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→
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→
I remember reading Arthur Ransome’s Swallows and Amazonsand 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→
Our attitudes to disability touch us personally. Quoting the disability rights slogan ‘Nothing about us without us’ Emma Claire Sweeney guest blogs about her sister Lou, looking at the whole person, not the label. Emma, who has a Creative Writing MA from UEA and writes for The Guardian, The Independent and The Times, also reflects on her own struggle to find words that truthfully represent Lou’s experience…
‘Some of my most prominent memories of my grammar school days in Birkenhead relate to my sister, Lou, even though she attended the special school across the other side of town. After a swimming lesson in the early nineties, for example, an older boy referred to Lou as a ‘spaz’. I still remember the sudden strength I acquired when I pinned him against the wall, seeing it as my role to speak up on her behalf. Continue reading Speaking Up→
Amanda: I like being challenged by a puzzle; I always try to work out who has `dunnit’ and it gives me great satisfaction if I get it right. For me it’s an escape from my stressful life and probably a release from the darkness and violence in me that finds no other outlet, except as both a reader and writer of crime fiction. I remember you once saying, Leslie, that I wrote violent action scenes in a compelling – slightly scary – way.
I interviewed Izzy Robertson, healer and author of three novels published by Magic Oxygen, asking what goes into her creative process.
Leslie: What are the key experiences you’ve had in writing for young adults?
Izzy: An interesting question in that I never set out to write for young adults. The characters presented themselves, along with the story and so I wrote. I hadn’t envisaged any specific audience (or possibly any audience!). It was only when Dreaming The Moon came out that an audience had to be specified, more for the blurb that goes to the retailers than anything else. I think we’ve become very used to pigeonholing everything now, dividing things into genres and subsections, which is fine to a point but we possibly risk missing out. I happily read ‘children’s’, ‘young adult’ and ‘adult’ fiction; a good story is a good story, wherever it may be found. My book has been read by people ranging from 11 to 93 and I’ve had some really positive feedback from all ages, thank goodness! Continue reading Is The YA Novel for Adults?→