My Mind Is Free was longlisted in the LDC Graphic Novel Award 2021

LDC 2021 logo

My graphic novel in progress My Mind Is Free was longlisted for the LDC Prize 2021.

My Mind Is Free is a graphic novel adaptation of my play of the same name, but with the opportunity to flesh out the characters and really explore their journeys and how they got into the situation they find themselves in. Its development began on my Arts Council England funded DYCP award. I am currently about half way through the first draft.

My Mind Is Free tells the story of four people who are thrown together (literally) in the back of a van, which is transporting them who knows where, for a dark and terrible reason. This is the first time I have drawn anything in almost 30 years, and it has been a real learning process – developing an understanding of how telling a story in pictures and words varies from telling a story in words alone.

I was creative from a young age. I always loved writing and art at school, but was persuaded art wasn’t a viable career path, then a job as editor of a magazine happened, and a number of other reasons conspired so that I ended up going headfirst into writing and not thinking at all about art apart from some tiny bits of doodling over the years. Journalism, editing, making small and large scale community literary projects (as Wordsmithery) and writing fiction and plays followed.

The pandemic and the enforced pause to face-to-face literary events gave me a chance to reflect on whether I needed to develop some different skills, or maybe reawaken the ones that might be dormant, and find a different way to communicate with people – that wasn’t so focused on face-to-face interactions. Could I make my play into a graphic novel? How might the language of telling stories vary between the two media?

It was so exciting to get the Arts Council funding to be able to spend a year immersed in graphic novels; researching, reading, talking about, learning how to put the story together with images, finding a style – which I am still exploring – but it is a format that I have fallen totally in love with and I have developed plans for several other books too.

I was delighted that the first 12 pages of the book I have been working on for the last year was longlisted for the LDC Prize – just got to finish the rest now!

You can find some other illustrated short stories – ‘Cat Dreams’, about my relationship with cats, and ‘Aground’, an illustrated team-up with Barry Fentiman Hall’s short story – in my new Etsy Shop SamHIllustrations.

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Matryoshka in Epoch 2

My creative non fiction piece inspired by a friend’s experience of learning that her roots were not where she thought they were, can be found in this beautiful looking publication: which you can buy here.

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Cat Dreams – my pamphlet is out now

The cats getting a preview!

Excited to get copies of my illustrated pamphlet ‘Cat Dreams’ back from the printer. 🐱🐱🐱

Printed in full colour on 120gsm recycled paper, with 300gsm recycled cover, and 23 pages of illustrations, of cats, family and friends, ‘Cat Dreams’ also explores memory, and how as we get older, the past seems a far more precious and exciting place than it did at the time.

You can order copies of ‘Cat Dreams’ by sending £6.00 per copy (includes UK postage) from http://paypal.me/WordsmitheryKent Please include your name and address in the note section. You can also buy it from my Etsy page, or the Wordsmithery website.

If you are outside of the UK and would like a copy, please email me.

A percentage of profits (after production costs) will go to a wonderful animal charity, The Cinnamon Trust .

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Another interview with the vampire

My short story about a journalist who turns out to be more of a bloodsucker than the vampire she befriends is published in Indie Bites Volume 1 – Vampires and Voyages, available now.

Indie Bites cover
Indie Bites cover

Get Vampires and Voyages here.

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My Mind Is Illustrated

I am delighted to have been awarded DYCP funding from Arts Council England to refocus to way I write through learning how to draw and write illustrated short stories.

I will be learning how to structure, write and draw illustrated short stories with the ultimate aim of working towards presenting my play MY MIND IS FREE as a graphic novel, developing my own illustrative style along the way and exploring storytelling through a different lens.

I haven’t drawn very much since my art o-level at school. Clearly I enjoyed art then, but somewhere in my late teens that stopped. The first few months will be all about #relearningtodraw, working with mentors and experimenting with media. You can follow my art journey on Instagram (wordsmithery.info).

Here are a few early images. I will get better!

self portrait in pencils
Self portrait in pencils
picture of oyster shells
Oysters in pen
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The Medusa Project Anthology

Celebrate Womxn Everywhere With The Medusa Project, A Debut Anthology From Mookychick. Download Poetry, Fiction, Artwork And Rituals… For Free.

My creative non-fiction piece ‘Her crowning glory’ about one woman’s experience with alopecia is included in this free anthology, alongside a lot of stunning work.

Download it here.

The Medusa Project front cover image
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Recent story acceptances

Immortal pets.

Undert+the+Veil+Cover

I have a quite sad story in this chapbook – ‘What happens to all the tortoises at the end of the world?’ It’s actually also going to be in my short story collection, which may be out later this year, depending on things… Under the veil is available to buy here for £10.

Here is an extract from the story to whet your appetite.


“These inky silent eyes have seen so much life, but seen so little world. They bought
him for the children from a market stall in 1966 – the year England won the World
Cup. The Dad was a football fan like everybody was then but he couldn’t enthuse his
5-year old son to go with him to see their local team. As a reward on the way home,
Dad said he’d get Joe whatever he wanted, (within reason, Lad), from the market
next to the stadium. Joe wanted a tortoise. The little shell fitted into the son’s 5-year
old hand, and for the first few weeks he carried the tortoise around in his pocket
whenever Mum wasn’t looking.

When Becca, the daughter, was old enough to want a pet, she preferred her bunnies
and a procession of short lived hamsters and a gerbil, which were all buried in a
corner of the border, each with a sad lollipop stick with its name on.

Joe named the tortoise Pickle. Why Joe had given him this name was anybody’s
guess. Joe, now at senior school, had long ago lost interest in his pet, and his sister,
now 11, had even less enthusiasm for the reptile. Quite honestly, for the past few
years it had been Mum who had taken the tortoise out of his box every morning
when the weather was good, put out lettuce leaves for him to munch on and
replaced the marigolds (which Pickle liked to eat) with lavenders (which Pickle didn’t
like to eat) in the border. It was Mum who gently wrapped him up in straw and
newspapers when the year started to turn cold, and Mum who with slight trepidation,
got the box out of the shed once it had gotten warmer again, and all chance of frost
was gone, happy to see the tortoise beginning to stir from his long sleep.”


 

Verfabula, creative non-fiction, fictionalised fact?

I have also had a hard to define piece accepted for Mookychick’s forthcoming anthology ‘The Medusa Project’. It’s a mix of memoir, fact and fiction about hair.  The anthology should be out this year and I will update the link when it’s available.

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Podcast coming

I have just put together my first podcast! It’s a thing I’m going to do more of.

It can be listened to here from Friday 12 June 2020, suitable for ages 14+. Be warned, there are a few gruesome, and/or scary stories and poems!

emptychairpod_ad_web

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Dark London anthology – out in June

I am delighted to be able to share that a short ghost story I’ve written will be published in Darkstroke’s ‘Dark London’ 2 volume anthology, out in June. Royalties will be going to 2 London charities. Don’t the front covers look great!? (I’ll add a link once they are available to order.)

Pre-order on Kindle here – Volume 1 (with my story in) and Volume 2.

Dark London volumes

 

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A rejoinder to a certain cat-related story

512px-Bristol_Cathedral_&_College_Green,_Bristol_-_DSC05688

College Green, Bristol, from Wiki Commons

A few years ago I read a very controversial cat-related story, which is written from the point of view of the woman – the male character comes off really badly and I don’t think that’s the only way it can go down. I wanted to write a story about sex from the point of view of a male character, because men and women can be shits equally, in my experience. Here it is.

‘#Badsex’ can be read on The Blue Nib

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