Imagine a house where every room has a writer tucked into a window seat with notebook or perched with laptop or a whole flock of them huddled in animated discussion. It's a 17th century farmhouse with flagstone floors and each Gothic window opens onto an expansive view of the rolling Cotswolds hills. The house itself is leaking stories – like the adjacent Thimble Cottage, built to house the mad mistress of a long-dead ancestor. Visitors sleep in the turret or rooms with gargoyles under the eaves.
It's the perfect setting for the annual Mayday gathering of the Leicester Writers Club. Here we plot murder and mayhem between communal feasts at the long dining-room table. 'How can we do a car crash on-stage?' one group debates. That's the 'Nuts and Bolts of Scriptwriting' workshop. In another room, someone edits an explosive scene about a Welsh mining community. Later we discuss Writers and Blogging. There are sessions on Writing Dialogue, Editing Your Poem and that writers' nightmare – How to tackle a Synopsis of your Novel.
Several brave souls volunteer to feed sixteen with their best recipes. Let me recall the home-made Polish barley soup, the sausage and pasta supper and the extravagant chocolate cheesecake... And we closed on Sunday with a 'Writing Feast' of the weekend's words. To my surprise, I'd managed a new poem and a monologue inspired by Middle Stanley's railway tunnel. Indeed the house fairly hummed with writing for three days. And in between dinners and redrafts and rambles round the lake – there was a community renewing itself in the shared pleasure of stories. Long may this May-time ritual continue.
Writing is a journey, both imaginary and physical. My first book took me to the Arctic to 'catch the colours' of the Northern Lights. Then I hunkered down to catch the wind-blown voices of polar explorers on Shackleton's 1914-17 Endurance expedition. More recently I'm obsessed by space: the race, the rockets, the final frontier.
Hear a BBC Radio Leicester interview about my space poetry at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p03wfpyp
Explore my digital narrrative PHILAE'S BOOK OF HOURS, published by the European Space Agency, at:
My prose-poetry collections FIREBRIDGE TO SKYSHORE
and MAD, HOPELESS & POSSIBLE are both published by Original Plus Press at:
Contact me for signed copies or bookings at:
- Leicester, East Midlands
- As a storyteller, my work crosses boundaries of myth, science, history and spoken word. It has been presented in the British Science Museum, Ledbury Poetry Festival, National Space Centre and the European Space Agency website. In 2014 I ran a digital residency on WW1 for 14-18NOW and Writing East Midlands. I teach Creative Writing at De Montfort University and have experience of leading school events, workshop tuition and mentoring.