Tuesday, November 27, 2007

A Manchester Circuit

A busy couple of days: on Monday worked pretty solidly on finishing my preparations for the University of Salford reading and workshop and then in the evening went to see Michéle Roberts give a talk at the University of Manchester's new writing school. I met a surprising number of acquaintances both from the live and virtual worlds: Jenny Newman and her partner Dave Evans, Patricia Duncker, Elizabeth Bains (all of these novelists) and Alison Leonard - a children's novelist and now working on a adult's novel, and Fran, a very pleasant MA student at Manchester Metropolitan University. It was good and made me feel part of something, somehow...

Paper Houses: A Memoir of the 70s and Beyond

Michéle Roberts seems to have had quite a life; when she was a young struggling writer she used to live in a commune in London and was generally impoverished - and in 'pre-AIDS' London had many sexual adventures. I felt very boring in comparison. My only similarity was living in relative poverty (although only relative to my life now and not in comparison with most of the people in the world). Michéle Roberts was determined to write come what may. I admired her bravery. I suppose I was more scared and cautious - always taking a more sensible route 'just in case'. She was told it was about time she wrote her memoirs and so she has; they are collected in a book called PAPER HOUSES - an inspirational read for aspiring novelists.

Then today I went to the University of Salford ('a greater Manchester University'). To make this journey I (rather ludicrously) had to catch three different trains and a tram each way - a total journey time of five hours - and it is only about fifty miles away! However it was worth it. The students were very receptive and I enjoyed talking to them and teaching them very much. They came up with some really good ideas.


Blogger Kay Cooke said...

I am pleased for you that you have found a warm writer-current to swim in, and be carried along with, for a while - great inspiration and motivation, no doubt.

Wed Nov 28, 01:20:00 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I loved 'Paper Houses' and really envy you the opportunity to hear Roberts speak. However, the best bit of this post is the news that Alison Leonard is writing a new book. I love her work for children, especially 'Tinker's Career', so an adult book really is going to be something to look forward to. Any idea when it's due out?

Wed Nov 28, 09:42:00 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks CB!

And Ann - Alison will be thrilled to hear this. Her book is still in its early stages, I believe - but it sounds really interesting.

Wed Nov 28, 09:50:00 am  
Blogger AlisonL said...

Thanks so much, Ann Darnton, for remembering my novel for teenagers, Tinker's Career, and for enthusing about the prospect of an adult novel from me - most heartening. In my new novel, I'm bringing to life a prostitute who modelled for Degas, and I'm setting her against a patriarchal craftsman who cast Degas's wax and clay sculptures in bronze after his death. There's a fascinating world of sexual politics and artistic revolution around that time - 1920.

It's been good getting to know Clare. In her I find in combination two writerly aspects which are usually only found separately: a reflective and analytical mind, and a compelling imagination which acknowledges the mystery of creation. Which is rather a heavy way of saying she manages to be both an artist and a scientist at the same time.

Wed Nov 28, 10:55:00 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Clare, excuse me for writing to Alison this way, but I do want to let her know that I really am a great admirer and the new novel sounds seriously interesting. I love Degas' work but only discovered him as a sculptor about ten years ago in the Sainsbury Gallery at UEA. I also love his portraits. We have a wonderful one in Birmingham of a peasant woman, so real you could reach out and touch her. I'll be looking out for the book, I promise. And I'm sure you're right about Clare. I'm only just getting to know her as well, but it's a privilege.

Wed Nov 28, 08:06:00 pm  
Blogger Nancy Silverrod said...

Another excuse me, but...how does one get in touch with Alison Leonard?

Thanks, Nancy Silverrod
San Francisco Public Library

Thu Mar 27, 07:40:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Nancy,

I've let Alsion know about your comment but in the meantime Alison has a web page here: http://www.frandal.fsnet.co.uk/

It has an email address at the bottom.

Thu Mar 27, 07:53:00 pm  

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