Saturday 3 December 2011

To ‘E’ or not to ‘E’ : Christmas Books & Kindle


Writing Game Broadcast on Bishop FM 105.9

Sunday December 4th at Noon

After that you can listen to iTunes *download or Bishop FM Podcast .

I to hope you get to listen...

On this programme Avril, Gillian and I discuss the importance of books at Christmas and our secret bookish desires. We also consider the pros and cons of eBooks, writers publishing on Kindle and the desirability of a Kindle reader in your Christmas stocking. We also broadcast extracts of books by Avril and myself – The Orchid House (Avril’s novel set in a Cornish Garden and A Woman Scorned (my novel about the legendary Mary Ann Cotton).

Our choices really ranged widely (see below…) Interestingly all except one are  available on Kindle,  so whichever medium you choose we hope you enjoy your Christmas reads.  You might even find a Kindle reader in your stocking!

Happy Christmas, happy reading, happy writing. .. wxx

* For iTunes go to iTunes store, click on podcast then enter Writing Game and Wendy Robertson under Title and  Artist  to download.


Now, our Christmas recommendations:

Product Details


Sarah Raven's Wild Flowers 

by Sarah Raven and Jonathan Buckley   




Product Details

The True Tale of the Monster Billy Dean

by David Almond 

(Also on Kindle)




jacket image for India in Slow Motion by Mark Tully


India in Slow Motion

» Mark Tully

(Also on Kindle)

Product Details

The Troubled Man

Henning Mankell

(Also on Kindle)


Product Details

Death Comes to Pemberley   

P. D. James

(Also on Kindle and audio download)


The Orchid House

The Orchid House

Avril Joy

(Also on Kindle)

A Woman Scorned - Serial Killer of Scandal Victim?



A Woman Scorned - Serial Killer of Scandal Victim?

[Kindle Edition]

Wendy Robertson




Product Details

A Woman Scorned

Paperback Edition (Headline)

Wendy Robertson  

Tuesday 29 November 2011

Home Birth

Lunch with my oldest friend Pat. We meet every month or so at an hotel half way between our homes and continue the lifetime conversation, I took her copy of the paperback of An Englishwoman in France, She has copies of all my books and is a treasured reader.

She goes up to the bar to order our coffee and sandwiches, I flick open the pages and the novel falls open at the point where the central character Estella recalls the birth of her daughter Siri. Reading the paragraphs gives me a jolt, I reflect yet again how one’s own deepest experiences insinuate themselves unwilled into one’s own fiction ...

" ... When I get back to the house, it’s empty. After the heat of the early afternoon outside the shadowy courtyard is cool. I pour myself some lemonade and – suddenly hungry – I butter a hard chunk of bread left over from breakfast and sit outside eating it at the wooden table.
And now Siri sweeps back into my mind like a warm breeze off the river. Siri. I reflect on how long it took her to be born and how kind the midwife was, how patient; how I apologized for not being good at this thing that some women do so easily.

I remember listening to my mother pottering round my tiny flat, keeping out of the way, just as I’d asked her to. I remember the midwife sitting with me into the early morning hours knitting a jumper for her son, waiting for that fulcrum point where Siri really wanted to come and my body felt a proper willingness to squeeze her out. I remember thanking God that my colleague at the magazine had managed to fix me up with a home birth. By now, I thought, in hospital they’d have been doing all kinds of things to haul Siri out. They’d have had instruments out, for sure. But that night my midwife told me that all it took was patience.

Then at last Siri joined me in the world. The fact that my mother was in the next room made me swallow the grunts and roars as, with a final heave, Siri came! She was here, with me in the world, outside my body. She let out this very polite, yelling cry of surprise and the midwife washed her face and wrapped her in a linen cloth. Then she laid my baby on my breast with her face close to mine, squeaking and muttering like a kitten. ‘Not hungry yet,’ she said. ‘Tired herself out getting out of there, poor pet.’

I stared down at Siri’s round, pink face and the rim of hair standing up from her head like a black crown. The midwife, busying herself at the other end of my body dealing with the afterbirth, looked across just as my baby opened her big black eyes and looked straight, straight into mine. My body was engulfed by what felt like waves like electricity as we recognized each other.

‘Ha!’ said the midwife. ‘Been here before, has that one!’

That was when my mother pushed her head round the door. ‘That’s it, then? Did I hear someone cry?’ She came in with a big mug of tea. ‘Aren’t you a clever girl?’ She kissed my sweating brow. Then pulled back the linen cloth. ‘And isn’t this a very pretty . . .’

‘. . . girl!’ I said.

‘I thought so,’ she said.

Then the midwife - suddenly looking very tired herself - started to pack her bags and baggages. ‘Kip for me,’ she said, smiling down at me. ‘We did well there, kid.’

‘What’s your name, Miss Clark?’ I said. ‘What is your name?’

‘Siri,’ she said. ‘I know, I know! But my Mum’s Swedish pen-friend was called that. You know what mothers are.’

‘I do now!’ I said, rubbing my sweating cheek against that of my new daughter. ‘I do now.’ ..."

Siri’s savage murder at the age of thirteen is central to the narrative of An Englishwoman in France. My friend Pat tells me she is really enjoying it. Wx

Friday 25 November 2011

“Not Saying Goodbye at Gate 21”

Posted on November 25, 2011 by Wendy

Being a novelist, I am always looking for narrative even in the finest poetry. I am rarely let down:

What can ail thee knight at arms/alone and palely loitering? Now there’s a story…

… he took me out on a sled,/And I was frightened. He said, Marie,/Marie, hold on tight. And down we went./ In the mountains Oh boy, what a story is there!

My novelist’s instincts have been riding high in reading Kathleen Jones’ poetry collection “Not Saying Goodbye at Gate 21’

Not Saying Goodbye at Gate 21 by Kathleen Jones

Kathleen is wonderful at showing the hard surface of things and illuminating the drama and depth of things beneath. The poems linger with you in the cafe, or in the bar on the marketplace; they make you think of your own life with its passions, its tragedies.

It is impossible to summarise the themes and the implicit powerful narrative in this collection of fifty four poems. Literary inspiration is there with the empathetic poem dedicated to Christina Rossetti; metaphors for sensual, sexual passion both disguise and illuminate depth of feeling.The most powerful stories here are those in a Cumbrian setting with their tacit signals of power and duty: The Fell Gate which delicately alludes to a life story with dark undertones; the very ambiguous War Hero and the troubling Uncle John, …who was the family conscience. And we have to deal with the dark conclusion to The Soul Catcher: …I have souls to sell you/ for the usual fee – / should you lose yours.

The most powerful writing here for me – the keenest voice – is where the writer illuminates the peculiarly tacit nature of intimate relationships in working class households – as in the poem Ginny. … Ginny carves the bread against her breast/ dealing slices to her brothers/ seeing her father’s shadow at their backs/ putting her school prize on the fire….

And most potent for me - The Laying Out Of the Dead - would be spoiled by mere quotation here and must be read in full in a quiet place.

‘Not Saying Goodbye at Gate 21’ is a book of fine poems and also – for this novelist – a buried treasure house of narrative.

Endnote: The book – published by Templar Poetry is beautiful in itself – lovely to see, handle and read.

Wednesday 23 November 2011

Writing is the Sound of the Soul Breathing

Writing  is measured, shapely, intended
Every breath out predicates every breath in
Each sentence brings forward another one
Every word is a platform for the next jump
In meaning
We breathe in lines, in paragraphs,
In pages,  in chapters, in volumes -
Our life laid there in a trillion words
A million separated, well formed
Writing is the notation of the quiet soul-
Not blasted out by trumpets and clarinets -
Dark smoke in the air, rising -
But the  words lie there, just
Waiting for your arm writing
They lie there in ranks and lines
Waiting for you to add your world
To my notation on the   page
Creating a different world
New to your soul and mine

Writing is the sound of the soul breathing

Tuesday 22 November 2011

Writing is the Sound of the Soul Breathing


Writing  is measured, shapely, intended

Every breath out predicates every breath in

Each sentence brings forward another one

Every word is a platform for the next jump

In meaning


We breathe in lines, in paragraphs,

In pages,  in chapters, in volumes -

Our life laid there in a trillion words

A million separated, well formed



Writing is the notation of the quiet soul-

Not blasted out by trumpets and clarinets -

Dark smoke in the air, rising -

But the  words lie there, just

Waiting for your arm writing


They lie there in ranks and lines

Waiting for you to add your world

To my notation on the   page

Creating a different world

New to your soul and mine


Writing is the sound of the soul breathing

Thursday 3 November 2011

The Case for Mary Ann…

A WOMAN SCORNED First Cover MAC JPeg - Serial Murderer or Scandal Victim?

If you would like to read a novel based on the historical case of an alleged serial murderer who was hanged in the mid 1800s  my novel about Mary Ann Cotton is now live on Kindle.

This novel – based on the historical evidence – shows the prosecution to be faulty, based on flawed evidence  suffused with doubt .

The case for Mary Ann is made here by young protofeminist Victoria, who brings a fresh eye to the proceedings in this novel which has curiously modern overtones.

If you haven’t yet acquired a  Kindle you can download the novel to your PC, following instructions on the Amazon Connection.

Readers so far have called it life-enhancing rather than depressing…


Thursday 13 October 2011

Talking to Adele Parks

Great evening for the Durham Book Festival last night in the exquisite  Jubilee Room at Bowes museum. I was chairing the event for Claire Malcolm director of the festival.

Adele Parks – writer of bestselling novels reflecting the lives of women today was

interesting, funny and shared many insights into the disciplines of writing a novel each year that will sell massively at home and abroad. She read from her new novel About Last Night – about the friendship between two women and the lengths they will go to to support each other through thirty years. 

We talked a bit about the reductive nature of genre labelling such as chick-lit. As Adele said, at thirty five years old, her characters  so were hardly chicks .   But as she also said if such labelling made her novels seem accessible to people who might not have picked up what is a very well written novel, she is happy. Her sensitivity to this is informed by the fact that she works with charities concerned with enhancing basic literacy across the nation.

She also had some good points to make about how women writers were more swiftly pigeonholed than male writers who also write about domestic dilemmas and issues of relationships.

It is always a sign of  a good event when the audience finds it hard to leave and this was the case last night.

Thank you Adele for a great evening.

I would recommend  About Last Night as a good read. I particularly liked the character called Pip and original, quite flawed character who is so very engaging.


Looking forward now to other Durham Book Festival

Sunday 9 October 2011

New Cover for Mary Ann Cotton

First Cover MAC JPeg


Inspired by Al from Australia who reads this page  I went back to the drawing board to redesign the cover of A Woman Scorned  the novel I am now revising to be published on Kindle.

Al thought the image too stark and severe and I now agree with him. The whole point of the novel is that Mary Ann was not the monster that legend presents to us. The evidence says otherwise. So I got out my camera and focused on her amazing, sad bewildered eyes and her sensual mouth and her perfect bone structure.

So here  is an image of Mary Ann Cotton – and the book – that is  much truer to the character in my novel and closer to the historic truth.

Green Cover MAC Improved

What do you think? 

Thank you Al…


Extract from the chapter

‘2 Fruitcake and Almonds’

(Victoria, visiting from London, is narrating…)

… The porter had taken my hand luggage and settled me in the solitary First Class carriage. I was sitting there in secluded splendour when the door was wrenched open and a pale-faced woman peered in. She pushed a heavy bag and a basket onto the floor of the compartment and lifted a fragile boy of eight or so into the carriage. Then she leapt lightly up the steps herself and settled into the corner opposite to me. I choked for a second on the scent of fruitcake and almonds, with some kind of back-smoke of lavender and honeysuckle. She filled the whole carriage with her perfume and earthy warmth.

I turned to stare out of the window, but not before I’d taken in the image of a woman of thirty or so, of taller than average height with thick glossy black hair under a rather becoming bonnet. She wore a surprisingly fine paisley shawl and - finely polished although stitched and mended – small button boots. Instinctively I pulled my own boot, with its built- up instep, further under the hem of my skirt.

Staring at the puffs of steam dissolving into trails of vapour that streamed past the window I wonder at the audacity of this unlikely woman in entering a first class carriage. Then her voice, low and surprisingly well modulated, cuts through the air between us. ‘And how have you been these past days, honey?’

In the silence that follows I realise that the woman is talking to me. I turn my gaze to meet the darkest blue eyes, large and shining in a perfect oval of a face. Now I see that she is actually quite beautiful, despite the workaday clothes. I want to smile and my cheeks feel hot.

‘Well, honey?’ she says….

Thursday 6 October 2011

Revising the Mary Ann Cotton Novel

Revising this novel (A Woman Scorned) –first published in 2004 - has been fun!

I had forgotten how  significant this novel was and how much my outraged sense of justice is at its core. .  Interestingly in my new contemporary novel, Paulie’s Web also looks at justice and injustice in ordinary people’s lives. I had not made that connection until I started on the revision of this 2004 novel.

In my novel, I put the case for the defence of Mary Ann Cotton, who was alleged to have killed at least three and at most  eighteen people in the mid nineteenth century. Hanged for her ‘crime’ in Durham Goal, she has become a  dark legend in the north as their own female serial killer. Green Cover MAC Improved

I kind of went along with this idea  but once – encouraged by my friend Gillian Wales - I had read all the sources I felt that  Mary Ann had been done a great injustice.   The novel – based strongly on the original  sources – came out in 2004 and I am now preparing a revised edition for the  Kindle publication.

To make my point on this revision I have given it a new subheading: A Woman Scorned: Serial Killer or Scandal Victim?

And I have eve designed a new cover to make my point more clear!

What do you think?


A little extract: (These extracts will follow the novel)

The story is told through the eyes of Victoria Kilburn, niece of Doctor Kilburn the doctor central to the story. She is visiting her uncle from London and is delighted and eventually horrified at what she witnesses in this small Durham village. Like Mary Ann (called Marian in my novel) she is an outsider and it is she who witnesses the runaway injustice visited on this unusal and charismatic woman.


Here she is having tea with a new acquaintance Kit Dawson:

… After the usual pleasantries about the weather (gloomy) and our own health (blooming), Kit Dawson tells me a tale about his day sitting at Mr Chapman’s elbow in the local magistrate’s court, making notes regarding a case about two women in West Auckland who came to blows over the abuse of a washing line, and renewed the battle again in court only to be fined five shillings each and bound over to keep the peace.

He thinks this is very funny, but I am concerned at the fine. ‘That would mean such a lot of money to these women. Two week’s wages for Lizzie, my aunt’s maid.’

Kit Dawson is entirely indifferent about this. ‘If they care about that, they shouldn’t start bashing each other. They’re barbarians, every last one of them.’

I shake my head. ‘Mr Dawson. To be poor is a misfortune, not a sign of barbarism.’ I regret the primness of my tone but mean what I say.

To my surprise he laughs. ‘Ah, you live a protected life, Miss Victoria. You should see what I see in court! Drunken miners, low women, thieves and vagabonds, wife-beating husbands, husband-beating wives. For me it’s like that first, most absurd circle of Hell in that courtroom...’

This is the world in which Victoria makes friends with Marian who ends up on the gallows, and shows us the injustice as it happens t0 her new friend.

Tuesday 4 October 2011

Guest Writer Terry Ferdinand in France

Note from Wendy: Knowing I like all things French and am interested in his renovation of his French house Terry (my friend who also broadcasts on Bishop FM) sent me this lovely account of a day out in France. So I decided to make him my first guest writer. Whenever I talk to him I think of the Maison d’Estella  although I do not own it -  Thank you Terry

A Day Out

It was a Thursday and we had worked on and off for a fair amount of the week achieving a lot of home improvements in our French house and actually taught ourselves new French pointing skills. So and as the day was sunny, bright and cool, we decided we were in need of a break and a little bit of fun and some sightseeing.

To the east of us lies Aubusson, a beautiful medieval town steeped in antiquity, with narrow streets, ancient buildings, coffee shops, lots of round towers, the river Creuse and a huge cathedral which stands high above the town and has been designated a world heritage site because of its 600 year old unbroken tradition of tapestry weaving.

Into the car we clambered and headed off to Bourganeuf to fill up with petrol - a necessary evil if you want to get anywhere - and then we embarked upon the forty or so minute drive into the history of France.

clip_image002From Bourganeuf we took the main road to Gueret and drove until we reached the lovely town of Pontarion. The drive into Pontarion town centre is a long downward gentle incline cluttered on either side by a mixture of old, ancient and occasional modern buildings. At the bottom you cross over the river Thauron via an old bridge and as we glance over the parapet to watch the water lazily bubble its way onward, we see the remains of the ford and in the calm still water we see the 16th century fortress Galliard reflected back at us.

Leaving Pontarion by the right fork in the road sign posted to Aubusson, we meander down through the forest road twisting and turning and passing through St, Hilaire le Chateau - another small village which holds good memories for us. On the right we passed the Auberge where we spent our very fist “house hunting” night in the Creuse. I remember the quaint cosy room, the way they had blended very modern glass architecture with the 16th century granite building, and served a sumptuous meal at a reasonable price.

The forty minutes drive passed quickly and very enjoyably, passing through many old hamlets and by verdant fields full of healthy Limousin beef cattle with their distinctive colouring. As we rounded a bend in the forest, there spread before us was the town of Aubusson. Parking was easy, as it is in all of the France that we have explored. You are encouraged to visit and spend money in the towns, and to help you do that, the town councils provides plenty of FREE and well maintained parking places.

Aubusson nestles at the bottom of a valley and straddles the majestic river Creuse. This town has been famous since the 16th century for weaving tapestries and carpets, throughout the centuries. Tapestries have adorned many of the rich and famous chateaus of nobility and - of course - the palaces of the French kings. The town is clearlymedieval in construction, with very narrow streets and tall buildings towering over the passers-by. There are the traditional round towers to be seen everywhere, with roofs of amazing steep pitch covered with tiny tiles and proudly boasting the very French style dormer windows.

Shops and houses are built of granite and many of them are adorned with wonderfully carved lintels and intricate iron balconies over carved doors. The traffic system is one way and works very well with the 20th century cars driving down the medieval narrow streets that have been recently cobbled to give the ancient feel to this modern town.

Aubusson is busy. The streets are hung about with multi coloured pennants and people throng through the narrow pathways and crowd the pavement cafes. There is a feeling of prosperity in the air, and everywhere there are signs of tapestry and antiques shops.

What dominates most is the 12th century Cathedral. Signs tell you there are 50 parking spaces available at the cathedral, so we weaved and threaded our way by car, through really narrow streets, and climbed forever upwards, eventually ending up in the free car park. The views were magnificent, giving us an almost 360 degree panorama of the city spread out far below us. We could see the River Creuse meandering between the buildings below and the narrow streets swarming with tiny people.The new tapestry museum shone like a beacon to our left inviting us to visit and the cathedral, in its entire magnificence, rose up behind us.


We left the blazing sunlight behind us as we entered through a huge oak studded door into the cathedral. At first it appeared to be black and shadowy, but as our eyes became accustomed to the light, we were astounded by the size of the inner space. The roof curved and towered above us and still bore the signs of the medieval artisan paintings of intricate design, although faded and damaged by the centuries of wear and tear. You could still see and imagine very clearly that the entire ceiling, columns and arches were at one time covered with dazzling colour in a huge celebration of the religious beliefs of the people.

The light shone into the huge space in vibrant shafts of colour through beautiful hand crafted stained glass windows, casting a sparkling array of blues, greens, reds, golds, depicting scenes from the bible with an exquisite detail unequalled in today’s craftsmanship[. The space was vast and looked empty, but as our eyes were now accustomed to the inner half-light, we could observed that opon tha walls in this open and unguarded space there hung paintings of great size and antiquity and original tapestries more than three hundred years old.

We looked and marvelled at the lectern which was an oak carving of a griffon from solid oak which held a huge bible. We admired the simplicity of the main altar, the complexity and colourful private chapels, and the sea of chairs arranged in perfect rows telling us that this cathedral was still in use and indeed very well attended.

Inspired by the wall hanging inside the awesome place of worship, we walked out into a wall of heat and sunshine, drove back down through the winding narrow busy streets of Aubusson, and headed directly for the Tapestry Museum/


A little bit of the history.

Tapestry or weavings as they were once called, were used to warm the bare stone walls of the palaces and castles, and were first mentioned in 1601 when King Henry IV banned the importation of all foreign tapestries, especially those from England. Royal manufacturing patents were issued for Aubusson in 1665. Its twin manufacturing city of Felletin received the same patents in 1689.

clip_image008Even at the beginning of the 20th century some 2000 people were employed in the industry but since then the jobs have seriously dwindled to about 50 actual weavers. Shortly before the 2nd world war the French government realised the seriousness of the problem and issued new commissions to leading artists of the day, one of them being the famous Spanish artist, Picasso.

Once inside the modern air conditioned building and having paid the 4 euros entry fee, I was surprised to read the sign allowing photography, but without the aid of flash, no doubt to preserve the integrity of the many original hangings. The rooms were large and dimly lit, creating the atmosphere and an image in our minds of a modern day cathedral; the walls were as expected, spacious and hung with weavings dating back to the 1600’s. It also included some modern the day weavings. Artefacts both ancient modern were dotted about on tables throughout the rooms. In one corner glowing in the dimness were two very colourful shelving units housing a myriad of colourful wools.

What did draw the eye and immediately grab your attention was the oasis of bright light in the centre of the room. This it was a modern weaving loom and operating it was an artisan working on a small tapestry. For a fascinating and informative 15 minutes we watched and understood the intricacies of the weaving with a loom, we saw the need for patience, and we learned an appreciation of the skills of hand, foot, and eye co-ordination needed by the operator.

An hour passed as we wandered around mesmerised looking at original antique tapestries from the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries. We stared with astonishment at the details and shading created by genuine craftsmen with nothing more than a few coloured wools. Modern hangings were also displayed, and they ranged from traditional weaving, to paintings and stained glass. The trade had modernised and diversified and I suppose it had to stay alive, and grow.

The day at Aubusson was so interesting and informative. What was nice about it was the way it was easily available, almost hands-on. It was a welcomed relief from my own painting and decorating in my French House and well worth the visit.

On our way home we came across another hidden gem in the tiny but very pretty village of Moutier - d’Ahun and we were even more amazed at what we found there. But that’s another story.

Terry Ferdinand

October 1 2011

Saturday 1 October 2011

Spy Fiction at Sunday Noon 2nd October 2nd on Bishop FM

The Writing Game1st Sunday of the month, at 12pm

- Afterwards on Podcast -

Join me and Writing Game regular Glynn Wales as we talk  about Spy fiction and the way it links with 20th C History. John Buchan to John LeCarre, Ian Fleming to Grahame Greene,  from (recently retired MI5 boss) Stella Rimington to ... well Stella Rimington!

Glynn is on very good formW e get to questions like                                                 Does spy fiction reflect 20th Century History?              Do you have to have been a spy to write spy fiction?               &     Is spying and spy fiction a men's game.? (That's where Stella Romington comes in.)

Next Month we are visiting Escomb Saxon Church for Historical insight and writing inspiration. If you have written about Escomb get in touch and hear your writing on the programme. If you live far away check it out on the web, be inspired and send us your poem.

See/hear you soon!

Wendy x

Escomb i

A dip in the hill

on the way to the river

- water makes a round pool

now called holy

and built upon

by no ordered hand -

just strong men adding

stone on stone

stolen from the military

-their tool marks tell us --

poled on rafts upriver

to build a church.


Saturday 24 September 2011

This is Queenie…

From Paulie’s Web 

This is Queenie, whom Paulie  first meets in the white van on the way to prison

…That time Queenie was sectioned and in the hospital they gave her the pills that took away her visions of the giant trees and stars and the Water Man.   She was meek, very good, in the hospital.   She helped with the tea rounds, taught a young girl to read, and stayed tucked up in her bed all night.

When they had a case conference the professionals decided that Queenie Pickering was a prime candidate for Care in the Community, now not only fashionable but compulsory.   Her house with its cocktail cabinet was sold.  In a rare soft moment she had signed the lot over to Janine, her niece.   Janine had sold it and gone off to build a new life for herself and her boyfriend Roger, in the depths of Canada.

But there was sheltered housing with a very kind warden.  Queenie - for everyone called her Queenie now - Queenie could live there and the nurse could call every week to see that she was taking her medication.   Everything would be Hunky Dory.   Wasn’t that how Care In The Community worked?

After a week Queenie walked out of the sheltered house.    She put on her hat - not so smart now - put all her most precious things in three carrier bags, and caught the long distance bus to the town where they would not find her.   Best to lie low, she thought.  Best to lie low.  The gleaming Water Man would be there.  He was everywhere, so he would be in the city.  And the sky in that place would be studded with the pearly moon, the golden sun and the silver stars.  And there again the trees would stride the earth.Paulie JPeg

‘…when bats fly at noon

and owls take refuge in darkness

frightened of solitude

proud to be independent

with silver shields

to hide their isolation…’


Wednesday 21 September 2011

Picture this: Writing People

Picture this Our writer goes on Monday morning to spend time with writers in Cramlington. Early start to drive there. She found the place after a few false starts. They  passed the library and the Pheonix pub, where she has given talks in previous years,  This time it was a church hall which she  found after circling quite a number of roundabout. (One lady, when she arrived ,was sympathetic. Cramlington is roundabout city, she said.)  …

We arrived just in time and a crowded room with a large circle eager faces met me . I had a little flutter with bags and books before I launched into my take on a wroiter’s life.

It was interesting to note that half of the members of this group were men.  This is unusual as many groups entirely or almost entirely consist of women. There was definitely an energetic buzz  in this room.

I referred to my writer’s memoir the cover 2 The Romancer within the talk because this is my own  literary take on my writer’s life. I focused first on what I call ‘picture this’ – a piece of writing rendering in the third person.incidents which happened to me.

I read two extracts which begin…

Picture this. A little girl of three in a Fair Isle cardigan, playing outside a house in Lancaster. With her head of Shirley Temple curls she’s winsome, prettier than she’ll ever be in the many years to come. She’s chalking on the sill of the big bay window. She stands back. That looks right. Just like she has seen her mother do, when she writes her letters. But then the little girl frowns her characteristic…

and from much later in the book

Picture this: Our writer, now our young mother, is sitting with her back to the sea wall at Alnmouth on the Northumberland coast, surrounded by the detritus of a seaside picnic. The wind from the east is cutting and she wears two ponchos knitted for her in carpet wool - bought as a bargain - by her mother Barbara.   … Our girl has never liked the cold, suffering blue hands and feet as a child….

I read these extracts to show  that writing about your experience in the third person carries  a curious fictive liberation and allows you as the writer to get closer to the truth without the internal gag of reductive autobiography.

Then it was their turn. I challenged them to write their own ‘Picture this. Some people were unsure. One man said outright that he couldn’t or wouldn’t do it. But he was persuaded. In fact these writers  met the challenge wholeheartedly and the read-around revealed some genuine  talent and sensitivity among these writers.

The Picture This notion had sold itself and the writers showed both their talented response and their satisfaction in the process.

It was a very staisfying, busy and hectic morning and Avril and I found our way out of Cramlington more easily than we found out way in…

Footnote The discussion was very lively and interested and moved to the distraction of misleading covers and democratisation of publishing for writers through Kindle. More on both those subjects next time.

Take a look at my ebook Paulie’s Web ….

Friday 16 September 2011

Paulie on her way…

Paulie JPeg  I have been thinking, as you know,(see last post) about books on Kindle.  Having done all the work putting  Paulie’s Web onto Kindle myself  I feel I know the whole seventy thousand words by heart! And I’m learning lots of new things about the Kindle process. By the time I get through all my novels I’ll be quite an expert.

Already lots of people are downloading Paulie. She seems to appeal to many readers for different reasons. If you are interested in the experiences of people on the margins of our comfortable lives, you will like Paulie! She is great - clever, resourceful and capable of surviving the hardest challenges that life throws up at her.

In the story Paulie is at the centre of a web five very different women whom she encounters in prison. Their charm, their pain and their humour affect  Paulie’s  life and she touches theirs, as we see when they meet again years later.  Paulie  also has an impact on her psychiatrist who has to change some of his preconceptions when he meets her.

Prisons can be hard places for anyone associated with them. My own experience as writer in residence  - for a total of five years - was challenging and life-changing. Interestingly when I was first interviewed for this role I asked the Governor what would surprise me about this experience on the margins of the prison world. He told me  I would be surprised how much laughter there was inside.

His words proved to be true.  I hope Paulie’s Web – as well as telling the truth about the desperate lives some women are forced to lead – reflects the laughter and the comradeship in that prison – as far away from ‘Bad Girls’ and Mars is from Venus,

Interestingly enough  it was after this prison experience – ten years ago -  I felt able to reflect on and write about the lives of women in internment in World War Two Singapore, in my novel Long Journey Home (click) which is still around on Amazon and in libraries. That will be on Kindle too whan I get faster at this game.

If you fancy meeting Paulie, Click  Paulie’s Web here  to download your Kindle  edition for the price of a glass of wine, quite a nice aftershave or a bargain lipstick! £3.44

(Stop press - My great discovery today  is that if you don’t yet have a Kindle reader there a lots of FREE applications you can download to read Amazon books  on your computer – including Paulie’s Web, and my collaborator Avril Joy’s Orchid House . You can get them on your computer, your phone or other convenient screens)

They are easy to read! I had a go. Just click here on stories on your screen and follow the trail.


Monday 12 September 2011

Hooray! Paulie’s Web now on Kindle

With my friend and collaborator Avril Joy I have been experimenting with the process of publishing a novel on Amazon Kindle. Like many informed people I have moved from the notion that these E readers  might be a passing fancy towards  the new and important sense that novels in this new democratic form of publishing can give a public platform to many talented writers whose good novels  may never survive the thorny obstacle race that is present day market-driven publishing.

Avril and I are interested in this process for our own work, but also interested in making the process accessible  to new writers, particularly those who attend our Room To Write conferences – where many writers are working at publishable level.

So – what to put up on this new, magical system. My second short story collection? One of my early children’s novels? ‘The Romancer’, my memoir about writing?Paulie JPeg Cover

I plumped for Paulie’s Web  which sprang out of my life-changing experience as a writer in residence in a woman’s prison.

This novel has been a long time a-coming. It has taken me ten years to digest the extremities of my experience in prison and write my novel as true fiction in a way that pays tribute to the many  women I met while working there. If, by the by, it goes some way to cracking the absurd stereotypes of women in prison it will be an extra delight.  While there are dark passages here I make no apologies for the ultimately optimistic tone of this story which is a true reflection of the humour, stoicism and kindness that I was witness to in my prison experience.

So, what is it about?

Paulie Smith, rebel, ex-teacher and emerging writer comes out of prison after six years, her conviction overturned. As she moves around in the next few days, struggling to readjust to the scary realities of life ‘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.

Paulie’s thoughts move from Queenie, the old bag- lady who sees giants and angels, to Maritza who has disguised her pain with an ultra-conventional life, to Lilah, the spoiled apple of her mother’s eye,  to the tragedy of Christine - the one with the real scars.

And then there is Paulie herself, who ended up in prison through no fault of her own. Their unique stories, past and present, mingle as Paulie - free at last - goes looking for these unique women who have now been ‘on the out’ for some years and are, Paulie hopes,  remaking their lives.

Now  PAULIE’S WEB is on its way to being out there on Kindle! It is in the works. It should be up there tomorrow for readers to download. Fingers crossed.

 Avril’s clever, sensual novel THE ORCHID HOUSE is already out  there and she has posted some helpful tips on her blog for writers out there who want to have a go. Her book is downloadable, as she says, for the price of a decent cup of coffee. A new day dawns for all writers.

Thursday 8 September 2011

Pragmatic Angels

These days novels with overt or implicit supernatural themes are creating and increasingly popular field of fiction.  My own novel An Englishwoman in France WiF Coverhas at its centre a modern woman who sees the dead and can slip through time. It was fun to write as somewhere in my subconscious I feel I can do just this.

Last night I went to Thornaby Library to take part in the Read Regional Campaign with two other authors Beda Higgins and Carolyn Jess-Cook    

Carolyn talked about her novel The Guardian Angel’s Journal which is the story of Margo, who dies at forty two and returns to earth as Ruth to be her own Guardian Angel  and  encounters the possibility of making crucial changes change. 

Carolyn’s reflections on her approach to writing this novel were satisfyingly pragmatic, not in the least airy-fairy or quasi religious; her affection for her her characters - Margo and her angelic alter ego Ruth - shines out in her discourse. making the supernatural  propositions in the novel seem believable, even rational. No wonder this novel is being praised across continents, although perhaps the Americans’ promotion of it as a ‘Christian Novel’ is a bit reductive. A must to read, I think.

Beda Higgins  the prizewinning North Eats writer read from her new collection CChameleonhameleon. The short story she read to us  reflect her insight into  a child’s point of view where reality and fantasy dissolve into each other and everyday playground experiences of a vulnerable little girl are processed in a dark surreal fashion that end up in near tragedy and what seems like a supernatural transformation of the little girl herself. Another ‘must’ to read.

There was a buzz in the room, and some interesting conversations. The people  asked questions about our writing processes. I seems that we all work in different fashions but agreed that it was most important to write consistently – many days in sequence , to write opportunistically when the time to write emerges, and to have the story in your head even when you are not writing. I advocated separating the writing and the editing processes entirely. Carolyn Told a fascinating story of writing this novel at astonishing speed when an agent had seen the first fifty pages and liked it.

The writers in the room asked for our recommendations for inspiring books. These emerged:

Dorothea Brande:  On Becoming a Writer

Walter Mosely: So This Is The Year You Write Your Novel

Stephen King: On Writing

A very good evening…

Saturday 27 August 2011

Beginnings: A Found Poem



A poem found in the big sort out


To begin  a new thing

one has to bring about Beginnings

the end of earlier things -

Conception is the end

of one affair

and the beginning

of another

Birth is the end

of a secret inner affair

and the beginning

of love out in the open -

lasting a lifetime

And so on, back to Eve

though even she engendered

the demise of Adam’s spare rib



Thursday 25 August 2011

Stan Barstow, My Dad, and Gregory Pack

Stan Barstow G Peck and Dad

BR’s calls to France were mostly about the ordinary business of being apart but he did mention Stan Barstow’s obituary and I asked him to clip  it for me.

Been back a fortnight and have just come across the clipping. I was instantly making connections  First to the astonishing resemblance of Barstow to the glamorous Gregory Peck – who was all over the screens in the years when Barstow was writing his groundbreaking novel A Kind of Loving in the time he could spare from his job as a draughtsman.

The writer mentions Barstow’s role in the rise of the regional literary novel in the late fifties and early sixties. Possibly to the detriment of his national standing, Barstow stayed in the north, asserting later, ‘To hoe one’s own row diligently, thus seeking out the universals in the particular, brings more worthwhile satisfaction than the frantic pursuit of the largely phoney jet age internationalism…’

A largely fair obituary is marred by the inclusion of one critic’s  comment that ‘At least you  know where you are in the company of Mr Barstow’s sentimentalised Tykes … there’s usually Trooble at t’Mill, the privy sits proudly at the end of the garden, and lives revolve round the family.’ 

Yaargh! These mean,  mistaken and ill conceived  phrases manage to combine the regional. literary, linguistic and class snobbery that still has a stranglehold on the British literary world. As a writer of some ‘regional literary novels’ myself  I too have encountered this same frustrating prejudice . American literature celebrates fiction from its non-metropolitan regions and is much more deep, rich and  substantial for it.

Back to the clipping. The other absolutely astonishing resemblance in the picture is to my own Dad, who would have been Barstow’s contemporary. The same sharp strong features, the same film star moustache and thick dark Brylcreemed hair, the same fierce direct look, neat suit and tight tie.

The same working class élan…

 Footnote; My dad died when I was nine and my mother was thirty six. (See my memoir The Romancer on the sidebar). She adored Gregory Peck ( the George Cloony of that era)and in her long years alone went to see every film he made. She went to see Captain Horatio Hornblower six time. Now I do rate G Peck myself but this seemed excessive.

Or it did. until my revelation today.

Monday 22 August 2011

A Very Nice Review …

A very nice review – God bless America!

An Englishwoman in France.

Robertson, Wendy (author).

July 2011. 224p. Severn, hardcover, $28.95 (9780727880314).
REVIEW. First published July, 2011 (Booklist).

In this eerie, atmospheric paranormal novel, Robertson deftly intertwines two time periods, slowly absorbing one into the other through her remarkably likable protagonist. Although current-day syndicated British horoscope writer Stella sees dead people, she can’t see her young daughter, who was brutally murdered, and Stella desperately needs closure. In 301 CE, young Tib, a healer, and his Corinthian mentor, Modeste, spread their belief in the newly organizing Christian religion and become Roman targets in Gaul. When Stella’s long-suffering husband takes her to France and they rent what was Tib’s home, Stella sees the boy and Modeste around town. After Starr’s husband returns to Britain and his job, leaving Stella alone, she finds herself in Roman times, a companion to Tib and Modeste as they tangle with the emperor, his wife, and the old religion. Robertson’s meticulous details about the Roman era and early Christians come to life in this tale exploring time, souls, and love.

— Pat Henshaw

Restoring the little Writing Room

 Computer and Desk 2

I came back after three weeks in France to find that GR had stripped my little writing room of the messy palimpsest of five years of writing – pictures on pictures, postcards on print-outs, three tattered dream-catchers, two computers, two printers, stacks of paper, piles of notes, hundreds of notebooks. Wires and cables. And books, books books.

I’d come to think this retreat  was picturesque, full of potential literary treasures, stacked with ideas. But truly,  truly, it was becoming an image of an overstuffed mind. clogged up with a plethora of spurious inspirations and notional ideas.

Much of this stuff had spilled off the shelves onto the floor. So I asked GR if he would kindly build me another long shelf while I was away.

Golly, had he done more than that! He’d stripped the room of its entire contents. Then he stripped the walls and painted them, refurbished the sash window so it works again. He stripped the floorboards and restored them to a gleaming, nut-brown Victorian patina.  Oh, and he built three new shelves: one very large, two smaller and narrower.Small Notbooks etc

So, when I got back home there was my little writing room looking very empty and twice as large: an inspiration in itself.

So all I  had to do now was reintroduce all my stuff to this new, pregnant space. Of course this meant I had to sort it all and only allow back into the room things I really wanted around me.

This process involved several black sacks.Files with odalisque

As I sorted I found two novels I had forgotten – one pretty good, actually. A whole collection of short stories written more than twenty years ago. A lever arch file with the complete contents of a book I had (have) in mind about writing – called, I see, The Determined Butterfly. I found two plays I had written from my novels .  I found numerous poems written in various notebooks. One (see below) from 2002 when I must have been in a scary state of mind.

This was an opportunity too to assemble my notebooks (large and small) Notebooks, novfel draftung books some of my own booksin some proper order. Ditto my diaries, my inspirational CDs, my archive of floppy disks containing all my early work, my workshop files. And my radio stuff - together at last in black boxes.Old disk archive; radio gear, new paper, empoty notebooksAnd I could assemble my dictionaries (more to come…) and give each of my writing projects a plastic box of its ownWriting reference sources; Vichy France books, Writing Project Boxes, Inspirational CDs. Now all my work is accessible, all in order.

Then. last and possibly most important, I have re-done my inspiration board with new images. The last things I pinned up (again!) were the dream catchers…


Study Wall


The decks have been cleared so I can sail on with my next novel which is half-way there ,but was somehow stopped by… the stuff!

Oh – and here is the scary poem from 2002;

Dark Lady

Lady of shadows where do you walk?

Come into the light -

Let me see you more clearly


She  lingers now at the edge of the dark

Walking the streets with her diamond eye

Beating disks of glittering metal

Choosing the child for the next conflagration


Lady of shadows, where are you walking?

Come into the light -

Let me see you more clearly


She turns into an alley darker than Hades

Confronts a huge man whose eyes cannot see

Diamond gaze cuts the husk of his eyelids

Igniting his soul with the dark fires of hell


Lady of shadow, where are you walking?

Come into the light -

Let me see you more clearly


I’m running before you, fearing your gaze

Fearing your hands with their tin-drum beat

Fearing the reach of your long, thin arms

Fearing the high-heeled click of your feet


Lady of shadows why do you follow?


Saturday 4 June 2011

Outsiders – Kitty Fitzgerald

Kitty Fitgerald on the June Programme of The Writing Game

Posted on June 4, 2011 by wendyrobertson

Tune into THE WRITING GAME on  Bishop FM

2pm Sunday 5th June  ‘My Theme is  OUTSIDERS’

The Writing Game is a programme for readers and writers from the broader region,  and – through the magic of the internet –  much further afield, (latest response from Rhode Island New York…).

In this thirteenth episode Outsiders we consider looking at life from the outside and the role of writer as outsider. The programme features novelist and playwright Kitty Fitzgerald, a long term resident in the North-East who came originally from Ireland by way of Yorkshire. Kitty’s novels are peopled by outsiders – particularly Jack Plumb the disabled anti-hero of her nationally acclaimed novel – originally a radio play – the brilliantly inventive Pigtopia.

We also hear an extract from a novella by Avril Joy who evokes with great insight the lives of those ‘Outsiders Inside’- women in prison.

I hope you like it… wx

Catch this programme live at 2pm on June 5th or afterwards on podcast -

Don’t forget that all thirteen programmes are available  on these podcasts.   Listen to a wide range of writers talking. Try last month’s programme Words & Music which features composer musician Andy Jackson and poet Su Kane on their music/prose work Whispering Stones, inspired by Durham Cathedral.

‘This programme celebrates the breadth and depth of the talent of writers working and living in the North. The informality of the Writing Game allows writers to speak their mind and all the conversations are building into a significant archive of Northern writing talent.’

Wendy Robertson.

Friday 20 May 2011

Every Picture Tells a Story

Everything comes together.

In the last year the writing has been  going well but I tend to take on too much and have got into the PAINTING 001dangerous habit of catching up with my own shadow and forgetting how to relax.

Then I read a book* about the Haida Mythtellers of North America, which has made me think a lot about the ultimate  storytellers whom he compares with composers and artists rather than poets. He contemplates Valazquez’s painting Kitchen Maid With the Supper at Emmaus.

Bathhurst says, ‘Even for non-Christians (I am one) the young Valazquez’s painting opens a door; it confirms what every mythteller, physicist, biologist and hunter gatherer knows: that man is not the measure of all things.

In my workshops I often compare the writing of a novel with the process of painting a picture  – conceiving the idea, choosing your media, blocking in a large canvas, telling the story, trusting the hand and eye and the paint/pen, looking and looking until you think you’ve got it right…

In this month’s Writing Game I talk about this book and how stories emerge and are handed down through generations. How families and communities reflect the permanence of their identity with their myths. I also read an extract from The Romancer (see sidebar – one definition of Romancer is ‘mythteller’) about how stories have been handed down in my family and are integral to my novels which are – in the end -  ‘pure fiction’.

All this made me reflect on just how long it’s been since I painted. So I got out my paints and thought about the joy I had walking last week in the spring woodland among the bluebells.

Trees in sunlight

And I set up on the big desk by the window, turned on Radio 4 Listen Again to the Desert Island Disc interview with consummate novelist Howard Jacobson, and began to paint. Then something else. Then music.

Three hours went by in a flash, and when I emerged with the half-finished picture I knew I had been relaxing, not working. I felt refreshed, stimulated. endorsed.

So now I’ve been rehearsing saying ‘No!’ to people and have put painting on my permanent ‘to do’ list.

For me relaxation means emotional survival.


* Recommended to me by Kathleen Jones – A Story as Sharp as a Knife  by Robert Bringhurst

Monday 9 May 2011

The Subtlety of Collaboration


by Wendy on May 9th, 2011

The Writing Game this month features Andy Jackson, composer,  and Su Kane, writer,  in conversation Bluebells and horizon 2about their collaboration on a piece called Whispering Stones, about Durham Cathedral.

They express beautifully the nature of the project and the subtlety of artistic collaboration.  It’s now a podcast** and includes some thoughts on story making (me), and blogging for writers (Avril Joy).

This made me think about my own view of collaboration. The Writing Game is to some degree collaborative I suppose. And one of my novels Sandie Shaw and the Millionth Marvell Cooker started as an idea for a stage play but when I realised how much negotiation, collaboration and concession would be involved I rather retreated from the idea and seven years later wrote it as a novel.

Perhaps a novelist cultivates that element of total Fairy tale tree trunkcontrol: a writer is creator, location manager, actor(s) and director – only conceding the role of producer to the publishers.

However i do enjoy collaborating with my friends Avril Joy and Gillian Wales in Room To Write the  organisation to encourage and develop aspiring writers which also supports and inspires The Writing Game.

So I can’t be an entire megalomaniac…

**Listen to Writing Game podcast on story, on words & music collaboration, & blogging for writers

PSChiaroscuro As you see, I’ve been walking in bluebell woods. Perfect English spring. Very inspiring….


From → Bluebells, Collaboration, Spring, Writing, Writing Game

One Comment

  1. avril permalink

    I agree Wendy – as a novelist one is generally on one’s own and there is something very satisying about the control this brings

    But like you I enjoy collaboration. It is always inspiring in some way, it feeds into the writing -besides which it’s fun and very life enhancing to work with one’s friends in this way.

    Love the bluebells!!

Monday 11 April 2011

Ink pens and Umbilical Cables

Apr 11 11

by Wendy

It could have been the two consecutive days of sunshine. It could have been a desperate need to escape from dark moments when the novel-in-waiting couldn’t hustle its place between meetings about the Divan writer’s celebration, about the radio programme. about a new publishing venture. It could have been because of promised evaluatio[GetAttachment[1][2].jpg]ns for writers or the planning for this Wednesday’s launch of An Englishwoman in France 

Whatever it was, I simply couldn’t get on with my new novel. Now I have to tell you it’s my fine boast that I can usually do this among the sturm und drang of everyday life. I often tell new writers that the writing has to be the first thing you do, your prime project.

But the problem was that I’d actually resorted to thinking that, so save time, I could skip the hand- drafting and jump to working straight onto the machine. After all I wrote reams on the machine to service other aspects of my life. And I’d lost two ink-pens and the time to go and replace them was very fugitive.

So it was that my time to create was bundled up with all the other tasks (including blogging); tied by a kind of umbilical cable to the computer.

But my precious story – it seemed – was having none of that. She was sitting on the windowsill kicking her heels muttering, when-you’re-ready, when-you’re-ready.

Then one day my A4 drafting book fell off the table in the little study. I flicked through the pages and admired the inky flow of my own writing and the energy of those paragraphs before they were transcribed onto the computer.clip_image001

In a second, it seems,  I was in Ryman’s choosing a new ink-pen and a fresh bottle of ink. Then the sun came out and when I got home my story was sitting on the garden table ready to flow out of the bottle onto the page of the A4 book.  All that day and the next and the next… Whoosh!  Talk about the genie springing out of the bottle! Pure magic.


Sunday 3 April 2011

Portrait of a Town - the April Writing Game

The Writing Game on Local History

Sunday 10 April at 2pm on Bishop FM (105.9)

You’ll have noted that The Writing Game has strayed into the peaceful stretches of Sunday afternoon. I hope you enjoy it in this more leisurely space. And, as always, if you can’t make it then and there, you can download our podcast after the 10th April listen in your own selected leisurely time where listening to writers and thinking about books could be a very good thing to be doing.
Commentators from outside say how much they like the way the Writing Game renders an image of a certain part of England. I think they and our local listebere will like today’s programme - on writing local history
Like so many Writing Games our April programme is grounded here South Durham – today specifically my own town of Bishop Auckland which is the home of Bishop FM . And always we place ourselves in the broader context of the nature of writing history.  The Writing Game is local in its focus, but never parochial in its attitudes

So today our main point of consideration is the local history of Bishop Auckland. Both  of my guests today talk about how a sense of local history fosters a particular, unique identity.

In pubs, cafes and shops on Newgate Street, our main shopping street - if you dig several feet down you will find Dere Street an important Roman Road - on Newgate Street in the pubs, cafes and shops, you can witness the habit of Bishop people of reflecting on their intricate, shared past. They talk of the people and the families they have known – names emerge like a biblical litanyhis mother.. his grandmother .. his cousin – and so and so begat so and so –
You can her talk of the schools as they were, the celebrated football tam, the Thursday and Saturday markets, the choirs, the churches, the anniversaries, the Romany funerals, the old bishop with gaiters……
Stories sing in the air of Bishop Auckland  ringing with pride and a true sense of identity
My first guest for April,  Barbara Laurie has tried to capture all this in words, to nail it to the page in her local histories. As well as writing these histories. Barbara is a teacher from a family of Bishop Auckland teachers, has been Mayor of Bishop Auckland, a county councillor and is now a district councillor.  Peter Laurie her husband, will read a wonderful piece that he wrote about the traveller- hawker tradition in Bishop Auckland from their website
(Look it up! All the books we mention  are shown on the website.)
Then, to complement Barbara’s view of writing local history ,we have regular Writing Game contributor Glynn Wales reflecting on the way the historical idiosyncrasies of Bishop Auckland may or may not fit into the context of historical writing in general but how it may reinforce a sense of local identity in a national setting.
I hope my regular listeners find me here on Sundays and continue to enjoy The Writing Game. I’ve had messages – word of mouth and email from listeners here in South Durham and – through the magic of the Internet – from much further afield -  as far away as Melbourne in Australia and Kentucky and New York in America.
Here is one from America
> “I enjoyed the podcast conversation with David Almond. I want to look for his books. These programs are wonderful. I loved listening to the children talk about the books they'd read (of course I adore their accents); and I closed my eyes listening to the Fireeater---my God the suspense in that and feelings it drew out. The reader is marvellous. You are so fortunate to be able to participate in such a great undertaking as The Writing Game programming. “
And another:
>I listened to the podcast of The Writing Game with Wendy Robertson. The poet who spoke about basing much of her work on Horace sent me to my old school anthology, in repose right here beside me on the bookshelf, to read him again after 48 years. One of four included poems is Mortality---of course, why not. AND, it is an ODE--- Horace: Poetry 101. Love your comments.”
NEXT MONTH – May Programme – Words and Music
The Writing Game talks to another couple who live at the heart of Bishop Auckland –               Andy Jackson and Su Kane. Andy is a composer and musician who is, among other things, the creative director of The Cobweb author which performs across the region hundreds of times a year. You will also remember Su, who ran The Evergreens and also gave poetry and drama workshops at Bishop Auckland Town Hall. They will be talking about their writer-musician collaborations, particularly their cantata Whispering Stones, about Durham Cathedral. We will hear the magical blends of their words and music. A treat in store for all of us..


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