Friday, February 27, 2009

In A Hot Place 

Today I'm publishing a new story, In A Hot Place, on this website. You can download it here. The story is also published in a new book aimed at teenagers and in today's Morning Star. 'In A Hot Place' is just 1500 words long and its inspiration is obvious. That said, the piece is not specifically about a particular secret prison, or one country's involvement in illegal rendition. The narrator's gender is open. It is pertinent to many stories in the news this week. I hope that, very soon, it will feel like a period piece.

I wrote In 'A Hot Place' in December of last year. I owed the editor, who was in a hurry, and I didn't have an idea. I opened the paper, looking for a subject. There was the story of the fifteen year old tortured at Guantanamo Bay, the base that the USA illegally occupies in Cuba. I was about to visit this beautiful country for a second time and the article made me both angry and sad. I wrote the first draft within an hour. It includes one line taken verbatim from the news report, where a doctor was quoted. On the day that Barack Obama announced that he was going to close the base in Cuba, I read the story to an adult audience (see below) and realised that I wanted 'In A Hot Place' to reach as many people as possible. I'd like people to read it while it's fresh, snatched from the headlines. I'd welcome its use in schools. So I told the publisher that I'd decided to make the story copyright free. I've asked them to donate my fee to Amnesty International.

You are welcome to republish 'In A Hot Place'. Please link to it, put it in your blog, make copies for use in schools or distribute it in any way you choose. I only ask that you cite my authorship, do not change my words and suggest that, if you are publishing it in any commercial way, you might wish to make a donation to Amnesty International.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

The First Novel 

I'm reading with two debut novelists at Nottingham Waterstones on March 26th. I enjoyed Chris Killen's The Bird Room over Christmas (see below). It's a wry, witty novel about sex and ennui which has deservedly been attracting a lot of attention. Chris was one of my dissertation students when I first began teaching Creative Writing at Nottingham Trent in 2002. That makes me feel a little old. Mind you, I'll also be talking about a debut novel - my first for adults, The Pretender, a literary thriller - that I began writing when I was Chris's age. Reading from and talking about her first novel will be Brigid Rose, whose The City Of Lists is published on March 5th. I've just finished reading this absorbing dystopia. The story has intriguing twists and hints of Orwell's 1984 from a woman's perspective. It should be an interesting evening. The event runs from 7-8.30pm and tickets are £3 in advance or on the door, redeemable against a copy of any of the books.

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