Ladies of Letters

I am The People’s Friend’s ‘Writer of the Week’. Hurrah!

Actually, I have done very little to achieve this accolade, apart from send them a story which is appearing in this week’s issue of the magazine.

You will have noticed, if you keep an eye on The People’s Friend’s excellent website, that every week they feature one of their writers. It’s just my turn, I suppose.

Anyway, it was fun answering the questions because, let’s face it, who doesn’t like talking about themselves?!

Joanna Cannon
Talking of interviews, novelist Joanna Cannon (of The Trouble with Goats and Sheep and Three Things About Elsie fame), is coming to Evesham Festival in June and I’ve got the lovely job of interviewing her! Exciting and very scary all at the same time because I’ve never done anything like that before.

If you want to come and listen to Joanna talk about writing and her books (and see me possibly making a fool of myself), then the event is in Evesham on Sunday 30th June, from 3pm – 4pm and it’s only £6 for a ticket (on sale here now!). I am going to stake my reputation (because it was my idea to invite her) on this event being a sell-out because – well, it’s Joanna Cannon! But we’ll see!

Anne Youngson
Joanna Cannon writes ‘Up Lit’ (although I know she’s currently writing something a bit different) and I’ve just finished reading Meet Me at The Museum by Anne Youngson, which I would consider to be ‘Up Lit’ too.

It’s an epistolary novel (that sounds vaguely medical but it means, as I’m sure you know, a novel written in the form of documents. Usually – and in this case, letters – but it can also be emails, newspaper clippings or diary entries).

What really pleased me about this book, when I first picked it up, was the photo of the author on the inside back cover. Because Ms Youngson is not.. well, not young. I’m sure she won’t mind me saying that, as much has been made about the fact that she was the oldest (at 71) debut novelist to ever be shortlisted for a Costa award.

It’s refreshing to see a well-received novel (especially a debut) by someone who’s not a twenty-something, pouting model-type (because sometimes – especially when competitions ask for your AGE – it feels like that’s what the publishing industry is looking for). It gives me HOPE – and perhaps, you too.

In other news, I met my friend Beanchild (don’t ask) today for coffee and we pondered, when hers arrived, whether it was a heart or a bottom on the top. What d’you think?

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15 Responses to Ladies of Letters

  1. Amanda Barton says:

    I know what you mean about authors being young, beautiful things. (Or celebrities with no story writing credentials at all). I’ve encountered a few editors recently and been struck by their youth, too. Not that I’m bitter or anything…I turn 50 in a few weeks and am more determined than ever to get that novel out there. Now, where’s that face cream?

  2. lindalindatyler says:

    Congratulations on being PF’s Writer of the Week!
    Wish I lived near enough to come to Evesham for Joanna Cannon’s talk – £6 is an absolute bargain.

  3. Ninette90 says:

    Well done on the interview. Interesting about the author ‘age’ thing because I hate putting my age on any entry – I can’t see that it’s relevant unless they are going to penalise you for it! Surely 18+ would be enough? Still I am heartened to think I’ve still got a year or two to get that novel out there. 2020 is my year I hope (I’ll hit 70 then) Who said that??? 🙂

    • Thanks for your comment Ninette (and that must SURELY be a mistake on your birth certificate!). I think that if it’s a magazine short story competition (Good Housekeeping, Grazia or Harpers Bazaar sometimes run them), they ask your age because they want to award the prize to someone in their ‘target market’. And although they never specifically say that men can’t enter, I just can’t see a women’s magazine giving the prize to a man, so they usually ask your gender too. But it’s a bit naughty. Age shouldn’t matter!

  4. pennywrite says:

    Very nice to ‘meet’ you, Helen. Agree with you I can’t imagine being able to write in a café – far too much going on to be helpful to concentration.
    Enjoyed your story, too

    • Thanks, Penny. I haven’t actually seen the story yet because the only shop I managed to get to today (Aldi!) didn’t have it. And tomorrow I’m busy (poetry group are coming here! Eek) so I’ll have to get it on Thursday. I really envy people who can write with noise around them! (Apparently, the Yorkshire vet who wrote as ‘James Herriott’ used to write in the living room, with the family around him and the TV on!). I just can’t do it. I need peace!

  5. juliathorley says:

    What an interesting life you lead! If you have a ‘thing’ about growing older, might I suggest you read ‘Bolder’ by Carl Honore (if I haven’t already)? It’s a splendid read and is quite encouraging for those of use of a certain age…

  6. Sue Wood says:

    Thank you, I have booked my ticket for Joanna Cannon and will go to the Poetry Picnic! Happy days 🙂

  7. philippabowe says:

    Hi Helen, what a rich post, full of interesting foods-for-thought! I’ve been down the insane-work rabbit hole for a while, when commenting on writing posts falls by the wayside, though I do always still read and enjoy yours! Congrats on the being writer of the week, and the forthcoming interview – it’s noticeable over the years of following your blog how your writing life keeps expanding, it’s impressive and inspiring. 🙂
    I definitely take hope from the story of Anne Youngson (I admit I had to look up “up lit”), it makes me feel like a still-young yet-to-be-published writer at 55!
    Please do tell about Beanchild, such a great name! And I’m seeing a nice fat heart.

    • Helen Yendall says:

      Hi Phiippa, nice to hear from you. We actually can’t remember why my friend Emma is called ‘Beanchild’ (and I am ‘Beanie’ – even to the extent that her daughter, my goddaughter, calls my OH ‘Mr Beanie). It’s one of those names that dates back to the dim and distant past when we worked together (and were probably very bored!). Thank you for your kind words about my writing life. I am 55 too! Hurrah!

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