Tuesday 26 May 2009

A Perspex Crucifix

Thanks to the editor of Ink, Sweat & Tears (thanks, Charles!), the column I wrote for Foto8 Magazine can now be read online. It opens as a pdf via this link.

Friday 22 May 2009

The week that was

What a week! So many of my writer friends scored successes, including the publication of new texts (shout out to Nik Perring), the high ranking of existing books in Amazon league tables (shout out to Tania Hershman and Vanessa Gebbie) and first place in the WOW (Women on Writing) Awards which went to Gay Degani for her great flash, Beyond the Curve. Congratulations to all. Each of these writers takes his/her craft seriously, devotes time to getting better and to getting noticed by the publishing world (a notoriously hard feat for new and emerging writers), so be inspired by their example, as I am. Oh and buy a book from Salt Publishing - you can't go wrong with their list. I've just ordered Some New Ambush by Carys Davies. Support the independent publishers, because they support us.

In my own small way I made a leap this week. Nothing as amazing as the successes above, but I wrote a piece of original fiction, my first in a couple of months. It's a tiny piece, just 200 words, and it's a long way away from my comfort zone, but I'm pleased with it and with myself for achieving it. It came to me while I was driving to my mother's, and I had to keep repeating it in my head until I was able to grab pen and paper and get it down. It's called Hoochy Coochy Man and the Wagon of Rhymes. Even the title is unlike me. I take this as a good sign, a fresh green shoot after a hard frost.

Wednesday 20 May 2009


Those of you living in the North of England may be interested to hear that the Imperial War Museum in Manchester is about to open a new exhibition, Captured: The Extraordinary Life of PoWs, which will attempt to recreate conditions for prisoners at camps around the world during wartime. To coincide with this event, Radio 4's Woman's Hour is interviewing female survivors of prison camps on Friday 29th May at 10am. You can tune in via their website here. One of the interviewees is Bernice Archer, an authority on various camps similar to Batu Lintang where my grandparents and mother were interned. Given this connection, I sent a copy of my Foto8 Magazine column to Nicola Swords, the editor at R4's Woman's Hour, and received this super response:

"Hi Sarah. Thank you very much for this. It's a lovely and very poignant article. The picture is amazing. I imagine it means a lot to you. One of the women who is coming on the program, Maria Ring, told me over the phone, that she has a photograph of herself and her mother taken by a Japanese guard at one of the camps. She was only about 3 or 4 in it. As you will know Bernice is taking part in the program as well as Maria and her sister Vilma, who was 11 when she was interned. I'm afraid we fixed the interviews quite a while ago and we can only really accommodate three in the studio - otherwise I would been straight on the phone to see if you would have liked to take part! Anyway thank you for sending me the article - it was very interesting to read."

Anyone who'd like to read the article is very welcome to do so, as I have an emailable pdf of the column as it appears in Foto8. Just drop me a line.

Monday 18 May 2009

Flash forward

My writing buddy, Gay Degani, is doing a terrific job of pulling together sparks of wisdom from writers of flash fiction over at the EDF blog, Flash Fiction Chronicles. Recent gems have included advice on writer's block (if indeed it exists) and nuggets on skill, talent and ideas. There are links to writing prompts and useful websites. The feature I like best is the weekly round-up which summarises recent discussions and provides links to them for ease of reference. Perfect short-cut for the busy flasher. Check out the blog for lots of tips and lively debate among writers and readers of flash.

Sunday 17 May 2009

The Big Purge

Part of the Big Move has necessitated clearing our attic and generally decluttering. It's been an exhilarating experience. We're not big hoarders but we had accumulated an amount of possessions over the past twenty years or so. "Never again" has become our motto. You should see the space! More than that, you should see the stuff we threw out (in fact we donated it to the local children's hospice shop where it's already raised several thousands for a great cause). Highlights from the Big Purge:

  • Autographed pointe shoes from the Royal Ballet (prima ballerina, Viviana Durante's)
  • A glorious designer hat by Stephen Jones (about which I wrote a short story, The Pheasant Feather Hat)
  • Silk shirts from Liberty's
  • Velvet-collared covert coats from Jermyn Street
  • Books, including some first editions (these hurt the most but needs must).

It feels good to be free of these things. It's liberating, and empowering. Like the high ceilings in our new Georgian pad, I feel my life opening up. Expansive, is the word. There's more space and light in this new life. We intend to fill it with experiences rather than things. We are done with things. Never again.

Tuesday 12 May 2009

Kreativ Blogger Award

With thanks to Nuala Ní­ Chonchúir, a terrific writer and blogger, who awarded me this and prompted me thus: 1. Post the award on your blog and link to the person who gave you the award. 2. List seven things you love. 3. Pass it on to seven blogs you love.

My Seven Things:

1. My daughter
2. Her father
3. Our new home city (moving soon!)
4. The original shutters and window-seat in our new pad
5. Books
6. Spending time with my mother
7. Shaking up the mix, decluttering, moving on.

My Kreativ Blogger Award recipients:

Words in Place
Nik's Blog
Vanessa Gebbie's News
Douglas Bruton
Anne Brooke's Writing Journal
Do You Write Under Your Own Name?
Help! I Need a Publisher!

No obligation on anyone to participate but let me know if you do so I can check out your responses.

Thursday 7 May 2009

Long Shortlist

Thanks to Jason Stout for spotting that my story, Two Minute Silence, published by Smokelong Quarterly, made it to the Long Shortlist for The Wigleaf Top 50.

Monday 4 May 2009

Fish One-Page Prize

Congratulations to the winners, who will have the best time in Bantry in July. I'm pleased and proud to have made the short-list with my story, Six Degrees of Expatriation. Fish is a great force in publishing and it's always an honour to have work recognised by them.