Tag Archives: V.H. Leslie

Breaking Ground by Speaking Volumes

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Speaking Volumes Live Literature Productions’ 2017-18 initiative, the Arts Council England-funded Breaking Ground project aims “to sheds light on how it makes social, political and economic sense to back UK writers of colour and to put them centre stage. Taking British black, Asian and minority ethnic artists to Europe as well as making samples of their work available in translation, Breaking Ground offers the chance to build international networks and connections and to develop writers’ careers across borders and languages.”

Breaking Ground

As part of Breaking Ground a booklet of 200 BAME writers has been launched today at the London Book Fair. This includes 200 contemporary British BAME authors and Speaking Volumes hope that the booklet will be a valuable resource both at home and overseas, demonstrating the wide and varied literature of the UK.

It contains poets, novelists, screenwriters, essayists and playwrights such as Monica Ali, Biyi Bandele, Malorie Blackman, Helen Oyeyemi, Sathan Sanghera and Kit de Waal. I am very proud to be included, along with my genre writing friends,  V.H. Leslie and Dev Agarwal.

View the entire booklet online.

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Speaking Volumes is an organisation dedicated to live literature events
around the world. They have worked with the European Commission to produce a number of literary events in translation and collaborated with EUNIC London (the Heads of the European Cultural Institutions) to produce European Literature Night at the British Library.

Their clients have included the South Asian Literature Festival, The British Council, The Dutch Arts Council, London Book Fair and Free Word Centre. In 2012, they ran Poetry Parnassus on Tour, the largest UK poetry tour of international artists ever produced, in partnership with Southbank Centre. SBC has asked them to programme a number of Parnassus events for the London Literature Festival in 2013. Their future plans in addition to AfroEuropes 2013 include a 100 Poet Festival in Seoul, South Korea in 2013/14 and a tour of Botswana with Afro-European artists

Speaking Volumes was set up by Sharmilla Beezmohun and Sarah Sanders after leaving PEN International in May 2010. The team also includes Nick Chapman, who previously worked as a Project Assistant for the British Council’s Literature Team.

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V.H. Leslie and The Hyde Hotel

The blue room had leant her some of its colour and she couldn’t help but stand out.The Hyde Hotel
From The Blue Room by V. H. Leslie

PS: Hi Victoria. What’s in your room at The Hyde Hotel?
VHL: A woman, a Picasso painting and fifty shades of blue.

PS: Why blue? Tell me about the art influences that run through the story?
VHL: I was at the Museu Picasso in Barcelona a few years ago and was really struck by Picasso’s blue period. I didn’t know much about it at the time but found myself much more moved by this earlier period in his career, than by the cubist work he is more famous for. I’d also watched Dr James Fox’s documentary series, A History of Art in Three Colours and found the idea of seeing the world around us through one colour particularly interesting. Blue is a supremely important colour in terms of historical and cultural associations but also has a strong link to our psyche, as I think Picasso’s blue period exemplifies particularly well.

PS: Your story draws on women’s visibility/ invisibility, colour and madness. Did The Yellow Wallpaper influence you at all?
VHL: Not overtly, but I think ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’ has certainly influenced the themes and concerns I’m interested in exploring as a writer. Actually, at the time of writing ‘The Blue Room’ I was researching material for my novel, most of which was centred on nineteenth-century attitudes and practices associated with women’s health, which included hysteria and mental illness. My background is in nineteenth-century gender studies, so perhaps some of these aspects filtered through.

PS: What appealed to you about the hotel as a setting?
VHL: I liked the fact that it draws on a particular topography we associate with the genre but allows for lots of different spaces, rooms, basements, breakfast rooms, to be exploited by the writer in new ways. Also, hotels provide anonymity and there’s something very engaging about all these people coming and going over time and the things they potentially leave behind. That was certainly a consideration in my story; the pain that my protagonist brings with her, colours her experiences, whilst The Hyde Hotel is an accumulation of all this pain from its previous residents.

PS: Do you have a favourite story in the Hyde Hotel collection yourself?
VHL: I think the anthology contains some absolutely brilliant stories from some very talented writers but if I had to pick just one, I’d say that I particularly liked Alison Littlewood’s ‘The View From the Basement’. As an opening story, it sets up the anthology particularly well, exploring the dimensions of the hotel and alluding to things supressed and buried.

PS: What’s your favourite hotel story/ film?
VHL: The Shining is one of my favourite books of all time. There’s something particularly creepy about an empty hotel, off season. I also really like R.B. Russell’s story ‘Night Porter’ in Shadows and Tall Trees, issue 6, which has a lovely dark and surreal quality to it.

PS: Do you have any new projects you can talk about?
VHL: My debut novel, Bodies of Water is due out from Salt Publishing on May 17th. The story takes place in what was once a hydropathy establishment (a hotel of sorts) beside the Thames, where affluent Victorians went to take the Water Cure. But it isn’t the water treatments but the river itself that accounts for the strange occurrences that take place inside Wakewater House.

 

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V. H. Leslie’s stories have appeared in Black Static, Interzone, Shadows and Tall Trees and V.H. LeslieStrange Tales IV and have been reprinted in a range of ‘Year’s Best’ anthologies. Last year saw the release of her short story collection Skein and Bone and she was a finalist for the Shirley Jackson Award in the category of novelette. She is also a Hawthornden Fellow and has recently returned from the Saari Residency in Finland, where she was researching Nordic water myths for her PhD in English and Creative Writing. Her debut novel, Bodies of Water is due out from Salt Publishing later this year. More details on her work can be found at www.vhleslie.wordpress.com

Skein and Bone – Amazon.

 

 

 

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I wish I could attend this: launch of Skein and Bone by VH Leslie

Skein and BoneJoin me at Blackwell’s Bookshop on Friday 16th October to celebrate the release of my debut short story collection Skein and Bone. -VH Leslie

I’m sad not to be able to go to this but I reckon it’ll be a great night!

Blackwell’s Bookshop, Portsmouth

Friday, October 16th at 18:00 – 19:30

V. H. Leslie launches her short story collection Skein and Bone. The stunning debut collection of supernatural and ghost stories from V.H. Leslie. An assured and masterful collection of lush and evocative tales that will send frissons through you. “An absorbing and gorgeously unsettling collection.” — Alison Moore, Author of ‘The Lighthouse,’ (Short-Listed for the Man Booker Prize. V. H. Leslie’s stories have appeared in a range of speculative publications, including Black Static, Interzone, Shadows & Tall Trees, Weird Fiction Review and Strange Tales IV and have been reprinted in a range of “Year’s Best” anthologies. This is a Free Event. Come join us for refreshments, story reading and a discussion on the short story form.
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The Next Big Thing

I’ve been tagged in the Next Big Thing by the super talented Ray Cluley whose work has been published just about everywhere. My fave thing by him this year is “Shark! Shark!” which appeared in Black Static 29 and is on the HWA’s Stoker Reading List for 2012.

Ray’s other writers are V. H. Leslie , Michael Kelly (writer and editor of Shadows & Tall Trees) and James Cooper.

Here are my answers:

1) What is the working title of your project? It’s a short story called “Rag and Bone” that I’ve recently finished and sent off for judgement.

2) Where did the idea come from for the story? I remember rag and bone men from my childhood, although they’re now making a bit of a comeback, albeit in vans rather than with horses and carts. And I’m a child of the 1970s, so have fond memories of “Steptoe and Son”. The name, rag and bone man, always sounded sinister to me.

3) What genre does your book fall under? Alternative history.

4) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition? This is going to sound cryptic but I can’t tell you who’d play the main character. You’ll see why if it ever gets published. What I would say is that it would be filmed in Liverpool (see below).

5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book? A rag and bone man risks revealing his secret when he gets involved with an industrialist’s search for body parts, set against the backdrop of a pseudo-Victorian Liverpool.

6) Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency? It’s currently with someone awaiting a decision, so I’ve got everything crossed.

7) How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript? All my first drafts take weeks as I write stories piecemeal and then patch them together. It’s not a terribly efficient way of working but the joy is that a complete story often emerges from what I think are a pile of scraps.

8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre? That’s a tough question- if I’m lucky enough to get this published and anyone reads it, let me know if you draw any comparisons.

9) Who or what inspired you to write this book? Liverpool, where I was a student. I now live across the Mersey, on the Wirral. Liverpool is beautiful- it has the highest number of listed buildings in the UK outside London. It wears its history on its sleeve- shipping, the docks, trade unionism, the ugliness of its involvement in the slave trade, its mansions, terraces, art galleries, museums, universities, stadiums, hospitals and pubs.

There are plans to redevelop the waterfront, which are contentious as they may result in the city losing its World Heritage Site status but will create jobs. It set me thinking about an alternative Liverpool still rooted in its industrial past, where its people live in squalor and the merchant princes are all powerful and have access to modern technology. Once I put this together with what I had planned for the rag and bone man, I started to imagine him walking around the city and that’s when he came alive for me.


10) What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?
It’s a story about identity and what people have to do to survive.

I’m handing the baton on to four other authors, whose answers to the above questions on their latest project will be available on Wed 28th November 2012.

Ilan Lerman . Ilan is a wonderful writer and has a new story out in Black Static soon called “Love as Deep as Bones”.

Jo Hall, author and Chair of Bristol Con has had some very exciting news about her writing. New UK based publishers Kristell Ink, the fantasy and SF imprint of Holland House, have accepted her fantasy novel, “Art of Forgetting” and are planning to publish it over two volumes.

Sharon Reamer is an author and geophysicist whose first novel, “Primary Fault“, came out this year and the next part of the trilogy is soon to follow.

I’m a big fan of Georgina Bruce. After reading her stories,  “Touch,Typing” in Dark Tales magazine and “Crow Voodoo” in Clockwork Phoenix Volume 4, I immediately emailed a friend saying, You’ve got to read this woman’s work, she’s the real deal.

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