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Cool for school

On (yet another) blistering hot summer’s day, I was glad of the chance to cool off in the air-conditioned surroundings of the impressive library at Notre Dame Catholic Sixth-Form College, in Leeds, to run a writing workshop. The session included Year 12 students from the host school and a visiting group of Year 10s from Corpus Christi Catholic College, also in Leeds.

Part of the National Collaborative Outreach Programme (NCOP) in Higher Education, the workshop was organised in conjunction with Leeds Trinity University, where I’ve been teaching creative writing since 2009.

The photograph is courtesy of the Notre Dame website and here’s the accompanying piece which the school published in its online newsletter:

Creative writing masterclass with internationally renowned novelist.

On Thursday July 12th, Notre Dame Catholic Sixth Form College invited students from our partner Catholic schools and A-level NCOP students to take part in a creative writing masterclass. The session was led by Martyn Bedford, senior lecturer in creative writing at Leeds Trinity University and author of eight novels.

Martyn introduced the session by talking about some of his students who have gone on to enjoy successful careers linked to their English degree and as we looked through the college library we were delighted to stumble across a book by *Liz Mistry, who recently studied creative writing at Leeds Trinity University.

Martyn used a range of techniques to inspire students to work collaboratively to bring their ideas to life in a fun, relaxed setting. The work they produced was of outstanding quality and one of our partner schools commented that, ‘Martyn was so engaging and made everybody feel at ease. It was a really productive afternoon and the students were buzzing when they returned to school.’

(*For the record, Liz Mistry, a graduate of the MA in Creative Writing at Leeds Trinity, is currently completing the first year of a Creative Writing PhD with us, which I am co-supervising. She is the author of four crime novels, published by Bloodhound Books.)

Taking off to FLY

I’m taking a trip down memory lane this week with a visit to Norwich to take part in FLY 2017, the Festival of Literature for Young People. The festival, now in its fifth year, is organised and hosted by the University of East Anglia, where I took my Creative Writing MA back in 1993-94.

That was a special year for me, as I got married and wrote what was to become my first published novel, Acts of Revision, so I’m always glad of an excuse to revisit Norwich and the UEA campus. This is my second time on the programme at FLY, where I’ll be giving a talk and reading to around 200 teenagers from local schools and leading a creative-writing workshop.

This year’s festival runs from July 10-14 and includes a wide range of events and a great line-up of authors – Frank Cottrell Boyce, Clare Furniss, Andy Briggs, Jo Cotterill and Cliff McNish, to name just a few. For full details please click on this link to the FLY website.

Best of 2016!

GLORIA UK final cover 1I’m not easily excited but I’m very excited by the news that Twenty Questions for Gloria has been included in The Guardian‘s Best New Children’s Books Guide for 2016. The guide, which was published with Saturday’s edition of the newspaper (June 18th), is also available in independent bookshops throughout the country to celebrate Independent Bookshop Week.

Books for children of all ages were selected and reviewed for the guide by a panel of booksellers from independent bookshops. Twenty Questions for Gloria is one of just 25 titles for teenagers included in the ‘Fiction 12+’ section, rubbing shoulders with books from the likes of former children’s laureate Malorie Blackman, Carnegie Medal winner Tanya Landman, best-sellers Francesca Simon and Michael Grant, and this year’s Costa Book Award winner, Frances Hardinge.

Stories’ (r)e-vival

Two of my short stories have been given a new lease of life thanks to the advance of the digital era in publishing.

The crime anthology M.O. Crimes of Practice, which featured my story “A Missing Person’s Inquiry” when it was first published in 2008, has been reissued in kindle format by Comma Press and is available from Amazon and Kobo.
Here’s the link to its Amazon page.

And “Letters Home”, which appeared in The Book of Leeds anthology in 2006, has been reissued as an ebook single and is about to be reissued as a free-to-download iPhone app as part of Tramlines, a Comma Press/Literature Across Frontiers series of apps featuring stories set in different cities around the world.
Here’s the link to the ebook single’s Amazon page.

Flip’s New York filip

Glad tidings from America this week, with news that Flip has been named in the 2012 Best Children’s Books of the Year by the internationally renowned Bank Street College of Education, in New York. Not only that, but it has been tagged as one of the novels of “outstanding merit” on the list.

The titles are chosen by the children’s book committee at the college in Greenwich Village, Manhattan – a selection panel comprising teachers, librarians, authors, parents and psychologists, with a crop of young readers from across the U.S. evaluating the books as well.

The aim is to provide librarians, teachers and parents with a guide to the best reading for children and teenagers. According to the college’s website, “In choosing books for the annual list, reviewers consider literary quality and excellence of presentation as well as the potential emotional impact of the books on young readers.”

Website Q&A

A creative writing website has posted an author Q&A which they inivted me to complete ahead of the publication of a new book later this year by the Professional and Higher Partnership, based in Cambridge.

The book, Teaching Creative Writing, is aimed primarily at tutors and lecturers and contains dozens of lesson plans, exercises and ideas for creative-writing workshops on a range of topics and forms – I’ve contributed one on travel writing, for example.

Anyway, here’s the link to the Q&A and to the Creative Writing Studies website more generally.

Success in the U.S.

I just received the very nice news from my American publisher, Random House, that Flip has been selected for the 2012 IRA Young Adults reading list. (I hasten to point out that IRA, in this instance, stands for International Reading Association – an organisation of literacy professionals, not terrorists.)

Each year since 1987, IRA’s Young Adults’ Choices project has unveiled a list of new books that will encourage adolescents to read. The titles are selected by the readers themselves – middle and secondary school students – and the list is a trusted source of book recommendations by young people, their parents, teachers and librarians.

So, I’m delighted that Flip has won the seal of approval from American teenagers.

That loving feeling

“Some of Yorkshire’s finest children’s authors” . . . include me, apparently! So, if you’re in a loving mood (and live within smooching distance of Halifax) why not come along and chat to me and the other writers? And drink wine and eat cup-cakes, of course.

Poet goes viral

Great to see the poet Dean Atta getting the recognition he deserves with a piece in today’s Guardian.
I met Dean in London last year when he performed Shadow Boxer, his poem inspired by my novel Flip, at a launch event for Walker Books’ new teenage and young adult website, Undercover Reads.
Nice guy. Terrific poet.
Click here to read the profile of him in the Guardian, following news that his new poem about Stephen Lawrence has gone viral on the internet and Twitter.
And here’s a link to my earlier blog which reproduces Shadow Boxer.

Families for Flip

A nice review of Flip in And I quote:

“This is an engrossing read that unlike many Hollywood versions of the body-swap idea focuses not on the humour but the pain of not being recognised by your nearest and dearest. Teens of both sexes will find much to enjoy and think about. Families rating: 5 out of 6.”

Click here to read the review in full.

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