Thursday, 31 March 2011

Audio morsels from Elsewhere

It's all go in the land of Elsewhere... Not only do we have our very exciting Twitter Q&A with Marcus Sedgwick on Saturday at 1200, we've also got a number of exclusive interviews with our authors talking about how they explored the theme of elsewhere in their stories. Today we feature two of these - but keep checking the blog over the next days as we'll be adding more!

Julia Donaldson's story on the theme of elsewhere, 'The Ballad of Jemmy Button', is really a song but it also works as a narrative poem. It centres on the story of the voyage of the Beagle, on which Charles Darwin was the ship's naturalist, and its mission to take some of the natives of Tierra del Fuego back to England. In our exclusive interview with her below, Julia tells us why she was drawn to write about this episode in colonial history and how it explores the idea of elsewhere.


Gill Arbuthnott's story 'Marilyn's Hands' takes as its starting point the idea of elsewhere being on the outside, of not being quite part of the normal swing of things. Her story is very different from what she normally writes - it is for adults rather than children and has a distinct science fiction theme. She tells us in our interview below how she explored her own background in science and themes of identity and being an outsider in her wonderful story.


Also - we've started releasing audio recordings of some of our authors reading their stories. You can subscribe on iTunes to make sure you get the recordings as they are released. We've already got Anne Fine and Roddy Doyle up and will be adding three a week for the next few months.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Elsewhere Stories Finale on Twitter, 2nd April, 12 noon

In June last year we commissioned fifty leading writers for children and adults to write short stories or essays, all on the theme of ‘Elsewhere’, which we've been releasing over the past few months. As the project draws to a close, we thought we'd celebrate the magnificent stories we've received with a mini online festival featuring exclusive podcasts with some of our Elsewhere authors, interviews, teachers' resources, reading group guides and host our first ever Twitter interview with author Marcus Sedgwick. As Elsewhere is all about trying something new, doing something a bit different, we thought this an excellent way to go out in style.

Elsewhere is about stories - the beauty of the open endedness of the Elsewhere brief is that the only stipulation was that it had to be about somewhere else. It could be a work of poetry, fiction or non-fiction. There's been a huge variety of responses to the brief. Louise Welsh has written about a girl in a coma and what it's like to be trapped in your own body, Barry Hutchison's is about life after death and Joan Lingard's is a piece of non-fiction about her own experience of going into the Soviet Union before the fall of the Berlin Wall. Each story from the fifty manages to capture the idea of being foreign, being different, of being somewhere unfamiliar.

We will be hosting a Q&A with Marcus Sedgwick on Saturday 2nd April, 12 noon on Twitter. That's where you come in! Please send your questions in advance to our @edbookfest account so that we can put them to Marcus on the day. Or, if you prefer, you can pose your queries in real time - and we'll do our best to get through them all. Either way, it's going to be an exhilarating adventure that will bring our Elsewhere journey to a thrilling conclusion.


Thanks to Scottish Government's Festivals Expo fund for making this project possible.

Friday, 11 March 2011

£5000 for your poetry?

Yep – that’s right. The wonderful Edwin Morgan International Poetry Competition is one of the more remarkable poetry prizes around when you actually have the chance to win a lovely cash sum for your efforts to help you on your way… and entries are now being accepted for 2011. Now in its fourth year, the competition is rapidly establishing itself a reputation for being one of the biggest and most-respected celebrations of poetry in Europe.

And the good news is that anyone can enter! So if you fancy yourself as something of a poet then why not try your luck? The first prize is a fantastic £5000 and there’s a second of £1000, a third of £500 and two runner-up prizes of £50. On top of this, the finalists are invited to take part in a special poetry event at this year’s Edinburgh International Book Festival in August – an experience that money can’t buy!

Last year attracted over 1000 entries so whilst that’s a lot of poems, it isn’t so many that you don’t stand a chance if you’ve penned a great piece of work. The prizes are made available through the generous sponsorship of The University of Strathclyde and we – the Edinburgh International Book Festival – host the annual prize-giving each year during the Festival.

The closing date for entries is 10 June. Check out the Edwin Morgan Poetry Competition website for further info about how to enter.

Maybe we’ll be seeing you on stage in Charlotte Square Gardens this summer!