Wednesday, 14 February 2018

An interview with Roger Noons



Recently at Chapletown Books we published Roger's Slimline Tales, a delightful collection of very short stories. Roger is also a regular contributor to the CaféLit e-zine that I edit.       

 
Performing poems at Laton Hall, Shropshire



What do you write and why?

Apart from a novel (I‘m too old to start and wouldn‘t want to spend all my time on one project,) I’ll have a go at anything. I’ve written a novella (still to be re-edited,) short stories, flash fiction, poems, plays, sketches, screenplays, memoirs, letters to newspapers, reports of meetings and events. You name it, I’ll take up the challenge. Since 2006 my principal output has been short stories and during the last eighteen months, flash. So far this year, I have two film scripts to develop and am trying to concentrate on poetry.
I have always depended on a creative outlet to keep me sane. During the 35 years I worked in public health, it was photography. As my parents grew older, in order to provide support, I turned to drawing and painting. After my father died and Ma needed more of my time, it became writing.

I still take the odd snap

Getting started

A friend took me to meet a film maker who had a small cinema in his house. After we’d watched some of his movies and enjoyed a couple of glasses of red, he told me his regular screenwriter was starting a novel and he was looking for someone else to script his ideas and come up with new ones. After another glass of Rioja I announced that it couldn’t be that difficult and I’d have a go. I did and my first screenplay was filmed during the following year.
Soon after, I joined a writers group which had been set up for carers and did a creative writing course. I was off and running and writing became a passion, maybe even an addiction.

Routine

 As far as possible, mornings are reserved for chores and appointments, afternoons for writing. When we are away from home, I spend every spare moment with pen and paper. I love it, a joy to be away from the keyboard and screen. When we are in Mallorca, I have my special pomegranate tree under which I sit and write while gazing at a 500 year old olive.

A pen and notebook are always within arms length, so that while waiting for an appointment for example, if I see or hear something or an idea occurs, notes are made.

Even when driving, I can be heard reciting, though much of that is never remembered and written down.

I have a number of pieces on the go at any one time. When one sticks, I turn to another. Sometimes a story will stall and I have pieces that have been in the folder for two years or more. When a first draft is complete, I will put it to one side for a week or two. Usually when I return, it will tell me what is needed to finish. The exception is flash which tends to be done in one go. Get the idea, write it down, tidy it up and close the file. Short pieces need that freshness which can often be lost if you leave, tinker with or tweak. Fellow WG members criticise this approach, but I tell them, I write for pleasure, (certainly not for money,) I’ll do it how I want to and when.

Working Space

Our third (smallest) bedroom is my office, studio, library and storage space, but I will and can write anywhere, providing there is not too much noise. I always used to draw and paint to a background of music, but that doesn’t work with writing. I’ve tried writing on bus journeys but that’s not easy. I’m not a great frequenter of cafes and bars, other than to eat, but if I find myself in a town with time to pass, I seek out the library which is a nice place to write.

Writer

I am a writer; it’s what I do and have called myself such ever since my first film script was ‘published,’ i.e. properly typed in the appropriate format and put into a ring binder to give to actors. It was soon afterwards that I had work in an anthology published by the Carers Writing Group, which I believed confirmed my status.



Support
Roger and Judy



My wife, Judy was a public librarian for almost 40 years, so books are her thing. Since getting married in 1970, we have never owned a TV set, but the house is always overflowing with newspapers, books and magazines. Judy will have three novels on the go at any one time, but I can’t do that. She doesn’t read everything I write, as she has a habit of saying ‘very good.’ I study her expression and that’s what tells me what I need to know.

My mother used to tell everyone within earshot that I was a writer until; the Carers Writers Group produced an anthology featuring pieces by those who were being cared for. Mum had two pieces included and following that ‘til her death (aged 99) she became the ‘writer’ in the family.
I’ve always been a member of a writers group, at the moment it’s two and generally speaking, apart from occasional jealousies, fellow members have been supportive.

Most Proud Moments

Not in any particular order :-

The first time I saw my name on a film credit and when I found myself mentioned on IMDB.
When I had my one hundredth submission accepted for Café Lit.
When, after performing a poem about trees in a church, a member of the congregation asked if she could have a copy to read at her daughter’s wedding.
When I opened the package and for the first time saw a copy of Slimline Tales.

Editing and Research

I enjoy this part almost as much as getting down the first draft. I follow the advice to write the piece rather than edit as I go. Research, I do as I need it. When I first began writing I tended to do all the research at the beginning but then wanted to include everything I’d learned. You can tell when reading a book that an author has spent hours researching and they are jolly well going to put everything in the book. The only exception is when drafting a poem on a particular subject, for instance, at the moment I’m working on a poem about an element of the busting of the dams in Germany. It’s in the voice of a bomb aimer and I did a lot of research before I wrote the first line. I use the cluster approach for poems.

Future Goals

To live as long as I can, write as much as I can and enjoy it.

Inspired by :-

Robert Graves, William Boyd, Dylan Thomas, Gillian Clarke, Lee Child, Joanne Harris, John Irving, Alan Bennett, Robert Macfarlane, F G Lorca, Joan Miro and many more.

 


Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Story Time







Christmas seems a long time ago now. The days are beginning to get longer at quite a pace.  There are snow drops out in the garden and it's clear to see that there will soon also be crocuses, daffodils and tulips. It is snowing today but I don't think it's going to be enough to keep us indoors. We'll see. We might just get lucky. 

But those dark days before Christmas and all that anticipation of the re-enactment of one of the biggest stories all-time make us think of stories. I love that time of year, actually, when bad weather and the general shut down of society compels you to stay in and consume story, whether it be via a cheesy film on the TV, a light read or a beautifully written work of literary fiction.       

Of course, producing stories is an all-year round activity for some of us and in fact Christmas 2018 is already being prepared. The Bridge House appeal is open for not-quite-Christmas stories until 31 March. We're also collecting stories for the Waterloo Festival.

So, if bad weather's giving you a "snow" day, and you just can't get into work, why not spend it looking for a story?   
  
Happy writing!   

Sunday, 4 February 2018

An interview with Gail Aldwin





I'm please to welcome to my blog today Gail Aldwin.
 
Gail is a prize-winning writer of short fiction and poetry. She works as a visiting tutor to creative writing students at Arts University Bournemouth. Gail’s new collection of short fiction Paisley Shirt is published by Chapeltown Books. The Kindle Edition can be purchased from Amazon. The paperback will be launched soon. 




What do you write?


In short fiction and novels I tend to write about contemporary situations with a focus on the obstacles life presents such as homelessness, family breakdown and ill health. I write for a range of audiences and like to build humour into my monologues and short plays. In the last couple of years I have started to write poetry and enjoy the challenge of capturing moments in time by using just a few words. I believe that writing in lots of different styles cross-fertilises to improve the quality of my writing.


When did you decide you could call yourself a writer?

     
I have always taken my writing seriously and see it as work rather than a hobby or distraction to fill time, but it has taken years to acknowledge that I am a writer. We have many roles in life from relationships with family members to paid and voluntary employment or educational studies. Although my role as a writer has been a priority, admitting this to others in social and professional contexts was something I avoided. It has always been much easier to say I am a student of creative writing or a tutor in creative writing. It was only upon acquiring representation by a literary agent that I began to tell people of my occupation as a writer.
The offer of literary representation came from a competition entry. Although I did not win the prize or feature on the shortlist, one of the judges liked my work approached me. This came as a tremendous surprise and delight. I was invited to the London office of my agent and taken out for lunch. This affirmation of my writing was sufficient to change the way I viewed myself and I began to value my writing more.
In my employment as a tutor of creative writing, I now make a point of encouraging students to think of themselves as writers and talk about their work. This helps to develop a professional attitude to writing and provides the impetus to become more disciplined and confident in their outlook.


Do you have any goals for the future



When I started writing I was at a crossroads in my career. I realised I was investing far too much time and energy into my paid employment at the sacrifice of a creative outlet. There were two routes I was interested in following: either to become a published writer or to learn Spanish sufficiently well to hold conversations. I took the writing route and although I enjoy the progress I’ve made, I still hope that one day I’ll be not only fluent in Spanish but literate, too.


Which writers have inspired you?


My current WIP is a novel for the adult market written from the viewpoint of a six-year-old boy. This Much I Know gives a child’s eye view of the interaction between adults in a suburban community where a paedophile is housed. The trick in writing from a child’s viewpoint is to exploit the gap in understanding between the child and the actions of adults around them. I learnt a great deal in how to achieve this by reading What I Did by Christopher Wakling. Here six-year-old Billy is smacked by his father when he misbehaves at the park. This is observed by a passer-by who reports the incident and thus the action of the story unfolds. I love the way Wakling plays with language using onomatopoeia, malapropism and other devices to capture the voice of a young child (with very humorous results).

You can find Gail at
Twitter:           @gailaldwin
Blog:               The Writer is a Lonely Hunter