Roma Tearne: 2015 Winchester Reading Series

Roma TearneWe were delighted to welcome Roma Tearne to the Winchester Reading Series at the University of Winchester, on 24 March. Roma is a Sri Lankan born novelist, artist and filmmaker who left the island in the 1960s at the start of the civil war and now lives in Oxford.

This huge personality gripped our attention from the moment she began to speak. She quickly built up a relationship with us, as she does so cleverly in her novels, sharing her ideas and explaining how she weaves her stories around them. She kept us enthralled for over an hour as she drew us into her life as a writer.

I managed to read Mosquito, her debut novel, before the evening. This remarkable book captures the tragedy and violence of civil war and its terrible effect on the characters who experience it. But it is not only a story about war; it deals with love and loss as the relationship between the protagonists is torn apart. There are no speculative assumptions about characters in this book. These are felt experiences. I found the sharing of them profoundly moving. However, it is through the poetry of her writing that the strong sense of Sri Lanka is best portrayed. Her pen and her artist’s brush combine, as she recreates its vibrant colours and rhythms, to allow our senses to feast on them.

Roma has her feet firmly planted on the ground. Although she delighted us with her anecdotes about presenting her work around the world and getting published, she emphasised the difficulties too. Refusing to be dictated to and pigeonholed by publishers, she has had to fight her way to preserve her identity and become the writer she wants to be. She made it very plain to us that success is not easy in this profession and we must be prepared to fight very hard for it.

The Last PierI would like to recommend Roma’s latest novel, The Last Pier, to be launched in April. It is set against the Second World War. I am thoroughly enjoying it.

Ann Radley

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Claire Fuller: 2015 Winchester Reading Series

Claire FullerBefore Claire Fuller was a writer, she was an artist, a sculptor. No surprise that her first novel is full of exquisite detail, captured by an eye trained to observe, then reflect back to others what she perceives. Early ringing endorsements from The Sunday Times (‘Extraordinary – from the opening sentence it is gripping’), The Times (‘Fuller handles the tension masterfully in this grown-up thriller of a fairy-tale’), as well as being selected by Amazon as one of their most exciting debuts of the month, have marked her as an author to watch.

Most might consider the prospect of spending time in a cabin in the woods as an idyll; a place to daydream in peace and quiet. However, Claire Fuller’s ‘die Hutte’ in Our Endless Numbered Days is anything but tranquil. Peggy Hillcoat’s adolescence is unusual, terrifying. Luckily for Fuller, her protagonist’s experience is not in any way biographical, though fragments of her own life, alongside that of her children’s, her husband’s, plus various friends, have been patch-worked together to form believable characters and situations. A writing assignment from the MA course on Critical and Creative Writing (University of Winchester) provided the inspiration for what would eventually turn into her first book. As well as the professional guidance received through attending the course, Claire draws invaluable encouragement from a writing group she attends, as well as huge support from the wider writing community represented within Twitter.  Continue reading

An Event for People Interested in Self Publishing

Alliance of Independent AuthorsDebbie Young, Commissioning Editor of the Alliance of Independent Authors’ Author Advice Centre,  will be speaking about the merits of self publishing and how to do it well as part of the Winchester Reading Series on Tuesday 27th Jan from 6pm – 7.30pm in the St Alphege building, room SAB001.

Debbie is an indie author of fiction and non-fiction, including OPENING UP TO INDIE AUTHORS and SELL YOUR BOOKS! She also reviews self-published books for various magazines and websites, including the Vine Leaves Literary Journal, the Historical Novel Society and the AIA manuscript appraisal service. Her short story collections include QUICK CHANGE and STOCKING FILLERS.

This event is free and open to all. Bring your publishing questions!

Our Winchester Reading Series page gives details of  more events to come.  Please take a look and make a date in your diary.