and Nightbreed. He has provided camerawork and visual effects for art projects in The New Forest, Florence and the Venice Biennale. He has also starred as Medvedenko in The Seagull and Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet, and written and directed several original stage shows. His innovative film, Jason, based on the Argonautica, will premiere at Berkhamsted Live on Feb 24th. I asked Mark about his creative methods and influences, which range from blockbuster to arthouse. Continue reading MARK CRANE – EXPLORING BETWEEN THE PANELS OF OUR LIVES


Ruth F Hunt signing at Pritchards Bookshop, Crosby

I interviewed Ruth F Hunt, disability advocate, journalist and novelist. Ruth is the author of a highly-successful first novel, The Single Feather, writes a column for The Morning Star and regularly exhibits her paintings.

Leslie: What has your life been like so far? How have your disabilities changed who you are?

Ruth: When I was 18 I was involved in a car accident, and even after the full extent of my injuries were revealed, I still didn’t comprehend just how much they were going to determine the rest of my life. My initial injuries were spinal cord damage, and below my waist, various broken bones, fractures, and crush injuries. Continue reading RUTH F HUNT – THE AUTHOR AS PHOENIX


Arthur Ransome Swallow and Amazons

I remember reading Arthur Ransome’s Swallows and Amazons and imagining the book’s setting as a vaguely-defined territory inside me. I’d never heard of The Lake District so I invented the location as I read, ignoring the references to farmers and charcoal burners and other aspects of Lakeland life. I was entranced by the children’s freedom, so I set their adventures in the only place that felt the same – around sand dunes beside the sea. In my mind, the Walker children were desert island castaways and a lake the size of Windermere could only be equalled by the sea. Continue reading A BOOK IS AN ADVENTURE


Kimberly Black
Kimberly Black

I asked Kimberly Black, the director of Hemel Hempstead’s Spirit of the Old Town Ghost Walks to guest blog about her creative process. Kimberly has appeared at Sadlers Wells as the Nun in Comedy: A Tragedy in one Act, and in touring musicals, including Styles and Drewe’s version of Kipling’s Just So Stories, where she played the Kolokolo Bird. But for an experienced and versatile actress and singer, switching to the role of director was a big jump.

Kimberly writes:

‘The Spirit of the Old Town Ghost Walks were born out of rejections I received for the play I had been writing about the people who used to live in Hemel. After a short period of feeling a bit lost with the whole thing I spoke to Chris Leverett from The Enchanted Oak and we decided to make my play into a ghost walk. Continue reading THE CREATIVE SPIRIT BEHIND HEMEL HEMPSTEAD’S OLD TOWN GHOST WALKS