Friday, 27 May 2011

The Lampeter Review | Issue 3

There are some new fictional words from me in Issue 3 of The Lampeter Review, out now:

Thursday, 26 May 2011

One To Read: Lila Azam Zanganeh

Lila Azam Zanganeh: 'I've always wanted to push myself to do things I don't know how to do'

Lila Azam Zanganeh loved Nabokov from an early age and has now turned her passion into a book. But be warned – it's like nothing you've read before

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

GUARDIAN CARDIFF: Embracing the e-ink

Spotlight: Embracing the e-ink

Guest blogger and Cardiff writer Susie Wild takes a look at new innovations in Welsh publishing which are being celebrated with a launch do in the city tonight
Changes are afoot in the world of books and publishing – and a Welsh publisher is embracing them. With attention spans shrinking, short stories, sudden fiction, essays and novellas are rising in popularity and a new digital pamphlet format, thus far only launched in the US is embracing this shift. Now Parthian Books intends to launch four new ebooks in this format – including my novella Arrivals which we'll be celebrating with other Cardiff writers at a launch party tonight.
Amazon describes the Kindle Single as an ebook that's 'twice the length of a New Yorker feature or as much as a few chapters of a typical book'. The l0,000 to 30,000 word digital pamphlets will be produced by writers, scientists, business leaders, historians, politicians, publishers and other big thinkers. In fact, in their announcement of the Kindle Single launch Amazon writes the size of these ebooks offers the 'perfect, natural length to lay out a single killer idea, well researched, well argued and well illustrated—whether it's a business lesson, a political point of view, a scientific argument, or a beautifully crafted essay on a current event'. It also offers a more financially viable way of publishing for those important, but not mass market publications, and a lifeline for non-Faber poets, the small presses and literary or niche magazines.
The Kindle Single format, in its official capacity, will be hitting UK shoressometime soon and offers these quick-read books at a fraction of the price of hard copy novels, on a budget more in line with a magazine or Sunday newspaper. In sales terms, the Kindle is already taking off, the Amazon US store stocks over 950,000 Kindle titles and Amazon was reporting that Kindle edition sales were outstripping paperbacks in the US (105 Kindle ebooks:100 paperbacks).
Welsh publisher Parthian Books are known for supporting new writers with their Nu anthologies (Nu2: Memorable Firsts launches in July) andBright Young Things series – the next instalment, 10 of the Best features five new poets including Cardiff's Mab Jones and launches next month.
By picking raw talent Parthian has launched the careers of Rachel Trezise, Deborah Kay Davies, Tyler Keevil and Rebecca Hunt, so it seems right that it should be a pioneer in terms of embracing the new e-ink technology, and creating the first ebook-only launch by a Welsh publisher. Parthian starts its e-ink love-in by launching four ebook titles following the new Kindle Single model.
The four Parthian Kindle titles include my novella Arrivals, from my Edge Hill short story prize long-listed collection The Art of Contraception and Muscles Came Easy by former Wales Book of The Year winner Aled Islwyn. The new Kindle ebook format also allows forgotten greats from their Library of Wales series to reach a wider, global audience. The stories can move with the times. As such two revered Library of Walestitles – A Thing of Nought by Hilda Vaughan, and The Great God Pan by Arthur Machen will also see their Kindle ebooks launched this month.
Tonight Parthian Books are throwing a party at Y Fuwch Goch (The Red Cow) on Womanby Street to mark the global launch of these four skinny Kindle books. Throwing a launch party for ebooks, to some, may seem a bit weird. How does it work? In tonight's case, much the same as any other book launch – there will be readings, chatter and hopefully some book sales... although authors may have to sign autograph books and torsos rather than your Kindle screens. Co-founder and editor of the amazing literary magazine The Raconteur, Dylan Moore, will be our host for the night. Living Cardiff-based writers Aled Islwyn and myself will both read extracts from our novellas (on Kindles, of course) while Gwilym Games, the editor of Machenalia for the Friends of Arthur Machen, will read an extract from The Great God Pan and Laura Wainwright will read a short extract from A Thing of Nought. Dylan may ask us a couple of questions, and so may you. Then Cardiff's DJ Dave 'Grooveslave' Morris will spin some tunes while we mingle, chat, exchange money with the bar staff and play with our Kindles.
You don't have to buy a Kindle to read Kindle ebooks. There is a Kindle app that can be downloaded onto your laptop, iPad or mobile phone that enable you to buy and read books in the Kindle format. For those of you not quite ready to take the digital leap but interested in the titles, hard copies of A Thing of Nought,The Great God Pan, Out With It, and The Art of Contraception will also be for sale on the night, and can all be bought from Parthian Books. Entrance to tonight's launch party is free, the event starts at 7pm.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

The End of Guardian Cardiff :(

Hello. The Guardian Cardiff local blog project finished on Friday. I've been a guest blogger for them over the last year, so this is me pulling  a sad face :(  My last Guardian Cardiff blog will go live tomorrow afternoon.

To find out what will be happening with Cardiff Blog meetings, tweets and other stuff read on...

"Regular readers will have aptly noticed this is the last week of the Guardian Cardiff blog – with our final day this Friday 27 May.

This week we'll be celebrating some of the great reader submissions for the blog including the best Flickr submissionsguest posts and stories covered on the blog in the last year – and we welcome you to add your comments below on what you've enjoyed.
It might also be worth stating here what will happen to some elements of the blog and projects run by Guardian Cardiff. Here's a round up of what will happen to some of what we've been doing in the last year:
Cardiff Bloggers Meet Ups – The meetings will continue, under the excellent organisation of Ed Walker from Media Wales – if you think you can help out Ed in any way, including setting up, shifting equipment or brainstorming ideas for meetings – then let him know. Don't forget it's Guardian Cardiff's last bloggers meet this Wednesday from 8pm at the Media Point in Chapter
Cardiff Social Media Surgeries – Last week we announced the next stage of the Cardiff Social Media Surgeries which will be disbanding from a central bi-monthly session to five locally arranged surgeries across the city – find out more info here
Project:document will be taken over by Stu Herbert, a Merthyr-based photographer who was part of the genus of the idea for the project and instrumental in keeping it going in the last year – he'll be announcing the new themes and locations soon so befriend him on Flickr to await news
The rest of the blog – Guardian Cardiff will have no new posts after this Friday 27 May, but you'll still be able to find the site via and search for older posts which are eternalised in Google. Data, maps, visualisations and slideshows should all still be viewable, but obviously some bits and bobs may disappear as Guardian Cardiff accounts are closed down
GdnCardiff on Twitter – We have more than 5,000 followers and a thriving Twitter community. This will be rebranded and taken over by a trusted local tweeter who is already producing exciting new community content. Helia Phoenix runs @roathCardiff @hack_flash @cfgigpostersand much more. The Twitter account will be officially transferred over and no longer have links to the Guardian, but will still provide a fantastic source of news, links and Cardiff chat which is worth following
That leaves me to say I'll be sad to leave Cardiff but I am moving on to pastures new to join as community coordinator in news. It's not time for goodbyes just yet though and I hope to see many of you at the bloggers meet up tomorrow."

Monday, 23 May 2011




22 May 2011, The Gate, Cardiff
Featuring Joe Coleman, The Gentle Good, Meilir and David Thomas Broughton.
I don’t know where the folk the audience were, but at least the glorious folk was there in spades.
For some reason the crowd stayed away from the Folk The Owl gig on Sunday, but despite this, and the sloshed, shambolic host, the evening session was enjoyable due to being blessed with four professional musical talents.
Lovely folkster youngster Joe Coleman, the first of the four bearded rising stars to stand in front of the statement wallpaper, sang a pretty pastoral set of songs accompanied by guitar and harmonica. Many were recognisable as favourites from his sets at Swansea’s ever-popular Skye folk night, and are on his new White Rabbit EP which launches at Skye on Thursday and includes the upbeat number ‘Closer now’ which I bloody love. Go along and wish this infectiously smiley happy man well.
The less said about the host’s performance (Robert Doherty) the better. So following that egocentric abuse of the eardrums, we were saved by a sublime set from Gareth Bonello aka The Gentle Good who is both gentle and good. Bonello plays a mixture of trad folk and his own compositions in Welsh and English and he does a mean line in 60s finger-picking guitar too. ‘This track is amazing’ gasps a blonde girl in the audience, clearly a fan. This happens more than once. She’s not wrong, Gareth plays damn well and captivates us all – brogues, beards and barnets were happily nodding along across the room. His long-awaited second album Tethered For The Stormcame out on the Welsh label Gwymon a couple of months back and it is ace. I particularly love track one, ‘Aubade’, a song set at dawn about two lovers who are lying in bed, wishing that the sun wasn’t coming up to separate them. It shares its title with a Philip Larkin poem. I also enjoyed hearing ‘Llosgi Pontydd’ (Burning Bridges) again, a track he wrote when he was frustrated with a job and fantasising about quitting and burning bridges, something sure to resonate with most creative types/ most anyone. The Gentle Good has been compared to Bert Jansch, John Renbourn, Nick Drake and John Martyn, but these days I think Gareth Bonello sounds exactly like himself, which is a (gentle) good thing. As his set drew to a close the audience yelled for more, but sadly time was against us…
In fact, due the the host’s bad time management, Meilir’s spectral set was reduced to “The Greatest Hits” rushing through beautiful tracks from his latest bilingual EP Cellar Songs on keyboard and thumb piano accompanied by quirky percussion that ranged from hitting gravel in a cat litter tray with feet or sticks to typing on a typewriter (magical). His sorrow-drenched voice bring to mind Thom Yorke’s solo stuff and though I’ve heard it often, ‘Less Wrong (Part 1)’ still gives me shivers. Frighteningly catchy ‘Fingertips’ is the EP’s best track with its curious refrain of  ’don’t be so strange’.  No, Meilir, do and also continue to Bydd Wych.
Finally the genius that is David Thomas Broughton headlined and provided me with yet another reason to love Brainlove Records. If you let him, he’d have you believe he was ‘a perfect louse’ but let’s not indulge in such nonsense. The tidiest of the folksters – my friend described the look as ‘Swedish Folk’ – the London-based Yorkshireman started the spectral electro-folk set layering tracks with loops of beats, bleeps, pyrotechnic percussive interludes and sexy samples, and ended unplugged (that host mismanagement again) standing in the middle of the audience, unfazed, improvising and filling the missing volume by using the empty bottles on the tables as backing. Broughton has a vaudeville croon of a voice, is not afraid to experiment, displays offbeat brilliance, and uses words like ‘piffle’ in his lyrics, which should be applauded. A gem of a performance and absolutely recommended to the lot of you. As Joe Coleman predicted, he did ‘change our lives’ for the better. Buy his album Outbreeding, it is out today.

Dylan Thomas Prize deadline 31 May

Right all my young, talented writing and publishing and media friends, listen up... The deadline for entry into this year's Dylan Thomas Prize is on 31 May 2011 AKA One Week Tomorrow. So please please enter/ spread the word. You could make yourself/ someone talented £30,000 richer.

Monday, 16 May 2011

Me and My Short Stories

Uh oh. Watch out bank account, this website wants me to spend all my money on really good short story collections:

If you like shorts, read this :)


Event 276 • Thursday 2 June 2011, 6.45pm • Venue: Elmley Foundation Theatre


Griffiths emigrated to Australia as a seven year old. Thirty years later he revisits and remembers why he left in the first place. Jones’s second novel Everything I Found on the Beach returns to the west Wales coast in the shape of a taut sharp thriller. Wandering American poet Gholson’s novel is about a shoal of fish and the dance troupe who once got naked at the Vatican.
Price: £5.00

Literary Death Match | Cardiff Arts Institute | 10 May | The Write Up

'After a boozy intermission, Round 2 featured author/journalist/editor Susie Wild (author of The Art of Contraception, winner of the Fiction Book of the Year in the Welsh Icons Awards) going up against Cardiff-born, John Tripp Spoken Poetry Audience Prize champ Mab Jones (who represented Wales at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington, DC). Wild fired first with a Japan-infused fiction offering, followed by Jones who reeled off three performance poems that had the crowd in throes.' 
'Again the judges were turned to, with Whitehead claiming Wild's skewed version of Japan was exactly as he remembered it, Glenn loved Wild's "metronome knees" and mention of ginger nose hair.'

Saturday, 14 May 2011


It is that time of year again. Time for a trip to join the literati in the town of books. Hay-on-Why-the-hell-not?!
Hay Festival has plenty to offer punters in 2011. Much to entertain and even more to expand your mind with, for the ‘Woodstock of the Mind’ is no longer just about books. Among the headline guests will be Nobel Laureates VS Naipaul, JMG le Clezio, Paul Nurse and Mohammed ElBaradei. There will be music, too, thanks to performances from Afro Celt Sound System, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Ojos de Brujo, Penguin Cafe, Cerys Matthews and Bob Geldolf. Children are well catered for with Hay Fever, a festival for tots, teens and inbetweens ( including storytelling, workshops and carnival extravaganzas and run concurrently with the main festival.
There will be laughs thanks to comedians Mark Watson, Paul Merton, and Jo Brand. There are historians Eric Hobsbawm, Michael Wood, Bettany Hughes and Niall Ferguson, broadcasters Chris Evans, Jenni Murray, Kevin McCloud and Evan Davis, actors Vanessa Redgrave, Ralph Fiennes, Rob Lowe, Gillian Anderson and Simon Russell Beale, and DON’T PANIC, there will also be plenty of writers including John Carey, Paul Theroux, Linda Grant, Malorie Blackman, Deborah Kay Davies, Michael Morpurgo, Niall Griffiths and Jacqueline Wilson. Sky Arts also returns with its acclaimed series of The Book Show. Mariella Frostrup will be interviewing the biggest and best names at the festival.
The Greenprint Forum is the festival’s sustainability project and forms part of the programme of managing and mitigating their environmental impact and has been running for five years. You can join in and contribute to the sessions and the debate Of the more unusual events The Passion fever has hit Hay, and Nicholas Lowton, Rhoda Lewis, Peter Florence and friends will undertake a 96-hour reading of the King James Authorised Version of the Bible that will run in two 4-hour sessions daily in parish churches on either side of the border. Full listings will be online at
pic: rsambroook
In town, Hay-on-Wye has yet more to offer. The Bus Stop Cinema run by Swansea’sElysium Gallery will be showing short films in the Salem Chapel on 4 June and will be well worth a visit. Hay Poetry Jamboree celebrates its third birthday in Oriel Contemporary Arts (Salem Chapel) with another magnificent line-up of some of the best and most exciting poets on the contemporary scene, amongst them Allen Fisher, Carol Watts, Ralph Hawkins, Maggie O’Sullivan, Sean Bonney and Kelvin Corcoran. The Jamboree runs from 2 – 4 June and all daytime events are free. Entrance to evening events cost £5 (£3 concs).
How The Light Gets In, the philosophy and music festival at Hay-on-Wye, is back and they’ve recently released their full programmeFrom rigorous debates and incisive solo talks to cutting-edge DJ sessions and a different themed party every night, this year’s festival promises to be a cerebral and imaginative start to the summer season and is my favourite innovative, enlightening and fun part of Hay. Look out for the evening after parties including The Saturday Shindig, the Shooting Star Party and their legendarySunday Special, as well as gigs from Camille O’SullivanRichard Strange, Lulu & The Lampshades and the delightful Peggy Sue. See for more details.
While in town indulge in local beer, cheer and many many bookshops. I recommend the open air Honesty Bookshop in the Castle Grounds for alfresco browsing and Richard Booth’s rambling bookshop on Lion Street, which is packed with over 500,000 volumes, sourced from around the world and is managed by specialist department heads.
This year’s Hay Festival runs from 26 May to 5 June. View the full Hay Festival programme at