I first met historical-thriller author Karen Maitland as one of the speakers at a Something Rhymed discussion about gender inequality in the literary world. Karen talked about how she writes thrillers that aim to give a more authentic, women-friendly picture of the Middle Ages than the conventional focus on battles, ships and weapons. Afterwards, I asked Karen, who is published by Penguin and Headline, to share her experiences as a major writer and interpreter of the medieval mind-set.
I first met artist Aya Hastwell at her exhibition ‘Invisible People’. I asked Aya about her growth as an artist and how she works on portraits of people who have been marginalised.
Leslie: Can you tell us, please, about the portraits you recently exhibited of elderly people, carers and people with mental health issues?
Aya: In 2013 I decided to do a series of portraits of the Service Users at Guideposts. A major reason why I started volunteering at Guideposts, by the way, was that my son is bipolar. I became a staff member a few months ago,
I suggested the portraits idea to the art group members I was working with and asked them to contribute to the project by designing and painting a background for their own portrait. The background had to reflect their personality, be it related to their mental health issue or to their memories or families, etc. Continue reading THE ARTIST AS CARER→
Science fiction isn’t all spaceships and star systems; it’s about the inner demons of the mind as well – Dave Weaver.
After appearing together at Banbury Literary Live, I asked Dave Weaver, author of two science fiction/fantasy novels and three collections of futuristic short stories, if he would answer a few questions about his writing. Dave, who is chair of Verulam Writers’ Circle, describes his writing as ‘about the weirdness of everyday living’ and ‘a little on the stranger side of life’.
I interviewed President Obonjo, who is a well-known, larger-than-life performer in alternative stand-up. As The President, he comes on stage in full uniform, requiring his audience to stand in his presence and listen to absurd tales of his iron rule over the ‘Lafta Republic’. Behind The President is a very different persona, Benjamin Bankole Bello, a quiet man whose identity has been stolen by The President and whose wife is in love with the other man.
Obonjo reached the finals of the New Act of the Year 2016 and received a five-star rating at the Edinburgh Fringe last year. He is currently through to the semi-final of the English Comedian of the Year. In the past he’s been Luton Comedian of the Year and winner of Beat the Gong, Beat the Frog, Bath Comedy Gladiators & Hastings Comedian of the month. He often plays to audiences of 150+ up and down the country.
It’s about 2pm in small-town southern France, what feels to me like early spring (although it’s mid-May), and I’m sitting with my back against a picnic table, facing the Garonne, growing frustrated. I’m cold because I only brought one pair of jeans and nothing warmer than a wind-breaker to Europe, but that’s not why I’m irritated. I briefly consider that I’ll never find in Knoxville a rosé better than the one I had with lunch, but that’s not it, either. I try hearing the river flow in this present moment. Just water. I shift forward, crane my neck, and swear. The reason I’m annoyed is that the damn river won’t say anything to me.
The audiences attending the Something RhymedLiterary Salons about the problem of gender inequality in the literary world have experienced something special.
Held at New York University in London, a beautiful, high-ceilinged 18th century mansion in Central London, the discussions have been warm, thoughtful and full of insights into gender bias in society as well as in publishing. But they’ve also celebrated women’s successes as writers and their vital role as readers in supporting the industry.