The Naples of England

I interviewed writer and psychologist Andy Miller, winner of the 2011 Yeovil Poetry Prize, about mixing genres as an author. In the first part of Andy’s interview he describes how his fact/fiction book ‘The Naples of England‘ grew out of his childhood in Weymouth and some tragic family secrets.

Leslie: In writing your book ‘The Naples of England’, what decided your choice of memories – and to what extent were you adapting rather than literally recording your own upbringing?

Andy: ‘The Naples of England‘ had an unusual journey to publication in that it was originally intended to be part of a hybrid of memoir and literary fiction combined in roughly equal proportions. Some years ago now, I set out to explore, and did in fact complete, a full book-length piece about family secrets and, specifically, the suicides of my two grandmothers. Continue reading WRITING ACROSS GENRES (1)


Judy Marsh

I interviewed environmentalists Judy Marsh and Julian Marsh. Judy acted for 27 years as Judy Liebert, working at the Royal Court, Traverse, National Theatres and appearing in ‘The History Man’, ‘EastEnders’, ‘Peak Practice’ and other TV dramas. In 1993 Judy retrained as an artist and has subsequently exhibited in numerous galleries.

Trained as an architect, Julian Marsh was a partner in Marsh: Grochowski Architects and a professor of architecture at Sheffield Hallam University, specialising in sustainable buildings. He has chaired RIBA awards and been a Lottery Assessor for the Arts Council of Wales. Julian is also a multi-tasking musician who sings and plays in a band with a choir.

Judy and Julian are committed members of Extinction Rebellion. Continue reading ACTOR, ARTIST, ARCHITECT, XR


Jess Arrowsmith, photo by Jen Wilson

Interview with modern and traditional folk singer & violinist Jess Arrowsmith who talks about her bands, teaching and composing music, working with other musicians and putting nursery rhymes to music.  As Jess says of herself: “For me, singing with other people is incredibly rewarding emotionally, physically, spiritually, socially, you name it!”

Leslie: What’s important and rewarding about folk music today? Continue reading WHY FOLK MUSIC MATTERS


Liz Darcy-Jones aka The Wild Rhymer interviewed about her sound poetry and ‘real listening’, her Biodanza, and her involvement in nature. Liz has moved from ‘business as usual’, working in the corporate sector as a voice coach, to a relational world based on sound and movement.

Leslie: Could you describe, please, how your ideas have changed from being inside the corporate sector to being The Wild Rhymer on the outside?

Liz: Fundamentally what I am hasn’t changed: ‘Liz Darcy Jones with rhyme in her bones’. I’ve always been moved by a deep desire to discover intimacy with ourselves, each other and the world – intimacy that transcends language. Ironic for one working primarily with words! Finding ways to share that – through being a voice coach and corporate identity consultant – was a 25-year creative journey of exploration, much of it learned by ‘winging it in the moment’. Continue reading DANCES WITH WORDS


Nicola Kent drawing a scene from Terry and the Brilliant Book, in which Terry makes a horrible dinner because he’s too busy reading to concentrate. Here children suggested things he could accidentally put in the cooking

I interviewed author and children’s books illustrator Nicola Kent, who was highly commended in the Macmillan Prize in 2016 and won the Independent Booksellers’ Best New Illustrator Award in 2019.
Nicola says about herself: “I live in London with my partner, two children and a cat called Firelight. When I’m not working, I love to read, look after my garden, play cards and go adventuring in my camper van.”

Leslie: How did your interest in writing and drawing begin, grow and develop?

Nicola: I’ve been drawing and making up stories all my life. I have a little book made with my mum when I was five, and another book of my poems made when I was about 8. And I loved books – I still have loads from my childhood. I was a bit put off by art at school because it was so focussed on still life which I found uninspiring. I am and always have been interested in the ordinary – streetscapes, kitchen cupboards – and I found more classic subjects a bit of a turn off. But when I did my first degree in English and Art, specialising in graphic design, I knew quickly that I wanted to find a career in which I could work with a combination of words and pictures. Continue reading DRAWING AND MAKING UP CHILDREN’S BOOKS

ACTING UP by Leslie Tate

Questors Theatre, Ealing

I’m sitting in the front row of Questors Theatre wearing red leggings and a couple of shorty vests covered by a slip. The slip is shiny and black; it shows my shoulders and arms – which at 70 I usually cover up – while enclosing me in a smooth, cool sheath. It’s simple, cut straight above my chest and knees, and made for theatre.

So, what am I doing here?

It’s a ‘summerslam’ event, with eleven contestants about to take the stage and present their two-minute monologues about diversity and inclusion. We’re sitting in order of appearance, like prize-day pupils. I’m third, much the oldest, with no experience of delivering lines, and wishing I’d ducked out. Continue reading ACTING UP by Leslie Tate


Michelle Payette-Dauost

In Part Two of her interview about cancer, Canadian blogger, bi-linguist and teacher Michelle Payette-Dauost talks about the restrictions of her treatment and how she has learned to handle her fears of death. Michelle also writes about love and the personal connections that have built up through speaking openly about her condition.

Leslie: Looking back, what have been the high points and low points of your treatment regime? Continue reading THE THINGS THAT FREE ME


Michelle Payette-Daoust

In Part One of her interview, Canadian blogger, bi-linguist and teacher Michelle Payette-Daoust bares her soul as a cancer patient. Michelle talks about how she closed her eyes to the symptoms until the condition forced itself on her, and how it has changed her life. The photos in the piece show Michelle’s family and the progress of her condition.

Leslie: How did your cancer first present itself and what were the early stages like?

Michelle: I suppose I may as well get right into the nitty-gritty in order to leave it behind as quickly as possible. My cancer narrative is one of self-neglect. My body had been sending me all kinds of suspicious signals for several years, and I ignored them. Continue reading THE THINGS THAT FETTER ME

Author and Poet