London Literature Festival 2019

RWD15_I Believe in Unicorns_a show based on Michael Morpurgo tale

London Literature Festival hosted by the South Bank Centre invites us to consider whether we’re sitting comfortably (or, conversely, too comfortably), with an unfurling array of fairy tales “for our times with today’s leading writers, thinkers and cultural observers.”

Returning for its 13th year, the festival takes place from 17th-27th October 2019.

The festival opens with opens with Poetry International, founded by Ted Hughes in 1967, which this year embraces the theme of disruption.

Lemn Sissay © Hamish Brown, Elizabeth Day © Jenny Smith, Sharlene Teo © fatiimaa, Brett Anderson © Brett Anderson

Look forward to eerie, magical, unsettling and though-provoking moments from Lemn Sissay, Daisy Johnson, Bernadine Evaristo, Jay Bernard, Elizabeth Day, Armistead Maupin, Brett Anderson, Heather Morris, Louise Doughty, Neil Gaiman, Jung Chang and many more.

Jung Chang author

Author Jung Chang

They say: “The theme Once Upon Our Times runs throughout the festival, with a series of events looking at contemporary retellings of folk and fairy tales, spanning from Harry Potter and Game of Thrones to The Handmaid’s Tale and Angela Carter’s The Bloody Chamber.  The series explores and celebrates the global and democratic nature of this storytelling tradition through live readings, new commissions and discussions. The latter strand includes Charlene Teo, Daisy Johnson and Rebecca Tamas on the contemporary relevance an democratic value of fairytales, and nordic authors Linda Bostrom Knausgard, Vigdis Hjorth and Mazen Maarouf discussing the thin line between fiction and reality.”

On Saturday 26th October, London Literature Festival presents its inaugural Writers’ Day. Established in partnership with Creative Future, the day welcomes aspiring writers to attend free short talks from authors, editors and publishers, as well as special 1:1 Agent Advice sessions and a day-long writers’ exhibition space. The festival also hosts more masterclasses and workshops than ever before.

alchemymay23. Credit Belinda Lawley

Credit Belinda Lawley

There are also an abundance of family-friendly literary treats, including free events, exploring fairy tales and folklore from a variety of cultures, and Young Adult Literature Day, featuring authors of YA fiction, including Louise O’Neill, Dean Atta, Kiran Millwood Hargrave, Muhammad Khan and Laura Bates.

WTC_Baba Yaga_Christine Johnston_Credit_Sia Duff

Christine Johnston stars in Baba Yaga. Credit Sia Duff

Look out for a special one-off dramatic live reading of contemporary retellings of tales from around the world, including works by Salman Rushdie, Marlon James and Angela Carter and newly commissioned works by Daisy Johnson and Charlene Teo,performed by actors and musicians, plus a brand new take on an old Russian folktale Baba Yaga by Windmill Theatre Company and a show based on Michael Morpurgo’s I Believe in Unicorns (pictured top).

In short, have your imagination thoroughly stirred.

For the full programme, visit www.southbankcentre.co.uk.

All images supplied by the South Bank Centre.

Writing prompt – shoe

Shoe in cememtery by Judy DarleyI’ve been playing with fairytales and fables recently, remastering them with a twist that may make them more appealing to modern audiences such as this one published by Enchanted Conversation.

When I spied this mislaid shoe on a forest path, my first thought was ‘Cinderella!’

Use this as the prompt for a modern take on the Cinderella story. What kind of Cinders might have lost this battered sneaker, and in what circumstances? What sort of happy ending could they be stumbling towards?

And if I were to tell you that this path happens to be in a woodland cemetery, how might that influence your tale?

If you write or create something prompted by this, please send an email to judydarley(at)iCloud.com to let me know. With your permission, I’ll publish it on SkyLightRain.com.

Short stories – Fish Flakes, Wriggler, Safe Arbor

Reggie cr Judy DarleyYesterday I received the news that Fish Flakes, a short story I submitted to an online publication in May, has been accepted. And today they notified me that it’s been published!

Just shows it’s worth being patient! I’m excited because it’s a creepy/ridiculous work of fiction (honest!) that stars our resident goldfish Reggie. Apologies to our neighbour’s cat who cameos, but doesn’t fare so well. Click on the link below to read it in full. They even used the photo of Reggie, with a slightly sinister filter…

If you’re having a vague sense of deja vu, it may be because I posted a writing prompt about Reggie some months ago. I followed my own advice and wrote a piece inspired by our unexpected lodger, with a rather twisted ending. Perfect for Halloween week!

Sunday Stories: “Fish Flakes”

My bittersweet story Wriggler has been published in the October 2018 issue of the intriguingly named Ghost Parachute. It captures the moment when a mother recognises the hazards of the age her son has reached.

Laugharne Castle by Judy Darley

The picture above shows Laugharne Castle, a destination for my duo.

Here are the first couple paragraphs to give you a taste:

The suspension bridge tries to catch us in its wires as we drive from Bristol to Wales, chasing storm clouds as we go. “It’s like a spider with a gazillion legs,” Sam says, staring up through the sun roof.

I can’t help but smile at him. In those words I hear the little boy he used to be, just last year or the year before. Not that 12 is so very close to fully grown, but the perils he faces now seem disturbingly adult.

To read the story in full and see what other fab fictions this literary ezine has to offer, visit ghostparachute.com.

My surreal story Safe Arbor has been published by the excellent fairytale magazine Enchanted Conversation as their Saturday Tale.

It’s an exploration of old age and sibling loyalty, and includes the line: My sister nods her branches with the breeze and murmurs…

…which gives you a clue to the direction I’ve taken it in 🙂

You can read the story in full here.

Call for fairytales inspired by Donkeyskin

Donkey cr Judy DarleyDo you know the French fairytale Donkeyskin? I hadn’t heard of it either, until Kate Wolford posted it as a theme for Enchanted Conversation’s May submissions slot.

It turns out to be a French fairytale by Charles Perrault published in 1695. In it, a grieving king is persuaded to remarry, but the only woman he’ll consider is his own daughter. Zut alors! After trying to save her skin by making impossible demands, the princess fled, disguising her beauty by dressing in a donkey skin.

Kate is accepting poems and short stories inspired by the original tale between 1st and 31st May 2017.

Stories should be no shorter than 700 words and no longer than 3,000. Poems may be of any length.

Payments will be issued in US dollars via PayPal at $30 per story and $10 per poem.

Find full guidelines and links to previous published work.

Got an event, challenge, competition or call for submissions you’d like to draw my attention to? Send me an email at Judy(at)socket creative(dot)com

Enter the mind of Angela Carter

The Misfits by Nicola Bealing

The Misfits by Nicola Bealing

Author Angela Carter put her own twist on many traditional fairytales, as well as dreaming up her own unsettling stories that hark from ancient fables. In celebration of her askew imagination, the RWA is hosting Strange Worlds: The Vision of Angela Carter, an exhibition of artworks inspired by her writing, as well as original cover art from her novels and more.

After The Masked Visitor by Lisa Wright

After The Masked Visitor by Lisa Wright

Eerie, beautiful, thought-provoking and discombobulating, the pieces on show include Marc Chagall, Paula Rego and some truly luscious works by Leonora Carrington, as well as plenty of others that seem selected to haunt your dreams and stir your imagination.

The exhibition is curated by Dr Marie Mulvey-Roberts of UWE, and the artist and writer Fiona Robinson. Among my favourites were works by the wonderfully macabre Heather Nevey (below), and an understatedly unnerving oil painting titled Grandma’s Footsteps by Angela Lizon.

The Murder 1 cr Heather Nevay

The Murder 1 cr Heather Nevay

Other highlights include the chance to see Angela Carter’s photos, pens and other artefacts. For me the best part of all, and the most alarming, was stepping through a curtain into a gallery populated by strange figures with outlandishly large egg-like heads, seated around a table where a naked, terrified man lay prostrate – an installation by Ana Maria Pacheco titled The Banquet.

Wonderfully, while some of these works were inspired by Carter’s fiction, others, such as Chagall’s work, helped to fuel her creativity, while others still sprang from similar ideas, proving what a rich conversation visual and written works can enjoy.

Strange Worlds: The Vision of Angela Carter is on at RWA, Queens Road, Bristol, BS8 1PX until 19th March 2017.

Flying Ant Day, Savages and Dawn Thread

Ant by Judy Darley

Disclaimer: This is not a flying ant.

Happy to say that my flash fiction tale Flying Ant Day has been published in A Box of Stars Beneath the Bed: 2016 National Flash-Fiction Day Anthology. Wonderful!

A Box of Stars Beneath the BedEven better, my tale is one of just 50 chosen from 500 entries. Woohoo! There are so many excellent writers on the list of those included. Definitely looking forward to reading the contributions from Jude Higgins, Diane Simmons, Jonathan Pinnock, KM Elkes and Jane Roberts.

I’ll be reading my tale as part of the National Flash Fiction Day celebrations in Bristol on Saturday, at At The Well on Cheltenham Road.

To get your copy, go to the Amazon page or visit the NFFD website, where you can also discover all kinds of events happening this National Flash Fiction Day (June 25th, in case you were wondering!).

My short tale Savages has been published in issue three of Ink In Thirds magazine.

This beautiful publication describes itself as ‘a magazine of poised prose, precarious poetry, and photography that makes us want to pilot our own realms again.’

Inspired by the wilderness of childhood, including glimpses from my own, I’m glad my tale has found a home here.

Read issue three of Ink in Thirds magazine here.

The opening line of Savages is:

The field has been scalped; sharp spikes are all that remain of the wheat that whispered here, green stems that leaned with the wind and hissed tickling promises as we drifted by on our way to school.

Happy Summer Solstice! Today began when most of us were still sleeping (at 4.06am, rumour has it) and the air was green and fragrant. Gorgeous.

Nicholas Oakwell red feather dressMy poem Dawn Thread has been selected for a special Midsummer issue of Enchanted Conversations: A Fairy Tale Magazine. In case you don’t know, Enchanted Conversations is a beautiful online journal of original fairytales, which has regular calls for submissions.

My poem came in a flurry after seeing an exquisite dress embellished by students and tutors at the Royal School of Needlework for designer Nicholas Oakwell (pictured left). The gown was hand sewn all over with more than 200,000 feathers, dyed in 18 shades of red, and made me think of the kind of tasks traditionally given to maidens in fairytales. The profusion of red made me think of the transition from girl to woman, and the feathers drew to mind several fairytales about men turned into swans, and their sister sewing them shirts to return them to their human forms.

My poetic tale offers a rather different ending, culminating at dawn on the longest day.

Read it here.

A call for fairytales about rain

Scottish Trees cr Judy DarleyFairytale magazine Enchanted Conversations invites original fairytales for their March open submissions period.

The theme for this month is rain, which means that rain must be present in the foreground or background of your story or poem – the possibilities of this seem beautiful and bountiful, so why not let it drive the heart of your narrative?

The window for submissions closes at 11:59 p.m., EDT, Z on 30th March 2016.

Stories should be no shorter than 700 words and no longer than 3,000. Poems may be of any length.

The essence of classic fairy tales must be maintained when you write these stories. You are free to explore themes by retelling a classic tale, but it must be in your own way and in keeping with the theme.

It’s advisable to read past EC stories and poems to see what they publish. Also, Beyond the Glass Slipper, Krampusnacht and Frozen Fairy Tales give great insight into what I publish. You can find them at Amazon, B&N and other booksellers. All are available in ebook form.

Submit your entry to ecsub2016@gmail.com. Do not send attachments. They will not be opened or considered. Paste your work in the body of an email.

Your last name, the month and the year should be in the subject line of the email.

You must try to use American English word forms and punctuation.

No fancy spacing or characters, please. Do not indent for new paragraphs. Just do an extra return between them. Heavy dialogue is very hard to format. Resist the urge. Most classic tales are not heavy on dialogue.

Your submission must include how you follow EC. Methods include something Google related, Facebook or Twitter or Pinterest (the board called New Posts at Enchanted Conversation). You only need to follow in one way. But if you don’t follow, your work will not be considered.

Only first electronic rights are being bought. Once the story is published, you are free to shop it elsewhere. Authors of accepted stories receive $30, while poets receive $10, in US dollars made through PayPal only.

Find full details at www.fairytalemagazine.com/p/blog-page_22.html?m=1.

Got an event, challenge, competition or call for submissions you’d like to draw my attention to? Send me an email at Judy(at)socket creative(dot)com.

A fairytale and a ghost story

Mossy tree cr Judy DarleyThis week I received the exciting news that one of my short stories has been chosen to appear on the Enchanted Conversations websites, a fabulous hub of original fairytales and homages to traditional ones.

Asleep in the Moonlight cr Richard Doyle

You can read my story, Sapling, here. The atmospheric image selected by editor & Publisher Kate Wolford is by artist Richard Doyle.

My story begins like this:

I was the only one who saw him. Everyone else, even my mother, it seems, only saw the tree. I lay in the long grass playing with my soldiers who were using the lawn as a jungle. Sunlight fell thick and heavy through the strands of grass, darkness falling briefly as my mother passed. I glanced up to see where she was going – saw her reach the tree, climb the trunk and disappear into the leaves. I gazed, amazed. My mother had never climbed a tree in my life, that I knew of. I stared at the old oak, then heard a rustling, a sharp gasp, and my mother fell. By the time she hit the ground, my father was halfway down the lawn, running full tilt. Yet only I saw the man in the branches, his skin the color and texture of bark, eyes like two bright spaces between the leaves where light leached through.

Read on…

Find out how to write fairytales here.

We’re already into October, and the run up to Halloween. Britain never celebrates this most gruesome of fiestas with as much fervour as I’d like, but this is also the time of year when ghost stories are most successful, so I’m really pleased to have one of mine published by the wonderful Origami Journal.

My tale, Unwanted Guests, was inspired by a rental property I moved into where the cellar was filled with the previous tenant’s possessions – everything from old pots and pans to gymkhana ribbons and old teddy bears – seriously eerie! Why on earth would anyone leave those kinds of things behind? That was the seed – read the result here.