Novel Nights with Anna Freeman October 9th

October 9th 2014 at the Lansdown, Clifton Bristol 8pm. Anna Freeman reads from her debut novel, The Fair Fight which won the Tibor Jones Pageturner Prize 2013.  ‘Hugely exciting, I loved it.’ Sarah Waters.

 The Fair Fight is a raucous and intoxicating tale of courage, revenge and female boxing.   Bristol, 1799. In a warren of streets nestled in the filth of the bustling city is a brothel called The Convent. Within this gaudy, bawdy space is born Ruth, wholly plain and fairly unremarkable and by no stretch suitable for the life of prostitution

  • Also featuring readings from Bristol and Bath novelists.
  • Mike Manson will read from his book about the Bristol Riots in 1831.
  • Lesley Gillilan
  • Duncan Bonner will give tips on performing  aloud for writers.
  • Tickets £3 on the door.

Anna Freeman author photos credit Paul BlakemoreThe Fair Fight by Anna Freeman jacket image

Review of September Novel Nights


Nick Rawlinson, Sarah Hilary,

Nick Rawlinson, Sarah Hilary, Aaron Anthony and Abigail Moore


Bristol Players read an extract from Sarah Hilary’s gripping debut novel, Someone Else’s Skin  at September Novel Nights followed bynovelist,  Dr Sanjida O’Connell, having a Q and A with Sarah.


Sarah Hilary with Dr Sanjida O' Connell at Novel Nights

Sarah Hilary with Dr Sanjida O’ Connell at Novel Nights

During the second half of Novel Nights we were treated to local writers performing extracts from their work: Anne Corlett, was a criminal lawyer for 13 years, but is in the process of switching to freelance writing.  Anne read  from Fallen, her second novel. She is represented by the Richford Beklow Agency, recently won the HE Bates prize and was placed third in the Bristol Short Story Prize. She is starting an MA in writing at Bath Spa University

Kate Simants moved from London six years ago, but she still finds herself writing about the capital because it suits her style of bleak noir better than Keynsham. She is currently working on a second novel, and shared an extract from her first novel The Blanks, which was inspired in part by her work as an undercover TV journalist.

 Trevor Coombs writes historical fiction and performs monologues around Bristol and read from his latest work.

And lastly, Sanjida O’Connell had an extract of Bone by Bone, the thriller she is working on, read by Nick Rawlinson. Sanjida is a novelist and non-fiction writer with four novels and four non-fiction works published.

 Next Novel Nights: 9th October with guest speaker Anna Freeman presenting her debut novel A Fairfight.

20th November with Jane Shemilt, author of Daughter, a Richard and Judy Book Club Choice, and currently No 2 in the Sunday Times Bestseller Charts. Don’t miss!


Review of Lucy English’s Prayer to Imperfection

Novelist and performance poet, Lucy English entered her first Bristol Poetry Slam in 1996 wearing a multi-coloured jumpsuit and won. Since then she has performed poetry world-wide, written three novels, and is a Reader at Bath Spa University where she teaches performance poetry as well as studying for a PhD in digital writing.

Lucy’s poetry, however, has never been in print before, despite her international reputation. Designed to be performed, much of performance poetry tends to be ethereal, existing for the audience, the next gig, living on the stage rather than the page.
Now Lucy’s collected performance poems from the last 20 years have been brought together by local indie publisher Burning Eye Books. Editor, Clive Birnie said: “There’s a vibrant live poetry scene but poets aren’t getting published by mainstream publishers and that’s where Burning Eye comes in. We’re on a mission to publish poets like Lucy English to deal with the under-representation of performance poetry by mainstream publishers.”

At the book launch of ‘Prayer to Imperfection Poems 1996 – 2014’, organised by Novel Nights, Lucy took the audience on a journey through the changing landscape, not just of Bristol, but also of Slam Poetry itself.
“Bristol’s quite an inspiring place – first in terms of the way it looks and how smart and scrubbed up it’d become.” Many of Lucy’s poems feature local landscapes such as ‘The Telephone Box up Ashley Hill,’ or ‘Temple Cloud.’ Totterdown also features on the book cover from a painting of the familiar pastel Victorian terraces by artist, Emily Ketteringham.
In ‘Take Me To The City’, we journey through different cityscapes, ‘I walked to Tescos where the motorway meets the river. Above my head, one stream flowing on concrete pillars, and ‘I wore nothing but my fear of forgotten places.’ The narrative voice becomes Bristol – ‘my hair is Leigh Woods, and, ‘my knees must be Totterdown.
Using place in this way is of course hugely popular with a local audience, but it was her compelling performance of her work and understated lyricism that had the Novel Nights audience quietly appreciative of her work.
‘Liar’ plays with the audience’s expectation. Given a strong narrative voice spoken with conviction, the lines, ‘I take smart drugs every ten minutes’ or ‘I can speak Croatian’, are believable but the line quickly follows, ‘No I don’t. I’m a liar.’ The simple assertions of truth and untruth throughout the poem kept us intrigued as Lucy produced ever more fantastical versions of a ‘self’. The point here perhaps is that all writers create fictions, and playing with that idea is part of the fun of creation.
Her poem about taking her children to Cemetery Road referenced Arnos Vale Cemetery in the days when it was a wilderness without lottery funding. Pork pie, coke and crisps as a treat captured life as a single parent just as vividly as her son’s scuffed shoe.

The joy of the evening was hearing a superb performance by Lucy with an audience who were intently listening. So much meaning is communicated via tone so poems like ‘Send me a Man’ would be multi-layered when read by the poet as opposed to being read on the page.

This is a poet who is directly accessible who writes about love, motherhood and relationships and who defies us to think the poems are autobiographical. In ‘You are the one for me,’ the poem states,
‘I want your babies.
I want all your babies, even the ones you’ve already got.
In fact, I could be your mother.’

Lucy ended the evening with a tribute to her sister and mother in ‘Family Prayers.’ The narrative structure introduced the different family members and builds from a family saying prayers, to the poem itself becoming a prayer, ending on a poignant but quiet, understated note.

Prayer to Imperfection Poems 1996 – 2014 is available in bookshops, via Amazon and directly from Burning Eye Books. Novel Nights hold regular events for writers. For details see or email

Novel Nights Nathan Filer

Nathan Filer This is the 3 for 2 table in Waterstones. As you can see The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer is selling well. We’re delighted that Nathan is our guest speaker at Novel Nights on Wednesday 26th March.   Nathan won the Costa Book Award 2013 and at Novel Nights he’ll be talking about plot and reading an extract. There’ll be the usual questions and answers, and reading from other local Bristol novelists.

Get your tickets here

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Novel Nights

It’s a wet February evening, but we’d love to see you at the friendly Lansdown, in Clifton tonight for Novel Nights. 8pm 13th February. £3 on the door

Guest speaker: Dr Sanjida O’Connell, writer. She’s written 4 novels –  Theory of Mind and Angel Bird are published by Black Swan and The Naked Name of Love and Sugar Island, published by John Murray.


Jo Sefton, will read from The Girl The Tide Brought In

Paul Kirby, a member of Bristol novel writers  reads from his third novel.

Bec Treveil will read from Encoded, an adventure for teenagers

Lesley G, journalist and Bath Spa Graduate,reads from her novel,’Dark Side Of The Moon’

Trevor Coombs writes historical novels with literary aspirations and is a founder of Literary Drinkers. His novel is set in Argentina in 1970

Amy Wilson, reads from her novel, Sherb and Manchego, a young adult fantasy novel

Duncan Bonner, is our friendly resident actor who will give readings for novelists. Tonight he’s reading my work -(Grace Palmer aka wordpoppy) The Wish Bone tells the story of 13 year old Freddie, newly diagnosed with leukaemia. Richard Pettitt Designs

Novel Nights

After the success of the first Novel Nights, we’ve taken a deep breath and are ready to start planning the next event.

What I loved about putting on the event was the buzz on the evening and the fact that some very talented writers showcased their work, and valued the opportunity.

We’ll let you know when the acts are confirmed. It will be in February at the Lansdown, just confirming with the pub at the moment.