New Year, New Stories

By Shona Jackson

New beginnings are auspicious. There’s something cathartic about drawing a line, wiping the proverbial slate clean, firmly penning a full stop before a new sentence begins. It’s a time when possibilities seem to unfurl, and the mundanity of the everyday thaws, leaving in its wake a bright new landscape brimming with ‘what if’s’. A new year is a new chapter. It’s a creative threshold of transition, redefinition. And what better way to welcome in a new beginning than with new stories?

On the 8th of January meander along King Street at say, 7pm, and ease open the door of Waterstones. Follow the soft lull of voices amidst the bookshelves, take a drink, take a seat and prepare for an engaging literary evening with our accomplished writers…

Rachel McCarthyBorn and raised in the North West, Rachel McCarthy is an esteemed poet, whose recent collection Element was awarded the Laureate’s Choice 2015. Alice Oswald describes her work as ‘strong interesting poems, full of tension and symmetry. They are alive.’ A senior climate scientist with the Met Office, Rachel’s poetry uses the lens of science to examine human life with poignant clarity. Her work is an intriguing intersection, blurring the all too prevalent binary between the arts and science.

PhillipCaveneyPhilip Caveney holds a cherished place in many family bookshelves as author of the Sebastian Darke adventure series and the Alex Devlin mysteries. His book ‘A Night On Terror Island’ won the Oldham Schools Brilliant Book Award. Philip’s novels are favourites among children and adults alike, with their innovative narratives and high-octane drama. His writing is diverse, charting the adventures of a failed jester, a young archeologist in 1920’s Egypt and a time travelling encounter with Robert Louis Stevenson.

Welcome in the New Year with a creative kick-start at the North West Literary Salon on the 8th of January at 7pm. Expect a night of live music, engaging readings, Q and A, and of course beverages and snacks. Reserve your free tickets here.



Lancaster Blues: A snapshot of December’s Salon


By Walker Zupp

We’re surrounded by books. I’m in the ‘N’ section sitting next to Nabokov and Nesbo. We’ve pulled out a few extra chairs – the salon is so packed people are standing at the back. The chatter ensues. We’re all a little early. Graham Mort listens attentively to Fumina Hamasaki playing her guitar while we wait for the clock to strike seven.

‘That’s Chicago Blues?’ he asks in between songs.

‘You know it?’

He nods and smiles. Fumina carries on playing and Alison Moore arrives. She makes her way to the front with Graham, Yvonne and Naomi.

‘I’d like to apologize for the lack of chairs,’ Yvonne says.

‘Having too many people here is a lovely problem to have,’ Naomi continues.

I think we all agree – we’ve seen this event grow. And tonight, it’s the busiest we’ve ever seen.

Alison reads us the first chapter of her second novel, He Wants

‘It’s about opportunities we didn’t take,’ she says. The chapter seems to draw an enormous amount from everyday activities.

Graham reads some poems from his upcoming collection, Black Shiver Moss. He likens the audience to a dream where he was confronted by crows. In between poems he shares anecdotes about everything from a walk in the fells to his admiration of the miniature bottles handed out on planes. He ruffles some pages, looking for the right poem; ‘I don’t know where I’m going with this, but I’m gonna get there, which is a migratory thing.’

Later on, Yvonne asks Alison about writing as a career. Alison says that she just sent things off in the beginning – her stories appeared in journals, magazines and she kept entering competitions. And of course, you can’t send off the same piece twice. ‘That’s what kept me writing,’ she says. She met her agent through a publisher, but being shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize made all the difference: ‘If I hadn’t cut in to the literature world, I would’ve gone back to work.’ But she did, and now she’s writing full-time.

Another question comes from a writer in the audience; ‘Is it a problem if the main character is male, but the author is female?’

Alison laughs and says, ‘Well, my publisher doesn’t fret about marketing so much. It’s more about “does the book work?” and so on.’

‘It’s just that I sent off my manuscript to a publisher and they said that readers would find it confusing,’ she says.

There’s an audible gasp from the audience.

‘That just makes me cringe,’ Alison remarks, ‘I think that’s just underestimating readers.’

More questions, another blast of the Chicago Blues and it’s time to wrap things up for 2015. Readers and writers mingle, get books signed and linger until it’s time to head out into the cold. This isn’t the end, though. The Salon will be back in January for more stories, music and conversation. What better way to welcome in the new year?