Two stories, two very different mediums

Published storiesThis week I received two rather exciting packages in the post, each one containing a small bundle of words. The first to arrive, ’16 Single Sentence Stories’, is a gorgeous little book that does what it says on the tin, and one of the 16 single sentence stories is by me!

I’ve so happy to have my tale ‘A Hushed Space’ included in this very original mini-anthology, and to see my words illustrated by artist K. Sekelsky. ’16 Single Sentence Stories’ is available to buy from

The second is issue two of new literary title The Germ Magazine, and features my story ‘Little Blessings’. It’s available to buy from

It’s always to good to get your work out there, and when that culminates in seeing your words in print, it’s thoroughly satisfying, not to mention motivating!

The Tempest Within theatre review

The Tempest WithinBristol Shakespeare Festival has been a season of literary riches, presenting the Bard’s plays on hillsides, in halls and even beneath the city in Redcliffe Caves. I was drawn to watch the latter, in the form of The Tempest Within, a reimagining of The Tempest performed in only 40 minutes.

The two actors provided the roles of Miranda, Ariel, Caliban and a female version of Prospero. Miranda and Prospera were cast out to sea when Miranda was only three. Twelve years later, she is on the brink of adulthood and her mother is crumbling – torn between her loving motherly side and the villainous Caliban who possesses her from time to time.

It’s a complex tale about mothers and daughters, and the challenges faced by protective mothers who know they must allow their children to grow up and leave to have full lives, despite the fears this awakes in them. Ariel serves to represent Miranda’s thirst for escape, while Caliban, who Miranda describes as a “villain I do not care to look upon”, and who in Shakespeare’s version attempts to rape Miranda, represents the uglier instincts of motherhood, which Prospera must overcome to save her daughter.

The Tempest Within1

The setting of Redcliffe Caves is particularly apt for this struggle through the human psyche. We arrived on a blazing bright day and wandered into the darkness to follow tunnels lit only by trails of tea lights – an effect that emphasised the impression of entering another world. The arching columns and shadowy stage provided a sense of both the characters’ home and their internal, emotional conflicts.

It’s a totally immersive experience and highly recommended, but bring a jumper (however hot it is outside the caves are very chilly) and a comfy seat to enjoy fully with no distractions.

The Tempest Within is on at Bristol’s Redcliffe Caves until 15 July. Find full details.


How to be a successful copyeditor

Clifton Suspension Bridge cr JDarleyAuthor and copy editor Alan Hamilton introduces us to the art of bridging the gap between what is meant and what is written.

For all but an infinitesimally small number of authors, writing fiction doesn’t put enough on the table. The day job remains the ‘chief nourisher’ of the creative genius but with a demanding and absorbing job there’s a risk of being exhausted when you find time to write – conversely, if it’s boring or demeaning, ennui may snuff the fire out before the flames are really alight.

There is a way to earn a decent income while remaining in close touch with the language you write in, improving your writing skills and sharpening your desire to write – if only to reassure yourself you can do it better than the many others who are at it.

I have written two full-length novels, but I make a living as a copy editor. If you’re any good at it – and you can learn – there’s a lot of work out there and never more so since so many authors now aspire to self-publish. Continue reading

From page to screen

The Borrowers, 1992 © BBC

In partnership with Newcastle’s wonderful Seven Stories, the National Media Museum will host Moving Stories: Children’s Books from Page to Screen from tomorrow until 6 October 2013.

This free exhibition showcases props and other items from films and telly programmes inspired by children’s literature, in addition to objects associated with the books. The unique collaboration between the two national organisations explores the process of adapting children’s literature into on-screen magic.

If you go along, you’ll get to see original manuscripts, storyboards, sketches, costumes and screen footage, and gain a sense of the creative processes involved in adaptations and the different forms they can take.

Lost & Found, 2008 © Studio AKA

Look out for Roald Dahl’s original illustrated notebook for Fantastic Mr Fox displayed alongside puppets from the  Wes Anderson-directed 2009 film. Marvel at the costumes from Martin Scorsese’s visually opulent Hugo which was adapted from Brian Selznick’s novel The Invention of Hugo Cabret. Pore over original manuscripts and illustrations from The Borrowers (pictured at the top of this post) and Mr Stink (pictured below), which were both adapted by the BBC. A later incarnation of The Borrowers, Studio Ghibli’s The Secret World of Arrietty, will also feature, along with Lost and Found (pictured above), The Gruffelo and others.

Mr Stink cr BBCYou’ll even be able to take a journey with Alice in Wonderland, from Lewis Carroll’s 1858 photograph of Alice Liddell, the girl who inspired the character of his novel, through to various modern film and television versions of this timeless story.

A dedicated section of the exhibition focuses on Fairy Tales such as Snow White and Cinderella, and features Disney story sketches and an early edition copy of Grimm’s Fairy Tales, as well as a pumpkin coach for children to play in.

“Children’s books have been the inspiration for some of our best films and television and Moving Stories showcases how these stories step off the page and onto the screen,” says Alison Gwynn, Programme Director at Seven Stories, the National Centre For Children’s Books. “We hope to take families on a journey filled with excitement, though worlds of fantasy and ignite their imaginations.”

I think it sounds amazing. Now, where can I find a child to borrow so I can go along?

Book review – The Tiny Wife by Andrew Kaufman

The Tiny Wife by Andrew KaufmanAs tiny as its main character is destined to become, this beautiful book is less a novel than a short story with chapters, yet it is far more than the sum of its parts.

The tale is narrated by David, the husband of said Tiny Wife, Stacey, who begins the tale at the unremarkable height of 160cm (just over 5ft2in) tall. Stacey is in line at her local bank when a thief arrives and demands that each person present hands over something not of financial but of immense emotional value. Stacey gives up a calculator, saying: “There has not been an important decision in my life that I’ve made without it.”

In the days that follow, each victim experiences something strange in their lives, as the tale takes on a fable-esque or fairy tale quality. And each of these in its own way is a self-contained tale of petite yet powerful proportions. A man who feels overwhelmed at work finds his office underwater, the tattoo of a lion on a woman’s ankle comes to life and begins chasing her relentlessly, a husband turns to snow, and Stacey begins gradually, apparently irrevocably, to shrink. Continue reading

Play a key role in England’s filmmaking industry

Lambs, Thornbury cr Judy DarleyCreative England and the BFI are looking for two ambitious development executives to play a key role in the delivery of funding and development activities to emerging feature filmmaking talent from across England.

Working across feature film script development, short films and pilots, you will scout and track upcoming talent, undertake meetings, assess applications and provide bespoke support and editorial expertise alongside the Senior Film Executives.

This is a fantastic opportunity to join a small team dedicated to discovering the most creative and distinctive new voices in UK film.

SALARY £25,000 to £30,000 dependent on experience

CONTRACT Full-time (three-year engagement with the option to extend for a further year)

The roles will be based in Brighton or Sheffield, with regular travel to other parts of England and the UK.

The deadline for applications is 5pm on 19 July 2013, with interviews scheduled for the week commencing 22 July 2013 (venue TBC).

TO APPLY Please download and complete an application form, send this with your CV to or post (registered only) FAO Caroline Hinds, HR & Operations Manager, Creative England, The Greenhouse, Pod52, 111 Broadway, MediaCityUK, M50 2EQ

Download the Development Executives recruitment pack


Tea cr Judy DarleyThis piece of flash fiction by Judy Darley was originally published in Scrapsan anthology of flash-fictions released to coincide with National Flash Fiction Day 2013. It is posted here with the editor’s permission.

Dressed in her winter coat and winter boots, Amma feels over-warm in the art gallery, so much so that she considers peeling off a layer, leaving some woollen aspect of her clothing pushed beneath a bench to retrieve before she leaves. The heat is making her contact lenses feel dry and her tongue is quietly, uncomfortably, cleaving to the roof of her mouth.

If she is quick, speeds through the exhibition fast, she’ll be able to escape into the fresh air outside, maybe go somewhere for a quick cuppa before heading home. The thought makes her smile to herself as she strides past most of the displays, giving them only the most cursory of looks.

The central piece of the exhibition is a gigantic block of tea, made from countless leaves pressed together – a full ton, according to the literature pinned to one wall. The block is as high as her breasts; its corners are as sharp as teacups are round.

Amma holds her face close to it to see if she can inhale the fragrance of tea, believes she may have caught the faintest whiff of tannin, but then realises her receptors are most likely simply telling her what she hopes to smell. The life has been squeezed right out of this tea, she thinks. For all its glossy solidity, it may well be as dry and flavourless as dirt.

Amma glances round quickly, checks that the security guard is absorbed in watching a gaggle of art students in the far corner. She leans in towards the block of tea, sticking her tongue out as far as she can, for one sly, secretive, inquiring lick.

How to survive the quiet times: A guide for writers, part 7

Rhubarb fool cr Judy DarleyAs publishing houses tighten their belts yet again, the time between writing commissions can sometimes seem to stretch to the horizon and back. Freelance journalist Deborah Willimott offers her tips for surviving the lean times of being a freelance writer.

Survival tip 7: Cook Something Complicated

When flancers are busy with writing work, everything else in their lives goes downhill – particularly their diet. They don’t eat anything between paragraphs, other than food items pre-prepared so that the only effort necessary is ripping off the packaging.

However, when the work dries up, flancers spend their day at the other end of the comestible scale and fill their day with culinary complexity. Think making choux pastry (from scratch), venison souffles, pasta stuffed with soaked truffles, battered tongue, soda bread and their own cheeses.

Curries are massively popular with bored flancers because some of the more epic recipes take DAYS to prepare, and come furnished with the added bonus that in order to collect every single obscure spice required, one must either (a) visit the Indian supermarket (doubtless situated on an industrial estate halfway to the moon, affording yet more delicious time-wasting), or (b) visit India itself, to which the flight alone will gloriously waste an average of 22 hours.

Alternatively make something simply that requires ingredients you’ve grown yourself, such as a rhubarb fool, as that introduces a whole new realm of time-consuming.

Survival tip 1: Become a ‘Curtain Twitcher’
Survival tip 2: : Accept the commission from hell

Survival tip 3: Google your illnesses
Survival tip 4: Seek food
Survival tip 5: Experiment with a new computer font
Survival tip 6:  Consider organising your accounts
Survival tip 8: Dress inappropriately