Category Archives: life

Sophy Dale interview


I recently did a blog posting about my writing process for the wonderful Sophy Dale’s blog. You can read it by following this link

Interview Series #11: Anne Caldwell

There are some great interviews on her blog including Andrew Forster and other writers.

Sophy says about her company Spark:

I am a writer, editor, coach and mentor, based in a small Scottish seaside town just outside Edinburgh. I’ve worked with a huge range of writers, including Margaret Atwood, Ian Rankin, Janice Galloway, Ali Smith, John Burnside, Jackie Kay and Naomi Alderman. I’ve worked for publishers including Canongate Books and Frances Lincoln, for the Scottish Book Trust and Scottish Poetry Library and run the BBC Short Story Award. Along with the novelist Alan Warner, I set up Long Lunch Press, which published Irvine Welsh, James Meek, Elizabeth Reeder and Jen Hadfield. Three years ago, I set up the Spark Writing Development Agency, with a team including literary agents Judy Moir, Fraser Ross Associates and writers Susie Maguire and Linda Cracknell. Most recently, I’ve also been running a children’s Book Festival in Edinburgh and a year round programme of storytelling and author events.

Is this just not such an extraordinary image?

gravitational waves Joe mcNally - Getty Images

A time-exposure representation of gravitational waves from the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory. Credit: Joe McNally/Getty Images

I have just ordered a copy of Black Hole Blues by Janna Levin.

I have always been a fan of books that bridge the gap between science and art ever since reading The Double Helix as a young adult. I also loved the poetry book by Heidi Williamson: Her first collection ‘Electric Shadow’ (Bloodaxe, 2011) was a Poetry Book Society Recommendation and shortlisted for the Seamus Heaney Centre Prize for Poetry, and she trained with me as a writing coach when I worked for NAWE.  ‘The Print Museum’, her next collection, is due out now with Bloodaxe in 2016.

Black Hole Blues and Other Songs from Outer Space
Black Hole Blues and Other Songs from Outer Space By Janna Levin

241 pp. Alfred A. Knopf

In 1977, the Voyager 1 spacecraft carried the Golden Record into space — a disc containing a representative selection of Earth’s sounds, ranging from an erupting volcano to a kiss to some of humanity’s greatest music. It was an endeavor more poetic than scientific, which Carl Sagan saw as sonic proof of our being “a species endowed with hope and perseverance, at least a little intelligence, substantial generosity and a palpable zest to make contact with the cosmos.”

Not my usual reading but let me know what you think.


Visit to Aberdeen and Lumb Bank Reading

Over the Easter break I went on an extraordinary trip north to Aberdeen where my dad was born. I had a collection of photographs that he had taken as a young father when I was small and went in search of some of the locations. I had not been back there in 30 years so the whole experience was an emotional roller coaster. I did fall in love with the city, the sound of people talking, it’s granite buildings, the way you can leave so quickly and head for the mountains.

I am reading at Lumb Bank tonight (17th May) as part of a writing course. This is the first time i have been a guest reader for Arvon and the house is one of my favourite places on the planet. Although it is tucked into the hillside, I am sure I am not the first writer to comment on the quality of light in the building. It feels as if the greenness of the woods colours the space inside.

Some of my poems are being broadcast on Leeds FM this summer and I will post up details as part of Peter Spafford’s ‘Writing On Air’ project. I am also being interviewed about my book and work in education on the 14th June.

Further details to follow.

29th May, 2008

I have been working in the North West for the National Year of Reading this month, running reading workshops and creative writing workshops on the theme of well being. I have met some fantastic readers and writers, and have been greatly encouraged by asking readers what they got out of coming to a group. Their replies were very varied but many people said the experience extended their reading habits and that they would now try a whole range of new fiction.

I have been finishing a story for a new collection of pieces on the theme of mothers and daughters that I am putting together with five other writers and found it a challenge moving from poetry to prose. I have been working on how to get dialogue to sound authentic rather than stilted, and also how to structure a story in a balanced way. I have also been writing a new series of poems exploring old fairy tales, such as the six brothers who got turned into swans, and poems from the point of view of animals. I have been reading a number of books about wilderness – including WildWood by Roger Deakin (which is inspirational), Alice Oswald’s book of poems, Woods etc and The Wild Places by Robert Macfarlane whose prose is like drinking spring water. Why this theme? My good friends Karen Smith and Helen Beale pointed me in this direction, knowing my interest in contemporary ways to write about ecology and the natural world. I think I also have a bit of cabin fever, so have been vacariously travelling in my head by reading this selection of books.

Just Returned from Belfast

3rd March, 2008.

This is my first live entry to my blog.  I have just returned from the Belfast Meets Wales Conference, held in Belfast and run in conjunction with the Writers’ Guild, Wales, and Academi.  Highlights included a fascinating discussion by a journalist called Peter Taylor who has written extensively about ‘the troubles’ followed by a tour of the city  which set the discussion in context  and in graphic reality.  I was stunned to see murals from both sides of the divide in the city and the so called ‘Peace Wall’ that made me think of Palestine, Berlin and all those interior walls we carry in our heads without the visual symbolism. I am now currently reading a memoir called ‘asking for trouble’ by Patricia Craig as a way in to deepening my understanding of some of the recent history. It also gives a woman’s view of Catholicism and being brought up by nuns!  I was over at the conference with a group of writers and literature activists from Yorkshire, and Jane Stubbs. Very tired today, with my head full of new ideas and information.  I also really enjoyed meeting Lucy Caldwell – novelist and Glen Patterson, who I knew a long time ago and was delighted to see again.  He had a great description of how to describe Northern Ireland:  He thought of his birthplace as ‘over here’  and England as ‘over there’.  This description neatly bypassed all the linguistic and political problems of calling Northern Ireland ‘The Province’ or England ‘The Mainland’ and many other labels.