Tag Archives: listen softly london

London trip (+a reminder)


At the Geffrye Museum of the Home


I’m back from my second London trip – and what a trip it was. On Saturday I came into London to beautiful summery skies and a sense of possibility. The photo above shows where I ate my lunch before heading to be interviewed for the Paperchain Podcast with fellow writer and alumna of the University of Glasgow’s CW PhD Gillian Best (author of The Last Wave). We sat in Fabrique, where you can get cardamom buns, in good strong light and shadow, watching hipsters come and go with their coffees. The podcast featuring us will go up in a couple of months I think, when the second season of the podcast begins (links when that happens, though you can enjoy yourself now with the entirety of season one, and I recommend it!). The Paperchain Podcast is interesting in that each guest has to write a piece exclusively for their interview, based on a prompt from another guest. Gillian had ‘Cake Flamenco’ (provided by the last guest of last season) while I worked from hers – Jeff Goldblum. I did indeed write a story based on the man, myth and legend.


After the interview the day was free – so I met up with C, who was kindly hosting me. We took an easy night of it in her lovely, plant filled flat in North London but at around 11.30pm the news hit of the terror attack at London Bridge. C checked around with her friends, while I didn’t even think to check in with others – sorry if I frightened anyone. We stayed up late, listening, submitting to the scrolling 24 hour news, the mis-reported bits, the vagueness. The night wore into Sunday.


Wincing slightly, I made my way with C through London. Some snapshots of the strange, uplifting things we found:



Snowman House, on Abbey Road (where the studios are)



This clown was just down from Snowman House – don’t be alarmed! He said hello, and was quite cheery. He was sitting outside of a party supply shop, and just down from that, a man was stuffing an improbably number of inflated balloons into his small red car. I wondered briefly if it makes it any lighter. C pointed out it would probably be hard to see properly while driving. We carried on our way, stopping in a Japanese supermarket for snacks for later, and in Tiger, which is one of my favourite ‘everything’ shops. It’s like a cross between Ikea and Woolworths (RIP). ┬áThen it was off to a video interview with Naomi Frisby, of the amazing The Writes of Women blog. The whole blog is great, but especially worth a visit for her monthly roundup of notable articles, interviews and essays by women. Gillian Best was being interviewed too, but separately this time. I for one had a grand time with it, and thought Naomi’s questions were really insightful and incisive. When the interviews go up, I’ll post links here.


After that, Gillian and I wandered around London. The streets were busy, the air a little cooler. We wandered into bookshops, had dinner with C, and then the three of us headed for The Barley Mow, a Shoreditch pub, for the Listen Softly London event. We heard readings from poets who explored urban landscapes, bad relationships, the language of flowers, and poignant thoughts of the stars that are overhead always through even city light pollution.

A print bought at the Moomin shop


On Monday I had the day to myself before the flight home, so I wandered London, going into bookshops, an all-gluten-free bakery called beyond bread, and the Moomin shop (it was everything I hoped for) and meeting with my friend J, before almost missing my flight home after the train to Stansted was stopped (a fire alarm at the airport) and my bags were double searched (a misplaced aerosol can) and my bag burst. But I made it!


Today the rain is falling steadily and I have work to catch up on. What a weekend to have lived through. Thanks to everyone who hosted me, palled about, offered me an interview, answered my bookish queries, bought my novel, came to hear me read and generally made this trip so great.


Lastly – a reminder in case you’ve missed it or not entered yet, Freight is giving away two copies of Flesh of the Peach on Goodreads. You have until the 13th to enter (it’s free and very straightforward). The giveaway is open to residents of the UK, Canada, US and Australia. If you’re not a fan of risk and would like to read it, the novel is available on Book Depository for a tenner with free shipping.



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A night with the Riff Raff + upcoming plans




This post is a little late going up – I was floored by an epic London cold, which has only now receded. On the 11th of May I had the treat of taking part in the first Riff Raff meet up at the Effra Social in Brixton. Five authors took part in the lineup, reading from our new books and taking audience questions. It was a great mix of genres, from the comic real-life adventures of co-host Amy Baker, to the dreamy-sounding French novel of Fran Cooper, Paul M.M Cooper’s historical novel of poetry and love, Vanessa Potter’s stunning true story of her sudden-onset blindness and subsequent recovery. For a full read up with photos that capture the cosy atmosphere of the Effra (and links to all the works) go here. If you can get to their next event (as I wish I could as an audience member) you absolutely should. Rosy and Amy are delights, and the evening promises to be every bit as good as this first one was.



Copyright: Alice Lubbock


If you missed me when I was down storming London, there’s another chance to see me coming up, and this time with my good friend (and excellent writer and wit) Gillian Best, author of The Last Wave. You are cordially invited to Listen Softly London at The Barley Mow on Sunday the 4th of June at 7pm. Admission is free, there will be other writers, more books for sale, and I promise to scribble something interesting in your book if you ask me to.


Some sad news: my short story collection On the Edges of Vision, which won the Saltire First Book of the Year in 2015, is facing going out of print as the publisher Queen’s Ferry Press is closing its doors. It’s a hard thing to face, unexpectedly grief-filled, though I know of many other authors who have gone through this. Small indie presses, the risk takers, the ones who support what might otherwise be marginalised into silence, are always in precarious positions. I greatly hope there is life yet for my collection, but until something is sorted out, copies of the book are still being sold here, and I will bring down the handful I have to sell at Listen Softly London. If you have read and enjoyed my work, or the work of any other writer, really – support us and our presses by leaving reviews, and writing to us, and passing your battered copies on to friends and family. It’s lonely old work here, always on the precipice of the abyss. Love and appreciation to those who have put themselves so far out over it to get our words out in the world.


Still – more ahead for Flesh of the Peach. I’ll be on some podcasts discussing it (& writing process, & publishing experiences, & gun smuggling incidents & other books I love etc. etc) soon, so links will be here when I have them to share. For now – I’m off to bury myself in work and reading. Happy times.


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