Seven Minute Stories

Posted: November 1st, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: authors, events, writing | No Comments »

At the start of the summer I was invited to meet with a local reading group to gather narrative elements for a commissioned short story – organised by Roz Goddard and the West Midlands Readers Network. The group members were lively in their opinions about what made a good short story and I came away with a long list of ‘do nots’ – particularly, do not write about miserable middle-aged men! The no-no list also included: no young women narrators, no child narrators and no sci-fi (among other things).

The narrative prompts were interesting and included an interesting timeframe, a tunnel, a sausage dog, a rubber ring and a goddle house (you can find a definition in David Crystal’s “Disappearing Dictionary” but it’s basically a house that has fallen to abject ruin).

When I took all these things away it felt as if I was in a drawn out version of Whose Line is it Anyway? I didn’t manage to get all the elements into the story but I very much enjoyed the process and the final story is called Devourer of All Things and will appear in the Seven Minute Stories anthology in December.

I’d like to thank the Leamington Reading Group for being so welcoming. They meet regularly in The Fox and Vivian pub at the top of town and I had great fun meeting them and a nail-biting, but ultimately rewarding time reading their story to them.

I will be joining the other commissioned writers, Rob Jefferson-Brown, Dragan Todorovic, Justina Hart and Ruth Gilligan, and Roz, at the Library of Birmingham for a special event where we will read extracts from our stories and discuss the process of writing them. You can come too if you like. Book here for the event and a copy of the anthology.


Posted: October 28th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: authors | No Comments »

winegarden_webMy dear friend and long time writing buddy, Anthony Ferner, launched his debut novel, Winegarden, on Sunday. I was lucky enough to be one of the early readers and I can’t recommend it highly enough. It is small and perfectly formed.

Images from the launch at the Town Hall in Leamington Spa can be viewed here. I’m lurking in one or two. And you can watch a video of Anthony’s opening remarks on Youtube.

Winegarden recounts episodes in the life of Jacob Winegarden, an agnostic Jewish professor of theoretical physics whose speciality is ‘thought experimentation’. A burly, vague, distracted man, a fan of popular films such as Toy Story and Fantastic Voyage, Jacob is still forlornly infatuated with his enigmatic wife, Miriam . . . Moving backwards and forwards in time and touching on different parts of Winegarden’s life and thoughts, the stories are designed to fit together as a novella. Together they tell a larger personal story of grief and survival, the ambivalence and persistence of love, and the meaning of being Jewish. (via Holland Park Press).

If you like cats (particularly Schrödinger’s), theoretical physics and impeccable writing – buy this book.


First review for SiB

Posted: October 21st, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: authors, review, short stories, writing | No Comments »

First review for The Sea in Birmingham. Read the whole thing on BookOxygen. You can also read the foreword, by Alan Mahar on The Writers’ Hub.

The writing is consistently strong and widely varied, reflecting the experiences and styles of an extensive network from all walks and stations of life. A watery theme links several, as though the sea were indeed both metaphorically as well as physically inching inland . . . Simone Weil said that it is not so much what every moment of a human life contains as the way in which each of its moments is connected. This book offers an insight into how Midland writers, in this instance over thirty years, create and develop a sense of solidarity within both an area and a discipline.

The dots join up and make a gorgeous whole – well worth reading and emulating. Siân Miles in BookOxygen

The Sea in Birmingham

Posted: September 1st, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: authors, events, short stories, writing | Tags: , , | No Comments »

SiBwebI’ve been attending the Tindal Street Fiction Group for several years and this October, 2013, sees the launch of the group’s 30-year celebration anthology, The Sea in Birmingham. My story – Mr Spider – is one of twenty-two stories from established authors and emerging writers who are all past or present members of TSFG. The collection has been edited by Julia Bell and Gaynor Arnold and you can find information about the other contributors (including Amanda Smyth, Gaynor Arnold, Alan Beard and Mick Scully) on the TSFG website and pre-order a copy of the anthology from Amazon.

The launch takes place on October 12th 2013 at the new Birmingham Library and the event will be part of the Birmingham Literature Festival. You can book free tickets for the event here.

Here’s what some other people have said about the collection:

A vivid evocation of place, a cast of richly imagined characters and stories that stay with you. This is The Sea in Birmingham and it’’s full of pearls. – Catherine O’’Flynn

This selection of 22 stories set in or around Birmingham – inventive, muscular, painful, witty, surprising, various – has the feel of the city but the scale of the times. – David Edgar

A collection of fine stories that wander the familiar streets of the West Midlands, revealing intimate lives with passionate prose. These writers brought me back home. – Cathy Galvin


Here are some pictures from the launch:

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Transmedia project update

Posted: September 14th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: authors, diary, events, exhibition, web 2.0 | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

Reliable Witness has been gathering steam online so I thought I’d aggregate some of the bits and pieces I’ve been doing to promote the project acros the web.

I’ve recorded a Podcast on the excellent Transmedia Storyteller site and made a great new contact – the site’s founder Robert Pratten.

You can have a gander at the images on Flickr of the creative team in full flow.  And there’s even a tumblr site with images of the installation build.

Finally here’s an interview I did with the good people at The Information Daily :

On the Edge…

Posted: August 3rd, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: authors, courses, writing | No Comments »

This autumn I’ll be On the Edge of the Warwick Words – Festival of Literature and Spoken Word. There’s a discussion on ‘How to Get Published‘ (Tuesday October 2nd at 7.30pm, Leamington Waterstones) with fellow Tindal Street Press author Alan Beard and senior editor, Luke Brown.

I’ll also be delivering a 3 hour workshop on ‘How to Write Contemporary Fiction‘ at a local hostelry;) There are 15 places available for the workshop and the cost is £22.50. Details below.


Wednesday 3 October
Sozzled Sausage, Regent Street, Leamington Spa
10.00am – 1.00pm

This workshop led by award winning author, Mez Packer, is aimed at giving participants a clear understanding of the technical and creative aspects of writing contemporary fiction. Along with exercises to get you going (drawing on experience, memory and place) the workshop will focus on plot, character and voice as well as other elements that drive a narrative forward and keep the reader wanting more. Using examples we won’t forget prose-style and dialogue either. Finally, there will be opportunities for sharing work and receiving feedback on the day.

Tickets: £22.50
There are only 15 places available for this workshop. Please book in advance.

Interesting shortlisting

Posted: May 30th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: authors, prizes, The Game is Altered | Tags: , , | No Comments »

It was very nice to receive a Facebook notification the other day to inform me that The Game is Altered has been shortlisted for an award. It’s not the Orange Prize (I will never be that rare thing – an Orange shortlisted author – now that Orange has withdrawn its sponsorship from the prize);).

No, I have been shortlisted for the Pineapple Prize. I’d never heard of it either but I am suitably delighted. It’s an interesting list too.

You can read all about the the Postgraduate Contemporary Women’s Writing Network here.

Free workshop at Coventry Book Festival

Posted: May 30th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: authors, courses, The Game is Altered, writing | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

I’m running a FREE writing workshop at Coventry Book Festival on June 16th at 11am. The workshop, ‘Finding Your Voice’, is two hours long and is being held in Coventry Central Library. Bring pens, paper and an open mind. For ages 16 and above. Use the link to book your place:

I’ll also be taking part in a panel discussion with other local authors on June 14th at Sidney Stringer Academy Theatre. You can book for this on the same link.

Soho night

Posted: March 9th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: authors, events, The Game is Altered | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

I’ll be reading a little bit of my book at The Book Stops Here on Monday 12th March. The event kicks off at 7.30 and the line up includes Adam Marek and Evie Wyld.

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Tindal authors on World Book Night

Posted: March 2nd, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: authors, events, The Game is Altered, writing | Tags: , , , , , , , | No Comments »

A bunch of Tindal Street Fiction Group authors will be chatting about books, inspiration and the fabness of World Book Night at Solihull Library on Monday 23 April, 2012 – 6-8pm.

Come and enjoy the literary stylings of Fiona Joseph, Gaynor Arnold, Andrew KilleenSybil Ruth, Amanda Smyth – and me. Tickets are free but need to be booked here. And Fiona has set up a Facebook page for the event here.