Digging Up the Family

20171127_095941 (2) (1)

An investigation into her family history led Gill Garrett on an extraordinary 150 year journey through the life stories and experiences of so called ordinary people.

Her book ‘Digging Up the Family’ is the fascinating result and members of Somewhere Else joined her to celebrate its launch at the final Writers in the Brewery meeting of the year on Tuesday.

Gill, a founder member of Somewhere Else, and now a member of the Catchword Writing Group said:  ‘I soon realized I would have to look much further than my own memories and family hearsay. To understand what had shaped their attitudes and beliefs, their opinions and principles, I would need a much broader insight into the social and political times in which they lived.’

The resulting stories are unique but universal, ordinary yet extraordinary. This is not a book about the great figures that forge history – it is a book for and about the majority of us, who live through it.

‘Digging Up The Family – A Lesson In Social History’ is published by Matador(ISBN:9781788038997) and is available from Troubador Publishing Ltd at £7.99.

The evening was sadly the last to be organized by writer Rona Laycock, who is taking a well-earned break after seven years of spearheading the monthly get together in Cirencester’s Brewery Arts Café. Until last year Rona also organized the annual Gloucestershire Writers’ Network competition as well as editing the literary magazine Graffiti and interviewing fellow writers in ‘The Writers’ Room’ on Corinium Radio.

Somewhere Else Writers would not exist without Rona, who taught all the founder members. Writers in the county owe her an enormous debt of gratitude for her energy and generosity of spirit. We wish her all the best with her future ventures.

Off the Rock Radio

SW-Image-3-300x200Stephen Connolly’s script ‘The Destiny of Shoes’ has been short-listed for Off the Rock Productions ‘Sound Waves’ season of Audio Plays.

Stephen’s script was inspired by an exercise given by Paul Dodgson during a Radio drama workshop in February 2017 and tells the story of a pair of shoes who must learn to put aside their differences as they come to terms with the end of their working life.

A Feast of Broadcasts

corinium-radio-logoA comic drama series, interviews with local writers, Abbey 900, an exploration of great novelists and how to write radio drama — these were the programmes broadcast  on Corinium Radio by Somewhere Else Writers in 2017. Even we were amazed at the variety when we met last week to review our programmes over the last twelve months and prepare next year’s schedule.

So what can we look forward to in 2018? First up, to lighten the dark winter days, is the next series of our popular drama ‘The Inn on the Green’. As we move into spring and summer, there will be more interviews with local writers and an anthology of prose and poetry on the topic of ‘Other Arts’. And who will be able to resist our April broadcast ‘Pigs in Literature’ (oink, oink)? I’ll certainly be tuning in for that.

You can find our programme ‘Somewhere Else Writers Present’ on Corinium Radio  at 4.30pm on the last Sunday of the month. It’s also available to listen again on the Corinium Radio website or on the Broadcasts tab of our own website where all our programmes are listed.

Happy listening.

Iris Anne Lewis


InkTears Long List

Screen Shot 2017-11-20 at 12.02.30When does failing to win a competition have its up side?

Well, let’s be honest, winning is best – but failing that, being introduced to some fantastic new writing is a close second – particularly when it comes with some great advice.

This year’s InkTears Flash Fiction Competition attracted around 400 entries, so I was thrilled when my story ‘Coffee’ was long listed. It didn’t make the final winners’ list but reading some of the stories by previous winners has been an eye opener in terms of the quality and sophistication of the flash out there. Plus, I picked up some great advice from last year’s winner Ingrid Jendrzejewski who said: ‘Cut. Stuff. Out. Then cut out some more. Quite often, the beginning and end are the first things that need to go. Most explanations can go. When you think you’ve cut out enough, read the story aloud until you find more things that need to go and cut them too. Then, put the thing in a drawer for a couple of weeks. When you finally take it out again, try to find at least one more thing to cut.’

InkTears is one of the best online short fiction literary magazines, running both an annual short story and flash fiction competition, and featuring both modern and classic writers. Contributors include Tania Hershmann and Nicolas Royle. If you are interested in short and flash fiction you can sign up free of charge and have a new story land in your inbox each month.

For an interview and more tips from Ingrid click here and visit the InkTears site here.

Sophie Livingston

The Inn on the Green Series 2









Rehearsals have begun for a new, three-part series of ‘The Inn on the Green.’

Expect more marital rows and a lot of unhelpful advice from the locals as Alicia and Jonathan continue to try and make a go of the village pub. This time there is a baby on the way, which almost certainly means a Christmas birth and one of us having to fake contractions.

It’s been great fun inventing the world of Crompton Bassett – and we’ve learnt a huge amount about the dos and don’ts of radio drama in the process. It’s fair to say we’ve created some warm moments, some weird moments and some unintentionally funny moments of radio. The aim was to do something that enriched us as a group – it has  – we just hope the listeners have enjoyed it as much as we have.

The first series was constructed by each cast member writing and acting their own lines. In this second series each writer has taken a turn at producing a whole episode  – and we have a guest performer in the shape of actor David Higgins, who plays Lydia the cook’s new kitchen assistant.

The first episode of the new series will be broadcast on Corinium Radio on Christmas Eve with the next two episodes going out on the last Sundays in January and February at 4.30pm. To learn more about the making of the series do tune into the ‘Inn on the Green’ section of this website, where you can listen to some of the writing team being interviewed by Rona Laycock. You can also catch up with earlier episodes, and if you miss the new broadcasts on Corinium Radio they will be posted on the site early next year.

Sophie Livingston

‘Ebb’: Poetry Film on the Wall


It was a surreal experience to see my poetry film ‘Ebb’ projected onto the wall of the old farmhouse which is now the Richard Jefferies Museum, but this was the Poetry Swindon Festival, where fun things happen and the unexpected is always round the corner.
It all started a couple of years ago when I attended a poetry film workshop run by Chaucer Cameron and Helen Dewbury of Elephant’s Footprint. As a result I produced two short poetry films – ‘I am the Sea’ and ‘Ebb’. Both were shown at the 2016 Poetry Swindon Festival. For this year’s festival Helen and Chaucer decided to experiment by projecting some poetry films on the external wall of the Museum which is the venue for the festival. The intention was to provide an atmospheric backdrop during the hours of dusk and darkness when poets and audience mingle in the garden in between readings.
It proved to be an inspired idea, adding an unusual and enjoyable dimension to the festival. And, in addition, it has spurred me on to create another poetry film.
Iris Anne Lewis

Somewhere Else Writers at the Cheltenham Literature Festival

GWN_2017Somewhere Else writers, Iris Anne Lewis and Jim Moeller, took the stage at this year’s Cheltenham Literature Festival to showcase their prizewinning work on the theme of ‘Who Do We Think We Are?’.
Both Iris and Jim had been shortlisted for a competition organised by the Gloucestershire Writers’ Network (GWN) and were delighted to be invited to read at the awards event, alongside the other shortlisted writers, poetry judge Roy McFarlane and prose judge Lania Knight.
Roy McFarlane commented that Iris’s poem Matryoshka ‘drew me into a dreamlike world where I might not have comprehended everything but it was dangerous; I loved “Flense her of flesh”, an arresting feast of words’. Lania Knight explained that the theme of the competition helped her decide the winners: ’The stories that made it to the final round answered this question of who do we think we are with humility, with grace and with insight’.
Jim’s story Benefits is featured as our November ‘Story of the Month’. All the shortlisted poems and stories are published in the competition winners anthology which is available from Penny Howarth at pennygwn@gmail.com. Please contact Penny if you would like to be included on the email list for writing news in the county and for details of next year’s GWN competition.

Paul Dodgson Workshop

Paul Dodgson 1How do you pitch a drama idea to BBC Radio Four?

That was the theme of a return visit to Somewhere Else by radio writer and producer Paul Dodgson.

After a morning analyzing the nuts and bolts of successful afternoon dramas we took it in turns to pitch our ideas to Paul, who has written fourteen plays for BBC radio and directed and produced more than 400 programmes across all BBC radio networks.

Was the process painful? Yes, a little, but it was also hugely instructive – and
entertaining. Our thanks to Paul, whose comments on our 15 pitches were
enormously helpful.

You can find out more about Paul’s work here