I interviewed textile artist Jane Charles, whose quilts have been chosen for major displays at the National Exhibition Centre and around Europe. Jane teaches creative textiles to adults and children and has had several major commissions, including projects for New Bradwell School, Orchard Academy and the giant-sized Wolverton Quilts.
I invited writer and producer Amy Zamarripa Solis to guest blog about the ‘City of Culture’ arts-led type of regeneration seen recently in Margate, Folkestone, Liverpool and Brighton. Amy responded with a piece about the new Eastbourne Devonshire Collective venues where she is a key player. Amy also runs the arts organisation Writing Our Legacy and her own arts management / production company This Too Is Real.
As an author, I know that words are never neutral. They all have their colours. I also know that when you name colours in a story, they stand out. So some characters can be identified by their hair colour or eye colour or a piece of coloured clothing whenever they appear.
Colours give a book energy. They have speed while words have mass. But working with them is similar. Both require attention to detail, careful placing, and may need thinning out or thickening in places.
As a transvestite I used to believe in ‘the woman within’. I felt, when I cross-dressed, closer to my ‘feminine side’ – though what I experienced was more a release of pressure, a kind of pleasurable lift as if I was walking out after being indoors for a month. ‘Relief dressing’ was good for me; it increased my sensitivity, making me softer, calmer and more alive. And to dress in front of others required a special kind of ‘tuning out’, a deliberately-willed blindness where I didn’t ask questions. I was on display but chose not to know it. Though, of course, I was vulnerable. It was as if I’d been turned inside out, with all my feelings on show. And it was that exposure that both set me apart and made me strong.
My position was simple. I believed I was being more honest than the other men, the straight guys, who had the same feelings but were afraid to show them. In my private imaginings they were the stern men of action who kept at a distance and always wore a mask. But my attempts to pull rank didn’t get far. The men I had in mind simply shrugged their shoulders and carried on with their business, remarking casually that it didn’t bother them. Perhaps I wanted a reaction, a kind of reverse validation where they showed their dislike, or told me I was being stupid. Continue reading CROSSING THE GENDER LINE→
I interviewed Esther Wane, who is the voice reading several well-known audiobooks – including Enid Blyton’s Malory Towers series, several of Jill Mansell novels, Anatomy of a Scandal by Sarah Vaughan and The Wild Other by Clover Stroud. Esther is trained actor with her own recording studio in Herts, UK. I met Esther there while recording my own voiceover for Heaven’s Rage, the film of my book. I asked Esther about her career: beginning in finance, going on stage and finding her vocation as a voiceover artist.
The extract below, taken from my new novel ‘Violet’, is connected to a childhood memory.
When she was fourteen Beth became Saffron. “Call me Saf,” she said to Meg, examining an art book spread across her bedroom floor, “or Saffy. Saffron if you have to.”
Her friend turned a page. “Saf’s best,” she said, pausing at a print of a raven-haired woman with one hand wrapped around a pomegranate.
“You like it?”
Both girls stared at the picture. The woman was red-lipped, blue-eyed, wearing a loose, grey-green robe. Her skin was smooth and pale as water.
“It’s a girl in a book.”
Beth shook her head. “One of my gran’s books. She wrote it, about Saffron.”
“Your gran wrote books?”
Beth confirmed. “For children,” she added, “with girls dancing and poetry.”
“Were they fun?”
“Jolly – or meant to be.”
Meg bent forward peering at the picture. “But not jolly.” The long-necked woman in the art book was gazing at smoke rising from a burner. Her double-jointed hands were artist-thin and wasted. Behind her the light from a window spread across some ivy on a wall.
“Supposed to be. But sad… very sad to me.”
“Don’t say that.”
Suddenly Beth was crying.
Meg placed her hand on her friend’s wrist. “You loved your gran.”