I’m very much looking forward to this event. Here you will get to meet the editors of Digbeth Stories, hear their thoughts on the state of publishing in the UK, why they’ve chosen Digbeth and what makes a good piece of writing as well as hear from Kit de Waal who will be submitting a brand new story to the anthology. As well as all the above it’s an ideal opportunity to meet other writers and to pitch your story ideas to the editors. See you there.
You have two chances to hear me read from my latest book, Submerged, next week.
First up is City Voices in Wolverhampton. It all starts at 7:30 at The Lighthouse a few minutes walk from the train and bus stations. City Voices is one of the Midlands’ finest spoken word evenings and never fails to delight with its range and quality of work on offer. I will be selling books.
Secondly, will be the official Birmingham launch of Submerged, and it’s going to be a corker, but don’t just take my word for it check out the line-up here.
Time for me to put my money where my mouth is and to post my first sketch for Sketchtember.
Here you can see our family cat, Brian, in all his glory. This was quite a quick sketch, about 15-20 minutes using an H pencil which was the first pencil I could find as my daughter has most of the art stuff squirrelled away in her room.
When I was younger, I used to draw all the time; I was very much like my daughter in that I would draw for hours every day for the sheer joy of it. These days I rarely draw anything, so I’m hoping that Sketchtember will reignite my love of drawing.
I hope you enjoy this.
You don’t need to be confident about your drawing, or even feel that you can draw – everyone can draw, to enjoy sketching. Get those pencils out and recapture the freedom and joy of mark making. Sketchtember is a great idea.
Janey’s airstream by Kevan Manwaring (Medium: water-soluble pencil) 2017
The artist Paul Klee once wrote that “Drawing is taking a line for a walk”. Well, how about talking a line for a month-long walk, by rising to the challenge of Sketchtember (AKA ‘Septpencil’) and attempting a pencil sketch every day throughout the month of September? Sketches can literally five minute doodles or two hour masterpieces, in graphic or coloured, on any subject you fancy – the main thing is to have fun!
The idea came to me while undertaking Jake Parker’s great initiative ‘Inktober’ last year. I enjoyed the challenge of doing an ink sketch a day for a month immensely, and really noticed how my drawings improved over four weeks. I thought a natural predecessor would be a month of pencil sketching (I love the sensitivity of pencil and I’m huge fan of masters like Burne Jones and Alan…
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For those of you who are of a creative or aquatic bent, you may be interested to know that I will once again be leading canal based creative writing workshops. Those crazy fools at the Birmingham Literature Festival have asked me to lead dusk till dawn writing sessions as part of this year’s festival.
I don’t have a lot of details yet, but I guess that they will be similar to the ones I ran back in April as part of the pop-up festival. Back then, we started from Birmingham’s historic Roundhouse and explored the canals via canoe and kayak. It was a real eye-opener for me. There are parts of the city you can only explore from the canal. Deserted glassworks, industrial loading bays and the Victorian red brick of disused warehouses stand beside the canal, and their decaying shells now home a multitude of wildlife and their walls canvases for graffiti artists and frustrated lovers.
We will spend at least an hour on the water and then back inside the relative, although not guaranteed, warmth of the Roundhouse I’ll put you through your paces with some short, focused writing exercises that will nudge you towards creating longer pieces of work.
Last Saturday, we launched Night Swimming, at the ‘book festival in a day,’ States of Independence. When I say we, I mean Matthew Pegg – a marvellous and industrious human being – introduced it, and I read a brief extract from one of the stories.
Matthew did a top rate job taking about Mantle Lane Press and the three collections that are out now, including, Night Swimming. My reading went really well; there was a great reaction from those there and a posting of purchases on Twitter soon after.
Night Swimming is:
“A collection of dark, urban tales: the pros and cons of stealing a pensioner, a mothers prison visit, incipient love and roller skating, the guilt of a brothers death, and a past love burnt out by rioting. Stories that deal with loss, longing and hope.
Garrie Fletcher writes about the gaps between lives, the pauses between stations and the static hiss of the city. The moments he captures are fleeting and easily missed, but resonate like a steel string plucked above a pickup, distorted and electric.
Mantle Lane Press small books can be slipped into a pocket and make an ideal stocking filler for literature lovers. ”
To get your hands on a copy of this beautiful book just click here. You can also order it from your local bookshop, or if you’re local, to me, get in touch, and I can get a signed copy to you.
My collection of short stories, entitled: Night Swimming, will be launched on March the 11th, at States of Independence in Leicester. States of Independence is a gathering of independent publishers. There will be workshops, readings, panels, seminars, book launches, bookstalls, independent presses, regional writers and much, much more. I think it’ll be based at De Montfort University, but I’ll let you know the full details when I get them.
If you’re in Leicester, or fancy a day in that fine city, then please come along and say hi. Previous events have been free of charge and there’s plenty to see and do
Fletcher’s on the road again!
As part of this year’s Birmingham Literature Festival, I shall be taking part in the Short and Sweet: Short Fiction Salon and reading a new short story. This event is hosted by fiction writer and Heart Breakfast presenter Rachel New and is Free!
So, treat yourself to an earful of fiction and come down to The Door Space at the Rep, next to the Library for a 6pm start.
All details and how to book (remember its free) can be found here.
Or: Why does a 46 year old man drive 274 miles in one night to see a band?
Today I find myself groggy and out of sync. Everything seems muffled and a little duller, the colours are muted and there’s an underlying hum, like a guitar amp left on low, an almost imperceptible electric hiss underlying everything. The weather, even now building into the muggy onset of a storm, is not to blame. No, last night I saw Blur.
Yesterday I left work sat in traffic for nearly two hours trying to get out of Birmingham and then shot up the A41 (to name but one road) to Llandudno. I don’t know a lot about Llandudno, I’ve only been there a few times, but it’s never struck me as a rock and roll town. With its Victorian promenade and four-story guest houses it looks more like the kind of place you’d take your aged aunt for a pot of tea and an iced bun, not somewhere you’d jump around for two hours whilst choking back the stench of other people’s sweat and the richly spiced gas that their pre gig snacks and drinks have evolved into.
Llandudno looked pretty good in the early evening sun, a vanilla glow covered the bay as middle-aged couples took in the sea air. I parked right outside The Venue (no, really, it’s called The Venue,) decided it was madness to join the queue that snaked away from the entrance for some ridiculous length down the road and walked into town. Llandudno continued to appear sedate and at peace with itself. I ordered a heroic portion of fish, chips and mushy peas, sat down and took in the world.
Blur took to the stage with a confidence and aggressive swagger that stripped the years away. Damon was a man possessed, his eyes feral, unblinking, taunting the crowd, pumping them up to breaking point. Graham was gripped with a boyish intensity, attacking his guitar in staggered blasts as his face lit up with delight. Alex strutted around the stage in a shirt and tie, his face a mask of cool aloofness that soon dissolved into beaming joy, whilst Dave pounded at the drums his face gurning out every beat, his tongue in danger of dragging his forehead over his eyes.
Don’t ask me what the first song was, I can’t remember. I didn’t go there to write a review. I didn’t go there to spend two hours stretching with my phone to get the perfect shot and obscure the view of everyone behind, (so ta for these pics Wales’ Daily Post,) or to start a fight with someone who was more beard than man (although that was tempting.) I went to see Blur and by God they were bloody good.
Go Out kicked things off (thanks again Daily Post, at least someone was taking notes) and was magnificent, firing the crowd up into a near hysterical fever of chanting and beer throwing. This was followed by a break neck speed There’s No Other Way. Two songs in and I was lost in a sea of joyous madness. The new songs were incredible, full of verve and confidence, such a pleasure to hear them with 2500 strangers.
The performance was electric. Blur stormed through songs from all their albums including seven from The Magic Whip,the highlight of which was Terracotta Heart the song that details Damon and Graham’s friendship, a friendship that is the heart of Blur. Coffee and TV was fun, Parklife expected as was Girls & Boys, I Broadcast almost took the roof off and The Universal had me close to tears at the end. The surprise of the evening was He Thought Of Cars, an album track from The Great Escape. In its recorded version its a pleasant enough experience a gentle enough refrain on globalisation -possibly? and yet, last night it was transformed into a snarling demonic beast that had the hairs on my hairs standing on end.
Tender and Song 2 had everyone by the throat and groin, a hall full of people swept away by the sheer, primitive magnificence of it all.
I left the gig buzzing. Stared at the sea for a bit and decided to drive home: there was no way I was sleeping after that.
And this is where I came in, I think: Why does a 46 year old man drive 274 miles in one night to see a band? Because they’re not just any old band, they’re Blur.
They’re the band I grew up with. They were there when I was an arsehole, when I was young and stupid, when my heart was broken, when my teeth were broken. They were there with me and my mates and they were there when my mates were gone, they were there when my mates came back. And that’s the key to this. They’re not a manufactured money machine or an ‘arty’ sneering experiment. They’re four friends who’ve grown up, grown apart, fallen out and then fallen back in again. They’re my band and I love them and fuck it, it’s only 274 miles.