Writer’s Statement.

Writer’s Statement.

I’m Seraphim Bryant and I write for young adults who like thrillers and a bit of fantasy. Also, I write and illustrate picture books in young children’s fiction which are frequently about social issues and citizenship.

My style is very open, it’s quite conversational. This is because I like people so much and I love talking to them about their life, theories, and what their passions are.

That that’s how my writing often sounds; I write like a person who is telling you a story about what they’ve witnessed. The tone of my work can be quite serious, but I always have a dash of humour. Humour and love are essential in my writing because It’s my belief that life itself is full of humour and held together by love; it’s how people survive though hard times and massive challenges. I want my characters to go through parts of a real life too.

I was brought up on traditionalist writers like Beatrix Potter, Enid Blyton, CS Lewis, JRR Tolkien and stories from the Bible. I was very lucky to be read to as a child by my dad. These writers gave me a great sense of imagination, of new worlds, and the importance of people’s values and beliefs. Unfortunately, I was very sick child in my early years so I didn’t have a lot of schooling and this made be very slow to learn to talk, to read and ultimately communicate with the written word. For a long time, I struggled, and avoided reading.

Thankfully, in high school an amazing English teacher, Mr Young took the time to know me. He would constantly give the books that he knew I wouldn’t put down. This meant I felt compelled to read and I was launched into high fantasy, Gothic fiction and thrillers. From famous writers like Stephen King and Piers Anthony, to new writers at the time such as Carlos Ruiz Zafon, Christopher Paolini, Phil Pullman and Sally Green. My head was now full of stories, stories and escapism that I wanted to hear for myself. Ideas of the kinds of magic that I thought would interest me. Until I felt duty-bound to write too. This lead me into a degree in Creative writing and Illustration, bonding my two passions into production.

This is why I write, read, and I love, young adult fiction and I’m sure I will be buried with a children’s novel in hand.

SB

 

 

Why do you write?

Why do you write what you write?

Why does it matter that you write?

Why do you put the time and effort into writing?

What are you trying to convey to readers through your writing?

What do you want your writing legacy to be?

How did you become a writer?

What About Raymond Carver?

Though Raymond Carver published only a handful of books in his lifetime, he is often considered one of the great American short story writers. Debate still exists as to whether to consider Carver a minimalist for his frequent use of sparse language, a voice of the working class for his commitment to ‘ordinary’ characters, or a champion of “dirty realism” for his frank depictions of modern American life. But no matter how you might regard his work, Carver’s legacy and reputation have only grown since his death in 1988, at the age of 50.

“Well, of course I had to keep him on a leash,” his mother, Ella Carver, said much later — and seemingly without irony. Mrs. Carver might have had the right idea. Like the perplexed lower-middle-class juicers who populate his stories, Carver never seemed to know where he was or why he was there.

Born in Oregon in 1938, Carver soon moved with his family to Yakima, Wash. In 1956, the Car­vers relocated to Chester, Calif. A year later, Carver and a couple of friends were carousing in Mexico. After that the moves accelerated: Paradise, Calif.; Chico, Calif.; Iowa City, Sacramento, Palo Alto, Tel Aviv, San Jose, Santa Cruz, Cupertino, Humboldt County . . . and that takes us up only to 1977, the year Carver took his last drink.

His two passions were stories (which he failed to get published despite a strong work ethic for submissions) and Maryann Burk, a local girl four years his junior. When his parents moved to California for work, Carver already had the plans in motion for their marriage.

The relationship between Raymond and Maryann would define much of Carver’s life. Within two years of marriage, they’d had two children, Christine and Vance. Most of their early life was fraught with financial difficulty. Carver’s passion for writing was intense, but was at odds with his disdain for any other kind of work. As such, Maryann tended to act as breadwinner, usually through waitress jobs, as she supported Carver’s attempts to get recognized and also his attempts to earn a college degree, a goal thwarted by both financial trouble and Carver’s insecurities.

Carver’s most important break came through a long-time friend, Gordon Lisch, who had become an editor at Esquire. Through the connection, Carver published his first major-press collection, the Lisch-edited Will You Please Be Quiet, Please? In the years following, he and Maryann finally separated and Carver gained control of his drinking. The book was widely praised, and it is clear in light of his biography how well he made use of the sadness and desperation he had experienced in his own life and those of his lower middle-class communities.

From there, Carver’s fortunes improved. Sober and committed, Carver published another collection – What We Talk about When We Talk About Love – and though it’s often criticized as having been too heavily edited by Lisch, it won even more acclaim than the previous collection. Along with another poetry book (Fires), Carver then prepared his final collection of all-new stories, considered by many to be his masterpiece: Cathedral. In this time, Carver met and moved in with Tess Gallagher, a poet who would eventually become his wife and partner until his death.

Financially stable through both fellowships and book sales, Carver spent his final few years cementing his reputation as a great American literary figure. His relationships with his mother, Maryann, and his children grew stronger. And then he was diagnosed with cancer.

On August 2, 1988, Carver died from lung cancer at the age of 50. He is buried at Ocean View Cemetery in Port Angeles, Washington. The inscription on his tombstone reads:

LATE FRAGMENT

And did you get what

you wanted from this life, even so?

I did.

And what did you want?

To call myself beloved, to feel myself

beloved on the earth.

 

His poem “Gravy” is also inscribed.

raymond-carver

 

The Conversation Challenge

 

Task: write a conversation where there are ….

A.      All gender-neutral pronouns.  No, He or She

B.      No gender obvious names.

C.      Setting must be a café

D.      And the characters are exchanging gifts.

My Attempt

                The streets were swollen with people. Manic delivery drivers parked in the road and ignored the angry horns as they raced against the stream of shoppers and dived in and out of business doorways. I watched relived that my partner Avery, did all our Christmas shopping and I only had to cook the meal for us and our children on the big day. I kept checking my watch, it was unlike Jo to be late. The newspaper before me was becoming less and less interesting.  Finally, there was a bustle of activity. I looked up to see Jo was there fighting the narrow door with a pram. I rushed to help.

                “Hi, how are you?” asked Jo abandoning the pram to kiss me on the cheek.

                “Fine, fine. What happened to you?” I enquired looking at the dishevelled mess of my friend. The person who had nearly always been perfectly presented when we worked together.

                “This monster wanted to feed before we could leave the house.” Jo now balanced baby Sammy on a tilted frame with a baby bag swinging in the arched stance.

                “Here give me Sam, and go and get yourself a cuppa.” I offered.

                “Thank you, Lesley.” Jo put a hand on my arm, smiled and then walk straight past coffee counter, making a beeline for the loos. I laughed and bounced the babbling, bright-eyed Sammy on my knee. Sammy smiled back. clearly unaware of the energy it must have took to make organic carrot purée and get fine oatmeal to the right temperature and still make it into the city centre for 11:20 coffee with an old friend.

                I reached for the all-too-familiar soft brown bear out of the baby bag. There I caught a glimpse at what must have been my Christmas present. Wrapped perfectly and jo’s hand written tag saying;

                 “happy holiday and best wishes Jo and Sam, x.”

                “Shit!” I exclaimed having realised my gift for Jo was back in the office. What was I thinking? Jo had managed to get here and wrestle Sam into the loathed car seat. Which, to be fair, we all didn’t understand how to operate. Jo had driven through city traffic to sit and have coffee with me, here so it was close to my office, and had remembered the gift. What excuse did I have? I Had even been sat here waiting, wondering why Joe was late. The irony that I could have run back to the office and been back within 10 minutes wasn’t helping. If only I had realised. Well, I felt right idiot. Sam added by barfing onto my suit jacket from my continued bouncing. Because of the forgotten gift, I didn’t complain. I figured I deserved it.

                Joe came back with another coffee for me and a tea. Anticipating the vomit episode from Sam Joe had stolen loo roll.

                “I kind of saw it from over there at the counter.” Jo stifled a laugh.

                “Saw what?” I asked wonder if my sneaky peek at the present had been spotted.

                “Half digestive carrot all down your back, perfectly timed as you bent over for the blasted bear… Well done Sam.” Said Joe turning from me to the little bundle of smiling joy and trying to clean me up all of the same time.

                “Made your strike while I was distracted hey? Fair play. But maybe keep the sneakiness to hockey tournaments”

                “Hope you can tech Sammy better than you captain, Captain.” Muttered Jo jokingly.  “Will you be able to change at the office?”

                “Yeah,” I replied hardly caring.

                “Sorry Lesley, I’m still getting used to this parenting thing. No matter how hard I try. I’ve never got everything I need. Maybe I should go back to the warehouse logistics.”

                “I don’t know about that. Just don’t leave me holding the baby” I laughed trying to wrestle Sam into a clean bib. We were now both laughing as it took us the two of us to get Sam into the highchair.

Would you like to guess the gender of Jo, Lesley and Sam?….

I’ll let you know if your right or if I was able to hide them.

Apocalypse Poem

Don’t stop and let me off

By SB

 

The force that kept me on my feet

now is causing my days to lengthen.

The year’s long day of so much heat.

The nightmare of the lasting darkness.

 

Life giving waters that flow away from us.

Now group at the far north and south.

We must mass and move to new countries upon

Sea-less equator that none can own.

Land that was once deep sea is the only

home left to those of loss.

 

The forces whose core carried on

to quake and rip our towers of pride.

The moon that left us for mercury,

centrifugal gravity abandoned.

 

Beta-blocked gravity sicken us more

than ever life’s spin could have.

So, away we must flee, for the sea

who rises up, swallow Northern-hemisphere

and her friend Australasia disappear.

 

I pray for 1,040 miles per hour a day.

 

 

(apocalypse poem– about the earth’s rotation slowing)maxresdefault

An Interview with Anthony Cartwright by Seraphim Bryant.

We met at the Hive Library Worcester after the book reading of his fourth novel ‘Iron Towns’.

Iron Towns follows the live of a fading football star called Liam and three other strong characters. Liam’s return to his home town, the people he left and the beliefs he has in the history tattooed to his body. The novel is a love note to all the changing industrial town in the West Midlands, but especially to Antony’s remembrance of the black country influenced part of Dudley he grew up in.

Cartwright’s previous three books were also about Dudley and the West Midlands area during the Thatcher era. All of Anthony’s books seem to centre on the optimism of community despite changes.

Cartwright is also involved in a collaboration with a Spanish author that will be available before the end of the year, The novel centres around The Heysel Stadium disaster, an Italian and English football incident in 1985.

Cartwright confesses that Dudley was his home town so naturally became the subject he was most familiar with in writing. He strongly emphasises that it is also the perfect backdrop for a working class themed novel. He adds “Some of the towns in Worcestershire are also mentioned. Honest” Which caused the audience to laugh with him.

Really enjoyed listening to Anthony read his opening chapter, is something special about listening to an author speaking their own words. Listening to where they stress and importance or play out a character. Hearing the original accent that the piece was written in, really helped the atmosphere of the book. Cartwright explained to us that it all starts with a phone call and that this was always his inciting incident in the novel, and in the end, he chose to start right there and not waste time.

Cartwright explains that pubs and football grounds in this novel is where most of the story centres around, and this reflects very much the life he remembered in Dudley. He is added in the old legends curses and myths of this area. “I enjoy greatly the weaving of reality and culture into the novel. The something particularly potent about having the everyday lead over the Mystic.” Cartwright achieves this by having the footballer, Liam use lots of mindful projection. In the same way, that quite often people in everyday life will project onto the footballers that they follow.

I asked Anthony if he saw himself as more a history or environmental writer. “I wasn’t overly aware I was very much of either. The history is pretty much obvious, and is required when you write about anyplace in time. And I don’t think it’s strange to consider industrial as environmental. But do explain to me how you feel about the environmental influence?” he laughs noticing my university badge and hoodie. Timidly, I explained that I was currently doing an environmental writing module, and I thought that his description of the area was very much in the pastoral, because it is a celebration of man in his natural environment. Anthony agreed, saying it is very much like listening to someone talk about classical pastoral. But of course this was industrial so maybe we had created a new form of ‘pastoral industry’; which made us both smile. He explained this was because he was very influenced by the artist George Shaw. Shaw was a Tile Hill, Coventry resident. The artist produced landscape paintings of his own natural industrial area, but in all of his landscapes there were no people painted. “His work seems to be populated by ghosts.” Cartwright felt that it was something very special about changing a place, that would have been heavily populated by people, into an absence of people, looking at just their environment. “It’s become almost an obsession for me” he goes on to explain, “people in a barren landscape that influence the area but are absent as if the years had reduced them. You notice it most when the older generation write their letters and have that extra line where it says ‘Advil yards’ and then the county area. People of the towns say they have more concerns than the missing S in their postal address, but it’s still there. Just as Geoffrey of Monmouth did when he was writing ‘History of the Kings of Britain’. ‘GM’ always paid special attention to his hometown and emphasise any links he could to it. He speaks as if Merlin and magic were once real. Very much like his writing, I get my links to myth from him.”

I highlighted that his novels focus a lot on community and that one of the other participants had asked whether he was trying to save communities. Cartwright went over his answer about there being a decline in industrial areas and how hard it was for most of them to make the transition. “I like the geography of it too”. He added that some characters like in the book was ‘sticking it out’, no matter how bad it gets. This is almost always because this place is their home. Although it can sound bleak there is always hope in transition to become transformation.

This lead me to asked about if there was a link between a decline in an area and arise in their literary output because of it. Cartwright explained the Black Country has always been strong in literary and poetry. This is proven by the fact that their dialect is still strong even now. He explained that there are very many layers of history and this fuels areas like the West Midlands because they are really rooted in a mixed culture and never put off by transition. “Most of these places are industrial but they have never been urban.” I questioned if this mixed culture was why there was a build-up of mythology. “There are more decisions you make in your life by instinct and belief than ever of the rational.” Answered Cartwright.

I ended on what I thought was a fairly easy question about research. Querying how much research for each book and when do you know to stop researching and start writing? Cartwright explained that the research never seems to be over but it is best to simply do them side-by-side in his opinion. Yet as it always makes sense to write what you know. This is easier to write and you know your impression of it. It’s something felt rather than seen in what you know well. Facts really add more. More to the feeling and give you that setting you know is true. When he writes although he is concerned about making sure that the facts are right, it’s more about feeling your way through the story, writing what feels right and real to you. It’s always a good idea to check the balance of fact and fiction by looking at other people’s books.

Anthony Cartwright ended by telling us all a little piece of wisdom he learnt. “Tides come and go. However, it is but a cycle.”

The Prize-winning Poem

The Prize-winning Poem

It will be typed, of course, and not all in capitals: it will use upper

and lower case

in the normal way; and where a space is usual it will have a space.

It will probably be on white paper, or possibly blue, but almost

certainly not pink.

It will not be decorated with ornamental scroll-work in coloured ink,

nor will a photograph of the poet be glued above his or her name,

and still less a snap of the poet’s children frolicking in a jolly game.

The poem will not be about feeling lonely and being fifteen

and unless the occasion of the competition is a royal jubilee it will

not be about the queen.

It will not be the first poem the author has written in his life

and will probably not be about the death of his daughter, son or wife

because although to write such elegies fulfils a therapeutic need

in large numbers they are deeply depressing for the judges to read.

The title will not be ‘Thoughts’ or ‘Life’ or ‘I Wonder Why’

or ‘The Bunny-rabbit’s Birthday Party’ or ‘In Days of Long Gone By’.

‘Tis and ‘twas, o’er and e’er, and such poetical contractions will not be

found

in the chosen poem. Similarly cliche´s will not abound:

dawn will not herald another bright new day, nor dew sparkle like

diamonds in a dell,

nor trees their arms upstretch. Also the poet will be able to spell.

Large meaningless concepts will not be viewed with favour: myriad is

out;

infinity is becoming suspect; aeons and galaxies are in some doubt.

Archaisms and inversions will not occur; nymphs will not their fate

bemoan.

Apart from this there will be no restrictions upon the style or tone.

What is required is simply the masterpiece we’d all write if we could.

There is only one prescription for it: it’s got to be good.

 

Fleur Adcock

 

Adcock, Fleur (1983) Selected Poems, Oxford: Oxford University Press.