Almost all of us read stories of one kind or another. I know someone who reads only non-fiction, but the best of that has stories too. Many of us write. The art of letter writing may be dying, but the Facebook post and the blog are common, and there are lots of people write longer fiction ( and non-fiction ), be they full or part-time, professional or writers ‘just for fun’. Meeting ‘book people’ of all kinds is one of the great enjoyments of being a writer.
This week I met several of them. At Omnibus, the Arts Centre in Clapham, I met Marie McCarthy, its Artistic Director and George Owen MBE, its Chairman. The building that houses it was formerly Clapham Public Library ( which has moved, not closed, like so many others ). George led a seven-year, successful campaign to retain it in public ownership, not sell to developers and now the building is at the hub of a thriving arts scene, including the Clapham Opera Festival and the Clapham Literary Festival. I was fortunate to be given a tour of the wonderful performance spaces, including a 200 seat theatre, large, high ceilinged rehearsal spaces and a welcoming bar and café area, all to the melodious sounds of Thelonius Monk being played by a pianist practicing in the large upstairs room. The former life of the building is reflected throughout, with books forming external sculptures and lining the stairway. As they say ‘We believe in stories. Especially the made up ones.’
At a local café I met Monisha Saldana, full of energy and commitment, even with two young children, one still a babe in arms. When she’s not doing her day job in digital publishing and publicity ( Monisha did Jamie Oliver’s digital press ) she is one half, with Maya Cointreau, of Momaya Press, based in South London and Connecticut, an organisation dedicated to the short story and its writers. I’ll be going along to Momaya’s Writers Anonymous Night in November to read from a latest work, probably not my own, but from another Story Bazaar author. For those of you who fancy trying your hand at writing short stories, Momaya runs an annual competition, which is gaining an international reputation. Judges include writers and publishers, with publication for the top ten stories and others which are considered to merit a special mention. The 2016 competition is now open, with a theme of ‘Ambition’ and a deadline of 30th April 2016.
I didn’t even have to leave the house to meet up with M.C.V.Egan of Florida, U.S.A. Catalina is another super-powered American, who manages to survive family life and a writing and blogging career and we met through Book Blogs, an on-line organisation to which we both belong. Catalina has been kind enough to feature ‘The Village; A Year in Twelve Tales’ on her own site and on IntroSpective Press and I will be blogging on her history BlogSpot shortly.
Three wonderful book people, all women ( excluding George, whose battle to save the Library deserves a blog all to itself ).