Announcing our special guest Lucy English

Lucy English

In an exciting update to our Story Sunday ‘Tales of Our City’ event on  October 20th we’re thrilled to announce that we – and you – will be joined for the evening by Bristol’s favourite writer and spoken word poet Lucy English.

We’re sure that you have either met Lucy or know her work; from her acclaimed novels Selfish People and Our Dancing Days to her recent achievements in poetry, digital writing and film. Lucy recenty organised the brand new Lyra  Poetry Festival in Bristol and you may also know her as a tutor  on the Bath Spa MA in Creative Writing.

Lucy will give a short performance as part of the Tales of Our City evening alongside  a selection of other local writers who have submitted for the event.
Speaking of which, to have a chance of joining Lucy on the Southbank stage, you still have penty of time to SEND US YOUR STORIES!

Of course non-writers are also welcome to an evening of diverse and diverting performances from our talented local writing pool,  all in the laid-back atmosphere of Southbank Club in Bedminster.

Tickets £5 in advance from Bristol Ticket Shop, or £6 on the door.

No more suspension bridges, easy on the balloons! Inspiration for October’s #StorySunday

So with submissions open for Tales of Our City, here’s a blog post from Ali Bacon who has been looking for some visual inspiration.

The tag line ‘no more suspension bridges…’ is taken from a project which began a year ago when Bristol photographer Colin Moody and community arts group the People’s Republic of Stokes Croft found themselves bemoaning the restricted and stereotypical images of Bristol seen in holiday postcards. A competition was mooted and Bristolians invited to send in alternative images.

A set of finalists was chosen and the winning entry (Big Jeff by Paul Blakemore) decided by a public vote last January.

However I was lucky enough to be invited a few weeks ago to the public presentation of prizes and the first chance to buy postcards, singly, in sets or as bigger prints.

There was a really good vibe at the launch event with a piano player helping things along as slides of all the competition entries, not just the finalists, were projected above him. This was a nice touch that recognised everyone’s contribution and showed the quality and range of the entries, upbeat, downbeat and off-beat, from conventional city views with a twist,  to ironic juxtapositions and downright craziness.

Chatting to Colin after the official speeches he was at pains to emphasise the democratic and accessible nature of the project with the official judges as diverse a group as possible and final voting spread around city venues so that anyone could get involved – no internet required!

Several of the finalists were also at the show  including Daniel Durrans – (whose  Bristol July 2017 and Bristol July 2018 both made the final selections) and Phoebe Flint whose M32 Comfort Break was one of three adult runners up.

Phoebe Flint and ‘M32 Comfort Break’

Finalists were each presented with a parcel of postcards which it’s hoped will be posted far and wide and start to change the image of Bristol around and beyond the city. Postcards will soon be on sale very soon from the People’s Republic of Stokes Croft Shop and hopefully city tourism outlets.  

So if you are looking for writing inspiration that goes beyond the obvious, we think Proper Bristol Postcards are a great place to start.

Here’s a selection for starters. More can be found on the Proper Bristol Postcard page or maybe in a shop ner you!

Intimacy, Roo Morgan
The Silence of Maes Knoll by Edward Field
Surveillance, by Rebecca Doe
It’s a wall, Dave Beech

Story Sunday – Submissions Open

Stop all the clocks! We’re having ‘A Moment In Time’

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After something of a lull at WU Towers we’re delighted to be open for submissions once more for our first 2018 Story Sunday event on Sunday April 29th with the theme of A Moment in Time when around ten writers will be invited to take to the Southbank stage in Bedminster and enthral us with their talent.

Submissions Open Now

Any genre is acceptable, a historical tale or an imagining of the future, or maybe just a moment, crystallised in words. As ever we love to be shocked, stunned, terrified or delighted in any way.
Please check our submissions page for full instructions on how to send us your finely-wrought words.

All welcome on the night

Our promise to writers is a friendly audience – to our audience a night to remember for a mere £5 entry.
Sunday April 29th
7 – 9 pm
Southbank Club, Dean Lane, Bedminster,  Bristol BS3 1DB

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Readers at our Night of Crime. This time it could be you!

 

A Night of Crime awaits at Story Sunday

Phew, we made it!

As ever is was tres difficile to decide which stories to feature in our Story Sunday line-up but we got there in the end.

We’re looking forward to some fabulous writing and reading so all we need now is you to come along and give them as big an audience as we can muster.

There’s plenty of room and the bar will be open. Tickets £5 on the door.

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Submissions closed

Thanks to all those who submitted. Participants will be announced by October 15th.

You are invited to submit stories from 500 – 1500 words on the theme of Crime for our Story Sunday on October 22nd.

Deadline October 1st.

Check out how to do it on our submissions page. 

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Summer news: publishing deals for Heather and Ali

Hello fellow writers and readers and apologies for being off the scene for a while. However we have some excellent news to report and can also give you the heads-up for our next  event in October, part of the annual Bristol Litfest extravaganza.

First, the good news.
In between all that short story action last year, our members were labouring over their long-term projects, two of which have come to highly satisfying fruition.

heather_cFirst up for a round of applause is Heather Child‘s debut novel Smartface recently acquired by  Little, Brown Book Group imprint Orbit via the Julie Crisp Literary Agency.

Heather’s book is a high-concept thriller that tells the story of a woman whose virtual assistant takes on the personality of her missing sister.

When her sister vanished, Freya’s life seemed to stop. Eight years later, she is hearing Ruby’s voice again as a ‘Smartface’, so alive and real it seems she could be out there somewhere, feeding updates into the cloud. But should Freya trust this intelligent assistant, which is programmed to give her everything she wants?

The novel examines what happens when smart becomes too smart, when people accumulate so much data online that they can be recreated as data ghosts and lives can be changed by the information they’ve left behind. The book will be out in spring 2018.

Heather, who joined us a couple of years ago, has already been published in MslexiaUnder the Radar, the Storgy 2014 Short Story AnthologyHerCircle, the Bristol Post and Notes from the Underground online. We’ve loved hearing excerpts from the book at our feedback meetings – I can’t wait to read the whole of this fabulously written  novel which takes a compelling and disturbing look at what might be just around the corner.

Ali_ason 4896x3672Hard on the heels of Heather’s success comes Ali Bacon who has signed with Linen Press Books. In the Blink of an Eye is a re-imagining of the life of Victorian artist and photographer David Octavius Hill. This collection of sixteen stories in ten distinctive voices bring together history, fiction and biography. Ali says:

I was doubtful a mainstream publisher would commit to something that crosses so many of the usual boundaries. I was thrilled when Linen Press snapped it up straight away.

You may well have heard Ali reading excerpts from her work-in-progress at Novel Nights in Bristol or at Stroud Short Stories.  In June of this year Ali also won first prize in the Evesham Festival of Words Short Story Competition with one of the chapters from her book.
In the Blink of an Eye will be published in mid-2018 when we’ll get to read all of the stories one judge said  ‘knocked his socks off’.

 

And finally! (cue blood-curdling scream)

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Get out those diaries and sharpen your pencils in preparation of our next Story Sunday which will be A  Night of Crime on October 22nd.

Submission details coming shortly here or on Twitter @bww_unchained

Review – and recommendation! Story Sunday through the eyes of a first-time reader

Thanks to Suzanne McConnaghy for summing up her first experience of reading with us at Southbank on March 19th.

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Mark Lewis, Suzanne, Ali Bacon, Debbie Young, Heather Jo Reed

Writers Unchained impressed me so much at the Festival of Literature, back in October 2016, that I decided I would enter their next event. They’d finally got me to see that writing a short story was not just writing a story: there was an art to it. Large learning curve and here I am at Story Sunday  on March 19th, 2017, about to step onto the stage.

The Southbank Club provides us with a relaxed and welcoming venue to listen to ten writers’ interpretations of the theme: ‘Another Country.’

I soon find Story Sunday’s excellent organisation is very supportive to the readers – when you have a programme and know exactly when you are on, it does a lot to calm the nerves. I’m placed mid-way through Act 1 and this gives me time to see how the first two excellent writers handle the situation but comes early enough to allow relaxed enjoyment of the remaining performances.

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Mark Rutterford, Jean Burnett, John Holland, Lania Knight, Dawn Maria Kelly

Heather Jo Reed’s ‘Mr Muyila’s Bull’ transports us straight out to the African Bush, transfixing the listener as we come to understand the fate intended for the little girl and enjoy the mother’s clever thwarting of her husband’s will. Thoroughly rattled by Mark Lewis’s surreal ‘The Ancestors,’ during which we travel across place and time,’ I realise it’s my turn. I’ve prepared a smooth response to the introduction but fail to hear a word of what is said – it must be nerves – so I have to go straight into the story. With ‘Boy in a Blue Shirt,’ you’re out in Bristol, mixing with the people who live on the streets – and under them.

Ali Bacon’s sensitive story of a young girl’s death, ‘The Coldest Country of All,’ introduces a note of sadness which contrasts well with the following piece, ‘The Emperor’s New Wall.’ After the tension of the previous reading, this satirical story by Debbie Young gives the audience an opportunity for uncomplicated laughter.

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Dawn Maria Kelly, Another Country-style

An interval filled with the strong musical performance of Dawn Marie Kelly, mixing well-known titles with some of her own work, and we’re into the second act with Jean Burnett’s ‘Swansong.’ Set in Malta, it reveals the uncertain world of the hit-man and confirms that his is not the ideal profession – if we didn’t already know it. A smooth performance by Lania Knight with ‘The Red Doll’ touches on the theme of homesickness and the power of certain objects, while John Holland’s ‘The Doorstep’ deals with a familiar character, the Polish workman, whom we see in an entirely new way. Then, Dawn Marie Kelly is back with ‘No Place,’ the story of a simple world somehow made infinitely menacing in the telling. Her acting ability and very convincing American accent made this story very powerful.

To finish, Mark Rutterford’s funny, self-deprecating ‘Skydiving’ takes us on a whirlwind journey through his love life, which feels exactly how I believe skydiving would be. This intricate, cleverly-constructed story is a worthy end to a very satisfying programme.

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Picture by Rebecca Lang

Can I recommend attendance at the next Writers Unchained event?
Most definitely. You’ll sit enthralled through a couple of hours of thought-provoking entertainment. And if you’re a writer with aspirations like me, you’ll also learn much from the way in which the performers handle their material and deliver it to the audience. Look out for the next Story Sunday.

Thank you, Suzanne! If anyone would like to be notified of our next event,  please contact us to be added to our mailing list. 

Another Country – nearly there!

anothercountryorangeThe programme is nearly done for our next event on Sunday March 19th when ten local writers will read their interpretations of our chosen theme ‘Another Country’

The venue is Southbank Club, Dean Lane, Bedminster, Bristol  BS3 1DB
7-9 pm

Entry £5 on the door.

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Guest writers at the last Story Sunday

We’re delighted our line-up is confirmed. Come along and hear new work from old friends and familiar faces and with live music from Dawn Kelly. 

Guests: John Holland, Lania Knight, Mark Lewis, Mark Rutterford and Debbie Young

Writers Unchained members:
Ali Bacon, Jean Burnett, Dawn Kelly, Suzanne Mcconaghy and Heather-Jo Reed

 

Hope you can join us!