Save the Rainforest via a Christmas art auction

Kinabatangan River cr Judy DarleyCare about the rainforest and love art? The Rainforest Foundation’s 2013 ‘The 12 Days of Christmas’ auction begins next Wednesday, and promises opportunities to purchase original art from an array of international talents, as well as well as patrons Sting, Trudie Styler and Stephen Fry, plus luxury brands and more.

I’m most excited about the art, with a vast number of prints and one-off pieces of collectable art included among the lots. Highlights include work by James Bates (his sumptuous collage is pictured below), Rob Ryan, Kid Acne, Ben Frost, Rosie Emerson, Delphine Lebourgeois, Joe Webb, Mark Powell, Greg Gossel, Al Murphy, Alex Young, Kristjana Williams, Vanity Flare, Graham Carter, and more.

James Bates - collage in a white box frame

The 12-day auction will launch through a pop-up shop on eBay, running from November 20 to December 1, and aims to makes Christmas a bit more dazzling while raising funds to protect the world’s rainforests. Continue reading

Short story readings this weekend

Art trails in Bristol have developed to include musicians and others performers, which is great – especially as I now seem to fall under the category ‘other performers’!

Totterdown Front Room Art Trail artworkI and a couple of writer friends will be reading short stories and novel extracts as part of Totterdown Front Room Arts Trail, 15-17 November 2013. It’s aimed at grown ups (though children won’t be scarred too badly if you bring them along). After all, why should kids be the only ones to get to enjoy being read to?

Writers Judy Darley, Helen Blenkinsop and Suzanna Stanbury

That’s us, just above. I’m the one on the far left.

Remember-Me-To-The-Bees-cover-smlWe have two performance slots at the Cinema on the Green, Higham Street, in Totterdown, from 1-2.30pm on the Saturday and from 1-1.45pm on the Sunday. Find out more. I’ll be reading stories from my collect Remember Me To The Bees, which will be fresh off the presses!

I hope to see you there!

Mid-week writing prompt – imperil your characters

This is a good trick that sometimes has breathtaking results. Take your characters and place them somewhere perilous – abseiling down a cliff face, on a small boat in a stormy sea, far underground – and then get them to have that conversation they’ve been putting off for far too long.

Judy abseiling

Their emotions will be heightened by the circumstance you’ve stuck them in, which will add drama to every niggling complaint, accusation, declaration of love, or whatever fearful thing you want them to own up to.

If this image prompts you to write something, I’d love to know. Just send an email to Judy(at)socket You could end up published on the site!

Book review – Chasing the King of Hearts by Hanna Krall

Chasing the King of Hearts coverRelaying the experiences of Izolda, a young Jewish woman living in Poland as the Nazi regime comes into force, Chasing the King of Hearts is that rare thing – a story of an extraordinary series of experiences made utterly relatable.

Few of us (thank goodness) will ever face the persecution endured by Izolda and her friends and acquaintances, but so vividly is her character portrayed by Hanna Krall as translated by Philip Boehm that empathy is unavoidable. This is a girl who has loved, had a change of heart, and loved again – a girl who takes pride in her height and ‘sturdy legs’. She lives in a world where there are people with ‘bad’ looks and ‘good’ looks – the latter being those than can pass convincingly as Germanic.

Izolda’s ‘good’ looks and her pragmatism keep her alive, as she learns to trade whatever it takes to survive, from tobacco to cyanide to her own body. Continue reading

New magazine Broad Street seeks true submissions

Geneva street cr Judy DarleyBroad Street, a new semi-annual literary magazine, has put out a call for beautifully written narratives – the twist is that they must be true.

It’s a glorious concept, and challenges you to turn your storytelling skills to your own life. Play around with your memories of your own experiences, pick out an event or adventure that lends itself to telling, and retelling, and whittle it down to a story arch that will please loves of short fiction, yet works as non-fiction.

Capture your slice of memoir, essay or experimental whatever in five words to 5,000 words, and submit it to Broad Street via Tell It Slant (note, there’s a $1.50 submission fee – such a shame).

Based at Virginia Commonwealth University, Broad Street states that it “will present the best of literary journalism, creative nonfiction, photography and illustration” then adds “No academic studies or pomposity, please.”

Find out more at

Travellers’ tales

Foreign and Far Away coverOne of my short stories has been published in the Writers Abroad anthology Foreign & Far Away.

The book comprises short stories, flash fiction, non-fiction pieces and poetry, all on the theme of foreign places.

My story, Longhouse, was inspired by time spent in Sabah, Borneo, and includes the following line:

I look up. Tourists. They always target me, because I’m fair-skinned, tall, so obviously not local. To them I must look like a life-ring in a dark and unfamiliar sea.

Continue reading

Somerset artists on show at the Grant Bradley Gallery

Indian Odyssey by Caroline MornementOne of my favourite art galleries in Bristol is undoubtedly the Grant Bradley. It occupies a gorgeous, light-filled space just next to Asda in Brislington, and frequently hosts exhibitions that stop me in my tracks.

Rest by Bea Hammond

This Friday at 6pm, you’re invited to attend the preview night of their latest – SCAN – showcasing works by Somerset Contemporary Artists’ Network (hence the name of the exhibition), and will feature creations like ‘Rest’ by Bea Hammond, shown above, and Time and Space by Ashar, shown below. Continue reading

Book review – The Mistress of Nothing by Kate Pullinger

The Mistress of Nothing coverThere’s nothing quite as satisfying as a book that transports you. The Mistress Of Nothing manages to do that in location, time and (for most of us, I should think) circumstance, offering a rich mix of escapism and realism.

The book offers an intriguing blend of historical romance coupled with a clear-eyed examination of human nature that’s as relevant to us today as to Kate Pullinger’s 19th century characters.

The creamy pages draw you in and deposit you in the vibrant landscape of colonial Egypt. Sitti Duff Gordon is an adventurous English Lady whose poor health drives her to leave her home in Esher, Surrey, to seek the dry climate of Upper Egypt, accompanied by her maid Sally and dragoman Omar.

The book tracks Sally’s gradual, potentially perilous transformation from English to almost-Egyptian and servant to almost-equal: “I felt as far from Esher as it was possible to be; it was as though not only did I inhabit a different land, but I inhabited a different body.” Continue reading

Submit a poem to TellUs

Cyclopean walls cr Judy DarleyTellUs magazine is seeking poetry submissions inspired by ancient civilisations for its 5th issue. If you have poems written in response to or about age-old mythology, political propaganda, cosmology, cultural obsessions, architecture or anything that can be traced back to a historic civilisation, send them in!

The deadline for entries is November 15th 2013.

Send your work to poetry[at]tellusmagazine[dot]co[dot]uk, either as a word attachment or in the body of an email.

If you would prefer to send hard copies, please post them to Ailsa Hunt 
Faculty of Classics 
University of Cambridge 
Sidgwick Avenue 
CB3 9DA.

All poems must be original compositions (this includes translations) in English, and must not exceed one hundred lines in length. Tellus is happy to re-print previously published work where there are no outstanding copyright obligations, and does not itself hold copyright over any poems printed.

Find out more.

Spooky stories at The Thunderbolt

Bristol Fiction WritersHalloween may have passed, just, but there’s still a chance to be creeped out. I’m taking part in a night of eerie readings on Wednesday 06 November at The Thunderbolt’s Word of Mouth event.

Word of Mouth is a monthly literary event, and for November Bristol Fiction Writers’ Group (that’s us, pictured at the top of this post – I’m the blue-tinged one, bottom row, second from the left), will be hijacking it to read tales from our anthology A Dark Imagined Bristol.

A Dark Imagined Bristol cover

Doors open at 7.30am, and I’m going on first (eeps!), reading my short story Untrue Blue. It’s a strange story set in and around Bristol’s Cabot Tower, as well as in the skies over the city. It’s a free event, so why not come along to see what you think of it?

Cabot Tower cr Judy Darley