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CLiKD interviewed me as part of their ‘Creative Interview’ series

Woman sitting at desk with laptop

I was recently interviewed by CLiKd, the dating agency for creatives, about my writing. They were interested in finding out how I found inspiration for my work and what gave me the most satisfaction as a writer.

I talked to them about my short stories, including Swing Me and Beneath the Skin,  and poems. We also talked about how I quit my job in marketing to write full time, then was diagnosed with breast cancer and had to spend six months having surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy just before I started my studies for an MA in Creative Writing at Birkbeck this time last year.

It’s not something I’d recommend to anyone, but cancer does concentrate the mind wonderfully and it has made me much more determined to focus on what’s important to me.

I’ve been fighting my way back (literally, in fact, I’ve just restarted my Muay Thai kickboxing lessons) and am starting to feel a lot more like myself.

It’s great to feel the side effects of treatment diminish and physical strength return, although I’m aware it’s a long and difficult journey.

I shared some book recommendations as well if you want something frightening to read for Halloween (or any time, in fact)!

Book reviewer for Roman Road London

I’ve just joined the editorial team at Roman Road London as a book reviewer – it’s a great local website focusing on news, culture and events in the Roman Road area of East London.

My most recent book review is for Paintings, Doreen Fletcher, an artist who is a favourite of mine. I’m looking forward to reviewing more books about the history and culture of the area, so if you have a book you think I should review, let me know!

 

New short story published in Elixir Magazine

A new short story of mine, Hagstone, has been published in literary magazine Elixir. Elixir is an exciting new online magazine created and managed by passionate readers and writers and I’m delighted to be part of it.  

The story was inspired by my habit of picking up pebbles with holes in them on Norfolk beaches. Later on I visited an exhibition about witchcraft in East London where I discovered the folklore around these pebbles and so a new short story was born.

Read Hagstone here

Excited to say I’m on the Pin Drop Short Story Award 2018 Longlist

I’m very happy to announce that my short story, The Edge, is on the Pin Drop Short Story Award longlist alongside work by some very wonderful writers. It’s a competition that was set up (by Pin Drop and the Royal Academy) for stories to be read aloud and as such a bit of a new venture for me, I’m delighted that my work has found its way onto the longlist.

The winning story will be read out by Gwendolen Christie of Game of Thrones fame! I’m a huge fan so I have to admit this would be my dream…..

If you would like to buy tickets to the awards ceremony they’re available here

Photo of longlisted writers on Pin Drop Award Longlist

I’ve signed a pledge to keep Tower Hamlets pesticide free

I am standing in the May elections as a Liberal Democrat candidate in the Mile End Ward of Tower Hamlets. Recently I was made aware of the work of the Pesticides Action Network and how they are encouraging local councils to pledge to keep their outdoor spaces pesticide free.

As a breast cancer survivor who has been through surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy, and lost my mother and stepfather to cancer, I am very interested in avoiding toxins in the environment where possible. Children are particularly vulnerable and often use public spaces such as parks. Let’s set an example and make Tower Hamlets pesticide-free!

Standing as a candidate for the Liberal Democrats in May 2018

I am standing as a candidate in Mile End Ward for the Liberal Democrats. I’ve lived in East London for many years and have studied in the past at Central Foundation School for Girls and Tower Hamlets College. I have also worked and volunteered in Tower Hamlets, teaching ESOL for a Spitalfields charity, founding a small business, campaigning to save an adventure playground and running a toddlers’ playgroup in Stepney.

I joined the Liberal Democrats immediately after the referendum – I voted Remain, like a majority of the people of Tower Hamlets – but I was already interested in their environmental policies, educational ideas and commitment to an open, tolerant and united society.

As a parent living in the area, I’m interested in issues that affect local young people and families – crime, housing, pollution, recycling, education and so on. I am proud to be part of such a vibrant and diverse community and hope very much to represent the people of Mile End in Tower Hamlets Council.

Poems for an art exhibition at Vout O’Reenees

Art work by Cheli Mula.
Photo by Sankar

I was asked recently if I would like to create some written work to accompany an art exhibition at  Vout O Reenees by the artist Cheli Mula. It was a very inspirational project and I ended up writing poems to accompany Cheli’s art works.

One poem, Stations, is based on Cheli’s photographs of the things and places in the outside world a novice nun entering an enclosed convent told her she would miss the most.

My second poem, Commute, is inspired by Cheli’s photographs of eyes that were originally exhibited as billboards opposite each other in a railway station.

My novel has been longlisted for Myriad Editions First Drafts Competition

Very exciting news arrived in my inbox the other day – my work in progress, a novel, has been longlisted by Myriad Editions for their First Drafts competition.

First Drafts is an ‘annual event organised by Myriad to uncover exceptional new voices’. There are very few competitions that can be entered with a first draft or work in progress and apparently they had three times more entries than last year, so I’m very fortunate to be on the longlist!

I would love to win this competition, as the prize is a week-long writer’s retreat and editorial help as well as mentoring from an established author. But it’s an honour to be on the longlist in itself and makes me even more determined to stay on the path I’m on and continue writing full-time. Thank you to First Drafts for the amazing boost to my confidence as a writer.

I won the Almasi League Flash Fiction Award

I won the Almasi League Flash Fiction Award this year with my short story Beneath the Skin.

I wrote the flash fiction piece as a writing exercise during the Curtis Brown Write to the End of your Novel course. It is an online course which I took after completing the Start Writing Fiction course run by the Open University. Both courses are excellent – very helpful  if you need more structure when you are writing and enjoy receiving feedback. The Open University one is also free.

The Almasi League run workshops and events for writers and after signing up for one of them I heard of their Flash Fiction competition and entered my flash piece. Courttia Newland, their judge said it was ‘full of emotion’ and ‘skilfully written’.

 

I went to meet Courttia and some of his writing students at the University of East London, Stratford. I had some great conversations with the group, who had clearly found their classes immensely helpful, and Courttia himself, who had some great advice for me about my next steps.

It was a hugely life-affirming event for me to win this award, as I had some serious health issues to contend with this year. Winning writing competitions is a real boost to writers who are mostly working alone – it helps us gain some recognition and feedback – and I am very grateful to the Almasi League for the opportunity to enter.

Check out the Kickstarter for Storgy Magazine’s #EXITEARTH anthology

Storgy, the short story and arts magazine, have launched a Kickstarter for their first print anthology, ExitEarth. It’s already over halfway funded and they are offering some amazing perks for readers, writers and art fans, including collectible artworks, T-shirts, tote bags, the chance to have your short story professionally read and of course copies of the new print anthology.

Kickstarter were so impressed they’ve added it to their Projects we love section. I think you will agree. Hurry, there isn’t much time left to get involved!

Check out ExitEarth on Kickstarter