Thursday, 26 March 2009

News: Scriptwriting Masterclass and Workshop

Jimmy McGovern, whose TV credits include Brookside, Cracker and the BAFTA-award winning The Street, will be appearing In Conversation with Julian Jordon on Friday 17th April in Wigan Town Hall.

On the 18th April, Jordon will be interviewing David Nobbs, creator of Reggie Perrin and on the 22nd April there'll be an opportunity to put it all into practice with a Scriptwriting workshop held in Wigan Cricket Club.

The workshop is FREE (booking essential) and will cover the basics of scriptwriting: creating character, plot, and memorable scenes, the right way to set out your script, pitching your script and where to go next.

Jordon is professional editor, scriptwriter, founder of Blooming Media and promoter at the literature development agency Write Out Loud.

For more information and booking details, call Wigan Tourist Information Centre on: 01942 825677

To find more about the other events taking place during Wigan's Words Festival 2009, click here.

Don't forget, Steve Feasey is still taking questions about his writing career, his novel and anything else you can think of - until the end of the week.

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Interview + Book give-away: Steve Feasey

As part of our regular interview feature, novelist Steve Feasey came to talk to us about werewolves, his writing routine and the 'dream-genie'.

PWN: Tell us a little bit about your background.

SF: I’m new to writing. I didn’t have some great hankering to be a writer from the age of twelve (at that point I still thought that I would grow up to be a marine biologist), and Changeling is the first thing that I’ve written (I feel a bit guilty admitting that, but it’s true).

What I have always been passionate about is reading. I fell in love with books at an early age, and could always be found with my head buried in one. I saw reading as a means of escape, and I read anything and everything I could get my hands on - from sci-fi to classics, Stephenson to Stephen King. I still love to read.

I live in Hertfordshire with my wife and two children, and in my spare time I coach rugby and act on the amateur stage (something that I would recommend to any aspiring authors: it’s a superb way to experience character creation).

PWN: Can you sum up the Changeling series in two sentences for readers who might not be aware of your work?

SF: It’s an adventure-horror about a teenage boy, Trey Laporte, who discovers he is a werewolf – the last hereditary werewolf - and that the world he thought of as normal is anything but. It’s written with real pace and in a style that I hope will appeal to a broad range of readers and ages.

PWN: What's been the best part of your journey so far?

SF: Getting an agent to represent your work has to be the highpoint of any new writer’s career. I’m sure that there will be other highs in the future, but as any writer knows, getting someone to represent you is so difficult that it feels like a huge landmark once you achieve it. Getting a publisher runs pretty damn close though.

PWN: Can you tell us a bit about your normal writing routine?

SF: My writing routine may not be very normal. I write best during the day (which is a little odd when you think of some of the subject matter). I like to get a jug of coffee down me, answer any emails, and then get on with the writing during the time that your mind is supposed to be at its functioning peak.

Having said that, I still find myself doing the 4am two-step every now and again: my dream-genie will whisper in my ear at some ungodly hour, and I’ll trudge downstairs, turn my laptop on, and get it down before it disappears again. Oh, how I love it when that happens.

PWN: How important has networking with other writers both on and off line been for your career, or your sanity?

SF: When I was submitting I joined an online writers’ forum. It was extremely useful to hear the experiences of other people, and the forum was really useful with the advice that it gave me – from established and aspiring authors alike.

Writing is a very lonely pursuit, and it helps to have some kind of outlet that you can bounce ideas off, ask advice from, or just have a good whinge at. I was completely and utterly naïve about publishing, and sites like this can be both enlightening and terrifying at the same time. If you don’t want to know that truth about getting published, don’t join an on-line writers’ group.

PWN: Any hints and tips for people who want to write?

SF: Write the book that you would want to read. Too many people write stuff that they think is what the market wants. I think this is a mistake because you have to believe in what you are doing, or it just doesn’t work.

If you’re writing to entertain – so called commercial fiction (I hate that term) – remember that story is king. Fancy prose is all very lovely, and I like to read a beautifully constructed sentence as the next man, but if you want it to sing, you have to have a great story. If you want to write you have to read. And read. And then read some more.

If that's hooked your interest you can read more about Steve and his work at his official website, or pay a visit to his blog and check out his list of virtual and real life events, interview and book signings.

Steve is also featured at book review site Vulpes Libris, where he talks about monsters in life, legend and fiction...

Changeling is available now on Amazon and Changeling 2 is published by Macmillan in august and available for pre-order.

We have one signed copy of the first book to give away - for a chance to win, put your name and a question for Steve in the comments and we'll be announcing the winner at the end of the week.

Call for Writers: Preston Tringe

A fringe festival with innovative theatre, mixed with comedy, improvisation, music and dance. We’re talking about Edinburgh aren’t we? Or maybe Brighton? Buxton?

No, we’re talking about 27th - 30th July in Preston, as Screaming Theatre plan to launch the inaugural Preston Tringe.

With months still to go until the launch plenty of interest is already being shown in the event. Screaming Theatre directors Becky Edgington, 29 and Sam Buist, 26 are getting excited.

"Some of the ideas the groups have are really exciting, we’ve had people talking about Shakespeare adaptations, new plays, musicals and lots of other ideas, we can’t wait!” said Becky.

“A number of university theatre companies and independent companies from Lancashire and beyond have shown an interest in being a part of this exciting venture” according to Sam.

In an interview with the BBC, Sam spoke of his aims for the festival: 'Ultimately we want these to create a psyche where people from Preston and outside look at Preston as a city where there are great opportunities to be creative and innovative with little financial obstacles."

PWN spoke to Sam, and asked him about the thinking behind the Tringe, and about what opportunities there are for writers to get involved at this early stage.“We want artists to feel that they can come, take risks, and give new artists the opportunity to have their work produced, but there isn’t a specific type of Tringe production it’s variety we’re after” says Sam.

"The main focus of the Preston Tringe is to create accessibility for artists across Preston and the North-West, this includes writers. Our range of venues gives a variety of writers the opportunity to have their work performed.

Some venues are suitable for playwrights to have their work produced at low costs, while we also have smaller venues which may be more appropriate for other forms of literature (e.g. performed poetry and live-lit events). There is no limit on the type of event that people can apply to do.

We're always looking to widen the coverage of the Tringe, so if there are any budding journalists, reviewers or bloggers out there then please come forward. Who knows, there may be people out there who would like to create a Tringe magazine or blog".

Preston playwrights, sketch-writers, bloggers, and journalists:

email or visit the Tringe Website.

PWN @ PrestonTweetup

Last night found PWN lugging her laptop to The New Continental for the first Preston Tweetup - organised by Ed Walker of PrestonBlog, recently interviewed by our good selves.

The topic for discussion was the Preston Guild 2012 and participants included city counsellors, delegates from Preston Geekup, representatives from Stage 9 Marketing (who supported and sponsored the event) and Creative Lancashire as well as a whole heap of Preston residents and interested ex-pats who couldn't make it on the night, but joined in by using the #prestontweetup tag on their at-home tweets.

The discussion leapt between the hot topics of inclusivity, a 'virtual guild', praise for a city small enough to innovate, and an emphasis on bottom-up programming for PG2012. The feeling was that Preston's citizens no longer wanted to be an audience for guild programmes developed and delivered by the council, but wanted to create, programme, participate and evaluate themselves and in real time.

Ideas included using the Sandbox Centre's technology to create big screens in public places, geocaching, flash-mobbing and using tweet-what-you-see as instant feedback as an adjunct to more traditional events - such as the town parade.

Our focus, was, as always, the way Preston readers and writers would be involved in PG2012. Without wanting to make the event into a literary festival, Preston is developing a identity as a writing city and this should and can be reflected in our forthcoming celebrations.

PWN had a conversation with @doktorb, throwing around a few ideas. Apparently, local residents in 1972 were asked to write stories about what they imagined Preston Guild 1992 would look like. We're going on a hunt for these - can anyone help?

I sense a PWN Guild Project brewing - collecting stories via a creative tweet-up: memories of PGs past, and collecting your wildest imaginings for PG 2032 - what kind of Preston will we have created for ourselves by then?

@ribblesider (blog here) summed up the enthusiasm for the night: 'Broadgate is Preston's cultural quarter.' To find out more, and partake in the morning-after buzz, go here.

Picture here, and more coverage to come in tomorrow's LEP. Don't forget to follow us @PrestonWN.

Monday, 16 March 2009

Feature: Faye L. Booth

Our guest is Faye L. Booth, a Preston based novelist whose first novel, Cover The Mirrors was published with Macmillan New Writing. Described by InStyle Magazine as 'precociously talented', Faye's novel is a 'dark and zesty historical novel of distorted truths and suppressed Victorian desires' and despite a preference for going it alone, blogs collectively with her stable-mates at the Macmillian New Writing imprint here.

Faye has taken time out from working on her second novel and other, top secret projects to talk to us about Dickens, influences too many to count, and her path to publication.

PWN: Lets start by talking a little bit about your background. Can you tell us a about yourself and what brought you to writing?

FLB: I was born in Lancashire in 1980, and have lived in the county all my life. As for what brought me to writing, I'm afraid I'm going to have to give the clichéd author answer and say that it was just a natural progression arising from my long-term love of stories. I always loved to be read to when I was a very small kid, and I learned to read pretty early and have been entertaining myself with fiction ever since. Writing my own stories is just another expression of all that, really - I love writing stories just as I love reading them.

PWN: Can you sum up your work in a couple of sentences?

I write historical fiction (mainly Victorian set, with occasional forays into the Edwardian era), usually with a dark and/or dysfunctional twist to it. I like flawed characters, and those who go against the grain in some way. Readers who enjoy those things might want to check my stuff out!

PWN: What are your influences?

FLB: ...there are far too many for me to list. I think that any art you enjoy - even if it's a different medium to the one you work in - influences you, and I read a wide variety of fiction and non-fiction, so I'm sure they've played their part. Then there's all the music, drama and visual art I appreciate - like I say, it would be a terrifyingly huge list if I were to try and name my influences!

PWN: How important is Preston as a place to your work?

FLB: It's the setting for the majority of my stories, so it's very important. I can certainly enjoy historical novels that are set in London (and there are a lot of them!), but I also think it's a bit of a pity that the rest of the country is frequently under-represented in fiction, because one of the great things about Britain is that it's so varied. Of course, everyone is human and some things are universal (losing a loved one, for example, is tragic no matter where you come from), but a story's setting brings a little of its own personality into the mix as well.

I went to college in Preston, and I've spent quite a bit of time there, so it came naturally to me to bring it into my writing. Plus, there are a lot of beautiful Victorian buildings there!

PWN: And as a writer, how important was the Preston writing and arts community for you?

FLB: I had no doubt that there would be some artistic community activities going on in the city (I still want to call it a town, largely because I spend a lot of my time with my head in the past, when it definitely was still a town!), but I'm a very reserved person, so to tell the truth, my instinct is not to seek out communities. I think it's great that they exist, but I'm not an expert on them! I love the idea of a PWN blog, though - have added it to my reading list.

PWN: Do you think Preston has an identity as a writing city?

FLB: I think it's sadly neglected as a setting in the world of published fiction: compared with many places in Britain, there aren't many published novels set in or inspired by Preston, and unfortunately the author of the most famous one (Dickens - Hard Times) thought Preston was a horrible place! One wonders how much his opinion has influenced public perception of Preston ever since...

PWN: What was your path to publication?

FLB: Once Cover the Mirrors was complete (and had been read and commented on by a few test-readers) I went through all the usual rigmarole of going through the Writers' & Artists' Yearbook and putting together submission packages to send to agents. I spent a considerable amount on postage and was rejected more than a handful of times (I can never remember how many exactly). Then I spotted a mention of Macmillan's New Writing imprint in Writers' News - it was just a little snippet in the sidebar, but it said that MNW accept email submissions from unpublished authors; no agent necessary. I sent them the MS of Mirrors, and it all went from there. I posted about this in more detail in my blog, if anyone would like to check it out.

PWN: Any advice for a Preston writer who wants to get published?

FLB: Well of course, there's all the advice that applies to everyone pursuing publication: trying to find the best people and places to submit your work to, developing a stubborn streak to cope with the inevitable rejections and so on. When I was about to start sending Mirrors out, a (published) friend told me that if an agent or publisher said no, I just picked the wrong one to send my work to, and it's an attitude that really helps, because you need to be determined in order to keep pushing ahead, past all the obstacles that stand between you and the people who will say yes.

As for advice that's specific to Prestonian authors, all I can think to say is - be true to who and what you are. If your roots are a part of your writing, don't play it down - yes, there are stories of authors who were told that, for example, "No one wants to read about working class Northerners" (!), but a) that isn't true, and b) why would you want to pander to people like that even if it were? There is a place in publishing for Northern fiction, and all you have to do is find the people who realise that.

PWN: What's next for you? What are you working on now?

FLB: Well, the Romanian translation rights for Mirrors have been sold to Leda, so it should be coming out over there in the near future. My second novel, Trades of the Flesh (another historical story set in Victorian Preston) will be published by Macmillan in September this year (I'll be posting the cover artwork on my blog as soon as I'm allowed to), and I recently began working with a literary agent, so hopefully he'll be able to strike a deal for the other novel I have completed (time will tell!). I have a number of ideas for future projects, including one I'm really excited about, but I'm a bit superstitious about discussing works in progress (despite not being a superstitious person, as a rule), so I'll have to remain enigmatic on that subject for now. Hopefully my excitement will be justified in time!

Faye's book is available on Amazon, and you can read her blog here. Especially recommended is her 'guide to writing a novel' post - well worth a look.

If anyone has questions for Faye - post them below. She'll be popping back to answer them shortly.

Her portrait picture was taken by Emma Cartmel.

Saturday, 7 March 2009

Interview: Ed Walker from Preston Blog

We're assuming, if you're reading this, that you're interested in the nuts and bolts of blogging - choosing a subject, building a readership, networking and promoting yourself. Who better to ask, we thought, than Ed Walker, who writes the locally famous Preston Blog and edits the Preston Twitter directory, among other things. Currently, Ed works at the UCLAN Students' Union as Web & Digital marketing co-ordinator and is also a trustee for Mencap Liverpool. We roped him in to answer a few questions about blogging.

PWN: Hi Ed. Thanks for coming. Lets get the ball rolling . How did it all begin? What inspired you to start Preston Blog?

EW: It was a bit of a New Year's resolution. I was sick of mates bitching about how poor the LEP was and how there wasn't anything that really represented Preston. I saw a gap for a decent blog that encompassed loads of different stuff about Preston and really connected with a community. I also took inspiration from St Albans Blog run by Robin Hamman (ex-BBC head of social media) and thought if St Albans can do it then why can't Preston?

PWN: And what's been the highlight of the experience so far?

EW: Opening my inbox and every day having an offer from someone for a guest post, a lead for a story, an image or simply someone just saying how much they enjoyed reading the blog. Oh, and the Sunday just gone when the blog got 271 views in a day! I nearly fell off my chair.

PWN: Has the project taken off as you expected it to? Have there been any 'blips'?

EW: It's surpassed all expectations. I started the blog just under a month ago and it's just gone from strength to strength. I really have been taken aback by the level of support I've received from all the readers and it seems that my hunch was right, there really is the demand out there for something like Preston Blog on the web. Blips, there's been the odd evening where I've had no idea what to write about but then something pops up on twitter or drops in my inbox and suddenly I'm up and running.

PWN: Do you do it all on your own? Are there opportunities for budding bloggers and web journalists to get involved?

EW: I had an email from a student journalist at UCLAN, Kirsty Higginson who said she wanted to help out. I asked her what she was interested in and she said music and films, so she's now music, films and entertainments correspondent - so hopefully she'll post regularly and that takes the pressure off me a little bit. I've also had some guest posters now, but basically Preston Blog is there for anyone to contribute to and I've had a really great mix of people so far.

PWN: So, for people who might be thinking about submitting some work to you - what do you think makes writing for a blog distinctive - different from other kinds of journalism or non fiction writing?

EW: I think it's distinctive because it really is your own voice - if you've got something to say you can say it. There's no newspaper owner, book publisher, PR man etc wanting to change this bit, take that angle. If you want to say something you can go right ahead and just say it - within reason of course.

PWN: And along the same lines, what turns you off blogs? What's likely to make you want to click away and go and read something else?

EW: If it hasn't been updated for a long time. If the only posts written are 'Today I went to the shop and I bought some eggs and then I read the paper and I thought it was good...'. Blogs aren't there as a diary. The only time that they should be used as a diary is if you're someone famous or do a very important job and then a diary is interesting.

PWN: If you could give advice to someone about to start a blog of their own, what would it be? EW: Just do it. Get your blog started, get posting and that's when it all really starts. Don't spend too long on the design, colours etc - just get your content. Also make sure you are commenting on other people's blogs and reading around your subject, this will get people coming to your blog. And stick at it, at the start you'll look at your blog views and despair that 8 people a day are looking at it (that's what it was like when I started Preston Blog) but I got out there, talked about, made connections, begged some guest posts off people and then it took off.

PWN: And 'a little bird' (joke - birds, tweet, twitter! Get it? No? Sorry) tells me you're planning an event sometime soon. Fancy plugging it here?

EW: Preston Blog is running a 'tweetup' - hosted by Stage 9 Marketing and held atthe New Continental pu b, in the Snug room, on Tuesday 17th March 2009 from 7 PM. You can regis ter beforehand to reserve your place and also claim a free drink if you're in the first 50 to register. Preston Tweetup is a chance to come together and share your views on an important issue about the city, either in person, via twitter, or both!

PWN: You'll have to fill some of us luddites in on what a tweet up actually is. We know, because of your famous Twitter Directory you're fond of twitter, so I'm presuming its something to do with that?

EW: A tweetup allows you to bring a laptop/mobile phone on the night and connect to wireless and then contribute, via twitter, the micro-blogging site, both online and in person.

PWN: And there'll be technical support on the night for those new to social networking?

EW: Absolutely. And go here if you want more information.

PWN: Any final thoughts about the writing 'scene' in Preston?

EW: It's quality and not quantity that counts. I don't think there's been any effort to really connect writers in Preston and create a 'scene' so to speak - but there's a big university, with courses in English/creative writers, there are libraries and novelists, and if you can get these people talking and working on things then suddenly there's going to be a buzz. I don't think we should compare ourselves to other cities, or worry about them for that matter, let's build a community in and around Preston and then hopefully there will be some great stuff produced.

PWN: Thanks for coming Ed, and good luck with the night. We'll be there, and you can follow Preston Writing Network on twitter and keep up with us in real time by clicking here.

The Preston Tweet up logo was designed and created by Kerry Sholicar, a graphic design graduate from UCLAN.

Coming up: author intervie
ws, book giveaways, live lit reviews, opportunities for poets and more. Subscribe in your reader to make sure you don't miss out. Atom

Preston Students Write Radio Soap

Tomorrow the omnibus edition of the complete radio serial: Estate of Affairs will be broadcast on Preston FM.

Estate of Affairs is story about a young couple set on a Preston Estate. There's a crime wave, a set of troubling neighbours and a love triangle.

Written by students on the Screen Writing Course at UCLAN in association with CETH (Centre for Employment in The Humanities) the radio series ran from the 2-6 March - although those of us who missed it can catch up on the whole story tomorrow at midday. Click here for more, including full credits and quotes from the cast which includes professional and Preston born actor Steven Swift.

Preston FM are keen to involve local residents and students in the writing, production and recording of their broadcast programmes, but this doesn't mean they skimp on quality. Talking about Estate of Affairs, UCLAN course leader Bill McCoid said: 'at the recording, the technicians assumed that the script had been written by professionals.'

Preston FM are continually on the look out for new volunteers. 'We need new presenters, producers, technicians and journalists to get involved in this exciting community radio project. Whether you’re looking to kick-start a future career in the media, have a love of music that you want to share, or just want to have fun; Preston FM can help. No experience is necessary - we'll give you all the guidance and support you need to get on-air - and people of all ages and abilities are welcome.'

Budding radio dramatists, documentary makers and broadcast journalists can contact the station here.

Our next post will be an interview with blogger, social networker and tweeter extraordinaire, Ed Walker of Prestonblog.

Wednesday, 4 March 2009


If you're new here, you should know a few things.

1. We want to hear from you. Photographers, reviewers, feature writers and fellow bloggers: check out the details on our submission page.

2. There's lots going on. Fancy a night out for some Open Mike or Live Lit?

3. We want to be helpful. Check out the links in the side bar for Preston people and places of note, national organisations we think you might find useful, friends in other places (we do have them) and more about us.

4. We want you to join in. Facebook and Twitter us. Be our friend. Lets stay in touch, maybe spend a bit of time together at the weekends.

5. The image in the header is on loan to us from Preston photographer Michael Doyle.

Welcome image courtesy of Last Tourist Cairo

Eat our Words at the NC Open Mike

The New Continental Open Mike, held in front of an open fire in the refurbished snug area of the pub, has been attracting live music, stand-up, poetry and prose readings for some months now. The media have taken an interest and Preston FM are a regular presence, recording performers for later broadcast on the radio show. All except the story I read there in February, because it was too rude ;)

On Thursday the 5th March the organisers of the Open Mike have been kind enough to host the launch of a new writing group: The Continental Collective. Three reader representatives from the collective will be sharing prose and poetry they worked on during a series of eight creative writing workshops held in the pub and hosted by your very own PWN (that's us).

As well as entertaining you with live lit performances, the Collective will also be launching and selling their first anthology. Eat Our Words showcases not only the work you will hear tomorrow night, but work from the rest of the ten-strong group. The night starts at 9pm, but the room fills up by 8.30 so arrive early if you want to get a seat!

And if you miss the Continental Collective tomorrow (don't miss them though) they'll be entertaining us again during the open mike spots at our first live lit outing on the 21st April.

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Submission Guidelines

PWN wants to hear from you. If you have a Preston and district based blog, website, organisation or group you'd like us to feature, let us know.

If you are a reviewer, feature writer, arts or literature professional and you'd like to write for us, start by reading our previous posts so you get a feel for the kind of things we like, and then send us an email. All we ask is that you keep it short and to the point, include your links, attach photographs if you can, and enclose your contact details.

If you're planning a writing related event (and we include drama, script and screen writing, journalism, creative writing, poetry and just about anything else word-related under that umbrella) and you want us to help you publicise it - drop us a line.

If you're a photographer or artist and have Preston related work you'd like to see showcased on our blog, please let us know. Our preference is for urban rather than rural (think traffic jam on Friargate/brawl outside the Dog and Partridge rather than sunset over Howick) but email us a link and we'll take a look at anything.

We're waiting for your words/compliments and complaints at:

prestonwritingnetwork (at)