Writer-in-Residence & Competition

2017 Children’s Writing Competition, September – November 12 2017: ‘Home as Inspiration’ Writing Competition Information

The competition closed on 12 November.  Kay and the guest judges, Julian Sedgwick and Inbali Iserles  are busy judging, the results will be announced in the New Year.

2017 Writer-in-Residence – Kay Blayney

The FRRL Writer-in-Residence may be found in the Library most Friday afternoons so if you have some writing you would like to
look at – or you just want to chat about books or writing, do come and say hello.

You may also send work for the W-in-R to look at and comment on, then please feel
free to do so – email is: kay @kayblayney.co.uk

As a child, I was fascinated by local characters, capturing their lives in short stories and simple character accounts. These observational skills never left me. Over the years I have captured people’s lives, places, events and passages of time through journal and monologue entries, some professionally performed by Menagerie Theatre Company.

Extracting from my journal entries I experimented by writing a One-Page-Play, based on the entries of a visitor’s book from a holiday cottage in Norfolk. I was inspired by the mundane entries placed alongside each other including those of a colleague who had recently died, who seemingly had holidayed in the same cottage as me for years! This motivated me to write The Visitor’s Book, runner up in the 2008 Hotbed New Writing Festival at the Junction, Cambridge.

Another journal entry inspired by a visit to the Somme led to Circuits of Remembrance, a stark contrast to The Visitor’s Book. This work-in-progress was short-listed in the 2009 Hotbed Festival.

My nomination for an Escalator Award in 2005 and short listing in 2009 spurred me on to continue my writing as I am totally committed to the projects that I want to pursue.

Teaching Drama and being at the forefront of Community Arts Projects enabled me to work with some dedicated historical researchers where my writing has derived from the ‘graveside monologues’ in the Voices from the Past and works about the local families who were connected in some way to the Great War in the Mill Road Cemetery World War 1 Centenary celebrations.    

From war to women, my next series of monologues were written for the WOW (Women of the World Festival) as part the Mill Road History Group’s Mill Road Women Then & Now.

My most recent monologues focus on ‘place’ and of course, along with place there are always people!

I believe that my observational strengths enable me to deal with subjects that others might consider mundane and I am keen to think of my work as ‘Monologues of the Mundane’ about people and situations who have a valid story to tell.

My passion is life writing and my inspiration and ideas are endless: an array of hidden and forgotten (often buried!) local characters and events that are waiting to be revived and written about in a creative non-fictional way.

And so, the stories continue, from Mill Road to Rock Road and beyond!

Kay Blayney

January 2017

 Report from Leigh Chambers, 2016 Inaugural Writer-in-Residence

Leigh Chambers

Leigh Chambers

It’s been a real pleasure being the inaugural Writer in Residence at Rock Road Library in 2016. I’ve lost track of the number of people who’ve contacted me to say how pleased they were to see a writer in place and/or talk to me about their work. Sitting in the Community Room as I sometimes am, writing, on a Friday afternoon, I’ve chatted with many eager writers and would-be writers about ways to motivate themselves or improve their work. I know this was something of an experiment for the Library and I hope it’s gained as much from it as I have.

In the year, the outstanding events have been the writers evening in which crime writer Alison Bruce, magical realist author Menna Van Praag, and custodian of Green Knowe Manor, Diana Boston, came to chat about writing. It was a fascinating night and the authors and Diana were kept busy after the ‘formal’ part of the evening, talking and socialising with those who came along.

More recently, we’ve had the creative writing competition using the ‘Location as Inspiration’ strap-line to encourage children and young people from 6 – 16 to put pen to paper and write. We received almost 200 submissions and I was thrilled that writers, Adele Geras and Julian Sedgwick agreed to be judges. We shall present prizes at an evening early in 2017 to those who came in the top ten in each age category (Top-tens). They’ll also see their work published online and hear it broadcast on Cambridge 105.

Hopefully that gives the Library some things to build on in the future: More events? (Those we organised certainly seemed popular.) A regular writing surgery? (Giving a more structured way to handle queries.) Funding? (Applications were made but were, unfortunately, unsuccessful. Funding would certainly have allowed more activities and might be easier to come by following this first year.)

All in all, I issue my thanks again to Rock Road Library for their support and wish my successor as much enjoyment in the role as I had.

January 2017


2016 Children’s Writing Competition Results


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