Tuesday, 10 August 2010


It's nice to be in the younger section for a change, so a brief visit to Swanwick Writers' Summer School (www.swanwickwritersschool.co.uk) fitted that bill. Swanwick has been going since 1949 and some of the attendees have certainly clocked up quite a few of those years. There were younger people there, but not that many, and there were some quiet discussions going on about how to change the demographic. Hard to do, given Swanwick's long history and some of the features. This afternoon, for example, there was a visit to a National Trust property. As opposed to a rave? Good point, but you know what I mean. I was on a panel with an agent, a writer and a cohort from Writers' News. The hot discussion was on e-books, though one person remarked that in 18 months we won't be talking about them anymore because everything - the product, the reader, royalties - will all be sorted. I wish.
Two examples of success though. The current chair is Xanthe Wells, a friend from her Southwell days, who was originally recruited to Swanwick on a bursary for younger writers. And Daniela Norris, cutting an exotic figure being an Israeli who lives in Geneva, remarked that she owed her career to Swanwick. Daniela is the author, with Shireen Anabtawi, of Crossing Qalandiya (Reportage Press), a series of letters between these two women, one Israeli, one Palestinian. On the way back, by the way, people in Derby kept looking at my small bookstall trolley. It is a nice green trolley, but why were they looking at it? It took me a few minutes to realise that there was a big box (recycled from the stock room) with JEWS AND SEX (the title of one of our books) written on it in ENORMOUS letters facing everyone I passed.

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