Una Rose – Author

Putting the world to write!

When writers come together

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This week I ran an event in my town bringing together a rather unusual mix of writers to read their work to a network of writers and artists. A few years ago, I set up the network called SWAN – Southend Writers and Artists Network – a simple page on Facebook which has grown through word of mouth to over 260 local writers and people passionate about books and the arts. Although it was all my idea, I was still very heartened by the enthusiasm of others who post their latest projects or of competitions and events they hear about. This passion for writing was also evident in the readings some of the SWANs gave to a packed room of strangers and people they have perhaps shared a few words with via the internet. It was a form of speed-dating (with no love interest) for writers when we all met in the room for our first social event.

Many of the authors and poets who stood before us at the SWAN event were reading for the first time but afterwards they said the warm reception of the audience put them fully at ease. No wonder, the talent was impressive! I had not wanted to vet anyone’s work as a network it is open to all. But I was none the less surprised at what they had in store for us. Poems as diverse as cultural adventures in Berlin, the spiritual world and what it is to be a woman loved, read with real panache and humour. We were also treated to real slice of rich novel material: science fiction about true experiments on humans set in a futuristic world; a teen time travelling tale with a real twist of history with Hitler ruling Britain; a children’s crime adventure story and a Gothic mystery book. We heard a classic Turkish tale of Nazrudin by an energetic storyteller and the real words of Cunning Murrell, a renown witch of 19th century Hadleigh, Essex. And some wise words also from a radio and media specialist on how authors can better present themselves. I couldn’t have asked for the event to have been any better and from the warm words of congratulations, despite all the hard work and time spent organising it. I got a lot of support on the night from other SWAN members, who helped with the bar, door and furniture, leaving me with the easy job of compere!

The surroundings helped enormously. Metal, the renown arts group, has established an arts centre in a park in Southend and in recent weeks has been transformed into a homage to Dr Feelgood, the iconic R&B band that was formed by a group teenagers in Canvey Island, Essex in the 1960s and have gone on to have global success. The former lead singer Wilko Johnson who has also had incredible success as a solo artist is a well loved personality of Southend. His guitar takes centre stage of this exhibition of memorabilia and newspaper cuttings (well worth a visit if you are in the London/Essex area. Runs til mid December: http://www.metalculture.com/event/feelgood-cafe/).

Having such esteemed success come from a provincial town really lifts the mood and pride of the local people. Southend has more professional artists than St Ives in Cornwall and also an incredible diverse  literary talent base and an avid readership. The local Waterstones store has an entire shelving area by the entrance set aside to local history books and despite the big name publishing companies paying royally to have their stock of books placed in such a prime position, the store knows its local shoppers crave books about their town more than any PR driven novel. How do I know this? As well as an author, I ought declare my status as independent publisher. The first book I launched as a Fisherman’s life story Sole Searching and it got a lot of media attention. The store invited us in to do a signing, and there was a healthy queue waiting for us, as many of the customers recalled the days of fishermen calling to their door with pales of cockles to sell. At the end of the sale, we saw the Local Bestsellers book stand had an empty space at number 3. Rather cheekily I placed a copy of Sole Searching there. The manageress saw me do it and came over, saying “This will not do.” I thought we were being admonished but instead she moved our book to the number one spot! We had that day outsold the book at number 2 which was Call For The Midwife, by Jennifer Worth, which was on sale at half price and was doing well because of the new TV drama series of the same name. I have released another local history title since, EKCO Sounds which has again sold in the hundreds in the Southend store. All hail our local readers!

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This entry was posted on September 27, 2014 by in Uncategorized.

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