This week brought another evening at Novel Nights in Clifton. I've only been to this event once prior to this week, but I've certainly been impressed by both! Novel Nights is a storytelling night, but in a different sense to others in Bristol like Talking Tales or Let Me Tell You a Story, Jack. It showcases local writers, dedicating the first half to readings of novel chapters or short stories, then the second half welcomes a professional speaker, hence the £5 door charge. The speakers I've seen - Nikesh Shukla (more details in a previous blog post) and this week, Kate Johnson, have been insightful, personable and enjoyable.
Let's put it this way, it's definitely worth spending a fiver if you're a writer.
This week's speaker was literary agent Kate Johnson from Wolf Literary Services LLC. As somebody who has battled over a novel for a number of years and attempted to send it off to a few agents who of course ignored me, I am likely to be one of the many writers who sees literary agents as some kind of demi-Gods. So an opportunity to have a Q&A session with one of these mythical creatures is pretty darned good. Kate was happy to answer all the audience's questions about getting an agent and the publishing industry, and it was clear there were a lot of keen novelists in the audience. If you missed it, here's a useful article I found about starting the uphill trek into literary agent land...How to get a literary agent without dying of old age.
Kate was kind, charming and positive, something needed in the writing world. Writers have to find a lot of faith in themselves to keep going through the rejection letters (though sometimes there're better than just being ignored) so it's refreshing to have somebody like Kate who was willing to listen and answer. She even stayed behind after to chat to people individually, and listened to me ramble on after a few wines about how my book really isn't sci-fi, honest.
Novel Nights presents itself differently to storytelling nights for this reason - it's primarily for writers to read or listen, but also to learn. It may not be the night that all your non-writer mates want to come along to, but for writers it's an opportunity not to be missed. This week saw THREE of Stokes Croft Writers - Christie, Nick and Steph, all reading the first few pages of their novels/novella, which is a pretty sweet opportunity in front of a literary agent! Nerve-racking for sure though, so I applaud them and the other readers, Susie and Judy.
I recognised Judy from a previous episode of Speechbubble, a BBC Radio Bristol comedy show which I recently preformed on too. My performance was on episode 5 which was broadcast on Friday 26th June, and will be available soon on iPlayer. I read a slightly shortened version of 'A Pocket Guide to Earth'. The original version is published on Zusterschap here. I also recently wrote another piece for them on Writing Inspiration which you can check out here.
When my segment on Speechbubble is available I'll post more info, but for now why not have a listen to Judy Darley.
One of the events I missed this weeks as National Flash Fiction Day, held yesterday at Foyles. Hope it all went well and look forward to hearing about it soon!
If you like flash fiction, check out Stokes Croft Writer's very own Andy Melhuish. He treated us to some of his flash fiction at the last Talking Tales - you can read some here.
So what's coming next?
This week's news: Nyphomaniac zombie quokkas, Cootie Catchers, and flogging, castration and mutilation.
It's an exciting week, folks! It kicked off with Talking Tales last night - our second Stokes Croft Writers storytelling event at Left Bank in Stokes Croft, Bristol. We heard stories from a few of the SCW team including Steph Minns, Leah Eades, Thomas David Parker, plus myself.
There were also performances from more of Bristol's talented writers - Angela Brooks, Mark Rutterford, Kevlin Henney and Joe Smith...or is it Bryron? Oooh the mystery!
Christie and Andy of SCW were co-compering, Andy delighting us with some of his flash fiction (it really is very good - read some here) between the acts, picking which flash pieces to read in a 'Cootie Catcher' inspired way.
At my school we called them 'Chatterboxes' I think, and they were all the rage for a while hence I've been able to make such a professional looking one so you know what I'm on about. They are indeed a hard thing to describe otherwise. In my experience they were mostly just used as a more creative way of insulting people. The 'you smell' in the picture was far preceded at my school by much harsher words.
I was sad enough to Google 'Cootie Catchers' and found out that they can also be called 'salt cellars' or 'whirlybirds'. 'Salt cellar' sort of makes senses as apparently if you turn it over you can put food items in each of the pockets, although I can think of much more sensible ways of storing salt. This may work for jelly beans though. Try it.
If you are still fascinated by Cootie Catchers (and why wouldn't you be?) you can find out more here, or watch this video to make your own. You know you want to. Moving swiftly on...
Back to Talking Tales. I performed a particularly niche story - a review of the film adaption of Zombies on a Boat, so only about 5 people could enjoy it. I suggest you listen to the last podcast before the next one comes out and hopefully it will make a lot more sense. For anyone who needs further clarification of what a quokka is (as if my explanation of 'if a possum shagged a kangaroo' isn't enough?), see here. Don't be fooled by the cute furry smile.
All of the performers got a Talking Tales badge, which of course they'll all still be wearing with pride. God forbid they took them off to go to bed! Talking Tales badges are like Blue Peter badges except you look ever so slightly less of a knob wearing one.
'Finish the Lines' was a success again, the winning line rewarded with the ultimate prize, you guessed it - a Talking Tales badge. The best will be published soon on the Stokes Croft Writers website. If you're not already, please follow us on Twitter on on Facebook for updates.
The next Talking tales is likely to be in September, as apparently people go on holiday in August...wankers. Oh, I'm just jealous.
In other news...
I'm going to be recorded on Thursday for BBC Speechbubble! It's a radio show which 'showcases the talents of local amateur comedians' - it's mostly stand-up so I've no idea how I've been able to get in there, especially being as they said they needed something 'clean'. My story, a slightly adapted version of 'A Pocket Guide to Earth', involves 'flogging, mutilation and castration' so I'm not sure how 'clean' it really is. We'll see how that goes down.
You can read a taster of the story on my new website - FREESIZED! This was called Embracing our Bodies as that was a bit pants it is now back and is bigger, bolder and brighter and ready to take on the the future. Check it out!