Autumn/Winter 2015

The 10th anniversary edition of Manchester Literature Festival was a grand affair that stretched through October into November and filled the city with an eyewateringly impressive slew of poets, fictioneers, short storyists and nonfictionistas. This year I hosted more events than ever before, including (deep breath) May-Lan Tan and Mai al-Nakib, Jami Attenberg and Liza Klaussman, doing three in a day at Rising Stars Day (Louise Stern/Benjamin Wood then Mary Costello/Stuart Evers then Sunjeev Sahota/Stephen Kelman), laughing to a borderline unprofessional extent onstage with Tim Key and Jesse Armstrong and hosting two more panels at the ace Northern Lights Writers’ Conference.

These were all wonderful. But my favourite event was the in-conversation with Carrie Brownstein (above), whom I have long loved in both her Sleater-Kinney and Portlandia incarnations. Her new memoir Hunger Makes me A Modern Girl (Virago) is astonishingly good and talking with her about writing, music and being a dork was heaven. I continue to be delighted that talking to interesting people about writing I love is my job.

Our Manchester creative nonfiction project The Real Story has been cracking along, with four live events this year and a move into posting audio of the stories we publish. I’ve also been reading my own work at events all over Manchester. I’ve had three stories published in Neon, a story published and recorded on MacGuffin, and a story included in the Tapes and Tales podcast. On the nonfiction side, I’ve had an essay published in Caught by the River and another is forthcoming from Litro. I was also featured in the first End of All Things podcast talking about nonfiction, women writers, writing about sex and making a living (or not) as a writer. You can listen here.

With all this creative writing my journalistic output has slowed down somewhat. I’ve recently ended my long association with Creative Tourist, a great publication which will, I hope, continue to prosper. I continue to write occasional food and drink columns and reviews for Time Out Manchester, however.

I’ve enjoyed lecturing at Salford University on the online journalism MA this semester, where we’ve been venturing into the outer limits of digital storytelling (and even took an actual ‘field trip’ to Pomona Island. ) I’ve got a couple of guest lecturing gigs coming up, discussing writing about place with MMU’s architecture students and visiting Edge Hill’s creative writing programme to preach the gospel of creative nonfiction.  Another thing I’m preaching about to anyone who will listen are some wonderful books I’ve read lately: Pond by Claire-Louise Bennett, I Love Dick by Chris Kraus and Claudia Rankine’s Citizen. Go read them. No really, I insist.

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