It was great fun to record this message in advance of a recent online workshop for the Society of Authors. Welcome to the top of my stairs!
I am thrilled to have a poem included in the new Bloomsbury anthology MIDNIGHT FEASTS, edited by AF Harrold. It is a gorgeous hardback book, fully illustrated throughout by rising star Katy Riddell.
The poems are all about food. Mine is called The Unknown Jelly Baby.
Amazing to see my work featured alongside the likes of AE Housman and Lewis Carroll.
My latest book WHERE MAGIC HIDES has been shortlisted for the Tir na n-Og Prize 2020 in the category English-language title with an authentic Welsh background.
The winner will be announced in July 2020 on the BBC Arts Review programme. Fingers crossed!
I am thrilled to announce the publication of a new paperback from Welsh publisher Gomer. Where Magic Hides is a collection of seven brand-new stories set in Wales, with a twist of magic.
They are not re-tellings of traditional Welsh folktales or legends. With the exception of one story, they are all set in contemporary Wales and show bold, imaginative children encountering magic – whether they want to or not!
Roald Dahl famously said there is magic everywhere if you care to see it. Can you find magic even on the A465 Heads of the Valleys road to Merthyr? Yes! Other tales are set in Hay on Wye, Brecon, Beddgelert and the Radnorshire hills, so Welsh children especially will find something to inspire them here.
Where Magic Hides celebrates imagination and kindness. Danny conjures an entire army of ice warriors to do his bidding on the snowy peaks of Pen y Fan. Rhiannon encounters a wild hill pony as glorious as a unicorn. Wil saves an ailing village with a generous wish. Other children encounter real mythical creatures – water leapers and trolls. It’s a magical mix, delivered with great warmth and heart, if I say so myself!
Although the stories are newly-written, the ideas have been with me a long time. For twenty years I lived on a remote hill farm in the hills of Radnorshire. The landscape seeped into my bones (along with the wild Welsh weather!) Although I now live in England, I was easily able to conjure it again while I was writing, and it was pure joy to do so.
You can buy the book here:
I am now a published poet. My poem The Jigsaurus Puzzle is included in this newly-launched anthology from The Emma Press.
I will continue to spin with this new thread of creativity… Later this year, I have a poem in a Bloomsbury anthology!!
I’m currently nearing the end of what has been a wonderful project –
UNFORGETTABLE: Stories, comedy and songs about Life, Death and Sticky Toffee Pudding.
I’m working with Ruth Graham, who is a comedian and musician but also a funeral celebrant. She has conducted more than five hundred funerals to date! Together we created a show and two workshops, and we’ve been touring them around various venues in the West Midlands.
The project is essentially about remembering unforgettable people. We’ve been teaching people how to shape and share a story that celebrates a life, and explore how meeting someone unforgettable can shape our own life. And it’s all been great fun!! Lots of laughter. The project was timed to tie-in with Death Awareness Week, and the mention of that on the publicity clearly put many people off coming, which was a great shame. But keeping that connection quiet would have gone against the whole point of Death Awareness Week, which is to bring it out into the open and encourage people to talk 🙂
We have loved doing it, that’s for sure. If you’d like to hear more about it, here’s a link to the Unforgettable site: http://www.unforgettablestories.co.uk
It is always wonderful to be invited to visit an international school, but occasionally an invitation will be especially thrilling. This happened recently with my author visit to the British School Kathmandu.
Kathmandu had long been on my Bucket List, so I was deeply saddened to hear about the 2015 earthquake. Not only because of the lives lost and homes destroyed, but because so many treasured temples had collapsed like piles of cards.
So when I arrived in the city, with a few days free for sightseeing, the mighty Buddhist stupas and ancient Durbar squares of Kathmandu and Patan were top of my list. How were they looking now? Had they been rebuilt?
Yes and no. The immense Swayambhunath and Boudhanath stupas have both been rebuilt and are stunning. Patan Durbar Square is still glorious upon first sight. But it soon becomes apparent that there are gaps, like missing teeth in a smile, where the wooden pagoda-type temples no longer exist. There are piles of bricks. Empty bases and plinths that used to have buildings standing upon them. Many, many walls on the surviving temples are being propped up by firm supports.
But the magic is still there, and the stories are glorious. How the local people, even in the midst of personal tragedy, rolled up their sleeves and helped conserve the buildings, literally brick by brick, salvaging and storing intricately carved doorway lintels and decorated panels. Everywhere there are piles of stonework and mountains of fallen tiles, all neatly stacked and ready to be used again. But it will be many years before the restoration is complete, and some temples will stay lost forever.
What a wonderful city Kathmandu is… The British School is lovely too, with its rooftop staffroom and persimmon trees in the courtyard. I had a wonderfully warm welcome, and thoroughly enjoyed my week, working with every class in turn.
My visit clipped the end of the monsoon season, so the clouds were too low for me to see the Himalayas. But as I flew out, over a thick fleece of cloud, I noticed one that didn’t appear to be moving. Sure enough it was a peak, piercing the clouds like a sharp tooth, and as I watched, breathless with excitement, a whole string of them appeared, one by one. It was an exhilarating end to a fabulous trip. I hope I can return some day to see the restoration progress. And I fervently hope there will not be another earthquake to devastate this truly magical region.