Launch of Something Rhymed

Pens 2 new

It’s been another busy couple of months since I last posted anything here, and I have decided to make it a resolution for 2014 to update this news section more regularly.

Just to touch on a few of the things I’ve been up to recently: I took part in a writer’s residency at First Impression in Portugal, presented a seminar discussion (with my great friend Emma Claire Sweeney) at the annual NAWE conference, and read from my Tangled Roots memoir at a Literary Club event at NYU in London, alongside club members and the talented poet Todd Swift.

But my main news is the launch of www.somethingrhymed.com, a new website I’ve set up with regular collaborator Emma Claire. It’s about the literary friendships of famous writers, a subject the two of us have written about before in The Times and Mslexia.

Each month on Something Rhymed, we’ll be profiling a different pair of writer pals and challenging ourselves to complete an activity based on a prominent feature of their relationship.

We’ll be posting regular updates on our progress, and we’d love for as many people as possible to get involved by letting us know of any literary friends we could profile.

Or you might like to make it your New Year’s resolution to complete the activities alongside us. You can find out about the first challenge here.

Wishing you all the very best for 2014.

Two more bits of news: long-listed for Mslexia Novel Competition and publication of my Tangled Roots memoir

An email arrived in my inbox on Tuesday afternoon bearing the wonderful news that my first novel A Tiny Speck of Black and then Nothing is on the long-list for the Mslexia Novel Competition.

Then on Friday I received another very welcome message, this time from the writer Katy Massey, to let me know that my memoir about being brought up in a mixed English and Japanese household in York has been published on her Tangled Roots website. The same piece should appear in book form some time in early 2014.

I’ve blogged about Tangled Roots before here. One of the things that I’ve most enjoyed about this project has been meeting the other featured writers, and having the chance to read their stories and poems about their own experiences of a being part of multiracial families in Yorkshire. I strongly recommend that you take a look at their work.

Article in Mslexia

An article by Emma Claire Sweeney and me appears in the new issue of Mslexia. Its theme is rivalry between female author friends – a subject that we became interested in through our wider research into writing friendships.

We’d touched on issues of friction within writers’ relationships in the talk we gave at the NAWE conference last year and also in a piece we wrote for The Times. But we felt it was an issue that could be explored in more detail, which was why we approached Mslexia with our idea for the feature.

Although rivalry is often regarded as only a detrimental force within a friendship, Emma Claire and I know from our own relationship that the competition between us has been good for us as writers, and good for our friendship too – since it’s encouraged greater honesty between us.

We wanted to find out whether other authors felt the same way. As well as investigating the historical friendship between rivals Katherine Mansfield and Virginia Woolf, we sought the opinions of several modern-day writers to get their views on the subject too.

Many thanks to Polly Coles, Amanda Craig, Jill Dawson, Louise Doughty, Liz Jensen and Madeline Miller for your insights.

Mslexia Issue 57 is out now.

Next year’s Mslexia Writer’s Diary

The Mslexia diary I’d ordered arrived this week. As usual, in addition to all the calendar-related stuff you’d expect, it contains inspiring words by writers, a useful directory and summary of The Writing Year ahead, and plenty of blank pages for scribbling down ideas.

The diary’s theme in 2013 is collaboration and the Inspirations page for August focuses on the writing friendship between Emma Claire Sweeney and I, which we talked about in our feature in The Times back in May and also in our recent discussion panel at the NAWE conference.

Also mentioned in our Mslexia entry are Jill Dawson, Louise Doughty, Emily Pedder and Monique Roffey, who were amongst the writers we interviewed for the Times article.