National Storytelling Week: Birmingham authors talk about fiction in all forms
As National Storytelling Week gets underway, Brummies are celebrating storytelling in theatres, schools, and spoken word venues.
On the 19th anniversary of National Storytelling Week, members of New Street Authors, David Wake and AA Abbott told us about their journeys into writing and their involvement in spoken storytelling.
New Street Authors is a collective of self-publishing writers based in Birmingham. The collective has provided readings at a number of different literature festivals, as well as hosting a regular series of independent publishing workshops and masterclasses.
David Wake is a novelist and playwright who studied his MA in Creative Writing at Birmingham City University.
He started his career writing comedy plays for science-fiction conventions. Wake then got into writing for theatre, for which he has now produced 18 plays.
Wake, co-founder of New Street Authors, said, “Theatre is fantastic because you get a reaction immediately. I think theatre is really where I learnt to write because I was listening to my jokes and hearing what people laughed at and what they didn’t. It’s a very harsh test.”
“I worked up from comedy plays to something more serious. I got to see how the audience had taken the play by speaking to them in the bar afterwards which was very satisfying.”
He continued, “A novel is somewhat invisible because I know someone’s bought the book but I never know who. Yet, reading is vital if you want to be a writer. I also come across a lot of students who have problems with their attention spans; reading definitely improves your ability to follow a train of thought, because decoding words with your brain requires constant concentration.”
Abbott is a keen novelist and member of New Street Authors who writes crime thriller books, and often reads short stories in public.
She began writing short stories in her twenties and has since authored the Trail series, which places characters all over Birmingham – from Digbeth to Aston.
Abbott said, “I’ve always loved stories and even when I was tiny I loved my parents reading to me. I have never considered giving up writing. I used to work a day job where I daydreamed all the time until I started writing again.”
“I’m planning to post myself reading short stories on my website more often. I am planning to do more audio recording so I can start producing audiobooks. I’d also like an actor to read a full-length audiobook because the audience deserves someone to bring it to life with accents and such.”
Abbott’s book are available in dyslexia-friendly large print, as well as standard paperback and Kindle versions. Abbott said, “in the olden days, printing a dyslexic-friendly book would cost a lot of money, but nowadays you can print them on demand. I think if I can do that for people then why wouldn’t I?”
Abbott also believes that reading can improve mental wellbeing. She continued, “When I wasn’t writing I was miserable, and I didn’t know why until I got back into it. Reading and writing are fantastic forms of escapism when we need them to be.”
You can find out more about upcoming National Storytelling Week events here.