I always (well, nearly always) enjoy sharing a stage with fellow writers but it will be a particular pleasure this week to do a gig with a former student to celebrate the publication of her first novel. Shaunna Harper graduated in 2013 from the English & Writing BA at Leeds Trinity University, where I teach creative writing, and produced several exceptional short stories – and some very good poetry – during her time there.
It was apparent from the outset that Shaunna was talented, and dedicated to her work, but also that that she had a “writer’s sensibility”. America has long held a fascination for her – its culture, its literature, its landscape – and much of her short fiction is set there. So too is her debut novel, Homelands, which is published by the excellent independent press, Stairwell Books. It’s a moving, well-crafted story of love and loss with the atmosphere and vivid sense of place of an American road-movie.
Shaunna will be reading from the book at the launch event in the Medusa Bar, Town Street, Horsforth, from 7.30pm on Wednesday (November 26th), supported by readings from me and my Leeds Trinity colleague, the poet Oz Hardwick. There will also be music by The Sheep Worriers. Admission is free.