Friday, 2 March 2018

Interviews with Writers

MA Creative Writing students Lee Wright and Sandra Pollock have recently been interviewing well-known writers about their work. The interviews, which have been published on Everybody's Reviewing, afford fascinating insights into writers' processes, inspirations, research and experiences. The interviews are part of Everybody's Reviewing ongoing series, and represent an excellent resource for students, writers and readers alike. Below are links to some of them:

Interview with Kerry Hadley-Pryce
Interview with Matthew Broughton
Interview with Tony Williams
Interview with Hannah Stevens
Interview with Ray Connolly
Interview with Rod Duncan
Interview with Jonathan Bate
Interview with Siobhan Logan
Interview with Lyndon Mallet

There are other, earlier interviews with writers and artists on the site as well. These include:

Interview with Kim Slater
Interview with Helene Cardona
Interview with Melissa Studdard 
Interview with Natalie Beech
Interview with Jess Green
Interview with Shaindel Beers
Interview with Kershia Field
Interview with Dan Wallbank
Interview with Alex Bliss
Interview with Jonathan Taylor
Interview with Darius Degher
Interview with Robert Richardson
Interview with Karen Stevens

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Two Poems by Lauren Foster

Lauren Foster is studying for an MA in Creative Writing at the University of Leicester. Her work has appeared in The New Luciad and other anthologies, and she has performed her work at poetry events such as Word! and Lyric Lounge

Of You, with Flowers

Of you, with flowers
in your hands

scabious, harebell, gypsy rose
campion, burnet, Bradda weed.

You skip down Micklow Lane
alone, even then,

in meadows
or observing tadpoles

in the glassy water
of the spring fed 

limestone trough
next to the barn 

where you found
the dead sheep,

birthing no joy 
for this ewe.

Chubby, glasses,
friends few

but you knew 
all the names

of the flowers
back then.


Pass the Clock Tower 
to hip hop rap 
about how we know.   
Someone offers the Big Issue
decline, walk on.  
Clarinet soars 
over squawk of traffic.  
Not quite blue skies 
speak of things to come.  
In a shop window: 
everything must go.

Monday, 19 February 2018

So You Want to Self-Publish?

By Alicia Christina Saccoh

I am a self-published author. 

I won’t tell you how that came about, because it’s a very long and dramatic story. Kind of like a superhero origin story, except both of my parents are alive, my first love has not betrayed me, and my superpower is making characters kiss—as opposed to super-strength or whatever.

What I will tell you is what it means to self-publish. This isn’t a how-to guide or anything like that; I just want to share the basics of this lesser-known career path. 

So, first things first: what am I actually publishing?

I write romance novels. Of course, romance is a vast genre that includes countless sub-genres and niches—but I won’t go into that, because you either know already or couldn’t care less. 

The important part here is the practical connection between my work’s genre and my actual job. See, when you’re self-published, you’re not just responsible for writing down whatever story is camping out in your head.

You’re also responsible for all the things a traditional publisher would take care of, such as covers, editing, marketing and promotion, distribution, pricing, and so on. 

You have to be a businessperson as well as a writer, from watching the chequebook to deciding if your story is even worth being published.

That’s right. Self-publishing means rejecting yourself.

It also means learning your market. To self-publish successfully, you must know your genre and ideal audience inside out. You must learn which reviewers your readers trust, what kind of cover catches their eye, and how many lines of promotional text they can read before getting bored. 

You have to know which semantic fields elicit an emotional response in your readers, and which bore or even disgust them. 

Will your reader come over all hot and bothered at the phrase ‘dirty, dominant and demanding’—or will it remind them of the over-familiar creep at their local coffee shop who doesn’t understand the word ‘no’? 

Somehow, you have to figure out the answer to that question. If you don’t, no-one will read your books. And if you don’t receive regular praise and attention, you will shrivel up and die. 

(Only joking. But you will shrivel up and die without food, which costs money, so if you’re interested in self-publishing, pay attention).

As well as marketing, self-published authors handle the technical side of production. I publish my books digitally, via a single store. That keeps things simple; I don’t have to worry about physical copies, or about dealing with multiple websites. 

But I do have to format my books, and use the appropriate metadata, and all that rubbish. I am not a technical sort of person, and that’s putting things mildly. 

For example, I only recently found out that the ‘.doc’ or ‘.jpeg’ written after a file name affects the kind of file it is. Or shows what kind of file it is. Or something. 

Whatever. I never claimed to be an expert.

Despite my ignorance, I get by—because I know what I need to know. And with a career like self-publishing, that is the ultimate key.

Know what you need to know.

Self-publishing demands a diverse range of abilities. A self-published author must be a writer, editor, designer, marketer, publicist, accountant and businessperson all at once. For those of us who enjoy a challenge, that’s fantastic—but it’s still hard. 

So knowing exactly what you need to know—and therefore, what you needn’t bother with—is vital. In fact, you’re interested in self-publishing, that should be your starting point.

That’s right: I wrote a blog post on self-publishing, just to conclude with the fact that you guys need to research self-publishing.

I may be a professional author, but trolling is my passion. 

About the author
Alicia Christina Saccoh is a final year student at the University of Leicester. She is a full-time romance novelist, writing under a pseudonym, as well as a beauty blogger, social media influencer, and public speaker.

Thursday, 8 February 2018

3 Guest Speakers in Week 3

By Charis Buckingham

Leicester University welcomed three guest speakers this week to discuss various applications of Creating Writing: journalism, authorship and publishing.

On Monday, we heard from campaigning journalist Emma Howard. A previous graduate of the university, Emma has worked for The Guardian and currently writes for Unearthed, an investigative news platform launched by Greenpeace. Emma directed her talk primarily to those considering journalism, with the aim of providing information she wished she’d known. Topics ranging from on-the-desk stresses, her goal as a journalist and how influential the media can be; she held nothing back. She discussed not only her successes, but her mistakes along the way. It was open, honest, and utterly compelling.

On Tuesday, novelist Mahsuda Snaith gave a guest talk and reading. Mahsuda is a Leicester-based author, whose debut novel, The Things We Thought We Knew, was published in June 2017. She discussed her writing processes, her experience with editors, and, excitingly, read from her novel. Her advice was fascinating – she highlighted the importance of feedback, both online and from writers’ clubs, the necessity of being critical of your work, and assorted editing tips. For anyone looking to write or complete a novel, this talk was a must-see.

Cecilia Bennett from Sweet Cherry Publishing provided a very different insight into the creative world. Rather than being a writer herself, she edits others' books; and as Managing Editor of the company, she helps to decide which books are selected to be published. Much of the talk, therefore, focused on what Sweet Cherry Publishing looks for in books, the roles of the different publishing departments, and the things that authors should think about before submitting their work. Cecilia Bennett did a fantastic job of addressing the many different aspects and stages of publishing, and her passion for working with authors and putting their work into the world really shone through. The talk was a fitting end to a superb week. 

About the writer
Charis Buckingham is an aspiring novelist, and is studying for an MA in Creative Writing at the University of Leicester.

Tuesday, 30 January 2018

"Sometimes": Poem by Karen Powell

Karen Powell is studying for a PhD in Creative Writing at the University of Leicester. Her poetry has been published in various anthologies and magazines including Welcome to Leicester: Poems About the City, The Interpreter’s House and Silver Birch Press. Here is one of her poems.


I believe my mother is still alive
and alone in her flat
sitting in her nest
of magazines, a forgotten coffee,
a half-eaten meal, photographs,
an empty sherry glass
and misunderstandings.
She survives on twice-weekly visits
from Age Concern, and a mini-spring clean
each month by Molly Maids. 

The only difference is I no longer phone or visit.

Sunday, 21 January 2018

Please Hear What I'm Not Saying

A new poetry anthology tackling mental health issues, Please Hear What I’m Not Saying, edited by Isabelle Kenyon, is to be published in February. Proceeds will go to the charity MIND.

Isabelle Kenyon is a Surrey based poet and a graduate in Theatre: Writing, Directing and Performance from the University of York. She is the author of poetry anthology, This is not a Spectacle and micro chapbook, The Trees Whispered, published by Origami Poetry Press. She is also the editor of MIND Poetry Anthology Please Hear What I'm Not Saying. You can read more about Isabelle and see her work at

Isabelle writes: "I wanted to spread the word about the MIND Poetry Anthology which I have compiled and edited. Please Hear What I’m Not Saying will be available as an e-book and paperback on 8th February 2018. The anthology consists of poems from 116 poets and the book details a whole range of mental health experiences. The profits of the book with go to UK charity, MIND. The book came about through my desire to do a collaborative project with other poets and my desire to raise money for a charity desperately seeking donations to cope with the rising need for its work. I received over 600 poems and have narrowed this down to 180. As an editor, I have not been afraid to shy away from the ugly or the abstract, but I believe that the anthology as a whole is a journey – with each section the perspective changes. I hope that the end of the book reflects the ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ for mental health and that the outcome of these last sections express positivity and hope."

The anthology includes poems by Leicestershire-based writers, including Emma Lee, Sue Mackrell and Jonathan Taylor, as well as writers from the UK, US and elsewhere. 

For more information about the anthology, visit Isabelle's website,

Featured below is one of the poems from the anthology, by the editor herself:

Social Media invented Self Love

I’m not very good at this self love thing.

I always look for strangers,
thinking they could do it better,
and I don’t post about it online,
I forget,
I’m no use,
that girl with the juice blender and the personal trainer is far ahead of me –
that’s why people pay her
to promote beauty products
so other people can buy them
and love themselves too.

Isabelle Kenyon

Wednesday, 3 January 2018

Pattie McCarthy

Pattie McCarthy is the author of six books of poetry: Quiet Book, Marybones, Table Alphabetical of Hard Words, Verso, and bk of (h)rs from Apogee Press, and nulls from Horse Less Press. She is also the author of a dozen chapbooks, most recently margerykempething and qweyne wifthing from eth press. A former Pew Fellow in the Arts, McCarthy teaches literature and creative writing at Temple University in Philadelphia.

Here are four of her sonnets from a longer sequence. 


this year aged me twenty it's stupid

to say but it's true           it's them pills I took
&c      whatever     at forty-
five lady mary carey wrote her
meditation it's as good a time as any
I think you should know I walk the long way
home      circumambulate the seminary
when I was a kid my friends would sled there
hold on tight         but I said I don't jump
fences to get closer to priests
there are different categories of loss
don't confuse my sadness for guilt or regret
I count counted backwards to it     I hope
you like how I'm wearing my effort now


mercy      a midden or a crown       mercy
the witches come in silks with manbuns
reckless with optimism we go on
my father's body is probably gone
in truth I rarely think of it that way
good wyvern       my daughterthing says      she said
this year is twenty years maybe next time
I get to be the one who falls apart
depictions of the body as bloodless
weightless      anemic   plastic      couldn't be
more distant from me I don't know how to
read them      I cannot helpe peoples talking
of me       of course I'm wrong about his body
but I'm horrorstruck thinking about it


mercy only      goodwyfs from the other
side of town are witches that's obvious
in my tongue of wool & flax is the law
in my autumnal teaching costume I
exercise the etymology of
gossamer for fifty minutes
once there was a daughterthing she watched
her cobwebs    mercy  a midden or crown
her back to the hill her face to the sea
& which is still to be seen to this day
note     she is impassable at high tide
unexpected catalogue      archive of
the flood     a large accumulation of small
things chalky softwhite left on my fingers


mercy you have to relearn hunger you
have to learn to be hungry for days so
hungry that lights go out as you pass so
hungry steps disappear just do the work
unnatural november weather
easing up for year-end erasure
mercy     only goodwyfs from the impassable
tide the other side         archive of the flood
these days need crows & so they come we put
glittering things out to draw them near     not
near enough        when my son can't sleep we day
dream the dazzle of sunlight on water
different bodies all the time       it's the dazzle
that soothes him       he stores fragments for later