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Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Shifting Shadows - an interview with Thorne Moore

Thorne Moore is many things - a Law Graduate, a historian, a maker of Lilliputian furniture, a writer of crime fiction and 'domestic noir'... With three well-received novels and a book of short stories already out and a new novel set to come out of the Shadows any day soon, Thorne took the time to talk to Remy Dean and answer a few questions for IAWN...

Thorne Moore considers the light and the shadows

Remy: Conducting these member interviews for IAWN, I have found that most authors here (myself included) are also passionate about the wider arts and are visual artists of some kind as well as writers. You also have a second outlet for your creativity - making miniature period furniture replicas! How do these two branches of creativity tie-together for you?

Thorne: I suppose they both make use of my imagination and my creativity, which I hate to see go to waste. At the end of each day I have created something, at my laptop or in my workshop. Something other than money. I haven’t just pushed endless pegs into holes or papers into pigeonholes. On a very mundane level, they also provide the opportunity to be self-employed. I discovered very early on that I am not very good at being employed and fitting into someone else’s plans, doing what I’m told. I like to make decisions for myself and be responsible for my own disasters – and the occasional triumph.

You write ‘Domestic Noir’ – what is that and why does the genre interest you?

What is Domestic Noir? Good question. I write psychological dramas about ordinary people coping with traumas that tip them out of their comfort zones. Yes, the trauma is usually a crime, so my books rank as crime mysteries, usually in domestic settings, not in police stations or amongst international drugs cartels. They are about the people involved and their emotional reactions to events, sometimes over many years. If people guess the culprit early on, it doesn’t really matter. What matters is revealing how traumatic moments come about and how they affect the survivors. I don’t do sadistic torture scenes or police procedure or neat country-house cosy puzzles.

Thorne Moore's bestseller,, A Time for Silence

With your particular interest in art especially paintings of historic settings and ‘antique’ furnishings… how long before you write that Historical-Romance-Domestic-Murder-Mystery? 

Ah. Funny you should say that. My fourth novel, Shadows, which is about to be published by Endeavour Press, is set in an old house in Pembrokeshire that is riddle with ancient unexplained mysteries. So to accompany it, I am polishing off a set of novellas - Long Shadows - set at various times in the past in the same house. Historical, yes, but murder mystery rather than romance.

If you had a time machine, which historic person would you like to meet and what would you ask them?

I suppose I should say Napoleon or Anne Boleyn or someone like that, but I think it would be my mysterious great great grandmother, Martha Thorne, and I’d ask what really happened with her. Long story, all to do with family angst and dramas.. Other than that, maybe I’d like to meet the British victor at the siege of Mount Badon in about 500 AD, and ask if his name was really Arthur.

In your author biography, you tell how you were brought up with parents who stood by their values. Would you say that your writing ever becomes a vehicle for your own values and do you think a writer has any social responsibility in highlighting or dealing with wider issues?

Undoubtedly my values colour what I write and I can’t imagine writing something that doesn’t explore and question some aspect of society or general humanity. Setting is very important to me and settings make no sense without social context, so I write about it. But that’s me. I don’t know that I would expect all writers to be guided by social responsibility. It might lead to some rather heavily didactic writing. Themes that filter into the flow of the story are fine, but blindingly obvious sermons are likely to put readers off.

Motherlove - settings need a social context

What was the first book you can remember that really wrapped you up in its magic and carried you off into its world?

The Tombs of Atuan, one of Ursula Le Guin’s Earthsea books. I can remember my skin crawling. The imagery and atmosphere that she created in it are still embedded in me.

Who have been your favourite authors and what have you learnt from them?

Jane Austen Рkeep going and keep laughing. John le Carr̩ Рnothing is black and white. Barbara Vine Рpeople are complicated

Is there a favourite book, one you have re-read or return to often?

The Bell, by Iris Murdoch. I usually read it once a year. Painful comedy and tragedy in one.

Do you have a writing ritual or regimen and what time suits you best? 

No rituals or specific regimes, but I’m a morning person, so I write early. I like walking, and do my thinking, plotting, problem solving, while walking, but I write first thing in the morning, before I bother to get up.

Long-hand or keyboard? 

I used to write long-hand before word processors came on the scene but I’m not sure I can remember how. I use a laptop, which is the best thing since the invention of the wheel.

What is the view from your usual writing place?

Usually the cat on the end of the bed.

...and, finally, Shadows sounds very intriguing, can you tell us a little about your new novel?

The narrator is Kate Lawrence, a woman who has a paranormal gift. She can sense where violent death has happened. Or she thinks she can. The book is not really about paranormal matters but about how isolating it must be if you thought you could see-hear-feel things that other people can’t.

Kate has become very isolated and emotionally frozen, as a result of trying to conceal the shadows she can sense, but she’s determined to get the better of them. So, she comes to live with her cousin Sylvia who has bought a derelict mansion in North Pembrokeshire, with all manner of extravagant business plans for the place. The house is old and, of course, it has shadows that only Kate is aware of, but while she focuses on them, new shadows are in the process of being created around her, thanks to the arrival of Sylvia’s appalling son Christian. Everyone has reasons to feel guilty, but some feel it more than others.

Thank you very much, Thorne!

Thanks for asking me.

Thorne Moore was talking with Remy Dean

For Moore info visit
Thorne Moore's Official Website

and to buy her books - or read the reviews - check out her amazon author profile

for Moore musings, 'mutterings' and interviews with other writers, have a look at 
Thorne Moore's Blog, Thorny Matters

Saturday, 13 May 2017

Reading the Telly - an interview with Frank Collins

Frank Collins is best known for writing extended reviews and critiques of modern media - particularly cult television and cinema - that always become insightful musings and take in a much broader canvas than many of his contemporaries would attempt.

Frank Collins aboard the TARDIS
He is the author of Doctor Who: The Pandorica Opens - an in-depth and inspirational book exploring the worlds of the Eleventh Doctor - a regular contributor to Frame Rated and to books for Arrow Films accompanying their acclaimed specialist movie releases - including Bruce Robinson, Woody Allen and Hammer Films collections. He also writes for online magazines such as Wow 24/7 and MovieMail and readers with an interest in cult television, and classic British cinema, may remember Frank from his influential review blog Cathode Ray Tube... Frank Collins talked to Remy Dean about writing, reviewing and making wider cultural connections! 

What does Frank think is the function, or responsibility, of the reviewer and cultural critic?

If I’m reviewing anything I always try to strike a balance between praise and criticism. I couldn’t cynically rip anything to shreds and leave it at that. That isn’t my approach. I wouldn’t want to be on the receiving end of it. It can be counterproductive. On the other hand, there are many reviewers out there whose humour often provides that balance and there is certainly room for all sorts of views. I always try to find something interesting to say.

Doctor Who, like any television programme or film, isn’t perfect. Some stories work for one particular audience demographic and others don’t. The series takes risks – perhaps trying out a writer new to the format or shooting the episode in a particular style – and often it falls flat on its face.  As a reviewer, I always aim to find the good in what might be perceived as a bit of a duff episode. If a story doesn’t work for me then I’ll try and constructively explain what I perceive as the faults.

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Living in a Land of Legends - an interview with Andrew Jenkin

Andrew Jenkin is a professional artist, illustrator and author. His pictures have been exhibited internationally, and in 2012 he was was shortlisted for Artist of the Year, by Artist & Illustrators magazine. 

The first book that he has both written and illustrated was The Curse of the Lambton Worm, about dragon folklore in the North-East of England. An exhibition of the original illustrations from the book toured venues in the North-East  and  he was invited by the Akron Fossils & Science Centre in Cleveland, Ohio, to exhibit his illustrations and research from the book. He has also illustrated two books about Honley, the West Yorkshire village where he grew up, and has recently illustrated Tapestry, a children’s fairy-tale written by Richard King.

Andrew is also enthusiastic about teaching art and hosts regular watercolour classes in North Wales, and monthly workshops in West Yorkshire. Before moving to Wales in 2010, he was Head Tutor and Studio Manager at North Light Gallery Art School in Huddersfield.

With his latest book on the way, also dealing with folklore and history, Andrew talked to Remy Dean for IAWN about words and pictures, curses and Camelot...

Andrew Jenkin, author and artist
Tell us a little about your previous book, The Curse of the Lambton Worm. How and why did that come about?

I attended a series of workshops with a government-funded organisation called CIDA (Creative Industries Development Agency – I don’t think they exist anymore). They were really enthusiastic about artists getting their work into galleries, and gave me a ‘just do it’ mentality.

I had previously worked with an art gallery in Washington (near Sunderland) which was situated yards from where the events of the legend of the Lambton Worm were supposed to have taken place. It was a legend I had known since childhood, so I enjoyed researching its background. An exhibition of my illustrations connected with the legend was given the green light, and this in turn led to the book.

The Curse of the Lambton Worm by Andrew Jenkin
Your forthcoming book is also concerned with folklore. Tell us about that and how is it similar or different?

The new book, with the  working title of Castle Hill – history & legends, explores the stories which surround an old hillfort near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, which is where I grew up.

It is similar to the Lambton Worm book in that it seeks to find some truth or explanation for some very strange legends – in other words, how did these stories start? It draws on literature, landscape features and history to piece together the puzzles and provide an explanation.

It is different because it goes through almost every era, right back to the Neolithic, and is a hotchpotch of different legends. The Lambton Worm book was connected to landscape features, such as Worm Hill and Lambton Castle, but concentrated on only one legend - probably medieval.

You’re a professional artist and provide illustrations for your books – what, if any, are the links between these two creative formats – the visual and the textual?

I usually have an overall idea for the illustrations, or perhaps one really striking image, which will help with the tone and mood of the text.

I always have to get the text right first, because I work mainly in watercolours, so once I’m committed to an image, there’s no changing it and no going back!

Illustrating in watercolour is completely the opposite to writing, which benefits from revision and refinement – if a watercolour is re-worked or altered, it loses its original vitality, so you only get one chance with the paint.

Do you find that the artist’s eye and way of looking helps to capture a sense of place in writing?

As an artist, I probably think too logically about the image in front of me, or the image in my head if it’s an illustration – what is the composition, where are the lights and darks, what are the colours?

As a writer, I would be thinking much more about atmosphere and mood before putting pen to paper. Having said that, most of my writing is fairly factual, so the logic starts to filter back in once I’ve started.

What is your writing process like? 

I usually work out a rough outline first, then every few days I scribble something onto a scrap of paper, Once the pile of scraps is big enough, it all gets transferred onto my computer, and the hard work commences - a slow process of building the text, then going through draft after draft until it’s right. Some sentences come straight away, but some can be re-written a dozen times before I’m happy with it.

What time of day suits you best?

Evening work suits me best, mainly due to daytime commitments, but also I find that the later it gets, the more ‘free’ my thinking and writing becomes.

What is it about the subjects of your books that interested and inspired you to write about them?

I have always been interested in history and legends; I have a degree in History and Ancient History, and I suppose I’m still studying.

There is a pub near Sunderland called the Lambton Worm, which I visited as a boy. I was fascinated by the pub-sign, which depicted a knight clad in spiked armour, with a serpent-dragon coiled around him. I am still fascinated by it.

I grew up in one of the villages beneath Castle Hill, so I saw it every day for the best part of twenty years. I remember reading an old Council pamphlet about the legends, which seemed oddly out-of-place in an industrial town in West Yorkshire, and really sparked my interest. The new book is my own version of that pamphlet.

I guess it’s the idea that there is much more to life than what we see around us, we are surrounded by the spirit of our ancestors and our own imaginations – it’s not just a hill, it’s the hill where such-and-such happened. It makes life much more interesting!

Colourful Camelot illustration for Andrew Jenkin's new book
How aware of your audience are you when writing and who would be your ‘typical reader’?

I am aiming to write books for my ten-year-old self – the boy who was fascinated by the Lambton Worm pub-sign, and who read the Castle Hill pamphlet in disbelief.

However dry the history, and, on occasions, cynical the explanations, I would always be very careful not to kill the original excitement and weirdness of the legends.

Do you have a favourite book of all time, or one that you have re-read or return to often?

In my mid-twenties I read Handbook for the Urban Warrior by Barefoot Doctor (aka Stephen Russell), and it completely changed my whole outlook on life. The book is a very modern and accessible introduction to ancient Eastern mysticism and Taoism. I re-read this book, and others by the same author, on a regular basis, and always refer back to them when I have any kind of problem.

Who have been your favourite authors and artists – what have you learned from them?

Favourite artists would definitely include the Pre-Raphaelites, from the painstakingly detailed technical side of what they were doing - although I wouldn’t have the patience! ...and also for their subject matter. I also love the pen-and-ink illustrations of Arthur Rackham, again for technical brilliance and subject matter.

These artists took years perfecting their art, and their high levels of skill and craftsmanship shine through the work.

I don’t have one particular favourite author, but would probably choose an ‘old classic’ over a contemporary writer - apologies to all contemporary writers!

I’m still stumbling through The Mabinogion, which I’ve been reading on-and-off for several years now (since moving to Wales in 2010 in fact!) and still have a long way to go. I love legends, but these are a bit heavy!

If you could time-travel, what historic personage would you like to meet and what question would you ask them?

It would have to be King Arthur, or whoever was most closely linked with this half-historical, half-legendary figure.

I’m not sure exactly what I’d say to him - “Do you exist?” - but that’s a period of history which I would love to learn more about. Unfortunately we probably never will, because for those two hundred years, circa 400-600 AD, everybody was too busy fighting or fleeing to write anything down.

Archaeological evidence is helping to provide some clues, and it may be that some future as-yet-uninvented method of investigation brings more answers…

If he’s ruled out as a fictional character, then I’ll go for a round table discussion - sorry - with Ambrosius Aurelianus, Vortigern, Hengist and Horsa.

I would like to sit in on that! Thank you, Andrew, for taking time to talk to IAWN.

Andrew Jenkin was talking with Remy Dean

For more about the art of Andrew Jenkin, 

...and here is more about The Lambton Worm book

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Doing the Vampire Twist - an interview with Chloe Hammond

Chloe Hammond's debut novel, Darkly Dreaming, is already attracting lots of positive reader attention and reviews via GoodReads and Amazon - no mean feat for a new book, from a new writer, breaking into the highly popular Vampire Romance sub-genre... Here she takes time out from writing - and her busy human life - to talk to Remy Dean for IAWN about cats and dogs, vampires and the spell of the sea...

Chloe Hammond, author of the Darkly trilogy
Hello, Chloe! You describe your writing place as having a sea view – how does this affect and facilitate your writing? I am thinking Carl Jung – the sea as subconscious and that kind of thing?

I've always lived close to the sea, I was born in Liverpool docks, moved to Swansea, and then Kidwelly, and finally settled just outside Cardiff.

When my husband and I were looking at property in France for our planned great escape we found some lovely inland properties in breathtakingly pretty towns, but the only place than we felt we could actually imagine settling in for real was right on the coast. It's the draw the sea has on me. After my husband's heart attack we had to suspend our plan to move abroad and instead we chose a much smaller house in Barry, where we already lived, but this time I was determined to get more than just a snippet of a sea view.

Our little house looks right across the docks, the fair and out to sea, and watching the play of light over the water is mesmerising. So much so I've tried to paint the inside of the house to match the sea in it's many moods. I often find myself just gazing out to sea, the front of my brain caught up in watching the light dance while the back of my brain plays with my characters, revealing new ideas for my writing.

You have also described your environment as being populated by rescued cats and dogs – I believe we can learn a lot from dogs - Not sure about cats, but enlighten me! I recall the great SF author Larry Niven saying he wrote all his aliens from observing various animal behaviours, their languages and interactions.What have you learnt from interacting with animals?

I've always been a cat person, and have only quite recently, about two years ago, allowed myself to be won over by Bella, our whippet cross staffy. She is as cuddly and clean as a cat. There's not many dogs that will turn down a treat to have extra cuddles! However Bonnie, our other dog, is a very dogish dog and still challenges my acceptance. She licks a lot, and will abandon any cuddle for the prospect of food, but my husband adores her, so I put up with her, despite the doggy smell.

I have a personal theory that there are two sorts of people in the world; 'dog people', boisterous, love everyone, great fun, first on the dance floor, can't cope with being on their own for long, or provide their own entertainment sort of folk. And then there 'cat people' reserved, fussy, and only really like seeing one person at a time; viewed as stand offish, they are just deciding if they like you or not, and if they do they will love you intensely;they need time alone, and are often happiest when doing solitary activities, indeed their favourite sort of people are those they can do solitary activities in the same room with.

From a life time of keeping cats, and recently returning to keeping dogs for the first time since childhood, I have learned the value of love in all it's varied guises, and that sometimes your place in your 'pack' just is, and fighting against that is pointless, you should just relax and accept it, along your loved ones' roles, you'll be much happier for it.  Oh, and sometimes a combination of a cat and  dog person make the best match, as long as they love each others differences, and don't change one another.

So, tell us what you write about and why does it interest you?

I write about people, their relationships with each other, and the way life changes them. I point out the darkly humorous quirks we have, mistakes we make and recognise a person's imperfections are as lovable as their perfections,  and then I add a vicious vampire twist.

Darkly Dreaming by  Chloe Hammond
You mention in your on-line biographies that you started writing in response to anxiety and depression, so it is no secret and I hope you do not mind me asking this – Are you using writing for some kind of therapy, to deal with an ‘inner struggle’, and if so, why do you want to involve readers in this? OR, was the anxiety and depression, at least partly, resultant from suppressing your lifelong desire to write?

I do not mind you asking at all. I refuse to keep my own battle with mental illness a secret, anymore than someone with a physical illness should. It's just something that happened because I didn't look after myself well enough. My anxiety and depression arose for suppressing several factors of my essential self. At the time we were fostering teenagers with high support needs, and I worked with homeless teenagers, both of these jobs are challenging and cause you to come up against the ugliest side of humanity, because, sadly, where there are vulnerable children, there are abusers. Fostering is the most rewarding, and draining vocation, because you are genuinely working for twenty four hours a day, seven days a week, and you do not get a chance to make any plans, your life is governed by outside forces, and no matter what you want to organise, it can be, and usually was, all disrupted at the last moment.

We were anticipating many of the difficulties when we decided to foster, but as 'austerity' cuts stripped more and more funding from the front line services our role became more and more difficult. Instead of being a specialist service, we became incorporated by mainstream social service, but the whole point of our provision was that we were providing a specialist and difficult service. Eventually, after eight and a half years, and my husband's heart attack we stopped fostering, but I had been desperately wanting to stop for over two years. Not because of the children, but because I was deeply unhappy with the system and could see it was only going to get worse as the cuts sliced deeper, and deeper. Everyone was stretched, working at crisis point, and it was not sustainable. I have sat with police officers in tears because they cannot do their jobs properly anymore.

My day job was also dramatically different in the face of austerity, my case load had doubled, while the paperwork seemed to increase every week as the charity desperately sought different funding sources in an attempt not to lose essential services.  I was exhausted and I knew it, but didn't know how to stop it. My husband still loved fostering, and did not want to stop, he was committed to the children we cared for. So I ignored my own desires and needs, and put my husband's and the young people I fostered and supported's needs before my own for too long.

Combined with this, I had stopped writing after university, where I studied creative writing. I had dreams of writing, but had put insurmountable barriers into my own path. I have perfectionist tendencies I have to be very wary of; I felt that it was only worth writing if I took the time to plot and plan and perfectly structure a work of literary genius. And so I did not write. Indeed I did not do anything creative, always putting creativity off until tomorrow, when I would have the time, energy, and head space to do it perfectly.

Becoming ill meant I had to face the fact that I needed to change how I did things, so I became kinder to myself, and just started to write, not worrying if it was perfect. Editing is the time to polish and shine, just getting the story down was all I aimed for. Then I sheepishly showed it to my 'trusty criticals', the brave folk who read my first versions and make suggestions of changes and improvements, and they loved it. That inspired me to keep going, to write, and rewrite until I had something I felt sort of confident enough to launch into the world. I have decided not to be precious, not to aim for perfection, and to just enjoy the learning process involved in self publishing.

You talk about your characters as if they ‘call the shots’ - I love it when I lose control of a story because the characters become so strong...

I had never experienced the phenomenon of characters developing lives of their own and taking stories in their own direction before I started Darkly Dreaming. Previously, I had written mainly poetry, with only a smattering of short stories where I had not bonded with my characters so completely. I used someone I know and love as the template for Layla, Rae's best friend, and she was very much a secondary character to Rae. However, the people who read the initial versions of the novel consistently wanted to know more about Layla, so I wrote her some chapters to intersperse with Rae's, giving her opinion and viewpoint on things. And do you know what the little minx did? She inserted her own slant on everything, suddenly a different, less innocent version of her appeared on the page, she demanded a rewrite of the whole book, during which Rae really came alive, demanding her own version of things too.

It was very strange, I would have an idea, or have already written a scene, and one or the other would just change the slant on something I was writing, which would then offer far more scope for what would happen in book two and three, introducing undercurrents and ripples that become tsunamis later. It caused me a lot of extra work, but I am delighted with the result, I feel my characters are far more imperfect and believable for it. The reviews I receive for the book consistently highlight these characters and their relationship as a favourite. I have even done Facebook takeover events and parties as my characters, which is amazingly good fun, and helps me to root even further into their different personalities; Rae, cautious, shy, careful, with sudden and suprising surges of mischief, and Layla, fun loving, naughty, a risk taker, sure that everyone will love her, and if they don't that's their problem, not hers.

How do you write? Longhand? Straight into word processor? Combinations of methods?

Word processor. I'll write chunks to myself as an email if I get an idea for a scene when I don't have my USB stick with my Work in Progress on it. I used to have a lovely Nokia N97 phone, which slid open to a decent qwerty keyboard, and used Word, so I could write anywhere, bus, train, park on my lunch break, and then add it to my saved document. Unfortunately that took a little swim down the loo, and they don't make them anymore so I can't get another one. I think all the writers in the world should unite and tweet Nokia with requests for the large N97 to be resurrected.

Can you tell us a little about your writing process? What is your beverage of choice when writing? Do you have a ritual or regimen – a best time of day and so on?

Although I love coffee passionately, and confess to an addiction, I actually drink Earl Grey tea while I write. I drink a lot, I keep a kettle and my favourite mug in my writing room, and brewing up my tea is all part of my preparation, sipping it gives me reflection time, and making another gives me a little break when I need to think something through. I especially love to add a slice of lemon, and stir with a cinnamon stick. If I drank that much coffee I would become jittery and unable to slide into my almost trance like writing state.

I love to put headphones on, plug into Spotify's acoustic folk, or country love collections, close my writing room door and then lose myself in the world of my own creation. I do this best in the evening unfortunately, which can mean late nights when inspiration strikes. I have learned to always stop writing while I still have something to write. Book two has not been as easy to write, since I've had a lot of upheaval with job changes, building work, and having to learn how to promote Darkly Dreaming, which really does not come naturally to me. So to over come the frozen feeling I developed when I was faced with the weight of my own expectation, I save something each time so I can confidently start each writing session knowing what I'm going to say.

I've also reduced my word output expectations. With book one I could happily trot out three, even four thousand words in an evening after work, with book two I've learned to be satisfied with four or five hundred words a day. I am however aware that my writing is now of a better quality, strengthened by practice, so this book shouldn't take as many rewrites. I really hope not, because it's still not finished, and I'm really hoping for a Halloween launch! If that needs to be postponed though, I won't beat myself up too much, it's better to create a high quality product I am confident with. It took many rewrites, polishes, edits and reedits to finally reach a point where I felt in my gut that Darkly Dreaming was ready.

What is the first book you can remember reading that really grabbed you and carried you off to somewhere else?

I used to read Nancy Drew as a little girl, and would get completely absorbed into the feisty little miss's adventures

What is the last book you read and thoroughly enjoyed?

That's really difficult, I read so many books, and enjoy different types for different reasons, whether it be a bit of lightweight escapism, a glorious writing style, or a story wrapped around social history that I learn new things from. The last book I can remember reading that left me really dazzled and awed was Blus Sky July, by Nia Wyn Jones, it's an exquisite love song to her disable son, who she refuses to give up on despite all the doctors advice, and he rewards her dedication with every drop of his being.

If you could meet one of your literary heroes and ask them a question, who would it be and what would you ask?

I follow Anne Rice on Facebook and Twitter, and before her recent bout of ill health limited her energy and sight, she was marvellous at chatting with her fans. I loved reading her posts and interacting with her. I'd love to meet Poppy Z Brite, her vampires lit up my early twenties, and I'd love to talk to her about their creation.

Thank you very much, Chloe Hammond!

Chloe Hammond was talking to Remy Dean

For news and updates, follow Chloe on Twitter 

Thursday, 27 April 2017

I Own My Views - an interview with David Williams

David Williams is a poet and playwright, a founding member of The Red Button Theatre and author of several collections of poems. He generously publishes much of his work-in-progress on-line, and has a built a reputation for potent, entertaining drama that does not shy away from politicising the everyday scenarios he often chooses as his focus... (Much of his work is archived by the National Library of Wales.)

David Williams 
Your poetry often veers into prose and vice versa. How would you define ‘poetry’ and is it the same thing as ‘the poetic’?

First of all thank you Remy for taking the time to read my work (and especially Diolch for setting up IAWN, a resource that is desperately needed by writers in Wales).

As a former English & Drama teacher I am ashamed to say that I don’t know the difference between poetry and prose. They are all just words to me that come out in whatever form or order they do and that is why on my Amazon author’s spotlight I say that my poetry is really a collection of angry words.

To me, poetry is the shortened form, a precis or lyrical form of the long winded. Perhaps my opinion of poetry and the poetic is best summed up in a poem wot I wrote : ‘Poetry is Cool’

There are many overt political references in your writing, are some of these the views of the character espousing them and not your own? Do you catch a lot of flak from people misunderstanding the idea of fiction in poetry?

Every character, play or short short story I write is me.

They are my political views. I don’t think I would be able to write them otherwise. The plays are agit-propaganda and ‘In Yer Face’. Not much room for subtlety in my work. I have never thought of the idea of fiction in poetry myself.

Most of my work, be it plays or poetry, is autobiographical in some way so not fiction at all. It has affected my world view and therefore I am sure it would offend some people if I was to say it to them. I leave it out in the digital realm for them should they wish to read it. In real life, I am not so much ‘in yer face’ as I appear on the page.  If I get flak, it is for my glibness and facetiousness - a trait honed to deal with authority and institutions.

Genius Loci - Poems about People and Places
Do you think writing in a bilingual setting has affected your themes and approach (as opposed to the simply being able to use two languages)? I am thinking of your use of other dialects, such as the Afro-Caribbean-South-London language of Brickstown

Great question, and I think it must have done subconsciously.

I have an affinity with the oppressed and being a part of a linguistic minority, in a country that lends its name to one of the languages, gives you an empathy or understanding with others’ struggles - therefore, the gentrification of Brixton in Brickstown and the Mental Health conflict of the character in Freedom Come Freedom Go!

It was also in South East London that I was an English and Drama Teacher and some of the patois and speak I must have picked up, but I am told by a former colleague that the Jamaican dialect does need correcting.

What is your connection with Red Button Theatre and what is the company’s connection with community health? 

I set up Red Button Theatre at the University in 1994 as a vehicle for my own writing. I have wanted to work with it in a community health setting but have lacked the oomph to do this! We are there or rather I am there if people would like to work with us. My main interest is in Mental Health because after ruminating on the fact that I might not be ‘right in the head’, I was diagnosed with the writers and artists’ disease ‘Bipolar Disorder’ in 2005. This could be another reason why I have not extended the hand of friendship further out to the community.

Do you think a writer has a social duty? 

I think it is compulsory for why else are you writing?

My succinct and ‘in yer face answer’ might offend a few because some might be doing it for elusive fame and fortune. 

101 Poems by David Williams
When did you realise you were a writer?

When I couldn’t stop writing. when I couldn’t stop filling up notebooks. When I wrote my final play for the Theatre and Drama degree at the University of Glamorgan as a mature student at the age of 28.  I had always had pretensions as a younger person but really after my first degree and then after the MA in Playwriting at the University of Salford completed in 2014 I thought ‘yup this is me, a penniless writer’

Tell us a little bit about your approach to writing – do you have a ritual or regimen? What are the similarities / differences between writing prose, plays and poetry?

The three are the same to me and there is a crossover. I write as I think, a stream of consciousness and if those words and thoughts fit neatly into one of the above definitions, then great, if not, even greater. As a human of this race I have been pushed into boxes that don’t fit me and don’t suit me and likewise my precious babies, my words, I don’t want them boxed into a definition.

I don’t have a ritual or regimen. I am one of those rare/common creatures who waits for the muse to strike. To quote the old cliché, you are never ‘not writing’ at least in your head anyway and fortunately when an idea or concept hits home I get it down. I should have a routine but I don’t and I think that is the difference between a successful and unsuccessful writer. The discipline. I am in the latter category.

 What is the view like from your usual writing place?

“I see the church, I see the people, Your folks and mine happy and smiling, And I can hear sweet voices singing, Ave Maria.” Oops! Those are the lyrics to the Wedding by Julie Rogers. My glibness has surfaced again. Apologies Remy! When in Caerdydd, the view is of  Anti -Social Housing out the back and when on sojourn in West Wales, the view is of a stunning beech tree.

What is your beverage of choice when writing? 

I gave up the absinthe and balkan sobranie years ago, so now I will have a coffee when the muse strikes and follow it with copious amounts of Yorkshire Tea (Product Placement) throughout the day. 

Who have been your favourite writers and what have you learned from them? 

Charles Bukowski and John Tripp as the Poets. I have learnt to ‘say it as it is’ from them. I am very partial to the ‘In Yer Face’ playwrights of the 1990s and am hoping that this form of anarchic theatre will make a comeback.

Thank you very much! 

Diolch i chi!

David Williams was talking with Remy Dean

David Williams in Limbo Land

buy David Williams books via his amazon author page

...and check-out The Red Button Theatre website here

Saturday, 22 April 2017

Hear What You See Here - an interview with Sonja Benskin Mesher

Sonja Benskin Mesher is a prolific artists whose work is often exhibited locally in North Wales, and further afield... Sonja uses memory and thoughts as the raw material for her art, whether visual or textual, and is a notable proponent of TextArt, giving meaning to pictures with a phrase and enlightening the words with visuals... Here she e-talks to Remy Dean for IAWN.

Sonja Benskin Mesher
I expect most people know you through your work – such as your prints, paintings and small installations with bell-jars – and probably think of you as ‘an artist’. You are an artist that uses words a lot, though often in conjunction with imagery. How is your approach to writing and visual art similar, or different? 

it is all connected, no one thing is separate from the other.  it is an organic thing, reflects one’s approach to *life i expect.

*(notes. and the universe.)

folk often ask me if i am still painting, rather than explain the processes, i answer yes.
i, painting with words, objects and other sundries.

(#artist. #iwishtherewasanotherword)

What can you see from your usual writing space / studio?

i see the falling days, the passage of time. i hear the birds, lorries passing, planes fly over.

the radio plays

i see the trees growing, rain falling, i see the whether.

i see the mountain.

Can you name or describe three things, objects, items, that you keep close for their inspiring or nostalgic properties?

there are the old dresses, hung on the doors. wooden hangers, quilted hangers, hotel hangers.

scissors, many scissors. some in every room.

general haberdashery especially pins.

New book from Sonja Benskin Mesher
available from 20/20 Vision Publishing

Do you have a preferred writing ritual or regimen?

yes. early morning, back in bed with tea. mid-afternoon another prompt arrives, or when words come into mind, a hint from a memory, a note in the air.

What is your beverage of choice, when creating?

depends on the time of day… early grey, coffee or elderflower fizzy water.

Can you remember the first time a book (or in your case a piece of visual art) really drew you in and carried you off to someplace else?

yes. in russell cotes museum, the edwin long gallery, epic tales from the bible as huge paintings.

i also remember other ordinary things that held the stories within. i remember people’s conversation heard and overheard.

What is the last book you read and thoroughly enjoyed?

The Expedition: Solving the Mystery of a Polar Tragedy, a book by Bea Uusma.

notes.  often wonder why the  love and interest about expeditions and polar adventure.  recently I find I have a name connection amongst the inuits

i love the obsessive nature of this book, the layout and unusual format.


i read it christmas day in the afternoon.

Recently, you have been involved with collaborative writing, either producing visuals to prompt other writers or responding to visual cues? Can you tell us a bit about that process and where we can find the results?

collaboration works
for me.
it stretches and finds a place to fit with other minds. nothing becomes what was expected; with time
acceptance is learned.

the internet plays a huge part, we collaborate worldwide.

“we are artists without borders, we give and share,
not expecting anything.

in return we are part of it all, and pleasantly
accepted without judgement.

the journey is endless to join as desired.”


Reuben Woolley – Spain  

Johann Botha – South Africa 

Michael Powell – Wales  

Adrian Frost –USA  

Richard Bartrum – London 

Paul Brookes – England 


Thank you Sonja Benskin Mesher!
 ...and thank you for being an early supporter of IAWN
For more info and to see her on-going creative projects, 
check out these official Sonja Benskin Mesher websites and feeds:

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Draft Designs for IAWN Member Web Pages

Just got these visuals through, using my own details for the dummy page.
(OK, do the 'dummy' joke, I can take it!)

IAWN Members Database Profile  

This will be the format that Member Profile Pages will probably take:

A Profile Picture of the author's choice (square, top left) with a 'notable quote' summing up the author's approach below it, and then a column for brief biography and 'bragging'.

There will be a click-through footer at the bottom of the Author Biography Column with links to Author Website, any contact details and booking information that you wish to share, and a PDF of your writing/creative Curriculum Vitae.

There will then be three columns to feature your latest three publications, or any three of your publications you wish to feature prominently. Cover Image at top of each column with your 'blurb' below each. (Cover images could click-through to your on-line shop or sales platforms.)

Details will be gathered on joining and would be up-dated with each annual subscription renewal (obviously any minor amendments can be made at any time).

Do have a look at the IAWN KickStarter campaign... and please support.

Friday, 17 March 2017

Legendary Lit Comp

Announcing the IAWN Inaugural Writing Competition

Call for Entries

Authors are invited to submit a short work of fiction (between 1,000 and 2,500 words) responding to the word and concept, ‘Chwedl’ / ‘Legend’.

There will be at least a dozen winners!

The intended outcome? A slim volume of 12 works inspired and united by the theme ‘A Year of Legends’ – one story for each month of the year! One story will appear on the IAWN weblog (that is what you are reading here and now) for each corresponding month throughout 2018. The book will be launched as a kindle e-book and (funds permitting) a limited-edition tree-book (paperback) during 2018. If there are enough stories of sufficient merit, then two volumes, one in English and one yn Cymraeg may be published!


Entrants must be based mainly in Wales or have strong cultural connections with Wales.

All stories must have a date as the title because one story will be selected to represent each month of the year. The date in your title must mention an appropriate month of your choice, but may be any day and date in the past, present or future. So, have a think about that – there will be more competition for inclusion in the anthology for whichever the most popular months are…

Entries may be submitted in the language of your choice (Welsh or English) and the competition is open only to IAWN Members, Associate Members and Friends via the IAWN Kickstarter campaign.

The post-mark deadline is 31 October 2017.
Winners will be announced during December 2017.

Entries must be presented in typescript, double-line spaced on numbered A4 pages. The name and contact details, including address and e-mail, of entrant should only appear on a separate cover page along with word-count. All pages should be stapled top left. At present, we are only able to invite entries on paper via post to: Legendary Lit Comp, IAWN, P O Box 1, Blaenau Ffestiniog, Gwynedd, LL41 3ZB.

Thinking caps on, pen caps off!

IAWN is now open for Membership - click here to join and support

Sunday, 11 December 2016

Join the IAWN March!

IAWN is now open for Membership - click here to join and support

Support IAWN by joining as a Member, Associate or Friend.
In return, IAWN will support you!

On March 17th, 2017, we will launch IAWN via Kickstarter. 

For now, you can preview the IAWN proposal to find out more, and there is an opportunity to leave your feedback:

preview the IAWN Project Pages here

Independent Authors of Wales Network  


(Ysgrifenwyr Annibynnol Rhwydwaith Cymru? IAWN Y ARC!)
A database of independent creative writers and storytellers in Wales.  
Today, much emphasis is placed upon promotion. It is now much easier to get published, but much harder to get noticed.   
IAWN will raise the profile of indie authors and story-tellers, promote their published work, inform them of professional writerly opportunities and provide a community hub for interaction. We will also strive to make mutually beneficial links with the wider expressive arts.  
The core of IAWN will be the Database, a list of writers that companies, educational establishments, clubs, societies and events organisers can search to find someone to suit the requirements of their organisation. 

IAWN will: 

  • help raise the profile of authors and their works 
  • provide a dedicated web-page for each member to post a profile, writer CV, list of works and links to their own websites, amazon pages, social media, etc. 
  • provide a point of contact for potential clients that will help to diversify the outlets for the writerly skills and talents of members 
  • publish reviews, interviews and offer opportunities to contribute articles on the associated weblog 
  • organise a members’ review scheme, where members can exchange books and review them on the blog – providing reviews that can then be used in promotions and quoted on book jackets. (Opting in to the reviews scheme would mean that for each book you submit for review, you would be expected to write a review of another member’s book. Books submitted for review will be circulated randomly among IAWN members in the scheme. There will be other terms and conditions involved.) 
  • send e-mail bulletins with relevant news, such as alerts to competitions and publishing opportunities 
  • organise an annual IAWN festival (the form and magnitude of this event will depend on the number of members) 
  • provide representation at other festivals and conventions 
  • provide on-going social media support though twitter, helping to publicise your works, appearances, book launches, etc. and doing plenty of RTs for members 
  • provide a portfolio of on-line resources for writers 
  • hold an annual members’ conference (probably coinciding with a festival) 
  • build a community hub for interaction and sharing 
  • send members a lovely enamel badge!
That is a lot for the comparatively modest subscription rates.
Iawn Diolch! (that's Welsh for 'Thanks very much!')