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VOL. Thu 17 Aug 2017

The Liars League (or Reading Aloud for Grown-Ups)

Earlier this month, one of my short stories was featured at the Liars' League, a kind of live action literary journal. It's a monthly reading series where professional actors read new short fiction. This might seem like an obvious combination, akin to writing for the stage, but as far as I know the event is relatively unique (not counting other chapters of the League operating in other cities). On the night, I learned the idea for the Liars' League sprung from a somewhat dull reading, in which actors in that crowd were disappointed by the writers' renditions of their own work. They thought, why not let us give it a go? There is a certain (somewhat brutal) truth here—sometime

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Dispatch from Norwich

One of my favourite quotes about the city of Norwich comes from Kazuo Ishiguro's novel, Never Let Me Go. "The lost corner of England" he called it, referring to the fact that Norwich is on the east coast, where the land juts into the channel towards France. This makes Norwich slightly out of the way, just left of many of the major north-south routes linking southern England to Scotland. The implication is that travelling to Norwich requires an expressed reason to do so. Last month, I had quite a good one. I was invited to participate in a day of writing workshops and readings on writing for children at the rather gorgeous Norwich Writers' Centre. The lineup was as eclectic as a

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Children's Book Day Masterclass at the Norwich Writers' Centre

Good news, everyone. This year on International Children's Book Day (2 April), I'll be part participating in a full day of talks at the Norwich Writers' Centre. If you haven't heard of it, it's a wonderful venue in Norwich's historic Dragon Hall. I'm very honoured to be presenting workshops alongside author and illustrator, Nadine Kaadan, Alexander Gordon Smith (the Furnace series of books), and Bloomsbury editor, Helen Szirtes. Each of us will talk about our work, our lives in the world of children's literature, and offer instruction and advice on writing and getting published. We'll also address our various areas of expertise. I'll be doing my bit on poetry and novels for chil

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Happy Loving Day!

It will always strike me as odd to think that if were I born a few years earlier, my whole existence would be illegal in many parts the U.S. Until the summer of 1967, sixteen America states still had laws prohibiting human beings of difference "races" from getting married and having children together. The law was struck down as unconstitutional on June 12 of that year, in the now famous Loving versus Virginia, in which Mildred and Richard Loving fought for the right to fall in love with, marry and reproduce with a person of their choosing. The Lovings were married in 1958 in Washington, D.C.—where interracial marriage was legal at the time—but were arrested upon returning

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What I'm Looking Forward To in 2016

To whom it may concern (i.e. anyone who experiences the passage of time): Happy New Year! With some welcome holiday downtime, Machiko and I celebrated with some baking (and punning). Our logic went like this: In Western Europe, the winter holidays have a strong association with gingerbread. In Japan, the biggest celebration in December is New Years, when most people make a visit to their local Shinto shrine. The Japanese word for shrine is "jinja" (神社). Jinja...ginger...see what we did there? It's looks like this:   2016 ought to be an eventful and interesting year. Here're some things I'm looking forward to. January: Electronic Superhighway is an art exhibition at the

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Breakfast with Dr. Seuss

This week a strange, unexpected, and rather wonderful thing happened. I appeared on television. And I have Dr. Seuss to thank. It happened like this... In 2013, a nearly complete manuscript by the famous American children's poet, who died in 1991, was found by his wife, tucked neatly in a box and hidden away in his home. It was a book called What Pet Should I Get? and starred the same boy and girl from his most famous work for early readers, One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish. Flash forward two years to yesterday and the book was at last hitting bookshelves across North America. BBC Breakfast, BBC One's morning chat show, were looking for someone to talk about the good Dr.'

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“A wonderful coming-of-age story”

“A feast for the imagination”

“Ought to enchant readers, whether they are fashion plates or reprobates”