Sheffield Summer Children’s Writing

Just a quick post today.The week after next, starting August 11th, I’m running a four day long project for younger writers (8-11) at Sheffield Central Children’s Library and there are two places left and I’d love it if they got filled. So do spread the word if you can.

Here’s the flier.

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The following week I’ll be doing the same at Bollington Library and there are, as far as I know, a place or possibly two still available (we’ve had a holiday cancellation) and it’d be fab if we had a full house there too.

And after that I’ll have a couple of months to write and to teach and to appear at places (more on that soon) before Beautiful Trees is released. I’m excited about that. An awful lot. And I’ll be able to confirm the release date very soon. Watch this space.

Finishing Things

I finished a couple of things last week. The first was the final proofs for A Book of Beautiful Trees, due out later this year. I’ve said it a few times already on here but I am genuinely so proud of it and with 100% bias I can happily say that it is stunning. I am excited about it (and terrified that I’m the only one who’ll like it) and, really, I’m just looking forward to it being out there so people can make their own minds up.

After I proofed I was proud.

Nik Perring

And then exhausted.

 

Nik Perring

And I birthdayed too because the other thing I finished was my 33rd year.

I got a card.

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There was cake.

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And, later, sushi.

IMG_2926-2And lovely presents too.

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And I had a lot of birthday messages. And I mean a LOT. Thanks, so much, to everyone who was nice to me and to everyone who spent it with me. I’m just glad it’s out the way for another year because, believe it or not, I can get a little grumpy when it comes to getting older (as those close may tell you – I must be very lucky that they put up with me).

And now I’m firmly back in work mode. There are books children have written to be produced and books that adults have written that need editing and I am all over it.

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Bunbury

So, since the turn of the year I’ve been working in Rotherham (among other places), for the brilliant Writing Yorkshire, looking after the Young Writers’ Group there when Vicky, who usually runs it, has been off. And I’ve loved it. It’s a top group and super-talented too and, now everyone’s broken up for the summer, I’m really missing it and them (hello, everyone!).

Charlie, one of the group’s members, had a couple of stories accepted while I was working with the group and, you know, that is such a big deal and it’s one of the best bits about doing the job I do (doesn’t do my ego any harm, either, knowing I’ve helped). I remember, very clearly, my first acceptance back in 2003 (I think – okay, maybe I don’t remember it all that clearly). It was a feature on local Arthurian legend and it went in a county magazine and that was the moment I felt validated as a writer – the moment I felt like I really could do it. I think I cried. I know I’ve still got a copy of the cheque framed somewhere. I was in my very early twenties back then, not in my teens. Yes, I’m a bit jealous.

And yesterday Charlie got in touch to let me know that the issue the story’s in has gone live. It’s in Bunbury Magazine (Oscar Wilde reference?) and it’s brilliant, and I’m certainly not just saying that. IT’s the sort of piece that I’d have loved to have received when I’ve judged competitions and edited for places. Go and see for yourselves. Bunbury are doing that cool thing where you pay what you think it’s worth so you’ve no excuse.

And well done, Charlie.

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In The News

Nice to see one of the courses I’ll be running for children over the summer at Sheffield Central Children’s Library featured as news earlier. There are still places left (not too many) so do get in touch if you’d like to be involved.

In other news, I’m still very busy. Lots of editing has been happening and I’m about to take a look at the latest round of proofs for my next book (which is why this one will be a pretty short post). More soon…

Have a Song

Children’s Summer Writing With Nik Perring

It has been a busy old summer so far. There’s been loads of editing (really good stuff) and teaching and meetings and writing too – over the past fortnight I’ve written two stories that I’m really happy with, or will be when they’re done at least. And I had the proofs for A Book of Beautiful Trees last week and – I know, I’d say this anyway – but it looks wonderful. So far so good, so busy, so happy.

And I’m very pleased to confirm that I’ll be running two summer writing projects for children aged 8-11 yrs. They will each happen over four days and over those four days we’ll find out how to generate good ideas, turn them into great stories (and all that that entails), write and illustrate them, and turn them into a book at the end. I’m really looking forward to these – they’re going to be great fun.

The first will be at Sheffield Central Children’s Library, where I’ve been working quite a bit over this past six months, and it will run for four days from August 11th to the 14th.

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Places are very limited (so those attending get the most of my attention) so you will have to book quickly which you can do by contacting the library here: kidsandteens.library@sheffield.gov.uk. And you can drop me a line if you have any questions by using the form here. If you’d like to speak to the staff over the telephone here’s the number: 0114 2734734

The second will be at Bollington Library from August 18th to the 21st. Again, places are very limited – to book contact the staff here: bollington.library@cheshireeast.gov.uk or you can call them: 01625 378266. I’d love to see you there. Do spread the word.

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Proofs

Yesterday was one of those days that I love. I received the proofs for my next book A Book of Beautiful Trees – the follow up to Beautiful Words and the second in the series of three, with Beautiful Shapes to follow. And you don’t get those days often – I’ve been lucky enough to have four. And that feeling never diminishes. There’s huge pride that you’ve created something other people will hold and read and like or love or hate. And there’s the obvious fear that, you know, what if they all hate it. And there’s a sense of achievement – a kind of validation that yes, Nik, you are a writer. And I don’t think that’s something we get to feel too often because most of us – the ones I know at least – spend most of their time doing far less glamorous things than book launches and readings or attending the premiers of our film adaptions (not happened to me yet – but I’d love to see some of my stories animated – if you know anyone then tell ’em to get in touch). They do things like ironing and cooking and raising children and sitting at desks trying very hard to make something good happen. In pyjamas, often.

So, yeah – it was a thankful moment and it’s helped hugely that I’m in love with what the book looks like. Miranda’s illustrations are, as ever, wonderful and moving and different enough for them to work as illustrations for the kind of stuff I write and my publisher, Roastbooks, again, clearly show why I love them so much. I’ll be able to confirm publication dates very soon but for now, rest assured, it’ll be out a little later in the year and I’m very excited (and a bit terrified) about it all. But I like the book a lot, so there’s at least one happy reader out there.

 

So that’s me. I am very much looking forward to seeing what typos I’ve missed.

I have a couple of events lined up over the summer and I was going to post them here today but time, as it does, has caught me and I have to fly out of the door. More very soon.

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What I’ve Been Reading

I’m still not reading anywhere near as much as I’d like and I keep telling myself that that’s okay because sometimes we simply don’t have enough time. But it’s still something that bothers and I think, over the coming weeks, I am going to try harder.

But I have been reading some things. And some of those things have been wonderful.

After seeing Angela’s Readman’s Don’t Try This at Home get the digital treatment over at The Pigeonhole, I’ve been dipping into some of the other things they have up there – most notably Fable, a collection of modern Fairytales and that’s been really great fun. They’re doing good and interesting things and I like that, so much in fact that I’ll be interviewing them on here very soon.

And last week I read Strange Weather in Tokyo by Hiromi Kawakami. 39 year old Tsukiko meets her old Japanese teacher in a bar. They get into an interesting conversation and go home. And then, over a period of a few months, they keep bumping into each other and having similar interesting conversations, go mushroom picking, take a little holiday together. It’s a charming novella and delightful too and very, if I can say it without generalising, Japenese. I especially loved the food references. Definitely worth a go. Reading it kind of felt like going on a nice walk. I loved it.

And after that I read, from cover to cover in one very pleasant sitting, This Is For You by Rob Ryan. I loved it – a story told in pictures (that are actually cut outs). It felt like a very close relative of what I’m trying to do with Beautiful Words and Trees (more news on that soon, folks). Again – definitely worth a read. It’s 100% beautiful. Tender and sad too. I loved it very much.

 

And I think that’s about it. There are exciting things happening in the background and I shall tell you all about them very soon. In the meantime, go and read something great.

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Don’t Try This At Home

It’s a huge pleasure to welcome Angela Readman to the blog today, mostly because her latest book, the very wonderful Don’t Try This at Home is a huge pleasure to read. Not only that, it’s a book whose stories stick with you, like the good kind of bruises, long after you’ve put her down. It’s not often I get super excited about a book these (mostly because I’m not reading anywhere near as much as I’d like) but this one, let me tell you, is an absolute belter.

Angela’s been a friend for a good while now, and that always makes things better- I love seeing good people do good things and I love to see them doing well doing them. Angela’s was listed for the Costa Short Story Award a little while ago, and then she decided to go and win it. I loved her collection, Strip, too, so I asked her to come along here to talk about both and her journey from poetry to prose (which I think, as they’re very close relations, as something like simply moving from one window of a kitchen to the other).

But enough waxing lyrical. Don’t Try This at Home is without doubt the best collection I’ve read in a good while (and I read plenty of great ones). Here’s what I said about it when her publishers asked me for a quote:

“Angela Readman’s stories are gems. Rainbow coloured ones that probably glow in the dark and sing too. They are perfect, fizzing explosions of stories, told by a perfect storyteller. You will love them.”

And I meant every word.

So, here is the lady herself…

Angela! Welcome! I couldn’t be happier to have you here. You have a new book out. A book of short stories. How’s it been? 

Hello. Thank you for inviting me over.

It’s been a surreal experience having a story book out, its still sinking in that it’s real! I keep seeing people I don’t know discussing the stories and which ones meant something to them. It’s been amazing to see how that varies for each reader. It’s quite moving to me. There is still a small part of me that doesn’t believe I have a book out, so I am stunned by it.

Now, I don’t say this kind of thing lightly but I absolutely adore Don’t Try This at Home. It’s one of those books that you fall in love with instantly and reminds me that I do believe in love at first sight. In fact, I’d go as far to say that I love it as much as the ones that made me realise that I could write the kinds of things I wanted to write in the days before Not So Perfect and Freaks! – I’m talking about Aimee Bender and Etgar Keret and those brilliant kinds of people. How does that sound?  

That sounds amazing! They are both writers that changed something for me, I think. I was one of those people who had such a long list of books to read. I had dozens of unfinished books on my shelf. Many were books I thought I am supposed to read, rather than books I felt like. The first time I read Keret and Bender I had goose bumps. It was a revelation for me: stories can be strange and enjoyable, as well as serious. That’s when writing stories changed for me. It could suddenly be fun.

Your last book, the poetry collection, Strip, was another I loved and, after re-reading it a little while ago (I used Laundry Day in a workshop I was running) I did notice similarities between that and Don’t Try This at Home. How do you think they compare? 

It’s always possible to see similarities between books, I think. The concerns of a writer come up again and again. One thing I’m always interested in is female characters, and the ways we resolve issues. The books share that. Don’t Try This at Home features different characters, relationships, and includes more men. It feels like a book with more fun in it than Strip. Oddly, it also has more sadness.

If the books were people, do you think they’d be friends?  

Strip would be the girl who breaks Don’t Try This at Home’s heart. Don’t Try This would be that sort of chap who wants to fall in love, but it never works out. Strip would give him a fake number.

And here’s what I really want to get to – your journey (if we can be as wanky to call it that) from poetry to short fiction. How was it for you? For me it seems that it was very natural (I remember reading short stories you sent to me four or five years ago and thinking how seemingly effortlessly good at them you were). Was it that easy? Are things ever as easy as they look? 

 

I work really hard to make things look easy, I think we all do! The journey was always going to happen, I think. Originally, I went on my MA for stories, but by the end of the course I already had poetry offers, so I ran with it. It kept me pretty busy. Now and then, a story would slip out anyway (like The Porn Star Letters in Strip) but not often.

Then, about five years ago, I started stories again. I couldn’t avoid it any more.

When I read your short stories it kind of makes me think that they could be my stories’ cousins. How would you describe the relationship between your stories and your poems? 

There’s a strange relationship between poems and stories I’ve only noticed recently. There are some stories I write I’d never have found if I hadn’t written a poem first. It’s as if a poem opens a little door, just a chink, to let me see something small. I have to come back, fling the door open wide and see who is there sometimes by writing a story.

Could you describe Don’t Try This at Home in one sentence. Who’s it for? What’s it about? 

Don’t Try This at Home is a story book of people who will try anything, however strange, to get through the day. It’s for dreamers, the disappointed, people who hope, and stare out the window wondering what if?

What’s next for you? 

Not to sound unprofessional or anything, but I have absolutely no idea! I have poems waiting to be published. I’m writing other stuff too, but who knows ? Nothing is certain.

And last… have you ever considered cutting your husband in half?   

Never in my wildest dreams, why half perfection?

Anything else you’d like to add?

Thank you, and to people like you who have been so supportive about my stories. It is amazing to me.

~

Angela Readman’s stories have appeared in a number of anthologies and magazines, winning awards such as the Inkspill Magazine Short Story Competition and the National Flash Fiction Competition. In 2012 she was shortlisted for the Costa Short Story Award for ‘Don’t Try This at Home’ – an award she would go on to win in 2013 with the story ‘The Keeper of the Jackalopes’. Readman is also a published poet.

~

Don’t Try This at Home is available from all good book sellers, including this one.

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National Flash Fiction Day

So, it’s National Flash Fiction Day. Hooray. The fourth one, no less. And, as ever and sadly, I am in a rush.

 

But am I the sort to let such a day pass without acknowledgement? No, sir, I am not.

So, here first, is this year’s anthology, Landmarks. There’s a story of mine, ‘Love’ in there and lots of other brilliant stuff (I know, I’ve read it) by brilliant people.

And here’s me reading a flash.

 

 

There are more on my Youtube page (which I should probably actually start doing something with) here.