Mace and Jones Short Story Competition

Leading Merseyside law firm, Mace & Jones, is launching a short story competition to coincide with Liverpool’s year as European Capital of Culture.

Mace & Jones head of employment law and celebrated crime fiction author Martin Edwards [who edited the recent Crime Writers Association anthology M.O. which I’m enjoying at the moment–Ed.] said the firm is aiming to make a meaningful contribution to the Capital of Culture celebrations. “The short story is a marvellous literary form I am passionate about,” he said.  “The idea is simple. We encourage both amateurs and professionals to submit a story on the theme of ‘justice’. From the judging panel’s viewpoint the field is wide open.”

The competition has a maximum word count of 3,000 words and a deadline of August 31 2008. All entry fees of £10 go to Local Solutions, a charity supported by Mace & Jones. The short story competition is open to entrants of any age and background, whether they are published authors or beginners, with the prizes on offer being first prize £500, second prize £250, third prize £150 and fourth, £100.

All entries should be typed, indented, double-spaced and written in Size 12 Times New Roman font. Entries can be submitted by email via the Mace & Jones Website,, or by standard post to: Samantha Kinnear, Mace & Jones, Drury House, 19 Water Street, Liverpool, L2 0RP. Cheques and Postal Orders should be made payable to Mace & Jones and please include a Self Addressed Postcard with all postal entries to receive notification of receipt of entry.

Further details can be obtained from Mace & Jones’ Marketing Manager, Samantha Kinnear, on samantha.kinnear[AT]

Mace & Jones, which has offices in Liverpool, Manchester and Knutsford in Cheshire, has long had literary connections. Two previous senior partners, Brian Fraser Harrison and Barrie Marsh, published books and, more recently, Martin Edwards has published non-fiction books, edited and contributed to short story anthologies and written highly acclaimed crime fiction novels, including his much loved Lake District Mysteries and the ever popular Harry Devlin series which is set to return in May with Waterloo Sunset (Alison & Busby).

Kitchen Table Lingo

You’re not going to get far just thingying your wotsit, madam, and, sir, I’m afraid the door policy means your whatchermightcallit is out of the question. Once upon a time you could have gained acceptance by gyring and gimbling in the wabe, but too late now. Time races fast in the fluid world of language.

It is of course virtually impossible to find passwords/usernames/email addresses that have not already been taken, but The English Project’s new initiative, ‘Kitchen Table Lingo’ takes the inventiveness of the English language’s resources even further, and is looking for your made up words. Words for your whatchermightcallit, for example, or baby words, or that grunting syllable that uniquely expresses bafflement in your close circle of friends. What do you shout instead of ‘Goooooaaaaal!”? Follow this link to read more and to register your new-fangles.

Their only stipulations are that words have to be new-coined, not included in the OED, or at least, not with the usage that you give to them, and your new words have to be currently used by three or more people, and have been used for more than a month. (Don’t just make them up for the occasion, for truly truly God is watching with Dr Johnson on his right hand side.)

They’ll start publishing contributions in their Databank on the 1st of July, and there is even the tantalising mention of an Award for some lucky contributor.

Here’s the link again.

Event: The impact of German-language culture in the UK

How receptive is the British public to the history and culture of its close neighbours in German-speaking Europe? Come and listen to 6 industry specialists from publishing, theatre and the art world discussing the practical challenges and cultural considerations in packaging German-language culture for a British audience. Have the fall of the wall, the increased profile of contemporary German-language film and literature in translation, and the successful hosting of the 2006 World Cup altered British attitudes to the German-speaking countries, or do representatives of all things German still find themselves battling against ingrained stereotypes? Is the dramatic decline in European language learning at British schools cementing intolerance and cultural indifference for generations to come, or might it actually increase the market for translation and specialist cultural mediation?

Featuring: Chair: Michael Schmidt, Professor of Poetry (Glasgow), editor Carcanet Press
Christoph Grunenberg, director of Tate Liverpool
Karen Leeder, Reader in German (Oxford), freelance translation and radio work
Walter Meierjohann, Associate Director at Young Vic Theatre, London
Rebecca Morrisson, Editor of New Books in German (London)

This event is a round-table discussion followed by questions from the floor. It is being held in The Auditorium at Tate Liverpool on Thursday 24th July at 5.30pm. The event is free but pre-registration is needed. Please email rebecca.braun [AT] or lyn.marvyn [AT} to book your place. To find out more information click here.

Local Literary Events

There are some really fantastic literature events coming up over the next few weeks in the North West, including author readings, drama and poetry performances and literary workshops. We have pulled together a few highlights to showcase some of what’s on offer this month.

Events across Liverpool:

Rob Chapman and Willy Vlautin, Monday 7th April 7.30pm – 9pm, the Bluecoat, tickets £7/5

This is an event for both literature and music lovers alike – two authors with a music background read from their new novels:

Manchester’s Rob Chapman regularly contributes to Mojo, Uncut and The Times. Dusk Music is a darkly comic account of a musician’s career, featuring real-life characters and events such as Jimi Hendrix and the famous Hyde Park concerts.

Musician Willy Vlautin‘s writing has been praised for its “compassion and warmth” (The Times). Willy will read extracts from his second novel Northline, accompanied by the specially composed soundtrack to the novel.

Endgame, 11th April – 3rd May, 7.45pm, the Everyman, tickets £8 – £12.50

Two Matthews. Two Dustbins. No Plot.

A man who can’t stand up, and one who can’t sit down.
Two legless parents and a three-legged dog.
A telescope, a ladder and a fugitive rat.
The stage is set.
How will it end?

Featuring a return to the Everyman stage, alumnus Matthew Kelly returns to Liverpool with his son Matthew Rixon, in a new production of Samuel Beckett’s ‘masterpiece of the absurd’ directed by the award-winning Lucy Pitman-Wallace.

Costa Liverpool Poetry Café, Open Mic Night – Monday 14th April, 7.30-9.30, Costa, Bold Street, free

Heart Beats Rhyme and Roll Poetry Night with Poetry in the City present Salt poets, Tuesday 15th April, 7.30pm – 10.30pm, the Bluecoat, tickets £3/2

Forward Prize nominee Eleanor Rees presents her 2007 collection, Andraste’s Hair: poems of myth, memory, folksong and murder ballad. Jo Colley‘s new collection, Weeping for the Lovely Phantoms, has received widespread critical acclaim with its “distorted landscapes infested with the manifold ghosts of the unresolved and unrequited”. Jo and Elly will be joined by another exciting Salt poet, plus live music from one of Heart Beats’ favourite rock bands.

Fiction reading by Maria McCann and Michael Symmons Roberts – Powerful Prose, Thursday 17th April, 7.30pm – 9pm, the Bluecoat, tickets £7/5

Liverpool born Maria McCann‘s first novel, As Meat Loves Salt, was an Economist ‘Book of the Year’ and featured in September 2007 as one of the Observer‘s ‘Fifty Most Underrated Novels.’ Set in the 17th century, the novel examines the workings of power and explores what happens when someone obsessed by rage and guilt becomes enthralled by idealism.

Michael Symmons Roberts will read from his new novel, Breath, a moving examination of a country recovering from a brutal and divisive civil war. A poet and novelist, his fourth book of poetry, Corpus, was the winner of the 2004 Whitbread Poetry Award.

Orange Broadband Readers’ Day – Saturday 19th April, the Bluecoat, 1pm – 5.30pm, tickets £10/8

Meet some of the UK’s most interesting female cultural and literary figures, take part in exciting book discussions and attend inspiring workshops. Kate Mosse, bestselling author and Honorary Director of the Orange Broadband Prize for Fiction joins Clare Allan, Shami Chakrabarti, Philippa Gregory, Bel Mooney and Lionel Shriver for an afternoon of readings and discussions. Beginning with refreshments at 1pm, the audience will have the opportunity to attend events with all five guests and Kate Mosse. This is a wonderful opportunity to spend time with some of the UK’s most interesting cultural and literary female figures and to be privy to the next generation as judges Clare Allan and Shami Chakrabarti will discuss the shortlist of the Orange Award for New Writers 2008.

Orange Broadband Prize for Fiction Readers’ Day is brought to Liverpool to celebrate Capital of Culture 08 by Orange, The Reading Agency, Liverpool Libraries and Time to Read, The Reader Organisation and the Bluecoat.

The Film of the Book and the Book of the Film: Fight Club – Thursday 24th April, 6.30pm, café at FACT, free

Chuck Palahniuk’s novel Fight Club and David Fincher’s film of the same name have become cult classics since their release in the late 90s. The story is narrated by a nameless protagonist (Edward Norton) and with his growing discomfort with consumerism and the emasculating effects of American culture. After a chance meeting with Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt), he creates an underground fighting club as a radical form of psychotherapy. Read, watch, or do both and come to our meeting to marvel at a pop culture phenomenon. Organised by The Reader Organisation

Costa Liverpool Poetry Café – Thursday 24th April, 7.30-9.30, Costa, Bold Street, free

Jean Sprackland (Costa Poetry Award winner 2007) and Headland Press poets: Ade Jackson, Janette Stowell, Sarah Maclennan, Dave Ward.

… and slightly further afield

Wirral BookFest, Monday 7th – Sat 12th April, various venues across Wirral

This new festival, organised by Wirral libraries, promises something for everyone, from graphic novels workshop for youngsters to a murder mystery evening in Wirral’s spookiest library! Big name guests include popular children’s author Brian Jacques, acclaimed poet John Siddique and a special ‘Meet the Authors’ session with a trio of best-selling novelists: JoJo Moyes, Mike Gayle and Jenny Colgan.

The Other Room – Wednesday 9th April, 7pm, Old Abbey Inn, Pencroft Way, Manchester, free

A new evening of innovative/experimental poetry in Manchester, in association with Openned, the highly successful London reading series. The first evening features readings by Alan Halsey, Tom Jenks and Geraldine Monk. Subsequent events will take place on the first Wednesday of every second month.

The Northern Poetry Slam – Thursday 17th April, 9pm, The Northern Pub, Tibb Street, Manchester, free

The first in a regular new series of poetry slams at The Northern is hosted by the effervescent comedian John Cooper and features a special guest appearance from Max Seymour, winner of last year’s Manchester Literature Festival Comedy Slam. Come and discover the city’s rising stars of poetry and comedy and help crown a champion.

So Spirited A Town–Nicholas Murray Interview

Over at The Book Depository Mark Thwaite has been interviewing Nicholas Murray about his next book, So Spirited A Town: Visions and Versions of Liverpool. In the Capital of Culture year there are going to be a lot of new books about Liverpool (I’m guilty as charged) the best of which will avoid what Murray calls ‘Merseycliche’ and give real insight into this rather wonderful city:

Mark Thwaite: What gave you the idea for So Spirited A Town?

Nicholas Murray: It was a combination of wanting to write something about my childhood and adolescence in Liverpool and wanting to give some sense of the city in which I grew up from a literary point of view. The book, when it is not about me, is about all the writers who have left their impressions of Liverpool and the number is surprisingly large. Some of the names are unpredictable too: Kazantzakis, Capek, Primo Levi, etc. Obviously the designation as Capital of Culture helped to galvanise things. It was a fairly obvious kind of opportunism. The idea had been gestating for a long time but now seemed like a good time to secure a publisher’s interest. I also thought that the eyes of the world would be on Liverpool and people might be searching for something a bit different from the usual Merseycliche. I must also say that I had reviewed several years ago in the TLS Gladys Mary Coles’ anthology of Liverpool writing, Both Sides of the River. Although she wasn’t interested in a lot of the writers I discuss it was an excellent anthology and really gave me the idea of exploring further.


Nicholas wrote about So Spirited A Town for The Reader Online back in October 2007. Here’s the link to the interview with Mark Thwaite again.

Posted by Chris Routledge. Powered by Qumana

Stories from the City: Contributors Wanted

Kenn Taylor is putting together a one-off magazine of new writing about Liverpool for 2008. It will be called ‘Stories from the City’ and is planned to launch in September. He is looking for writers with interesting and original stories to tell about the city, its people, its institutions, and its life. Stories from the City is a one-off, high quality magazine publication about Liverpool’s character, culture, history, and landscape.

If you are interested in contributing contact Kenn Taylor or Shane Gladstone on liverpoolmagazine [at]

Liverpool Reads … Mal Peet

Bea Colley, Liverpool Reads coordinator writes:

2008 is the National Year of Reading as well as Liverpool’s year as European Capital of Culture. Liverpool Reads is proud to present its fourth annual reading adventure with two novels by author Mal Peet, Keeper and Tamar, jointly sponsored for the first time by Cobalt Housing and Liverpool Housing Trust (LHT). Liverpool Reads is a city-wide reading adventure where each year a book is distributed for free across the city and a programme of outreach activity, author events, reading groups, and other great activities are coordinated to accompany the Big Read.

This year’s read focusses on Liverpool, its love of the beautiful game, its regeneration after the Second World War and on to this year of celebration. Keeper will be the central book with 10,000 copies to be distributed for free from Liverpool Libraries. A coupon will be printed in the Liverpool Echo on 6th, 7th, and 8th of March which can be exchanged for a copy of the book. The novel tells the story of El Gato–the Cat–the world’s greatest goalkeeper–how he, a poor South American logger’s son, learns to become a World Cup-winning goalkeeper, so good he is almost unbeatable.

In addition to this, Liverpool Reads will be using Mal Peet’s Carnegie Prize winning novel Tamar, which is a story of espionage, love, jealousy, and tragedy set in Nazi-occupied Holland and appeals to all age ranges. We have 3,000 copies of Tamar to use in various intergenerational projects around the city in. Work has already begun on some of the initiatives for this year including the Four Corners Project in association with The Reader Organisation and The Bluecoat where youth groups and older peoples’ community groups will work together using the two books to produce creative responses to the text.

We are extremely excited to have the support of Walker Books for this year’s Big Read. Author Mal Peet says of the project:

“Books are free travel passes for journeys through space and time, and it’s a brilliant, radical idea on the part of Liverpool Reads to distribute them to the people of Liverpool. And I feel hugely honoured that in 2008, the National Year of Reading and the year in which Liverpool is the European Capital of Culture, my books have been chosen as the City Reads. All it will take now for my happiness to be complete is either Liverpool or Everton winning the Premiership and the Cup. (One each would do!)”

And there’s more …

You are invited to the public launch of Liverpool Reads … Mal Peet which takes place on Thursday 6th March (World Book Day) at the Central Library, William Brown Street, Liverpool.

Light refreshments will be served on a first come first served basis at 6pm and the event starts at 6.30pm prompt.

Mal will be reading from his two novels and answering audience questions

Tickets are now available for collection only for FREE from four Liverpool Libraries: Central – William Brown Street, Childwall – Childwall Five Ways, Walton – Evered Avenue, and Allerton – Allerton Road. Tickets are limited to four per person.

For more details on the project, please contact Bea Colley, Liverpool Reads Coordinator on 0151 794 2291, b [dot] colley [at] liverpool [dot] ac [dot] uk or visit

Reader event: Penny Readings

Penny Readings
St. George’s Hall, Liverpool
December 9th, 2007

By Chris High

In the annual Penny Readings, now in its fourth year of emulating Charles Dickens’s event of 1862 in which the great author described the room as “simply perfect”, The Reader Organisation have managed to encapsulate not only the very essence of Christmas, but also the very heartbeat of what Liverpool ’08 should be about. What better way to herald the arrival of Christmas than to spend a somewhat chilly Sunday evening in the luxurious surroundings of the Small Concert Room to listen to some of the city’s finest exponents of the spoken word reading festive extracts from Hardy, Dickens and Shakespeare?

Introducing some of the city’s musical foundations such as the Life Changers Empowering Ministries Gospel Choir – incorporating singers from seven different countries – and the Merseyside Dance Initiative’s, African Youth Dance, whose performance was filled with colour and unrestrained enthusiasm, BBC Radio 4 presenter, David McFetridge, held proceedings together as MC, reading extracts from Capsica’s Mersey Minis anthologies.

But it is the guest readers who make the event what it is and not least this year was Annabelle Dowler – Kirtsy Millar in The Archers and The Shepherd in The Liverpool Playhouse production of The Flint Street Nativity – who read from The Winter’s Tale and As You Like It, bringing scenes vividly to life with great energy.

Equally as eloquent were the University of Liverpool’s Brian Nellist MBE, who read from Thomas Hardy’s Under The Greenwood Tree and poet Jenny Joseph, reading from Bleak House and her own work, Led By The Nose, A Garden Of Smells.

As is traditional at the this event, however, it is the chosen passage from A Christmas Carol read by Philip Davis, Editor of The Reader magazine, that closed the show and so released the five hundred strong audience into the chilly night air with a lighter heart and a renewed sense of what the meaning of Christmas should be.


Chris High is an author and freelance journalist. He also writes crime fiction book reviews, theatre, music and film reviews, and interviews writers, media personalities and musicians. We are not entirely sure what his tastes in cake are. Or if he even likes cake.

(Festival Girl is away)

BBC Free Thinking Festival: A Festival of Ideas

Free Thinking 07, BBC Radio 3 and BBC Radio Merseyside‘s unique festival of ideas launches in Liverpool this Friday (November 9). With events at Fact and BBC Radio Merseyside, Free Thinking brings you face-to-face with today’s leading artists, scientists and other thinkers. Over the weekend, you can join them and many others considering ideas through interviews, debates, talks, poetry and performances. The Reader is hosting ‘Book at Breakfast’ on Saturday and Sunday (still a few tickets left for Sunday, so book now if you want to come) and Ian McMillan, new regular contributor to The Reader, will record The Verb live on Friday evening.

With freedom as a major theme at this year’s festival, there are events that tackle issues of freedom in education, the ownership of our own freedom, prisons and society, the changing perspectives of childhood and concepts of equality. The full list of events can be found here and even if you are unable to attend, there are opportunities for everyone to tackle the issues raised. Most of the events over the weekend will be broadcast on BBC Radio 3 and BBC Radio Merseyside, as well as being available to listen for up to a week on the Free Thinking website; there are polls and comments awaiting your responses and the chance to write haiku on any debate or theme from this year’s festival (also, don’t forget to vote for Jane as part of the People’s Choice debate!).

Posted by Jen Tomkins