#BlogTour! #Guestpost by Matt Wesolowski – ‘A Strange Alchemy’ @ConcreteKraken @OrendaBooks

sixstories

One death. Six stories. Which one is true?

1997. Scarclaw Fell. The body of teenager Tom Jeffries is found at an outward bound centre. Verdict? Misadventure. But not everyone is convinced. And the truth of what happened in the beautiful but eerie fell is locked in the memories of the tight-knit group of friends who embarked on that fateful trip, and the flimsy testimony of those living nearby.

2017. Enter elusive investigative journalist Scott King, whose podcast examinations of complicated cases have rivalled the success of Serial, with his concealed identity making him a cult internet figure. In a series of six interviews, King attempts to work out how the dynamics of a group of idle teenagers conspired with the sinister legends surrounding the fell to result in Jeffries’ mysterious death. And who’s to blame … As every interview unveils a new revelation, you’ll be forced to work out for yourself how Tom Jeffries died, and who is telling the truth. A chilling, unpredictable and startling thriller, Six Stories is also a classic murder mystery with a modern twist, and a devastating ending.

Six Stories is available in E-book & paperback from Amazon UK. Now.

Huge welcome to Matt Wesolowski, author of ‘Six Stories’, which is published in paperback as of today (15/03/17)! Congratulations! It has already been released in e-book format, but if you follow the link above ^^ you’ll be able to purchase either format. TWG is one of two blog stops on Matt’s tour today, courtesy of Orenda Books, and I have a truly insightful guest post from the man himself. I hope you enjoy!

 

 
A Strange Alchemy

Matt Wesolowski

 

I used to vehemently believe that writing cannot be taught. In fact, I still believe it to a

degree. It’s not that I think writers are enigmas – ethereal creatures who are summoned from some unearthly realm; born, not made, however, I do believe that you cannot take a course or a class and learn the divine secrets to being able to write good fiction. Like Anne Cleeves says, writing is a strange alchemy.

That’s why, a few years ago, when someone suggested to me that I should look into teaching creative writing, I was immediately dismissive. I don’t even know what I’m doing with writing; I just have stories inside me that need to be conjured out, exorcised like awkward demons. Then an opportunity came up to work with young people in my home city of Newcastle-Upon- Tyne for an organisation I hold in utmost respect. The job was a group leader of a creative writing group for people aged 12-19 – namely Cuckoo Young Writers, set up by New Writing North.

‘You can’t teach writing’ resonated in my head as I filled out the application form. But the thing is, is that I agreed with the voice, you can’t. What you can do instead is enable, encourage and maybe…just maybe…inspire. You see, when I was a teenager I had nowhere to put my writing. I used to print out my short stories and give them to my friends or else press them into my harassed English teachers’ hands. I certainly didn’t know anyone else who wrote stories for fun.

Cuckoo Young Writers (and yes, I’m plugging) is a magnificent idea – informal drop-in sessions for young people across the North East, facilitated by a lead writer and group leader. These groups are free and provide a safe space for young people to write. Each lead writer creates a programme of sorts and each group focuses on something different; be it poetry, script writing, song writing, dark fiction (*ahem* er….hi!). What is so wonderful about these groups is that it gives young people a chance to experience other forms of writing, to sometimes inspire them to write in a format they’ve not tried before. They also get feedback from their work, from the facilitators, but more importantly from their peers.

Writing is a solitary pursuit and for young people, to meet others, like them who have stories inside the, is a beautiful thing. I would have given anything for something like Cuckoo when I was young. It doubtless would have enhanced and improved my craft no end.

But what helps inspire young people to write? I can’t answer that but what I can do is give

some examples of how I run the sessions. I’ve been working for Cuckoo for the last couple of years now and have learned so much from working as a group leader and now a lead writer. Every single session I am amazed and inspired by the quality of the writing from these young people. So first off, a warm-up is an excellent way of breaking the ice and getting started. I learned this from an amazing poet I worked with called John Challis whose warm-up exercises I still use. Playing consequences is a Cuckoo favourite, sometimes I do a sort of literary heads, bodies and tails; like exercise, you need to get warmed up. Doing this stuff gets everyone smiling and ready to write. Then we move onto the body of the session. What I usually do is give the writers an extract from something to read for inspiration and base the writing prompts around it. Currently I’m putting together a session on demon possession (apt, huh?) so I’m reading through some of my favourite fiction on the subject; The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty, Sara Gran’s ‘Come Closer’ and Paul Tremblay’s ‘A Head Full of Ghosts’.

What I like to do is ask the writers to work from quite simple perspectives – how would your best friend act if they were possessed? Write from the point of view of someone observing them. Focus on how it makes you feel. I think it’s important to keep things simple, good writing comes from a place of familiarity. Write what you know.
The other important thing about these sessions is that everyone gets the opportunity to

read out what they’ve written if they want to – that instant validation of your work is so important for young people. I encourage constructive criticism as I believe it’s important to be able to take that as early as possible (believe me, I’ve met many writers twice the age of these kids who can’t!).

It’s important to have a good supply of biscuits.

Always the biscuits.

 

So I don’t know if this counts as teaching writing, I don’t think so. What I do know is that

Cuckoo Young Writers empowers the next generation of writers and to me, it looks the future of fiction is more than safe in their hands.

Love, love, LOVE this post! Even if you are above the 12-19 age bracket for Cuckoo Young Writers, Matt’s guest post contains some advice that could even be taken into consideration by you. Taking on board constructive criticism is important and probably one of the most valuable pieces of advice. Well, aside from Matt’s advice to always have a good supply of biscuits…now that’s also important!

Big thank you to Matt for keeping me company on TWG this afternoon, it’s been a pleasure to have you and I hope you can pop by another time!

About Matt Wesolowski.

Matt Wesolowski is an author from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne in the UK. He is an
English tutor and leads Cuckoo Young Writers creative writing workshops for young
people in association with New Writing North. Matt started his writing career in
horror and his short horror fiction has been published in Ethereal Tales magazine,
Midnight Movie Creature Feature anthology, 22 More Quick Shivers anthology and
many more. His debut novella The Black Land, a horror set on the Northumberland
coast, was published in 2013 and a new novella set in the forests of Sweden will be
available shortly. Matt was a winner of the Pitch Perfect competition at Bloody
Scotland Crime Writing Festival in 2015. He is currently working on his second crime novel Ashes, which involves black metal and Icelandic sorcery.



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