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?→
Jill Hipson has been completely deaf since the age of five. To illustrate what profound deafness really means, Jill described (in writing) a typical domestic scene:
‘The world of sound simply isn’t there for me at all. I only know there are sounds if there are vibrations too. For example, this morning I was trying to tell my hearing husband Chris something in the kitchen while waiting for the kettle to boil. He can understand my voice if he looks at my face at the same time; in return he gestures and fingerspells his responses.
Chris, (Cupping his hand over an ear and shaking his head) – meaning: ‘I can’t hear you’. (Points to kettle and fingerspells) “Very loud.”
Jill: (Speaking) “I didn’t realise it was that noisy.”
Chris: (Nodding his head and mouthing) “Oh yes.” (Fingerspells) “It sounds like a plane taking off.”’
Like one, that on a lonesome road/Doth walk in fear and dread,/And having once turned round walks on,/And turns no more his head;/Because he knows, a frightful fiend/Doth close behind him tread – Coleridge.
I’ve always been afraid of the dark. As a child I’d creep across the landing with my back to the wall so I could fight off ghosts. In the bathroom I was menaced by mini-devils who jumped out of sight whichever way I turned. I remember lying awake listening to The Quatermass Experiment on TV. I was four at the time and I’d glimpsed the shots of the crashed spaceship before being sent to bed. Imagining the story and hearing weird music rising from below was almost worse than seeing the programme itself. Continue reading THE DARK SIDE→
Accepting failure makes success of life – Alan Ginsberg.
For many boys, sport is vitally important. For them it’s a great outlet and a laugh. It’s also a measure of strength and skill and daring and timing. So the top tennis players use a complex mental map of where a ball might go and make split-second adjustments for spin, speed and bounce. Based on experience, the player’s coordination between barely-conscious calculation and muscle-reaction is a wonderful dance. And watching or playing sport can be a knife-edge experience where a hair’s breadth separates success and failure.
I went to boys’ schools where status depended very much on how good or bad you were on the field. It was great for some, but I couldn’t run fast or change direction at will. If a ball was in the air I’d drop it, if it was on the ground I’d trip over it and when the team advanced I was the figure lurking at the back trying to avoid contact. So I belonged to the losers. Continue reading FOR THE LOSERS→
Neil: All my creative work flows from one event: when I was four I discovered my great aunt’s piano. I just had to play. My parents bought me a little toy one from Woolworths to see if I was serious. I persevered, so they bought me an upright that cost £4 from a family migrating to Australia. In my teens I ended up sharing a classical piano teacher with BAFTA winning actress Cheryl Campbell who was in my class at school. I think I must have thought I could play without much practice until one day Miss J said gently: “Neil, rather than do two hours on a Sunday the day before you see me, try doing just ten minutes a day.” How did she know, I puzzled. Now I see how right she was. However, it was the devil’s music that really got to me. Continue reading NEIL BEARDMORE – THE FULL PLAYWRIGHT’S VISION→
The ego endeavours in all kinds of ways to defend itself against the objective unpleasure and dangers which menace it – Anna Freud.
My childhood was characterised by solitary play. At an early stage, I crouched by the house with a stick and scraped out the mortar between bricks. Using my thumbs, I filled the holes with a sand-and-water paste. It was my idea of a physical experiment. I’d understood the need for secrecy so I did it on the quiet, when my parents weren’t looking. Later I imagined tunnelling out from my bedroom to explore the street as an undercover agent. Continue reading MY SECRET LIFE→
I first met painter and sculptor Sheelagh Frew Crane at the LP Café in Watford where she was playing a ‘voices-off’ part in a modernist play. When we talked later I realised that the idea of people hearing invisible voices was central to Sheelagh’s own artistic concerns.
When I asked her about the first signs of hearing voices in life, she described an incident that happened to someone she knew who had been leaving a room when a voice spoke, “Don’t go through that door.” The big shock for that person, Sheelagh said, was the real and absolutely external nature of the voice with no one else in the room. What usually followed, Sheelagh said, was a struggle against a rising tide of voices, often becoming menacing, then a ‘diagnosis’ followed by a long period of heavy medication, until finally the person came to accept the voices as a dialogue, establishing a working relationship.
Minnie Birch is a highly original folk-indie singer who writes her own material and has appeared three times with Joan Armatrading. I began my interview with Minnie by asking where her unusual stage name came from. She explained, “Minnie is my aunt’s middle name and Birch is my grandma’s maiden name.”
Leslie: You’ve recorded two albums Settled and Floundering. What’s the story behind these two titles?
Minnie:Settled is one of my favourite words. In one way it conjures up this idea of being at peace and secure, and on the other hand it has these connotations of giving up, settling for second best or ‘settling the score’. The title track from this EP is all about how an unconventional love can still be ‘settled’. At the time I was surrounded by people who were ‘settled’ and it seemed like my love wasn’t… and yet it was. It’s a song about how the magic bits of early love fade away but you still want to be with that person. That’s my idea of ‘settling’. Flounderingis, to me, the exact opposite of being settled. Continue reading A MUSICIAN’S TALE→