Category Archives: Short stories

Review – and recommendation! Story Sunday through the eyes of a first-time reader

Thanks to Suzanne McConnaghy for summing up her first experience of reading with us at Southbank on March 19th.

20170319_200657

Mark Lewis, Suzanne, Ali Bacon, Debbie Young, Heather Jo Reed

Writers Unchained impressed me so much at the Festival of Literature, back in October 2016, that I decided I would enter their next event. They’d finally got me to see that writing a short story was not just writing a story: there was an art to it. Large learning curve and here I am at Story Sunday  on March 19th, 2017, about to step onto the stage.

The Southbank Club provides us with a relaxed and welcoming venue to listen to ten writers’ interpretations of the theme: ‘Another Country.’

I soon find Story Sunday’s excellent organisation is very supportive to the readers – when you have a programme and know exactly when you are on, it does a lot to calm the nerves. I’m placed mid-way through Act 1 and this gives me time to see how the first two excellent writers handle the situation but comes early enough to allow relaxed enjoyment of the remaining performances.

20170319_210939

Mark Rutterford, Jean Burnett, John Holland, Lania Knight, Dawn Maria Kelly

Heather Jo Reed’s ‘Mr Muyila’s Bull’ transports us straight out to the African Bush, transfixing the listener as we come to understand the fate intended for the little girl and enjoy the mother’s clever thwarting of her husband’s will. Thoroughly rattled by Mark Lewis’s surreal ‘The Ancestors,’ during which we travel across place and time,’ I realise it’s my turn. I’ve prepared a smooth response to the introduction but fail to hear a word of what is said – it must be nerves – so I have to go straight into the story. With ‘Boy in a Blue Shirt,’ you’re out in Bristol, mixing with the people who live on the streets – and under them.

Ali Bacon’s sensitive story of a young girl’s death, ‘The Coldest Country of All,’ introduces a note of sadness which contrasts well with the following piece, ‘The Emperor’s New Wall.’ After the tension of the previous reading, this satirical story by Debbie Young gives the audience an opportunity for uncomplicated laughter.

dawn1

Dawn Maria Kelly, Another Country-style

An interval filled with the strong musical performance of Dawn Marie Kelly, mixing well-known titles with some of her own work, and we’re into the second act with Jean Burnett’s ‘Swansong.’ Set in Malta, it reveals the uncertain world of the hit-man and confirms that his is not the ideal profession – if we didn’t already know it. A smooth performance by Lania Knight with ‘The Red Doll’ touches on the theme of homesickness and the power of certain objects, while John Holland’s ‘The Doorstep’ deals with a familiar character, the Polish workman, whom we see in an entirely new way. Then, Dawn Marie Kelly is back with ‘No Place,’ the story of a simple world somehow made infinitely menacing in the telling. Her acting ability and very convincing American accent made this story very powerful.

To finish, Mark Rutterford’s funny, self-deprecating ‘Skydiving’ takes us on a whirlwind journey through his love life, which feels exactly how I believe skydiving would be. This intricate, cleverly-constructed story is a worthy end to a very satisfying programme.

rlangpic2

Picture by Rebecca Lang

Can I recommend attendance at the next Writers Unchained event?
Most definitely. You’ll sit enthralled through a couple of hours of thought-provoking entertainment. And if you’re a writer with aspirations like me, you’ll also learn much from the way in which the performers handle their material and deliver it to the audience. Look out for the next Story Sunday.

Thank you, Suzanne! If anyone would like to be notified of our next event,  please contact us to be added to our mailing list. 

Another Country – nearly there!

anothercountryorangeThe programme is nearly done for our next event on Sunday March 19th when ten local writers will read their interpretations of our chosen theme ‘Another Country’

The venue is Southbank Club, Dean Lane, Bedminster, Bristol  BS3 1DB
7-9 pm

Entry £5 on the door.

group1 4000x3000

Guest writers at the last Story Sunday

We’re delighted our line-up is confirmed. Come along and hear new work from old friends and familiar faces and with live music from Dawn Kelly. 

Guests: John Holland, Lania Knight, Mark Lewis, Mark Rutterford and Debbie Young

Writers Unchained members:
Ali Bacon, Jean Burnett, Dawn Kelly, Suzanne Mcconaghy and Heather-Jo Reed

 

Hope you can join us!

Then there were 10: our line-up for next Sunday

Thanks to all the wonderful people who have talked, tweeted or written about us (not to mention all those who sent something in) we are delighted to announce our line-up for Sunday 21st which looks like being as spinetingling (in a slightly different way) as our November event. 

Our readers will be (not necessarily in this order):

Emily Koch (Bristol)
Writer & journalist, newly in possession of a masters degree – and, hurrah! –  an agent

John Holland (Stroud)
Short fiction writer, events organiser and, we hear, obsessive …

Patrick Widdess (Newport)
Writer, poet, photographer & journalist (who likes where he lives)

Mark Rutterford (Bristol)
Stokes Croft Writer and performer (expect more than words)

Debbie Young (Hawkesbury Upton)
writer, broadcaster, festival organiser, champion of the independents

Dan Gooding (South Glos)
Library guy, student, TV and film extra. You wanted to hear him in Stroud? You can now.

Louise Gethin (Writers Unchained)
writes Anecdotes of Love and Death (especially death)

Shirley Wright (Writers Unchained)
prize-winning poet, novelist, choco-and cato-holic

Sally Hare (Writers Unchained)
plotter of allotments, teller of stories, banger of drums,

Ali Bacon (Writers Unchained)
updates websites (yes this one), brings people together, occasionally writes

 

Come along and see what they’ve come up with for our #lovehangover theme.

St V Day Hangover event flyer

 

Meet the writers, buy the books!

Really looking forward to Saturday 5th September when we’re off to Corsham Creative Market where Jo Lambert will be joining the usual gang  to run a book stall with great variety and lots of bargains at Springfield Community Campus.

corshamcornerFor those who don’t know Corsham, the old town centre is a real gem (and recently masqueraded as Truro in BBCs Poldark) but is also blessed with some very tempting tea and coffee shops.

Springfeld Community Campus – with its spanking new library and leisure centre – is only 5 minutes walk away with a cafe all of its own, so no need to go hungry or thirsty.

Hoping to see some old and new friends on the day.

corshamcreativeposter2-page-001

 

Panning for gold. Gail Swann is resting (not rusting).

poppies

Let the wild seeds of your imagination flourish where they will. (Photo by Evolybab)

Gail Swann writes:

Finding myself in a period of writerly pause, or to put it more succinctly, ‘stymied by having too many beginnings’, I have been filling my head with the work of others. I’ve been lucky enough to enjoy a run of cracking good reads (thanks to Nina Milton for book reviews at http://kitchentablewriters.blogspot.co.uk/p/the-kitchen-table-reading-club.html), I’ve watched a few outstanding films, too much absorbing trash TV, and dipped in and out of Facebook. Yes, a mixed blessing but it’s all art of one kind and another. Well perhaps not what your mate had for dinner, but that gorgeous photo captured on a morning walk (check out https://www.polaroidblipfoto.com), or the one out of a hundred (mostly irritating) poetic proclamations about life that just hits the mark when you’re feeling anxious or sad. I love it that we can share so easily, even if you have to pan for the gold sometimes.

comic-con

Larger than life at Comic-Con San Diego*

At the other end of the scale, my business is lucky enough to have the world’s foremost entertainment company as a client. Tasked with translating storylines into commercial graphics, we get to see some of what goes into the making of epic movies. Rising majestically from their comic strip origins, Super Heroes are trending right now https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0WWzgGyAH6Y.

Those early twentieth century cartoonists in their shadowy world of pen, ink and midnight oil had no concept of the cultural phenomenon their work would become.

This summer some of my colleagues went over to Comic-Con in San Diego (strictly business of course!). The scale of this convention is bewildering, and goes to show how much we mere mortals love to escape into a parallel universe of storytelling and dress up, given half a chance! You might say ‘only in America’, but actually we do it here too http://www.mcmcomiccon.com/london.

So, what am I trying to say (did I mention that I was a ‘resting’ writer – perhaps rusting is more apt)? I think we must appreciate creativity in all its forms and tap into whatever sparks our imagination at the time. It might be a novel, a blipfoto or Facebook post, a cinematic battle to save the world, or a fairytale told to a child. The human appetite for sharing stories prevails. It comes in many forms and it takes all sorts.

*Comic-con photo https://www.facebook.com/comiccon