Friday, July 27, 2018

Writing and Mental Health

I've never been asked questions about writing and mental health & well-being before - here is an excerpt from my responses to questions by the Ignis Poetry Collective, a new organisation aiming to "explore and improve mental health via poetry and writing"
Do you think there has there been a direct impact upon your mental health/well-being as a result of leaving behind science journalism in favour of fiction and poetry? 

Yes – I was much calmer when I was a science journalist! I had some sort of structure, I had deadlines, I was being paid for each article, and more than that I was leaving the house to meet fascinating people, learning about new technologies and breakthroughs, it was very stimulating, I loved that job. But writing fiction was my dream from childhood, and at a certain point there was no more ignoring that. When I started writing short stories, I also started experiencing great mood swings and anxiety, because I was delving inside myself, spending more time alone – and obviously no-one was waiting for me to produce anything, and the chances of getting paid for it were fairly slim.
You can read the full interview here:

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Talking about reading... and writing

Two new interviews with me this week - the first is an audio piece over at the Royal Literary Fund's website in which I talk about my reading habits and reference the Large Hadron Collider (of course):

'The first writing course I ever went on was actually a reading course. The library was my church as a child, but I'd never stopped to look at the page as a writer might'

Listen to the piece (which is 3 minutes long) here:

And the lovely folk at the New Flash Fiction Review asked me some questions about my flash story, My Mother Was An Upright Piano, which is the title story of my second collection from 2012, and is shortly - and most thrillingly- being reprinted in an anthology, NEW MICRO — EXCEPTIONALLY SHORT FICTION (W.W. Norton & Co., 2018). Here's a taster:

TD: What gives micros their power? Language? Silence? Structure?

TH: As with any piece of great writing, this is hard to pin down, and I am an avoider of general pronouncements. I read around 1000 short and very short stories and poems, and non-fictions, every year, and I demand no less from a great piece of writing than to feel like I have been punched in the gut. Every piece that does that to me seems to do it in its own way, each writer makes it their own, which is the way it should be. I have a great love for a freshness of language, cliché turns me off, laziness of language will stop me in my tracks. Voice is what grabs me as a reader, the voice of a character or the narrator, in any piece of any length. The story itself, the plot, maybe be tiny and quiet, I never ask for enormous events to happen, there is great power in the small moments.

You can read the full interview, in which I carry on unhelpfully refusing to make grand pronouncements, here!

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Suffragette-themed writing workshop - coming to a location near you?

I ran a suffragette-themed flash fiction workshop for the fabulous Word Factory yesterday in the gorgeous Tara Theatre, culminating in a performance that night of the brand-new work the participants produced. I've never done anything quite like that before - and was very moved by the pieces produced by the 18 writers, which dealt with the present and the future as well as the past. I did a huge amount of research, and would love to run this workshop again - please do get in touch with me if you think you'd like me to run one near you! We can discuss fees & logistics, I am happy to customise it for different groups and different needs!

Wednesday, May 02, 2018

Happy Birthday to Some Of Us Glow...!

My short story collection, Some Of Us Glow More Than Others, is a year old today! In celebration, my publisher, Unthank Books, asked me to share some thoughts on writing short stories on their blog:

"What is a short story? As a writer, I’d rather ask: What can I make the short story do for me?" 

You can read the full blog post here, your thoughts on my thoughts very welcome!

and find out more about the book here: 

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Bursaries for Arvon Flash Fiction course for BAME/Low income writers

My crowdfunding campaign went wonderfully -  I can now offer three £250 bursaries for BAME writers or writers on low income who would like to attend the Arvon foundation 5-day residential flash fiction course I am co-tutoring, with the amazing Nuala O'Connor, in Devon in November. More details about the course here - there are only a few places on the course left. This funding is coming directly from me -  if you'd like to be considered for one of the £250 bursaries (you will need to pay for the remainder of the course fee yourself) or you know someone who is not on social media who might like to apply, please email me as soon as possible and let me know why you'd like the funding! It's going to be a wonderful week, come join us!