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 selection of books for young people. Nadine Kaadan spoke about writing and illustrating picture books; Alexander Gordon Smith spoke on writing horror for young adults; and Helen Szirtes, a freelance editor working with Bloomsbury and others, spoke about the industry in general and what publishers are looking for. As for me, I submitted my two cents on poetry and classic story structures.
It was a pleasure meeting Nadine, Gordon, and Helen, as well as the gracious, welcoming staff at the Writers’ Centre. Having seen it first hand, I can attest to what a wonderful project it is. For anyone interested in literature and writing, it is more than worth a short sideways jaunt to Norwich—especially for one of its special events. Writers from across the country and around the world frequently visit for talks and readings, and the venue itself is beautiful.
It all happens in a building called Dragon Hall, originally a merchant storehouse built in 1430. The fate of the building was murky until 2003, when an alliance between the city of Norwich, the Arts Council, and the University of East Anglia (where Ishiguro himself once taught creative writing), decided to turn it into a Writing Centre. Currently, plans are underway to expand further and for the site to become a National Centre for Writing in 2018.
In any case, it was a pleasure and an honour to present there; I hope very much to have a chance to do so again!