Places and spaces

It has been a busy, and satisfying ‘writerly’ few weeks.

During May I was delighted to be invited to read one of my stories at a Brighton Fringe Festival event hosted by ‘Rattle Tales’. The Rattle Tales team are a collective of Brighton based writers who aim to bring the excitement of new writing into the public arena and stimulate writer creativity. They certainly achieve this! These lovely folk regularly stage interactive performances which have developed over time from small intimate events to sell out festival shows. I have performed with Rattle Tales before but it was a particular joy to be on stage for a Fringe Festival event. The show also had a wonderful review from Jonna Brett at ‘Broadway Baby’ who called my piece ‘playful and clever’ – I will very happily take that! (Links posted below). It was a fun night full of wonderful stories and honestly, I enjoyed being a bit of a stage diva. I cannot recommend the Rattle Tale evenings enough. So many great stories shared and always a hugely supportive audience with thoughtful questions. I very much hope to be invited back again.

The day after the performance I made my way to Bristol for a three and a half day immersion in crime fiction via the annual event that is Crimefest. It was a wonderful three days full of learning opportunities and debates, CWA Dagger awards, audiences with key stars of the genre – and, tragically for bank balances, a huge and crime writing dedicated book shop.

The first Crimefest convention was in 2008 and has since become a key date in the international crime fiction calendar. It draws top crime novelists, readers, editors, publishers and of course readers from all over the world. I have wanted to go for a number of years but work related commitments always made it difficult. This year I was able to attend and participated in so many symposia, workshops and presentations which, without exception, were useful and interesting. To give just a flavour of what was on offer, I attended a session discussion ‘cosy’ versus ‘noir’ crime fiction; another on special (dis) abilities in crime fictions such as those of the famous Lincoln Rhyme in Jeffery Deaver’s books. Another session considered partners who could not be trusted whilst the secrets and lies to be found in families were interestingly debated and discussed in a further panel session. My particular area of interest – psychology and psychopathology led to me buying so many books of the authors participating in the panel addressing just this, I could hardly wheel my suitcase on the way home. The itinerary across the three days was nothing short of fabulous and it was difficult to choose which to prioritise. A particular delight were the two sessions with firstly Lee child and Jeffery Deaver, and, secondly Peter James and Martina Cole. Each author proved themselves to be as interesting, funny, informed and charismatic as you might imagine from their writing. All of them were great and it seems unfair to single one out but I was intrigued by how very accessible Lee Child was – he attended the event as a delegate rather than a star and sat in on a number of sessions. He appeared to be happy to chat at the bar and seemed very down to earth. I am quite sure it will become a part of my annual calendar of events now.

Immediately following Crimefest I went up to my home county of Yorkshire which provided a fantastic opportunity for family time but also, deliciously anticipated writing time – I had so many words needing to be put on paper after the convention! However, Lee Child had even more of an influence than I had realised. During his interview he gave advice to writers. “READ!” he said, reminding the audience that he usually writes one book a year but reads up to three hundred.

What actually happened in Yorkshire is that I took his advice and read. And read. And read… I enjoyed lovely and precious time with my own (largely fully functional) family and then, awash with fabulous books from the convention bookshop, spent time with a whole lot of other dysfunctional beings created by authors new to me. I read books from Alex Dahl (The Boy Next Door – I had an early review copy); Chris Curren (Her Deadly Secret); BA Paris (Bring Me Back and Behind Closed Doors); Dirk Kurbjuweit (Fear); Claire Allen (Her Name Was Rose). I never actually opened my lap top…

When I did get home and back on line I discovered, with great pride and gratitude, that a short piece of prose I have written about experiences of disability has been included in an art installation which is featured in the London Festival of Architecture. The piece ‘Solus and the City’ is a project of Degenerate Spaces. It has involved the construction of a ’solitude shed’ which is based on a rural bothie. The shed encourages visitors to consider the necessity and availability of shelter and shows women’s experiences of ‘space’ and the environment. The shed/bothie will be open, free to visit, at the Greenfield Playing Field, SE22 8BB throughout June as part of the London Festival of Architecture 2018 (link below for more information – the LFA site gives clear location information).

I must take the opportunity to acknowledge the marvellous poet Majikle who told me about the call for submissions. Her work is also included in the installation. Check out her work at

Rattle Tales information at

Brett, J. 17th May 2018 ‘Rattle Tales’. Broadway Baby


Degenerate Spaces ‘Solus and the City’

London Festival of Architecture ‘Solus and the City’