Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Dinefwr 2014: Speed Dating Writers

Don’t miss the chance to fall in love during Dinefwr’s ‘speed dating’ event with Parthian and Seren writers on Saturday 21st June!

[This post is mostly taken from www.parthianbooks.com]
For the second year, amid the magical and mythical surroundings of Dinefwr Park and Castle, Llandeilo, Carmarthenshire, the Dinefwr Literature Festival will take place on the weekend 20-22 June.
This bilingual festival (Welsh-English) is a celebration of words in all their different forms – poetry, prose, history, stand-up comedy, song lyrics – and  it offers an amazing programme of national and international writers, award-winning poets and emerging literary talent, among which Parthian and Seren are represented rather nicely!
All the events are situated in a stunning 17th century property, Newton House, and in the Old Laundry, on Saturday 21st June at 8.15 pm, the Speed Dating Writers event will take place, featuring three novelists, two poets and a Canadian on a high-octane ride into new innovative writing – namely Parthian’s and Seren’s Dan Tyte, Rhian Elizabeth, Carly Holmes, Jonathan Edwards, Dai George and Tyler Keevil. They will have ten minutes each to charm you with their poetry and prose so that you might fall in love… with their writing! Hosted by Parthian Publishing Editor Susie Wild (yep that's me).
Between the one hundred plus events proposed, you can always have a look around the festival, finding excellent food and drink, medieval cooking, nature walks, Dylan Thomas’ writing shed, as well as an antiquarian book bus and a bookshop in the Newton House, where you could find your favourite author’s books signed!
Find the full programme and information here:

The Event is supported by Welsh publisher Parthian and Seren, and the Dinefwr Festival is organised by Literature Wales in partnership with National Trust, Cadw, and University of Wales Trinity Saint David and is supported by Arts Council of Wales. The Dinefwr Literature Festival received Arts Council of Wales Lottery funding for the 2014 festival.

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Hay Festival 2014

I had a splendid time at the Hay Festival this year. On my first trip up we were celebrating Parthian's 21st birthday with a cabaret style evening of readings, mini q&a sessions and an amazing birthday cake made by one of the fab Hay crew. Rich and I hosted and evening that featured readings from Tyler Keevil, Rachel Trezise, Sion Tomos Owen, Jemma L. King, Carly Holmes, Holly Muller, Dan Tyte, and Joao Morais, and an interview with Rarebit's illustrator John Abell. Here are a few photos...

Books, Books, Books: Including the first outing of new books Tonypandemonium by Rachel Trezise and The Undressed by Jemma L. King

Let Them Eat Cake

Autograph Corner

Deckchairs and Wine

Me + Hay Loot

The Parthian Dance Troupe?

With many thanks to the Queen of Hay Street Style Rebecca Pescod for taking these! We all had rather a lot of fun and we hope you did too...
Rebecca is Never Underdressed

Bethan Elfyn (L) and Viv Albertine (R) on air on BBC Wales. I'm just out of shot.

Dan Tyte was also on the show earlier in the week

Hay week also featured readings and interviews with John Harrison, Ifor Thomas, Dai Smith, Rachel Trezise, Jemma L. King, Jon Gower, and many more from Parthian's 21 year history. On the last Saturday of the festival I met some of my favourite writers including Lorrie Moore, Joshua Ferris, and Siri Hustvedt and they all signed my books. I also happened to pop by the BBC Radio Wales Hay Studio to have an on air chat with Bethan Elfyn at the same time as Viv Albertine, and if you are quick enough you can listen again to me here, I am about 43 minutes in, just after Viv Albertine and therefore a bit of a tripping-over-my-words fan girl, but there is some sense and the music that comes before makes it worth listening from the start, trust me.

That evening I attended the special Dylan Thomas event [416] with Rob Brydon, Tom Hollander, Cerys Matthews and Jonathan Pryce, and featuring Jeff Towns' A Pearl of Great Price. The BBC have uploaded the session onto iPlayer, so you can watch it online now.

Sunday was more of a pottering day of pub lunches, shop browsing and sitting in the sun but I did manage to see Rhian Elizabeth and Matthew Francis talking about unreliable narrators with Jon Gower, and rounded off the festival with a hilarious Bill Bailey, who made me laugh so much it hurt.

Next up: Catch me on the Sunbathing in Siberia Tour with Michael Oliver-Semenov and Parthian Books. Weds 4th June, Mozart's, Swansea 8pm. Thurs 5th June, Cameo Club, Pontcanna, Cardiff 7.30pm and book signings at Waterstones Cardiff and Wellfield Road Bookshop in Cardiff on Sat 7th June.

Then I'll be getting ready to host Speed Dating Writers at Dinefwr Festival followed by my own birthday fun. See you out and about!

Sooz x

Friday, 18 April 2014

Spring Update 2: My Own Writing

Catch me airing a mix of new and old poems at The Back of the Pub Poetry Club in The Fountain Inn on the Friday Night of the Dylan Poetry Weekend (2-4 May 2014) in Laugharne, along with Mab Jones and pals. My dearest friend Rhian Edwards is on at 7pm that very same night. Loads of other great people doing proper turns on the rest of the bill, and some brilliant theatre bits and bobs too. I will also read a couple of poems at the Bare Fiction event on the 30th of April at Gwdihw in Cardiff.

The Arabic translation of my short story 'Aquatic Life' appeared in Albataka Review: Brush with Fate - Voices From Wales along with other stories in translation by Rachel Trezise, lloyd robson, Nigel Jarrett, Jon Gower, Tristan Hughes and Lewis Davies.

high-piled books... The Work & Stuff update

Hello long-neglected blog.

So, I've made it to the other side of teaching my first semester on the MA in Creative and Critical Writing at the University of Gloucs (and some undergrad bits and pieces there and at Cardiff MET)... and also to the other side of organising Griff Rhys Jones' Cardiff Cameo Club Book Launch, The Welsh Cultural Embassy at The Wheatsheaf, and trips to both Laugharne (Take 1) and London Book Fair almost intact, bar a sprained ankle - damn you rainy road potholes.

Time for some R&R and a bit of a Spring shake up in between seeing friends and family.

BUT first for two updates...


Lots of the books I - and my brilliant authors - have been working on over my last year at the editorial helm of Parthian have recently been, or will soon be, launched into the world and I've been meeting with my 2015 authors too. Congratulations to Craig Hawes who has been longlisted for the Edge Hill Short Story Prize for his debut collection The Witch Doctor of Umm Suqeim, which probably softens the blow of his book recently being banned in Dubai.


In January my short story anthology Rarebit, celebrating Parthian's 21st birthday, was made Book of the Month in Waterstones, and some of these writers - Dan Tyte, Carly Holmes, Tyler Keevil, Holly Muller and Rachel Trezise - will read at our 21st birthday Gala Evening at Hay Festival on Monday 26th May (The Cube, 8.30pm). They will be joined by Dylan Thomas Prize shortlisted poet Jemma L. King and winner of the Young Person's category of the Planet Essay Prize, Sion Tomos Owen (also 2nd prize winner in this year's Terry Hetherington Award for Young Writers). Many will also be signing their own new (and older) books in the festival bookshop at 6pm.


Today, it is a Good Friday for Dan Tyte - his debut novel Half Plus Seven has been reviewed by The Daily Mail and they liked it:  'A coming-of-age novel snorting with energy, outrage and scatological detail, it is in places eye-watering. Yet what disarms is Bill’s quasi-religious yearning for order and goodness, plus an outrageous honesty which refuses to compromise.'

Dan has had a lot of good press so far - the book was Book of the Month in Buzz Magazine, Wales Arts Review wrote 'Half Plus Seven could easily be mistaken for a Nick Hornby novel, but a Hornby novel with a touch more Zeitgeist and a slightly sinister, grimy underbelly.[...] Dan Tyte has either been a very dislikable young man at some point, or he is an author with a great deal of promise.' and Dan signed books with Griff Rhys Jones in Waterstones, Cardiff and then read alongside 90-year-old legend Dannie Abse at our Welsh Cultural Embassy at The Wheatsheaf in London at the beginning of the month (see below).

More on Dan:

Dan Tyte's website

Dan on Twitter

The Selling of a Novelist - Plastik Mag

BuzzFeed: 17 Reasons Why We're Generation Y-hine

Wales Online: Through Dan's Keyhole. Who lives in a house like this?

All of Dan's press in one place

We had a brilliant launch with a cast of tramps, misfits and mystics at Porter's in Cardiff (see Dan's website for some amazing photos of the night), Dan will also be reading at a number of festivals and venues over the summer, but if you can't wait that long, why not watch him read from his novel in this short film:

YouTube: Half Plus Seven short by @madebyernest and @NextDoorFilmsUK


Up ahead, Helen saw the police line harden into a barricade of bodies and shields. Resin batons thudded on Perspex shields; slow, thuggish, brutal. Goosebumps studded her arms and legs. Her pace slowed to the truncheons’ beat. Mary halted a yard from the riot shields, raised her megaphone.
‘We are women from Ystrad an’ from all over Wales,’ she said. ‘We are here to make peaceful protest. Here in solidarity with the men.’
The drumming quickened.

Also reading with Dan and Dannie, Kit Habianic launched her debut novel Until Our Blood is Dry at The Welsh Cultural Embassy ahead of London Book Fair earlier this month. Based around the 1984 Miners' Strike, the novel is currently serialised in the Western Mail in Wales, and independent booksellers in Wales have chosen Until Our Blood is Dry as their Book of the Month for May 2014.

Words With JAM: Kit on adapting fact into fiction

Kit on Twitter

Kit's website

Wales Online interview: Kit Habianic

Fellow Parthian author Debz Hobz-Wyatt interviews Kit for her blog and shares an exclusive free sample of the novel

Triskele Books Author Interview: Kit Habianic

Triskele Books: Review of Until Our Blood is Dry

Kit Habianic will be at Waterstones, Newport signing copies of her novel on Saturday 24th May 12.30 - 1.30pm. Come along and say hello.


Kit also previewed the novel on our Writing from Life panel at xx women's writing festival (6-8 March 2014, Chapter Arts Centre), which I co-organise with three wonderful women - Firefly Publisher Penny Thomas, Head of Creative Writing at the University of Southampton Carole Burns and Poetry Editor at Seren Books Amy Wack. The second wonderful xx women's writing festival appeared to go down well with the audience, the panels and guests and the critics. I really enjoyed hosting my two events - (1) Cardiff Literary Salon with my authors Carly Holmes, Georgia Carys Williams, Tiffany Murray and Seren debut novelist Rhian Elizabeth (and some fab music from Hail! The Planes singer and Rarebit contributor Holly Muller) and (2) Script and Screen panel discussion with Sue Vertue (Sherlock), Ceri Meyrick (Eastenders), Rebecca Gould (Soho Theatre) and Helen Griffin (Twin Town, Caitlin). I also enjoyed hearing Shani Rhys James talk about her wonderful paintings with Fran Rhydderch, the poetry of Kim Moore, Katherine Simmonds and Jemma King and the short fiction and witty asides of AL Kennedy.

In Wales Arts Review John Lavin wrote: ‘Taking place shortly after Cardiff Council confirmed it will remove its entire annual funding to more than ten arts organisations, including Chapter (where the event was held), the XX Women’s Writing Festival acted as a timely reminder of why a venue like Chapter exists, providing as it did, an excellent example of the cultural vibrancy of Wales’ capital city. The events combined a fabulous array of the new and the internationally renowned and were all well attended, while Chapter as a whole was full to bursting point throughout. It was also, of course, an ideal and, indeed, an important and empowering way to celebrate International Women’s Day.’


When I first saw you, I had the sun in my eyes. You shone around the edges, a fireball of a man. In the moments it took me to focus on your centre, I’d absorbed you completely.
I re-made myself in tune to your blinks, your frowns, your glances away from me and then back. I read your needs as they soared across your face, and I carved myself anew again and again…

Next Friday, 25 April 2014, we'll be launching Carly Holmes' lyrical debut novel The Scrapbook in Cardigan.Carly has been up to all sorts of wonderful things including guest editing the next issue of The Lampeter Review, being awarded a Writer's Bursary from Literature Wales to work on her second book, a collection of ghost stories, and having some splendid short stories published / accepted for publication by Wales Arts Review, Honno and The Ghastling. You can see a round up that I wrote about all of all these great things on the Parthian website. Carly will be reading at Hay Festival and Dinefwr this summer.


In May you'll find me in Hay and 'working' some of the time at the first of the Dylan Weekends in Laugharne with Mab Jones, Jeff Towns, Dylan's Mobile Bookshop and Jemma King. See my next blog for more on another side of this...

In June I am looking forward to welcoming Michael Oliver-Semenov (formerly the poet Mao Jones) back to Cardiff to launch his travel memoir Sunbathing in Siberia - like Doctor Zhivago but with a huge reality check. He'll be over from Siberia, touring Cardiff to Aberystwyth and stopping off in Swansea and Cardigan and some other places too. More on this soon.

I will also be announcing my next batch of brilliant authors and titles for the end of 2014 and all of 2015 soon. Exciting!

Looking ahead to November, Do Not Go Gentle festival has had a lot of lovely mentions in the press too. Jasper Rees wrote in The Sunday Times - 'Do Not Go Gentle festival, in the Uplands, the lively suburb just down from Thomas's birthplace, features scabrous comedy and raucous music in English and Welsh.' Good work to Pierre and the rest of the team. We're just finalising our literature programme now.

On top of all this, I've still been reviewing the odd piece of theatre or dance for The Stage, and restaurant or bar for RedHanded.

Phew! Hence this long-neglected blog.


Happy Easter all!

Sooz x

Monday, 13 January 2014


Lots to report, lots to report...

1. Rarebit, my anthology of 21 illustrated short stories to celebrate Parthian's 21st birthday launched on National Short Story Day - 21/12/2013 and is currently Welsh Book of the Month in Waterstones for January 2014. Contributor Dan Tyte wrote a fab blog about the launch so I don't have to. I'm pleased as punch with all involved, especially that John Abell for all the amazing artwork, and Team Parthian for lots of help in many other ways. Here's a little anecdote from my weekend:

On Saturday I ran into a friend outside the pasty shop, as you do. 'I've just bought Rarebit,' she said, quickly adding 'for a friend' as if it were a dangerous book to be caught buying for yourself. 'I saw it because it was on the Book of the Month table in Waterstones Cardiff. Actually, the person in the queue behind me was buying it too.' Here's a snap of the display of Rarebits in Waterstones after this conversation on Saturday. Book of the Month all month long, who'd have thought...http://www.parthianbooks.com/content/rarebit

2. Dan Tyte! As well as being in Rarebit we launch Dan's debut novel Half Plus Seven with a party in Cardiff Fashion Quarter next month. He's been picked as One to Watch in 2014 by the Western Mail and he's also had other people saying good words about him, words like these:

"A lethal cocktail of Bukowski and
Mad Men, finished with a twist of dry Welsh wit."- Mike Williams, NME Editor 

Read more: http://www.parthianbooks.com/content/magnificent-seven-member-6-dan-tyte

3. I've got a new part-time job (...but I am not leaving Parthian). I start lecturing on the MA in Creative and Critical Writing at the University of Gloucestershire this week. I'm very happy about this.

4. I've been working on some wonderful books coming out this year. My first spring/summer batch includes Rarebit, Dan Tyte's novel Half Plus Seven, Carly Holmes' novel The Scrapbook, Kit Habianic's novel Until Our Blood Is Dry, Georgia Carys Williams' short story collection Second-hand Rain, and two titles from Michael Oliver-Semenov - Sunbathing in Siberia (Travel memoir) and The Elephant's Foot (Poetry). I am also looking forward to the release of debut novels from Tom Anderson and Susmita Bhattacharya in the autumn. See you at the launches, festivals and literary tours.