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Carmel Shortall
Carmel Shortall

Carmel Shortall lives in London but grew up in Northern Ireland. She is currently doing the Certificate of Higher Education in Creative Writing at Birkbeck having previously studied Journalism there and she has a degree in Humanities from Middlesex University. Carmel is writing her first novel and hopes to progress to the MA Creative Writing when she has finished it. Once a year in August she goes crazy and tries to see and review 28 shows in 28 days during the Camden Fringe Festival.

July Hubbub Round-Up


Dave McGowanThe last Hubbub of the academic year on Monday 8 July was a summery affair but the basement of the Harrison, though packed once again, was relatively cool.

Zoë Ranson hosted and in the first half of the evening readers from the Birkbeck Creative Writing Programmes, both past and present, gave us a mixture of poetry and prose including what may be a completely new sub-genre of fiction: Fruit Horror.

First up was Dane Buckley who is in the final year of the Creative Writing MA. A Londoner with an Irish background, he nonetheless treated us to a poignant excerpt from a coming-of-age story set in Iceland called 'Stellar Tantrum'.

He was followed by Jools Abrams-Humphries who is in her final year of the MA Children’s Literature and Creative Writing. She read 'Bea’s Knees', a story which came from a screenplay she wrote a few years ago and which turned out to have quite a sinister ending.

Amanda Crane, also a Creative Writing MA student, then read two short poems written in or about two geographically diverse locations. The first, 'Bloodline', to her father was written in a South Wales mining village and the second 'Desert Motorbike', was written about a trip to Morocco.

Our penultimate reader in the first half graduated from the MA in Creative Writing in 2005. Tamsin Cottis won first prize in the 2012 Myslexia Short Story Competition with her story 'What Goes Around' and her work has also appeared in the Mechanics’ Institute Review as well as Tell Tales 4. For Hubbub, she read a new story, 'The Homemade House', a tale of childhood not-quite-innocence.

And to round off the first half with a delectable slice of fruit-based horror, Creative Writing MA student and Writers’ Hub editorial team member, Katherine Vik, read 'Lemons'. Listen to it (and all the other readings here on the website and you’ll never feel the same way about detox diets again.

Everybody fled outside during the break and when they were encouraged to return to their seats once again, special guest Dave McGowan, co-founder of Literary Saloon (no typo!) Poltroon, read a couple of pieces, the first of which was a cautionary tale for young men involving a painful incident with a zip. The second, 'I Don’t Like To Be Beside The Seaside', was set in Hastings. Dave also writes the popular ‘Putting It Away’ series on Writers’ Hub so make sure to check it out.

Courttia NewlandOur final guest was Courttia Newland whose previous work includes The Scholar (1997), Snakeskin (2002) and a collection of macabre stories, Music For the Off-Key (2006). He has co-edited IC3: The Penguin Book of New Black Writing in Britain (2000) and Tell Tales 4: The Global Village (2009). He is also a playwright, screenwriter, creative writing tutor and literary activist and has been nominated for several awards. At Hubbub, he read from his latest novel The Gospel According to Cane which was published by Telegram in the UK in February 2013. The book starts twenty years after Beverley’s infant son is stolen from a car when a young man begins to follow her and claims to be that son. What happened in the aftermath of the abduction is filled in with flashbacks. I should add that Courttia read a sex scene!

You can listen to the readings on the Writers’ Hub website for this and for previous Hubbubs; click on each reader's name or go to the Audio menu.

Hubbub will be taking a break over the summer so the next one won’t be until Monday 14 October when the Harrison will host a Mechanics’ Institute Review 10 special. See you there.

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