By Andrew Lines
The Oldbury Writing Group attended the PowWow Festival of Writing on Sunday 24th April.
It was our second visit to the annual event, which takes place at Birmingham’s friendliest pub, The Prince of Wales in Moseley.
The opening discussion with Kate Pemberton (Ambit), Carly Holmes (Lampeter Review), and Trini Decombe (Streetcake) dealt with the problems facing writers when they try to attract the attention of agents and publishers. Any validation we can achieve by publishing our work can provide us with that essential boost of confidence, so they told us.
Award-winning writer Rob Cowen was the guest for the second slot on the programme. He inspired us with his passion for nature, as well as writing. He told us our writing should be so honest it almost burns us, and when we’re in the zone, we should continue into the early hours of the morning (I have enough trouble keeping my eyes open during the daytime).
Dan Powell entertained us from 14.30 – 14.45 with a few of his wonderfully weird and comical stories.
Then the 14.45 – 15.30 slot was filled by Anne Edyvean, the head of BBC Writersroom, and Claire Bennett, who writes BBC scripts and works mainly on the long-running BBC series Doctors. Their advice to anyone hoping to write for TV was to not write what you think they wanted but to be yourself.
We were treated with another entertaining 15 minutes with Dan Powell. Then the Pros-and-cons of teaching creative writing took up the 15.45 – 16.30 slot. Georgina Bruce and David Savill are authors who teach in this field; they gave us plenty of advice.
Another session with the hilarious Dan Powell took us up to 17.00.
That’s when Courttia Newland spent an hour expanding our minds and offering us a different way of thinking. He also told us he wanted to live with Michael Jackson when he was a young boy. He said it seemed like a good idea at the time.
Ros Barber was the final guest of the day. Her first novel, The Marlowe Papers, won the Desmond Elliott Prize and the Author’s Club Best First Novel award. Her new novel, Devotion, was described as compelling by the Guardian and the Independent, yet she still needs a day job as a teacher to earn a living – let’s hope her book sales increase to a level she deserves.
Steph Vidal-Hall, whose bladder must be just as impressive as her massive brain, conducted all of the interviews during the seven-hour event. She masquerades as a mere mortal, but I have my doubts.