How to turn personal experiences into a non-fiction book

Kath KellyIn today’s guest post, author Kath Kelly talks us through how her first non-fiction book came about and offers her tips for turning your own experiences into publishing gold.

My first book, How I Lived a Year on Just a Pound a Day, was also my first attempt at giving an account of a turbulent time I lived through.

I was surprised to hear that many people felt they knew me after reading it, although we’d never met. This demonstrates how keen a reader is to open a window into someone else’s life: as escapism, certainly, but also from a desire to try another life on for size. I wasn’t telling people that they had to stop spending money, but I seemed to spark their curiosity: they were willing to imagine themselves in my shoes. Continue reading

Face your zombie fears

Zombies_Asylum_cr_SlingshotThe folks behind 2.8 Hours Later are spawning a new stream of zombie experiences with their new venture, Asylum, and it may just be the perfect pre-Halloween writing fuel.

In case you’ve missed this phenomenon (or, quite rightly, been too busy hiding behind your sofa to partake), the zombie infestation fiesta launched in Bristol in 2010, attacking 200 participants eager to immerse themselves in dread and gore, and wearing orange armbands to differentiate themselves from innocent passerbys.

The event has since spread to Edinburgh and London, and is now mutating into a brand new version – Asylum. Continue reading

Book review – All The Birds, Singing, By Evie Wyld

All The Birds, Singing coverOpening with the discovery of a dead sheep, Evie Wyld’s second novel is a sensuous, brutal, disquieting book that will seep under your skin and haunt your dreams. Protagonist Jake Whyte is a strong, mostly self-sufficient sheep farmer making a life for herself on an unnamed British island where the weather is harsh, and the local people nonplussed by this new, unsociable Australian in their midst.

But now something is killing her sheep, and memories of the past are tugging at her.

In alternate chapters, the stories moves us forward and back, like an insistent tide. The flashbacks move through her past towards childhood, written in a present-tense form that gives them an immediate sense of urgency as we search through her experiences for the ingredients that have made her the frightened, solitary creature she is today, and, most specifically, what caused those terrible scars on her back. Continue reading

Poetry filmmakers wanted!

Hairy pig cr Judy DarleyI’m a fan of creative mediums drawing inspiration from one another, so am pleased to share news of an opportunity inviting you to create a 90-second film based on a poem.

The inaugural Pighog Poetry Film Competition is open to all talented amateur and professional filmmakers.

First prize is £500.

All you need to do to be in with a chance of winning is select a poem from a Pighog poetry pamphlet or full collection and create a video around the poem. Creative response to the literary gems is encouraged – so let your imagination run riot!

The winner and shortlisted entrants of this international competition will be featured and celebrated as part of the growing Pighog poetry and film community.

How to enter this competition

You must pick a poem from a Pighog poetry publication and create a 90-second film based around it. This could mean anything from an animation to a live action film. The winner of the main competition, as decided by the judges, will win the £500 prize as well as a feature on the Pighog website alongside their winning film.

The second part of the competition is the ‘Pighog People’s Choice Competition’ in which the judges will pick five outstanding films to be voted on by the public. The top voted film will receive a £100 prize and will be featured on the website alongside the overall competition winner.

The deadline for entries is 31 October 2013.

Once your entry has been filmed and rendered into an acceptable format (as shown in the competition’s terms and conditions), you will need to send it via Submittable. This enters you for both the main prize and the People’s Choice Competition. Along with your online submission you will need to send your entry fee. There are two categories for submission fees:

1. If you have purchased a Pighog poetry publication online since January 1st 2012, you will only have to pay a single £5 entry fee for a chance to win.

2. If you have not purchased a Pighog poetry publication online since January 1st 2012, you will need to pay a £10 entry fee to submit your film for your chance to win the full prize.

Find full details here:

How to make yourself heard as a songwriter

Singer songwriter Emily TeagueIn today’s guest post, singer-songwriter Emily Teague offers her tips for making it happen.

Most of my early childhood memories were musical ones. When I listened to music I would always imagine what the songs were about in my head. I had a keen sense of how music could convey feelings and I liked that too.

I think what most drew me was that I liked the idea that you could say something really personal without having to actually say it. You could communicate with people in a unique way. I liked the feeling of making something out of thin air too I think. My father used to call me the enigma, songwriting was a way of unveiling myself. Continue reading

Space, symbolism, folded paper…

Show Me How You Love cr Matthieu Leger

Show Me How You Love cr Matthieu Leger

I first encountered this artist’s creations at an exhibition by nomadic art exhibitors Antlers Gallery.

Matthieu Leger was seeing his pieces in situ for the first time, hanging from the ceiling struts of a stripped down warehouse room that aptly reflected the sense of space and scale in his artwork.

The one shown above, Show Me How You Love, drew me in from across the room, so that I drifted towards it then came to a halt, gazing into its depths as though into a clouded fish tank. At first I felt I was peering down from a balcony at a vast origami butterfly hanging over at atrium, and that the inkblot smudges were people walking far below. But the longer I looked, the more my sense of it shifted, and the more details I noticed, from the sketched paper boats to the fragments of text. Continue reading

Bonjour Tristesse returns to UK cinemas

Otto_Preminger's_Bonjour_TristesseI remember being entranced by the clear, fresh prose of Bonjour Tristesse when I first encountered Françoise Sagan’s novel. My edition was the translation by Irene Ash, and the opening line seemed almost unutterly romantic to my 15-year-old self: A strange melancholy pervades me to which I hesitate to give the grave and beautiful name of sadness.

Bonjour Tristesse book coverThe fact the novel was published when Sagan was just 18 gave the novel an added glow in my envious, awe-inspired eyes.

Otto Preminger’s screen interpretation of Bonjour Tristesse, starring Jean Seberg And David Niven, returns to cinemas from 30th August. I wonder if it will introduce a new generation of infatuants (yes, I think I did invent that word, but you know what I mean, don’t you?) to the 1930s scandal rag turned literary masterpiece.

The beautiful new restoration is described as ‘a bittersweet father-daughter tale dramatising the extremes of relationships.’

Jean Seberg plays precocious seventeen-year-old Celine, who flits off to the Mediterranean with her free-spirited father Raymond (David Niven), where the duos relentless pursuit of pleasure can only end in tragedy. The film sounds like a work of art, with a monochrome Paris set against flashbacks to a colour-drenched summer in the Riviera. If it comes to a cinema near you, go and see it!

Sony Pictures’ Bonjour Tristesse will open in the UK on 30th August at BFI Southbank and selected cinemas nationwide.

Competition for aspiring graphic novelists

'but i can't' cropped image cr Corban Wilkin

Scenes from ‘but i can’t’ by Corban Wilkin

Have you got a head crammed with original stories and artwork? Fancy turning them into a creative career?

Jonathan Cape and Comica have teamed up with The Observer to offer you an amazing step towards making this a reality.

All you need to do is download the entry form (PDF format), complete it and send it by post along with one original four-page graphic story (all your own work!) to the address on the PDF.

The winning entrant will get to see their work in print in The Observer New Review and receive £1,000!

All shortlisted entries will be read by industry experts and judges Joe Dunthorne (author of Submarine and Wild Abandon), Stephen Collins (author of The Gigantic Beard that Was Evil), Rachel Cooke (The Observer), Dan Franklin (Publisher, Jonathan Cape), Paul Gravett (Director, Comica Festival) and Suzanne Dean (Random House Creative Director).

The runner-up will receive £250 and your work will appear on The Guardian website.

The deadline for entries is 27 September 2013. Continue reading