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Salena Godden
Salena Godden

Salena Godden has been described as ‘The doyenne of the spoken word scene’ (Ian McMillan, BBC Radio 3’s The Verb);  &l squo;The Mae West madam of the salon’ (The Sunday Times) and as ‘everything the Daily Mail is terrified of’ (Kerrang! M agazine). She performs and writes poetry, fiction, lyrics and memoir. Her most recent book of poems, Under the Pier, was published by Nasty Little Press in 2011. She's also known as The General of The Book Club Boutique, London's louchest literary salon, and as lead singer and lyricist of SaltPeter, alongside composer Peter Coyte.  She's appeared as a guest on Woman’s Hour, Click Radio, From Fact To Fiction, The Verb and as a guest poet on R4's Saturday Live. She writes and presents radio programmes with award-winning producer Rebecca Maxted, they are currently making a new documentary to be aired later this year. Their first programme Stir it Up! - 50 Years of Writing Jamaica was aired on BBC Radio 4, it included excerpts from Salena's literary memoir Springfield Road which is being published by Unbound (unbound.co.uk).


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Springfield Road


“I came here to begin a new story, but maybe all my stories begin with this one story – this love story, this ghost story…”

 

Springfield Road is a journey into childhood.  My childhood, maybe your childhood too. This is the memoir of our family home on Springfield Road in Hastings, but it is also very much a memoir of the journey I took as a writer writing this book. These are my memories of my attempts to understand the beauty and the contradictions of the adult world; why my jazz musician father mysteriously disappeared from our lives; how my mother transitions from her Jamaican girlhood to her life as a go-go dancer and then single-parenthood. It’s about discovering that life is unfair and sometimes brutal—my father committed suicide—but also learning to seek out the good in the world, the humour and the tenderness.

 

What was my intention writing this book? I wanted to write a book for every curly-top, scabby knee’d, mixed-up, half-crazy kid out there. We had afros, we had free school dinners and we wore hand-me-downs. They haven’t told our story like this before, and I believe it’s about time. I went to libraries and bookshops looking for my story and it just wasn't there. Was it Toni Morrison who once said “This is the book I wanted to read, and so I wrote it.” 

 

When you read this book I hope you'll say—I remember being closer to the ground; I remember riding my bike with my feet off the pedals; I remember summers were longer and how oranges were bigger; I remember struggling to comprehend sex and death, heaven and hell, war and God, and perhaps you’ll say, I remember I missed my dad too. This is my story as best as I can remember my life before the age of twelve, but I think maybe it’s your story too. 

 

I met the Unbounders at Voewood and fell in love with their passion and commitment to authors and great writing. The Unbound template is fantastic, working as the best of both worlds, as an author you get a sense of independence and of being nurtured too. You have to roll your sleeves up and hustle, but you also have the support of a fabulous editor, a great publishing and marketing team, and the wonderful Unbound family too. 

 

How long did it take? How did social media help? Well, the first drafts of this book were written around 2006, so for me it’s been about seven years to get this far. The crowdfunding part took roughly nine months to reach target. Social media was vital. I made a tumblr to record the crowdfunding adventure and there you can see how it blossomed. Facebook and Twitter are amazing, of course, but I have so much gratitude for the support of my family and friends, writer and poetry comrades who were so generous helping us to spread the word. Social media is powerful but when you are asking for help I think it’s all about human contact, doing readings and gigs and radio, talking to people, it’s the power of word of mouth that raises interest and awareness.

 

Springfield Road is a memoir, but this book is also about the magic of writing, the more I delved and wrote about the past, the more I discovered and learned on the journey. As I write that I recall a line from the introduction, "My present is illuminated by a light from the past, just like a lighthouse." It’s this light that we all look for in our stories.

 

What happens next? Personally for me, I am happily working on my other books, fiction and poetry. When can you read it? I'm not sure but I do believe that people that pledge for the book on the unbound website get to read it six months before anyone else and before it’s in the shops.

 

 

Read more about Springfield Road on the Unbound website.


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