Monday 2 March 2015

London reading: 21 March 2015, Courtyard Theatre London N1

We’re off to London! Nottingham Writers’ Studio are showcasing work from their first three journals – Crime, Secrets, and A Sense of Place- in a Free Event at The Courtyard Theatre in London on Saturday 21 March.

I’ll be reading my YA short story, ‘Didn’t See Nothing’, alongside Booker nominated author Alison Moore, award winning screenwriter Michael Eaton, and other members of the studio who have contributed stories, poems and articles.

It’s a great chance for NWS to showcase some of the brilliant writing being created in Nottingham right now, and I’m really pleased my story is one of them.

If you’re around, it would be great to see you there!

Wednesday 20 August 2014

Half way up

I have a curious relationship with heights. I can easily lean out over a parapet on a castle and enjoy the view – but put me on a stepladder to paint the ceiling and I’m in a cold sweat.

So I faced my fears at Clip’n Climb in Maryport, and lived to tell the tale – because I bottled it.

The setup is fantastic (perfect if you’re looking for something to do on a rainy Cumbrian day), with a load of individual climbing walls you get to use without fear of bumping into another climber. The waist harness is rigged to an industrial safety rope, which lets you down very slowly if you fall away from the climbing wall. I could see it working brilliantly for all ages and sizes, who scrambled up, hit the button at the top of their wall, then slid gracefully down, ready for the next climbing challenge. Then it was my turn.

I gave every wall a go – the simple ones, the tricky ones, the ones where you use ‘ice pick’ pegs to haul yourself up the side of a fake glacier- and each time the furthest I got was half way up.

Because I looked down, and focused on how far I had to fall.

And even after testing out the harness and the safety rope time and time again, I still had to climb back down.

Because I looked down and focused on how far I had to fall.

I had lots of fun while I was there, but I learned something about myself that I need to sort. I realise I have the same struggle with my writing every day. In the safety of a blank page, I can take risks, push my luck, and fall as many times as I like without a scratch – but I feel sometimes I only achieve half of what I could be doing, because I look at how far I have gone, and worry about how far away the bottom is.

Or worse still, how far I could go.

Fear holds us back from doing daft, dangerous things for very good reason. But when you’re in a situation where there is next to nothing to fear, where you are encouraged to take a chance in safety, and you still don’t, you need to sort it. And the only way to do that is to face that fear, again and again, until it gets bored of seeing you and goes away.

So I’m thinking about how annoyed I was with myself as I struggled back down instead of letting go at Clip’n Climb – and putting that energy into my writing. To push harder, climb higher, and learn to fall and fail with style. And stop looking down.

Tuesday 29 July 2014

Nottingham Festival of Words Blog Hop

Nottingham Festival of Words

logo1Nottingham is holding its second Festival of Words in October this year. It will be a celebration of the spoken and written word, as well as a key part of the city’s bid to become a UNESCO City of Literature.  After reading Sarah Dale’s great opening blogpost, it's my turn to pick up the baton and tell you a little bit about my connection to the festival and hopes for what it can bring to Nottingham. Then I’ll be passing the blog baton on to two great writers that embody a lot of what I’ve talked about in this blogpost - Emily Cooper and Pippa Hennessy

What’s your connection with Nottingham and its written and spoken words?

Words have welded me to Nottingham since I arrived here in my old red Peugeot in 1997. I came to Nottingham after getting a copywriter job in advertising, so it’s likely you might have heard some of my writing without knowing it!  After a few years of doing that, I had a story that kept coming back to haunt me, so I took a deep breath, left my old job and began writing fiction. Shortly after that, I heard about Nottingham Writers Studio, and sent off my application – one of my smarter decisions. Through meeting other writers at the Studio and events members were involved in, I’ve met, talked to and been inspired by brilliant Nottingham writers who’ve been kind enough to support and encourage me to keep doing the work of telling my story. Without them, I’d still be trying to get chapter one right of that first book, rather than working to finish my third.

What do you love about Nottingham and its creative scene right now?

I love the sheer variety of talent and passion for supporting creativity we have in Nottingham at the moment. Wherever you look in the city there are people sharing that enthusiasm week in week out, from The Mouthy Poets, to Broadway Book Club, to emerging comic, music and book stores like Five Leaves, to the programmes celebrating Nottingham’s creativity on Notts TV – I can only see it growing.  I joined over a hundred readers in the Dawn of the Unread mass read recently – it was fantastic to see how many people were willing to say how important stories were to them and how important it is to share that passion. I was involved in promoting last year’s Nottingham Festival of Words, and was amazed by how much talent is here in the city, working away to bring amazing new things for Nottingham audiences to experience. I’m looking forward to seeing more of that when the festival launches later this year.

How would you describe Nottingham to a visitor coming to the Festival of Words?

Nottingham is born from stories of rebellion, beginning with Robin Hood’s literary legacy, and continuing through rebel writers, rebel printers, rebel booksellers, and since Dawn of the Unread’s flashmob event, rebel readers! If you want more from your words, so do we - we’re a city made of stories. All you have to do is come, look, listen and get involved- you won’t regret it.

Monday 2 June 2014

Great Writing Starts Here

Write Club, downstairs at Nottingham Writers' Studio
If you've followed my @Andrew_Kells tweets and Facebook updates recently, you'll know my start to 2014 has been dominated by the launch of Nottingham Writers Studio. Based in Nottingham's Creative Quarter, I've been working hard with a dedicated team of other writer volunteers to create a real home for writing in Nottingham. And it looks ace!

If you want to know more, here's a link to my guest blog post for Creative Nottingham - and if you'd like to see it for yourself, you're more than welcome to pop in and say hello - I should be the one writing on the pink chair.