I first met my friend and RoomtoWrite collaborator, novelist Avril Joy, in prison. We were both, in our own way, ‘serving time’. Avril was three quarters of a the way through a twenty-five year teaching commitment. I was beginning what was to be a four year association with this women’s prison as a Writer in Residence. It was then that she started out on her writing career and it was then that I had the life-changing experience of helping a whole range of women from all walks of life to find their (often silenced) voice in writing.
One of several great outcomes of this experience for me, my novel Paulie’s Web, was a long time coming. It took me ten years to digest these powerful impressions sufficiently to write this novel as true fiction - in a way that still paid tribute to the many women I met while working there; I thought that if it went some way to cracking the absurd stereotypes of 'women in prison' that would be an extra delight. It is true that there are some dark passages here in the novel but the ultimately optimistic tone of this story is a true reflection of the mutual support, humour, stoicism and kindness that I was witness to in my prison experience.
So, what is it about?
‘on the out’, she reflects on her life in prison. She focuses particularly on her first few weeks inside, alongside the four very different women whom she first met in the white van on their way to their first remand prison.
Most importantly: The Readers