East Midlands-based BME Writer needed for graphic novel

I’ve not been posting much on this blog of late because my life has been taken over by a graphic novel I’m producing/editing together. But it’s worth sharing this news here as there’s an opportunity for a BME writer from the East Midlands to write our final chapter. I’ve tried to get a balance between established and up-and-coming writers so far so don’t worry if you haven’t been paid £5 for a story yet. The only thing that matters is your idea. Anyway, here’s a copy and paste job to get you thinking…

Dawn of the Unread is an interactive graphic novel that is available across all media platforms (iPad, Android, iPhone, website) and aims to raise awareness of Nottingham’s literary history. The narrative is a loose twist on the zombie genre: ‘When the dead go unread there’s gonna be trouble. Writers from Nottingham’s past return from the grave in search of the one thing that can keep their memories alive: boooks’.

On the 8th of each month a new comic is released and is created by different artists and writers. These include: Alison Moore, Eddie Campbell, Hunt Emerson and Nicola Monaghan. Each writer explores one iconic figure from Nottingham’s literary past that includes: The 5th Duke of Portland, Slavomir Rawicz, the fictional hybrid Byron Clough, Alma Reville (Mrs Hitchcock) Alan Sillitoe, D.H Lawrence and many more. This is literature in its most diverse sense, exploring medieval ballads, black-letter verses, poetry, philosophy, literature, and reportage.

Dawn of the Unread was created to raise awareness of the importance of libraries and independent bookshops. We wanted to raise the question of what happens to writers if their work is not preserved and accessible. However, one thing that became pretty evident early on was most of the writers resurrected from the dead tended to be Caucasian males. This got us thinking: what happens to all of the stories of BME writers who never made it into the library in the first place. How can we celebrate their lives? How can we ensure their stories are preserved and celebrated?

Writer needed

We want you to pitch a small synopsis of a story that involves a real BME literary figure for our final chapter. Your story must address the following issues:

• Your synopsis should be no more than two paragraphs. It should also include an additional paragraph on your chosen literary figure. As a general guide, all the information should fit on one page.

• Your story must feature a library, bookshop or reading in some capacity. This doesn’t have to be on the nail. For example, in Nicola Monaghan’s story Psychos, a disused library is used for an illegal rave. That’s it.

• Your character needs to fight the cause for black/Asian writers, pointing out their absence from our story so far. One thing I am particularly interested in is a story that addresses the concept of ‘zombie’. This can be traced to Haiti and voodoo culture. Perhaps your literary figure is sick of other culture’s narratives being hijacked by the West…

• Your literary figure needs to be from Nottingham. Duh!

• Also include a small biog. Tell us who you are why you want to be involved in this graphic novel.

General information/criteria

• You will be given a script editor to help you through the process so don’t worry if you haven’t been published before. Your idea is what matters.

• You must be based in the East Midlands (we will cover travel costs for editorial meetings)

• You must be from a BME background. Age and gender are irrelevant

• The fee is £250 for 8 pages (remember this is a graphic novel so words are precious)

• The publication date would be 8 May 2015 but we need the approved script by 8 January 2015

• Closing date for your synopsis is 8 October 2014.

• The shortlisted writers will be announced at the Festival of Words event Zombie Mastermind (with Lydia Towsey), in the spoken word tent ‘Word Space Two’ at Old Market Square, 3 – 4pm on Sunday, 19 October

• Send your synopsis to info@writingeastmidlands.co.uk

• The successful writer will be notified via email on 23 October 2014

For further information on this project see the Dawn of the Unread website

Nottingham: UNESCO City of Literature?

Andrew 'Mulletproof' Graves read at the UNESCO meeting.

It’s a good time to be living in Nottingham at the moment. There’s a real buzz about the place and at long last we’re slowly starting to get the recognition we deserve in the wider press. Let’s just remind ourselves of a couple of things that are going on. The Nottingham Writers’ Studio, of which I am the Chair, has moved to new premises at 25 Hockley (hope you will join us at our launch on the 16 May) which has an incredible performance space downstairs and four offices to rent to like-minded organisations. As independent bookshops fell below 1000 in April, we bucked the trend when Ross Bradshaw opened up the Five Leaves Bookshop. This was recently followed by Ideas on Paper, a bespoke magazine shop in Cobden Chambers.

We’re home to more publishers than I have fingers which includes Pewter-Rose Press, who publish short stories in an era that keeps claiming this format is dead and Candlestick Press, whose novelty poetry pamphlets ‘More than a Card’ have helped make poetry more accessible. We have a writer development agency in Writing East Midlands who organised a Writers’ Conference in April as well as ongoing workshops for aspiring authors. We celebrate local authors through The East Midlands Book Award and have a city-wide literature festival in October called the Festival of Words.

When you start to throw local writers into the equation such as Betty Trask winner Nicola Monaghan, Booker shortlisted author Alison Moore, or Impac winner Jon McGregor, it’s clear we have writers worth reading, each following on in the footsteps of Byron, Lawrence and Sillitoe et all. All of which has led to a recent collaboration by local organisations, (thanks in particular to Pippa Hennessy, Stephen Lowe, Bromley House Library and City Council), to put in a UNESCO bid for Nottingham to be officially recognised as a City of Literature. So you can see why I find it so hard to leave my home town (I’ve left four times but always been drawn back by the people).

Alex of Ideas on Paper. You can find them at 1 Cobden Chambers Pelham Street

For the UNESCO bid to be successful then everybody involved in the writing industry needs to find new ways to work together and support each other. I’ve done this recently through an interactive graphic novel I’m editing together called Dawn of the Unread. It aims to support libraries and independent bookshops by raising awareness of local authors and our incredible literary history. In addition to the links we’ve made within literary circles we’ve also extended out into the wider community by partnering with design agencies, colleges, universities and local action groups such as the Women’s Centre. We’ve also incorporated news of the UNESCO bid into one of our pages, which is why news like this needs to be shared so that other projects can be reactive and supportive.

Nottingham is not just a creative quarter, it’s a creative city. So next time you’re thinking of putting together a project remember our streets are full of stories. As I often like to smugly joke to people: You can’t walk down the street in Nottingham without bumping into a writer. But finding a decent plumber is a bleddy nightmare.

CITIES OF LITERATURE