Posts by Sue Lawson

Vote for the Palestine +100 anthology

Posted Monday 3 February 2020 by Sue Lawson in Competitions & Prizes

Palestine + 100 is Comma's best-selling book of 2019 and you can now votefor it as Best Anthology in the Locus Magazine awards for 2019 Sci-Fi works.

Palestine + 100 poses a question to twelve Palestinian writers: what might your country look like in the year 2048 – a century after the tragedies and trauma of what has come to be called the Nakba?

How might this event – which, in 1948, saw the expulsion of over 700,000 Palestinian Arabs from their homes – reach across a century of occupation, oppression, and political isolation, to shape the country and its people? Will a lasting peace finally have been reached, or will future technology only amplify the suffering and mistreatment of Palestinians?

Comma logo

Engaging Libraries Manchester funding success

Posted Monday 25 November 2019 by Sue Lawson in Latest Libraries News

It has recently been announced that Manchester Libraries have been successful, along with 13 other projects, in receiving funding from the Engaging Libraries

Phase 2 programme.

This fund was open to projects where public libraries would partner with research organisations, so the library could be used as venues to assist with research.

Manchester Libraries partnered with the University of Manchester's Multilingual Manchester for the 'Language Diversity in the City'. They recently worked with Multilingual Manchester on the Made in Manchester poem and International Mother Language Day.

The project will use four of our libraries to help Multilingual Manchester with their research, and allow us to further celebrate the linguistic diversity of the city. The libraries are Central Library, Forum Library, Longsight Library and North City Library. The project will begin in 2020 and complete in 2021.


Tameside Libraries Readers' and Writers' Festival - Read Here Write Now!

Posted Tuesday 5 November 2019 by Sue Lawson in Latest Libraries News

Are you a fan of books and reading?  Would you like to join in a creative writing class? All throughout November Tameside Library Service will be hosting author talks and writing workshops with bestselling authors such as Stephen Booth and Amanda Brooke.  

All talks are FREE but places are limited. You can book in person during staffed periods at any Library or please visit or give us a ring on 0161 342 2031

Storyskillers with Pamela Turton

Saturday 9 November 10am – 11am and 11.30am – 12.30pm, Dukinfield Library, Concord Way, Dukinfield, SK16 4DB.

This one hour workshop led by teacher turned author Pamela Turton will engage children in fun activities to develop their story writing skills using card prompts for characters, traits, setting, dialogue etc.  Suitable for children aged 8 – 13.

Pam is the author of several novels, poetry collections and non-fiction.  She is currently working on a sequel to her first novella, Stalkbook, and her first children’s book.  She has taught in primary/middle schools for over 25 years and regularly delivers Creative Writing workshops to both adults and children.  

Introduction to Writing Historical Fiction
Wednesday 13 November, 1pm – 3pm, Ashton Library, Tameside One, Market Place, Ashton-Under-Lyne, OL6 6BH.

Do you enjoy reading fiction set in the past? Have you always wanted to have a go at writing historical fiction? In this workshop, Sophie Parkes-Nield will explain how she’s developed her historical fiction and, through activities and exercises, will encourage you to try your own.

Sophie now lives in Mossley where she founded and continues to facilitate Mossley Writers, a community writing group to which everyone is very welcome to join. Sophie won the Arvon Award at the Northern Writers’ Awards and is currently working on her first novel with her agent, Giles Milburn which is set around the time of the notorious Saddleworth 1832 Bill’s O’Jack’s murders.
Woman to Woman
Thursday 14 November 10.30am – 12.30pm, Denton Library, Town Hall, Market Street, Denton, M34 2AP. 
This event takes place during Open+ hours. Visitors should report to the Library entrance and staff will let you in for the event.

Join us for a morning of lively conversation and inspiration as we welcome Amanda Brooke, Patricia Dixon and Anita Waller, three successfully published female authors. Louise Croombs from BBC Radio Manchester will be delving into our authors’ journeys into writing. 

Louise is a multi-award winning broadcaster, speaker and event host with 5 gold awards for radio presenting and journalism.
Amanda Brooke published her first novel in her mid-forties, having turned to writing as a way of coping with the death of her young son.

Anita has written and taught creative writing for most of her life, and at the age of sixty nine sent a manuscript to Bloodhound Books which was immediately accepted.

Patricia Dixon lives in Manchester and is the bestselling author of eight novels set in her home city and the Loire Valley, a place to close to her heart and from where she gathers inspiration for her characters and tales.

Alex and His Magic Dragon with Rose Miller
Saturday 16 November 11am -12pm and 1pm – 2pm, Stalybridge Library, Trinity Street, Stalybridge, SK15 2BN.

Rose is a local children’s author and will be reading from her recently published book, Alex and his Magic Dragon. A collection of delightful stories about Alex and his magic dragon Flicker who, with a flick of his tail, will make the fun and magic begin!  Suitable for children aged 5+

Meet the Author Phaedra Patrick
Wednesday 20 November 2pm – 3, Ashton Library, Tameside One, Market Place, Ashton-Under-Lyne, OL6 6BH.

Oldham based author Phaedra Patrick will be talking about her latest book, The Library of Lost and Found which is the Great North West Read for this November.  So come along and join in the massive book group discussion.

Meet the Author Matt Hilton
Thursday 21 November 1pm – 2.30pm, Ashton Library, Tameside One, Market Place, Ashton-Under-Lyne, OL6 6BH.

Matt Hilton quit his career as a police officer with Cumbria Constabulary to pursue his love of writing tight, cinematic American-style thrillers. To date, he is the author of 17 thrillers and a number of standalone horror and supernatural novels.

Matt is a high-ranking martial artist and has been a detective and private security specialist, all of which lend an authenticity to the action scenes in his books.  

The Postman, the Electrician, and the Supermarket Delivery Driver: The Long Road to Publication.
Friday 22 November, 11am – 12.30pm, Hyde Library, Town Hall, Greenfield Street, Hyde, SK14 1AL.

Are you trying to get published? After trying for a decade James Ellson finally succeeded, and he may have the solution for you. An interactive presentation in which James weaves an analysis of the routes to publication with his personal journey.

James Ellson was a police officer for 15 years, starting in London and finishing as a DI at Moss Side in Manchester. He’s been writing ever since and his first book, The Trail is being published by Unbound in spring 2020.  He has also recently graduated from the Manchester School of Writing.  James gives talks at festivals and to writing groups, and mentors on work-in-progress.

Reaching Your Subconscious - Linda Brogan
Tuesday 26 November, 2pm – 5pm, Denton Library, Town Hall, Market Street, Denton, M34 2AP.
This event takes place during Open+ hours. Visitors should report to the Library entrance and staff will let you in for the event.

Linda uses a writing technique she developed that is guaranteed to reach your subconscious.  Objects give you action, motivation, dialogue and drive the narrative. Your subconscious will always drive the truth. Designed around an object you can't live without, join Linda for her unique creative writing session.  

Linda is a multi award-winning playwright. She has produced work for major theatres in the UK.  She is resident at the National Theatre, Contact Theatre, Peterborough Maximum Security Prison, and Askam Grange Open Prison.

Meet the Author Andrew Hurley
Wednesday 27 November, 6pm – 7.15pm, Dukinfield Library, Concord Way, Dukinfield, SK16 4DB.
This event takes place during Open+ hours. Visitors should report to the Library entrance and staff will let you in for the event.

Andrew Michael Hurley is the author of two short story collections and two award-winning novels. He lives in Lancashire with his family and teaches Creative Writing at Manchester Metropolitan University’s Writing School.
Andrew’s third novel, Starve Acre, will be published in October 2019. ​  

Meet the Author Martin Edwards
Thursday 28 November 1.15pm – 2.45pm, Droylsden Library, Manchester Rd, Droylsden, M43 6EP.
This event takes place during Open+ hours. Visitors should report to the Library entrance and staff will let you in for the event.

Martin Edwards’ latest novel, Gallows Court, is a thriller set in 1930 which has been nominated for both the 2019 eDunnit award for best crime novel and the CWA Historical Dagger. He recently received the Crime Writers Association Dagger in the Library, awarded by UK librarians, for his body of work and has just been nominated for the fourth time for the CWA Short Story Dagger.

Martin is President of the Detection Club, consultant to the British Library’s Crime Classics, and former Chair of the CWA. He has also received the CWA Short Story Dagger, the CWA Margery Allingham Prize, a CWA Red Herring, and the Poirot award “for his outstanding contribution to the crime genre”.


Read an interview with Phaedra Patrick - Great North West Read author 2019

Posted Tuesday 29 October 2019 by Sue Lawson

Discover more about the Great North West Read 2019  with author, Phaedra Patrick

book coverHow did you come up with the idea for The Library of Lost and Found, and for your character Martha?

I wanted to write a novel inspired by my love and appreciation of books and libraries. I used to get excited about visiting Oldham library as a child, each Saturday with my family. I was an avid reader, but I also knew one day I wanted to write a book and to see it on the shelves. I took inspiration for Martha’s character from a number of sources – my own inability to say ‘no’ to others, when I was younger, and my mum who takes on lots of tasks for friends and neighbours. I thought it would be interesting to create a character who is an extreme version of this, to the extent that her whole life and home are overstuffed with things she’s offered to do for other people, which leads them to take advantage of her kind nature. Martha Storm’s surname comes from an exhibition I visited once in Whitby (I can’t remember what of). I saw the name Storm and liked how it also applied to Martha’s stormy family upbringing.

What did Zelda and Gina get up to in the USA? Would you be flattered if this became a topic of fan fiction?

I think they probably had a lovely time together sightseeing and sampling lots of different US dishes, as they are both fond of food. Perhaps they did some readings aloud out there. I’ve never considered that any of my work would be picked up as fan fiction, though this would be interesting to see! Did you know how the novel would end before you started writing, or did you make many changes along the way? This was an interesting book for me to write because, initially, the story was going to be completely different. I was working on one story then went back to the drawing board when I felt it wasn’t working. I wrote the first chapter of The Library of Lost and Found while holed up in a hotel, in the snow, in Minneapolis. I was there for a book conference and used to write in my room between sessions. I kind of went along on the journey with Martha not knowing what was going to happen in the story, so we found our way together. All I knew was that I wanted Martha to discover a book that opened up family secrets, that a library should take centre stage, and that the novel should celebrate the power of stories.

What do you think the book says about families, and also about friendship?

I always tell my teenage son that all families are different. In Martha’s case, her father is a strong character who shapes Martha’s life, and her mother’s and grandmother’s too. The women are from a generation who were supposed to accept that. However, Martha finds her own voice throughout the book and learns to stand up for herself and embrace who she really wants to be. You can’t choose your family but you can always try to be respectful, supportive and caring of each other. I think that friendship requires effort and time to nourish it and let it grow, and we should be open to people we might form bonds with coming into our lives. Some connections come easily and I find it interesting when very different characters in my book form unexpected friendships and help each other.

How was the novel’s title chosen, and what does it signify for you?

My debut novel, The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper, only ever had one title and I thought of it while sitting at my kitchen table. With The Library of Lost and Found (my third book) my publishers and I pinged ideas backwards and forwards for a while before settling on the title. I think there are lots of things that are ‘lost’ about Martha and her life, her family, her past and herself. I like to think the ‘found’ element of the title relates to her discovery of a mysterious book of fairy stories, finding out about her family, and rediscovering herself too.

Martha volunteers in a public library. How did you do your library research?

I was fortunate to be selected to take part in Read Regional 2017 which meant I visited and delivered 10 library events across the North. I was in a great position to to ask lots of librarians many questions! It was important to me that I covered aspects of their work and how libraries operate correctly, and I got to hear stories about library-goers too. Some of them made their way into my book.

What are you working on now?

My fourth novel will be called The Secrets of Love Story Bridge (in the USA and Canada) and The Secrets of Sunshine (in the UK). It does get a little confusing for a book to have two different titles, but it depends on what works best in those markets. It will be out in Spring 2020 in both countries. It tells the story of single dad Mitchell Fisher whose job is to cut off the padlocks that lovers attach to bridges, and he gets his own surprise second chance at love. I’ve been speaking to my literary agent about ideas for my fifth book and will start to write that soon.

What book is on your bedside table?

I tend to read non-fiction books about writing as they help to spark ideas for me. I’m currently re-reading Story Trumps Structure by Steven James, which is a brilliant book for anyone thinking of writing a novel. I’ve recently discovered Tara Jenkins-Reid, and loved her books Daisy Jones and the Six, and The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo. I’m looking forward to reading my friend B.A. Paris’s new book, The Dilemma.

Anything else we should know?

I had six or seven books rejected, and it took several years, before I got my first publishing deal, but I kept trying and now I’m published in twenty-two languages worldwide and am a USA Today bestselling author. I like to pass on what I’ve learned along the way, to help other writers, and have created an A-Z of writing tips on my website. If you’re looking for friendly advice and inspiration, do take a look at

The Library of Lost and Found would be great book to discuss in groups.

Reading NW Accent GNWR happy open book

Your local library service may be able to assist with a special reading group collection, or in reserving books, or you can obtain your copies.

Either way, check back for a reading group guide with background information, trivia, suggested questions and pictures.

North West Libraries

Librarians in the North West have pioneered partnership working to encourage new readers into libraries. Time To Read is a partnership of librarians engaged in reader development activity in public library authorities in the North West Region. 22 public library authorities in the region currently support Time To Read.

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