Everyday Magic: The Four Elements of Creativity

I am really excited to be embarking on a new collaboration with book doctor and writing teacher, Andrew Wille. On the 18th November we have a workshop planned: Everyday Magic: The Four Elements of Creativity, We've found a great venue too, London Bridge Hive, right in the heart of SE1, two minutes walk from London Bridge Station. With a date and a venue arranged, I decided to interview Andrew about the workshop and how to add a spark of magic to your writing.

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New Salons: Autumn 2017

I'm writing this in Devon. The sun is shining, today anyhow, and the sea is a glittering backdrop. Sailing boats are arriving for a regatta and we are surrounded by friends. I'm the last person to wish away August but I'm very excited about our new Autumn salons, now live on the website and taking bookings. Over the next few months Emma and I will be chatting about a variety of writing topics with Monica Ali, Jill Dawson, Tessa Hadley and Maura Dooley.

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A Word Factory Masterclass with Louise Doughty

How do you work out if your idea is a short story or a novel? You begin writing in one form only to discover that your work has mutated into something else entirely. I attended an excellent masterclass recently, Where The Narrative Leads, with Louise Doughty, run by the Word Factory. Who better to help you work out if your idea can go the distance or is destined to crystallise into a short story than with an award-winning novelist, screenwriter and short story writer? 

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World Building: Bringing Characters and Places Alive with Claire Scobie

Last Monday was one of those days...Worried about being on time for our salon with Claire Scobie, I'd barrelled home after a drawn out appointment, gathered up my stuff and slapped on some lipstick without the aid of a mirror (always a mistake). Rain coat on, I cantered to the bus stop and flagged down a bus just as the heavens cracked open. Half way to Vauxhall I realised I'd left behind my laptop, brolly and current read...

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Writing For Children and Young Adults with Sara Grant

I always feel a little nervous and excited before a Words Away salon. Striding through Vauxhall Gardens the other night, en route to our recent event with Sara Grant, I saw a group of men with big muscles engaged in a tug-o-war. They even had a coach shouting instructions on the sidelines. I stopped to watch for a minute and wondered if I could wrangle a useful metaphor out of the encounter for the blog. A few minutes later I arrived at our venue, the Tea House Cafe, to find a Cornish Crabber beached beside the outdoor furniture. Metaphors were popping up all over the place! Or perhaps they were omens. Would tonight be a struggle or smooth sailing?

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Writing Historical Fiction with Essie Fox

I had a moment of confusion last Monday night, wondering if it’s too soon to ditch my heavy winter jacket and scarf. So what a pleasure it was, to step out in the early evening with the sun shining. I cut through Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens to find Tea House customers once again enjoying afternoon tea outside. What difference a month makes! Maybe I imagined it, but I’m sure everyone arrived smiling for our Writing Historical Fiction salon. Then again, maybe that was all down to our guest writer, Essie Fox.

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Under A Different Sun

I followed the ghost of myself all around town, pointing out places and telling stories about the long last past to my increasingly disinterested family. There was something elemental and poignant about revisiting the haunts of my childhood - swimming in the same ocean, listening to the boom of the surf from bed at night.

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Choosing The Right Words

It's 3.45am local time here in Australia. Jet lagged and unable to sleep, I'm staying at my parent's house in the Blue Mountains. Outside, crickets and frogs are singing in the night. I'm in the dining room, trying to be quiet, working on the remembrance speech I've been asked to write and read for my father's funeral on Friday. 

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Publicity For Writers: How To Get It & How To Survive It with Ruth Ware

According to Oscar Wilde, there's only one thing in life worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about. I found myself thinking about this as the bus bumped and lurched along Camberwell New Road toward Vauxhall last Monday night. I was looking forward to meeting our salon guest, Ruth Ware, a former book publicist and New York Times bestselling thriller writer... 

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The Word Factory: A Masterclass with Tessa Hadley

Yesterday, I stopped for a latte at F*ckoffee, a cafe, on hip and happening Bermondsey Street. They even gave me a loyalty card and stamped it. Surrounded by young urban types I cast an eye over the Mavis Gallant story, The Ice Wagon Going Down The Street, from her Paris Stories collection. I'd read the story earlier as prep for a short story masterclass run by the Word Factory, with the brilliant writer, Tessa Hadley.

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Writing Short Stories with Stella Duffy

Last Monday, on a bitterly cold January night, I made my way across Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens toward the lights of Tea House Theatre Cafe. I was a bit nervous and excited as I’d been looking forward to our salon with the amazing Stella Duffy for months. She’d kindly offered to come along as a Words Away guest after I’d met her last year at a reading of her novel, London Lies Beneath, at Camberwell Library . 

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2017: To Do

The past year has been one of enormous change in every sense. The world's in flux. On a personal level too, there's been all sorts of readjustments. The future feels uncertain and time is precious. It’s easy to get caught up, weighed down and paralized. I can’t change my ways. I’ll always be a bit of a shambles with hoarding tendencies. But what’s a new year for, if not for renewal, hope and good intentions. 

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