Telling each other stories – great live lit round the South West

It’s been a dark few months, and it feels like a time when we need to take pleasure in the small things. Time with friends, good food and drink, shared experiences. Two heart-warming evenings I’ve spent recently have been in the company of writer friends, old and new, at live lit events, reminding me how rewarding and inspiring these storytelling nights can be.

Flashers is a brand new open mic flash fiction night, organised by Alex Clark, and this was its very first outing. Sat by a log stove in the cosy, eclectically furnished bar at Smokey Joe’s in Cheltenham, it was a pleasure to spend an evening listening to fifteen little gems from thirteen writers – you can read all about it here, including how to get involved at their next event in February.

Then, on Sunday just gone, came Stroud Short Stories, the biannual institution organised by the wonderfully encouraging writer John Holland, and described variously as “possibly the best short story event in the South West” and “just some stories in a room”. No putting my feet up in front of the fire this time, because I was reading myself, but the warm, supportive atmosphere of this event means that nerves are at a minimum. 

Ten authors, ten stories, a second outing at Stroud for me, and I loved it. I read my story While The Mynah Bird Watched, which was published earlier this year by Halo magazine, and you can watch the video here. Do catch the other clips if you can – there were some brilliant stories, and truly inspirational performances. It was also great to see some writing friends in the line-up and crowd (including Alex, from Flashers, and Nastasya from my writing group), and lovely to meet some more likeminded folk as we mingled before and after. All in all, an evening that sent me home feeling like all is not lost in the world, if we can still take such pleasure in telling each other our stories.

If you haven’t been to a live lit event before, or you’re looking for more round the West Country, here are some great ones to try. Many are open for submissions, with more details on required story length, theme etc on their respective websites. Most also advertise their submission windows on Twitter. If you know of any more that you particularly enjoy, please do add them in a comment. I’ve got the live lit bug and I’m keen for more!

Talking Tales (Stokes Croft, Bristol) – next event 10th Dec, submissions due by 2nd Dec

Novel Nights (central Bristol) – usually every third Thursday in the month

A Word In Your Ear (Bath) – next event January 13th, submissions on the theme of Ice by Jan 2nd

Flashers (Cheltenham) – next event 9th Feb

Speakeasy (Bath) – next event also 9th Feb, submissions by 3rd Feb

Stroud Short Stories (Stroud) – next event April 2017, submissions around February time

And there’s a fab list of more spoken word events, some a little further afield, here 


Trysting – three hundred windows into the secrets of love

trystingTRYSTING, by the French writer Emmanuelle Pagano, is an extraordinary book. Frank, poetic, and rendered beautifully into English from the original French by its joint translators, Jennifer Higgins and Sophie Lewis, it is the stitched together tapestry of over three hundred teasing glimpses of love in its many forms: from the first blush of youthful romance through to the enduring affection of the old; the angst and fire of a brand new romance to the death throes of the stale relationship; from unwarranted loyalty to brutal betrayal, and from chaste admiration through to the borderline deviant. Continue reading “Trysting – three hundred windows into the secrets of love”

Whose story is it anyway?


CHRIST, IS IT NOT HARD ENOUGH just getting the words down?!

This week I’ve been troubled by three new worries to add to the ongoing horror of the blank page (and mind).

Firstly, I read an excellent piece in women’s writing magazine Mslexia (Issue 71) about plagiarism – not just the blatant variety, which is obviously easy to avoid, but the horror phenomenon of cryptomnesia, ‘the technical term for the process whereby forgotten material is experienced as new when it resurfaces in a person’s consciousness.’ In her fascinating piece, Debbie Taylor Continue reading “Whose story is it anyway?”