Leeds West Academy Book Launch

I’ve been wanting to write about Leeds West Academy, and the work we’ve been doing there, for a while now but, technical problems with this website, and then a lingering Christmas virus, scuppered all that. But I’m back and I’m better and the website’s working now, so…

I’ve been writer in residence, working with the brilliant First Story, at Leeds West Academy for over a year and during that time I’ve spent many a Friday there working with some brilliant young writers. And people. They are all wonderful, intelligent, and very funny people. And we’ve written about all sorts of things – zombies, the end of the world, vampires, tales of jealousy and revenge or heartbreak, Kangaroo Men, and mankini wearing teachers who eject silly string from their fingers. Yes, we covered pretty much everything.

And the best writings, we compiled into an anthology: Creations: Creatures of the Mind which has the best B Movie style cover I’ve seen in some time.

At the end of last year we launched the book and I loved, not only seeing everyone again but hearing everyone read their stories. I love being read to – there’s an extra dimension to it and nobody disappointed. And I loved that parents and other teachers were there to listen. There were really moving pieces, downright hilarious ones, and some brilliantly thought provoking ones too – and it thrills me to say that everyone there loved what they heard. Everyone was brilliant and I’m wholly proud to have been a part of it.


And here are some pics…

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Happy Hols!

Wishing everyone the best possible time over the holidays.

Here’s a festive fave.

Susan Tepper Interviews Herself

Very pleased to welcome the lovely Susan Tepper back to the blog – she’s a long time friend and a great writer – and here she is, to talk about her latest book…


Selfie Interview with Susan Tepper & Susan Tepper (alias Marilyn Bliss)


Marilyn Bliss:  What made you decide to write a collection of short fiction set on The French Riviera?


Susan Tepper:  Well, Marilyn, that is a fair question, though if you were a writer you probably wouldn’t have asked.  But, that aside, my plans to travel to Nice, France were ditched when the World Trade Center came down.  I was to travel there a few days after, and of course all flights in and out of NY were cancelled that week.  So I didn’t get to Nice.  It plagued me.  I tend to write about what I want most in life, especially things I didn’t get.


MB:  So you’re saying you had a burning (forgive the pun) desire to see the French Riviera all these years?


ST:  Essentially, yes.  Back then I had bought all my French Riviera-looking clothes, which were bright and lovely, plus a green woven purse/bag to carry during the summer Riviera heat.  Everything colorful in the Provencal type of patterns.  I always plan my future events with clothing.  Before I got married for the second time, I bought a ‘wedding dress’ each season for a year and a half.  These were not traditional white wedding dresses so they could be utilized as dresses for parties, etc.


MB:  What do you mean you bought a wedding dress for each season for more than a year?  Why do that?


ST:  Because each time I broached the subject of marriage, the love of my life had twenty good reasons why we should not marry.  But, being an optimist, of the highest rank, I bought the dress each season ‘just in case.’


MB:  How does all this clothing talk fit into the book you’ve written, which you titled ‘Monte Carlo Days & Nights’?


ST:  Well, for starters, my protagonist does get to the French Riviera.  And she brings along a stellar wardrobe.  Her love interest, in the book, is a man who is rather obsessed with what she wears.  And also makes it very clear to her from the get-go that he will never marry.


MB:  I see.  You took some of your own losses and made them into this book.


ST:  Marilyn, you catch on quickly.  That is precisely what most writers write about: loss.


MB:  Did you find the French Riviera all you’d hoped it to be?


ST:  It is one of the most beautiful spots in the world.  The Mediterranean Sea of that deep blue, the hilly cobblestone streets, enchanting old architecture, all the gorgeous planted flowers.  An incredible place.


MB:  Will you return some day?


ST:  I hope so.  It’s my dream.  In the meantime, I brought my protagonist there.  So I was able to live through her experiences at The Riviera.  Monte Carlo was her base.


MB:  Eventually, did you find your personal bliss?


ST:  Not in quite the same way you did, Marilyn (Bliss).  But in deeper more essential ways, yes, I found my bliss.


Monte Carlo Days & Nights is Susan Tepper’s seventh published book. An award-winning writer, Tepper has published hundreds of stories, poems, interviews and essays worldwide. When she was a rock singer, she went by the name of Marilyn Bliss for a while.  www.susantepper.com





Because there have been many early mornings recently, and many early nights, I have been reading a lot and watching things. Here’s a few of the best…


As well as the new Spiderman film which is pretty good.

More Kawakami is only ever a very good thing.

And, of course…

And, this was entertaining…


Wonder! Limited places available

Very much looking forward to this workshop at Sheffield Central Library on Wednesday – there are a couple of places still available so, if you fancy coming along, you’d better be quick…

And here’s the trailer for the movie (which you could win a ticket to see…):

Magic at the Library

I have had the best, if not tiring, two weeks. It’s been libraries week and, as such, I’ve been in libraries pretty much solidly for a fortnight running workshops for young writers, from seven years old up to an almost fully grown wizard. We have been writing about magic. Poems, stories, you name it. Wands, witches, wizards, mythical creatures, broomsticks, spells, funny hats. Familiars and mages, making ourselves invisible and pretending to be ghosts to scare brothers and sisters. Tricksters and sending Donald Trump into space (this happened more than once). We did everything and it was so much fun.

And why magic, you ask. Because, to celebrate 20 years of Harry Potter (I remember being given a copy of The Philosopher’s Stone when that was the only Harry Potter book out there – thank you, Claire) there is a HISTORY OF MAGIC exhibition at Sheffield Central Library. Yes, you really should probably go.

I met some amazing young writers for the first time – and it’s always lovely seeing others I’ve worked with before (hello, to you all). And it’s lovely when every single writer I worked with was brilliant. And librarians. You cannot not love a librarian – they’re the keepers of whole worlds – they are as magic as any spell – and they don’t even need wands. And they’re brilliant, friendly, helpful people who love books and stories – the very best kind.

And here are some magically brilliant pics (thank you EVERYONE)…




Ilkley and Doncaster Festivals

I had a brilliant time on the radio last Wednesday (you can listen here on BBC Radio Sheffield’s website) but, as soon as I’d finished (after a quick hair cut) I jumped on a train to Leeds. I was at the most spectacular residential centre at Lineham Farm (it really is stunning) where I was working for Ilkley Literary Festival’s Summer School. And it was brilliant. We had fun. There was laughter and there were tears (all from fiction, of course) and there was some genuinely wonderful work produced by genuinely lovely people (and we all know that lovely people are the best).

Here’s their resident peacock.


This Saturday I’ll be in Doncaster for their DN weekend with Hive South Yorkshire. We’re there from 12-2 and we’ll be running drop-in workshops and one-to-ones for young writers (up to 24 yrs) so if you’ve anything you’d like to ask about your work or writing, or if you fancy a free workshop, come and find us. Full details here.

Back on Air

I’m writing this in a hotel a little way from Leeds city centre. Tomorrow I’ll be at Ilkley Literary Festival, running some workshops for their summer school and I really can’t wait.

I dashed here from Sheffield. I’d been on BBC Radio Sheffield, on Rony Robinson’s show, talking about The Game of Love and Death with Ciara and Lauren – two magnificent, funny, intelligent and super talented Hive Young Writers – and the lovely Martha Brockenbrough, the author of the book, joined us all the way from Seattle. And I really enjoyed the book – the premise is wonderful and I love when it’s set (it must be my inner Doctor Who fanboyness); the 1930s had enough going on (Spanish Civil War, the rise of the Nazis, the great depression, jazz, airships) without Love and Death playing games…

You can listen here. We’re about ten minutes in. And do. Lots of interesting words and thoughts and opinions…


And, as you’ll have heard (if you listened) I have been writing, which is good and something that makes me happy. And that’s exactly what I’m going to do right now…

More soon.

On Air Tomorrow

Tomorrow I’ll be back on BBC Radio Sheffield with two brilliant Hive South Yorkshire writers, talking: books! Specifically, The Book of Love and Death by Martha Brockenbraugh. 88.6 FM, 104.1HM and on digital – we’ll be on from about half past one so do tune in. It was a brilliant experience last time, and we had a terrific discussion and I’m really looking forward to it.


After that I’ll be jetting off to Ilkley Literary Festival for a couple of events. I’ve never been to that festival before and, again, I can’t wait.


And now I have to finish my ironing; you’ve got to look your best for the radio…