Tag Archives: Elaine Spires

An Audience with Elaine Spires

Elaine seated, with copies of Singles Holiday, its sequel Sweet Lady, and first book What's Eating Me? laid out before her and from left, me, Marcella Andre and Barbara Arrindell standing alongside.

Elaine seated, with copies of Singles Holiday, its sequel Sweet Lady, and first book What’s Eating Me? laid out before her and from left, me, Nia Comms founder Marcella Andre and Best of Books manager Barbara Arrindell standing alongside.

“I think as a writer, that’s all you can hope for, that you brought something alive for somebody.” – Elaine Spires during a conversation with other writers and book lovers at an event Saturday 7th June 2014 at the Best of Books on St. Mary’s Street.

I think we got caught up, put bibliophiles in a room and say talk books and it be like that. Elaine is a Brit who began her relationship with Antigua as a tour guide for tourists from the UK and now has a home here. Write what you know…her stories explore that terrain. I look forward to reading the first of the Antigua series, Singles Holiday, but Elaine is already readying book three which she says will be out in November.

The discussion went to some interesting places, beyond plotting, characterization, writing techniques and strategies (particularly interesting to me, strategies for writing humour that feels unforced), reading habits, editing, and publishing, to the challenges of writing the Other without stereotyping and of writing fiction that draws from real life without being too literal. I don’t think Elaine anticipated quite so many questions though I believe she rightly took it as a sign that we were all engaged, and certainly handled them well. Her readings, meanwhile, hinted at the humor to be found in situations where you take people out of their natural habitat and let them wander around and bump into things for a while. It also hinted at the allure of Antigua.

Elaine is a patron of Wadadli Pen, her gift, one of time to the winning writer, time to review works in progress and offer advice and direction, a mentorship which assists in fulfilling the Wadadli Pen mandate of assisting with the development of the literary arts. This year’s winner, Asha Graham, has already benefited from her session with Elaine.

It’s been a busy few weeks in Antigua for Elaine who has spent her time here at work on her forthcoming short story collection and the pilot of a TV series based on characters first seen during stagings here of When a Woman Moans, Maisie and Em. She returns to England where she continues work on the adaptation of Singles Holiday for the stage.

As with all content (words, images, other) on wadadlipen.wordpress.com, except otherwise noted, this is written by Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, Fish Outta Water, and Oh Gad! – also a freelance writer, editor and writing coach and instructor). All Rights Reserved. If you enjoyed it, check out my page on Amazon, WordPress, and/or Facebook, and help spread the word about WadadliPen and my books. You can also subscribe to the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks. And remember while linking and sharing the links, referencing and excerpting, are okay, lifting content (words, images, other) from the site without asking is not cool. Respect copyright.

 

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An Evening With Elaine

The following is a press release from the organizers:

BEST OF BOOKS is pleased to announce AN AUDIENCE WITH ELAINE SPIRES to be held on 7th June at 7pm at Best of Books, St Mary’s Street, St John’s.

Elaine is a novelist, playwright and actress.  Her background in education and tourism perfected her eye for the quirky characteristics of people, captivating the humorous observations she now affectionately shares with her readers.  For nine years she continually brought groups of single tourists to Antigua, which became her ‘home-from-home’.

Spires reading at a her previous Best of Books event.

Spires reading at a her previous Best of Books event.

Elaine is the author of four novels, two of which, Singles’ Holiday and Sweet Lady, are set in Antigua and she will be reading from and taking questions about these two books, plus all aspects of her work during the evening.

Here in Antigua Elaine is also busy filming a pilot episode for TV of The Amazing Adventures of Maisie and Em, with Heather Doram, based on the two characters they introduced in When A Woman Moans, produced by Women of Antigua (2011 & 2012)

Elaine has recently completed two stints on the West End stage (London) in the Ladykillers and is in rehearsal for the world premier of Singles’ Holiday (the Stage-play), which opens at the Brentwood Theatre 13th October, in which she takes the role of Eve.

Elaine is working on her fifth novel; Single All the Way and a book of short stories.  She is a regular blogger: http://www.elainespires.co.uk/journal

…and here ends the press release.

WADADLI PEN SIDEBAR: Both Elaine and the Best of Books have been Wadadli Pen patrons in recent years, and Best of Books a behind-the-scenes partner…so, support.

 

UPDATE!!! UPDATE!!! You may remember that Elaine and Heather Doram

Elaine and Heather.

Elaine and Heather.

are the two actresses behind the hilarious Maisie and Em characters first showcased during Women of Antigua’s When a Woman Moans theatrical presentation. Heather and Elaine have been on a mission to bring the crowd favourites to the small screen, and looks like tthey’re making some head way.


Elaine, who divides her time between Antigua and Barbuda informs us that she’ll be filming the pilot June 8th at a church in Glanvilles, from midday. They’ll need extras. Can anybody say, hallelujah! Anyway, check back for more on that when we get it, and kudos, Elaine and Heather…finding funding for arts programming in Antigua and Barbuda isn’t easy so we know it took some doing to get to this point and look forward to seeing the final product.

As with all content (words, images, other) on wadadlipen.wordpress.com, except otherwise noted, this is written by Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, and Oh Gad!). All Rights Reserved. If you enjoyed it, check out my page on Amazon, WordPress, and/or Facebook, and help spread the word about WadadliPen and my books. You can also subscribe to the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks. And remember while linking and sharing the links, referencing and excerpting, are okay, lifting content (words, images, other) from the site without asking is not cool. Respect copyright.

 

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WHO WON IN 2013?

THE WADADLI PEN CHALLENGE 2013 FINALISTS ARE…

ANTIGUA GIRLS HIGH SCHOOL
ASHA GRAHAM
AVECIA JAMES
CHAMMAIAH AMBROSE
DARYL GEORGE
DENNIKA BASCOM
GARVIN JEFFREY BENJAMIN
JAMIKA NEDD
JAMILA H. K. SALANKEY
MICHAELA HARRIS
ST. JOHN’S CATHOLIC PRIMARY
VEGA ARMSTRONG
ZURI HOLDER

*see all shortlisted writers here.

*re prize split – please note that each shortlisted writer receives a Certificate of Achievement as well as discount cards from the Best of Books; and the overall winner’s name has been emblazoned alongside the name of past winners onto the Challenge plaque – sponsored by the Best of Books.

 

SCHOOLS WITH THE MOST SUBMISSIONS

Primary School – St. John’s Catholic Primary – US$500 worth of books sponsored by Hands Across the Sea

Secondary School – Antigua Girls High School – US$500 worth of books sponsored by Hands Across the Seatop

ASHA GRAHAM

Author of Revelations Tonight and Remembrance
Overall Winner (Revelations Tonight), Winner in the 13 to 17 age category (Revelations Tonight) and Third placed in the 13 to 17 age category (Remembrance)

Total prizes:

Cash

$500 sponsored by Conrad Luke of R. K. Luke and Sons and the Leonard Tim Hector Memorial Committee

Literary Opportunities

Sponsored spot – Just Write writers retreat courtesy Brenda Lee Browne

Books

So the Nailhead Bend So the Story End: An Anthology of Antiguan and Barbudan Writing by Althea Prince

Oh Gad coverOh Gad! by Joanne C. Hillhouse

LiTTscapes: Landscapes of Fiction from Trinidad and Tobago by Kris Rampersad

Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg and other gifts courtesy the Best of Books

Send out you handSend out you Hand by Dorbrene O’Marde

The Caribbean Writer Volume 26 & the Antigua and Barbuda Review of Books - women’s edition contributed by Joanne C. Hillhouse

Huracan by Diana McCaulay

Island Princess in Brooklyn by Diane Browne

The Legend of Bat’s Cave and Other Stories by Barbara Arrindell

And more

Original one of a kind journal created by Jane Seagull

Pen sponsored by Pam Arthurton of Carib World Travel and the Antigua and Barbuda International Literary Festival

Two tickets on board Barbuda Express

Gift bag from Raw Island Products

Gift courtesy Joanne C. Hillhouse  top

DARYL GEORGE

Author of Ceramic Blues and Julie Drops
Second placed Overall (Ceramic Blues), Winner (Ceramic Blues) and Second Placed (Julie Drops) in the 18 to 35 age category

Total prizes:

Cash

$200 (patron prefers to remain anonymous)

Literary Opportunities

Sponsored spot – Just Write writers retreat courtesy Brenda Lee Browne

Books

Unburnable by Marie Elena JohnunburnableHIRESresized

So the Nailhead Bend So the Story End: An Anthology of Antiguan and Barbudan Writing by Althea Prince

Dog-Heart by Diana McCaulay

Althea Prince’s In the Black: New African Canadian Literature (contributed by Joanne C. Hillhouse)

Send out you Hand by Dorbrene O’Marde

Tides that Bind and the Road to Wadi Halfa by Claudia Elizabeth Ruth Francis

Sweet Lady by Elaine Spires

Book gift courtesy Silver Lining supermarket

Gifts courtesy the Best of Books

And more

2 tickets on board Barbuda Express

Lunch for two at Keyonna Beach

Lunch for two – Bayhouse Restaurant @ Tradewinds Hotel

Gifts courtesy Joanne C. Hillhouse  top

ZURI HOLDER

Author of The Big Event
Third placed overall and first placed in the 12 and younger age category

Total prizes:

Books

So the Nailhead Bend So the Story End: An Anthology of Antiguan and Barbudan Writing by Althea Prince

The Legend of Bat’s Cave and Other Stories by Barbara Arrindell

Gifts courtesy the Best of Books

And more

$200 Gift certificate – Stephen B. Shoul

2 tickets on board Barbuda Express

Gift courtesy Joanne C. Hillhouse top

JAMILA H. K. SALANKEY

Author of Her Blackest Sin
Third placed in the 18 to 35 age category

Total prizes:

Books

Send out you Hand by Dorbrene O’Marde

So the Nailhead Bend So the Story End: An Anthology of Antiguan and Barbudan Writing

Tides that Bind and the Road to Wadi Halfa by Claudia Elizabeth Ruth Francis

And More

Gift certificate for Latte, Capuccino or Coffee – Heavenly Java 2 Go.top

MICHAELA HARRIS

Author of Secret of de Mango Tree
Second placed in the 13 to 17 age category

Total prizes:

Books

Island Princess in Brooklyn by Diane Browne

Pink Teacups and Blue Dresses by Floree WilliamsFloree Williams bookcover

So the Nailhead Bend So the Story End: An Anthology of Antiguan and Barbudan Writing by Althea Prince

Gifts courtesy the Best of Books

And More

$50 book gift certificate – Cushion Club top

VEGA ARMSTRONG

Author of Hide and Seek
Second placed in the 12 and younger age category

Total Prizes:

Books

Caribbean Adventure Series – three pack by Carol Mitchell

Gifts courtesy the Best of Books top

CHAMMAIAH AMBROSE

Author of How Tigers Got Stripes
Third placed in the 12 and younger age category

Total prizes:

Books

The Legend of Bat’s Cave and other stories by Barbara Arrindell

Caribbean Adventure Series – three pack by Carol Mitchell

Gifts courtesy the Best of Books top

DENNIKA BASCOM

Winner in the junior section of 2013 Wadadli Pen Art Challenge

Total Prizes:

Seascapes by Carol Mitchell

Gifts courtesy the Best of Books

Gift courtesy Jane Seagull

Gifts courtesy Art at the Ridge top

 

AVECIA JAMES

Second placed in the junior section of the 2013 Wadadli Pen Art Challenge

Total Prizes:

Antigua My Antigua by Barbara Arrindell

Gifts courtesy the Best of Books

Gifts courtesy Art at the Ridge top

 

JAMIKA NEDD

Third placed in the junior section of the 2013 Wadadli Pen Art Challenge

Total Prizes:

Antigua My Antigua by Barbara Arrindell

Gifts courtesy the Best of Books

Gifts courtesy Art at the Ridge top

GARVIN JEFFREY BENJAMIN

MissWinner in the young adult section of the 2013 Wadadli Pen Art Challenge

Total Prizes:

Gifts courtesy the Best of Books

Gift courtesy Art at the Ridge

Cash gift courtesy Koren Norton and anonymous donor

That he may have the opportunity to collaborate with writer Barbara Arrindell on her next children’s picture book is something we can all look forward to top

Special thanks as well to all the 2013 partners: Barbara Arrindell and the Best of Books, Floree Williams, Devra Thomas, Linisa George, and Brenda Lee Browne. Thanks as well to our media partners who help get the word out, especially Antigua Nice and 365 Antigua who for several years and ongoing have hosted pages for Wadadli Pen on their very busy hubs.

joanne26I am Joanne C. Hillhouse. I am first and foremost a writer (author of The Boy from Willlow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, Oh Gad! and contributor to other anthologies and journals) who could’ve benefited from this kind of encouragement back in the day. That’s why I do this. Congratulations to all the winners, and remember this is not just a contest; this is our attempt to nurture and showcase Antiguan and Barbudan literary talent. We’ve taken the time over the years to provide feedback to the winning writers, conduct writing workshops including online workshops right here on this site, visit schools, and other activities (such as this site) designed to help young writers hone their skills. As we showcase your best efforts here on http://wadadlipen.wordpress.com we encourage you to keep writing and to remain open to the opportunities to become a better writer.

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Making a Difference?

This is a blog post originally written and submitted for Elaine Spires’ blog, where I was guest blogging. I’m not sure if she still intends to post it, but I thought I might take a break from reviewing Wadadli Pen submissions for the 2013 Challenge to share it here, with you. The two things are connected after all.

When I was a wanna-be writer, the environment didn’t provide the opportunity and encouragement I needed. As a result, I think it took me longer than I would have liked to claim my path, my self-definition as a writer. That’s why I wanted to do the Wadadli Youth Pen Prize, which I started back in 2004;  to provide that opportunity for young Antiguan and Barbudan writers.

I worry sometimes that the programme is not hitting its mark in terms of reaching the young people who really need that nurturing and encouragement. I don’t want schools or teachers to see it as just another obligation in an already too full calendar.

I tell myself that our aspiration is higher than that, that we can make a real difference in a young writer’s life and, at the same time, help foster self-expression and an appreciation for the literary arts in the wider community. When the entries are trickling in, as they are did this year, and real life is taking its pound of flesh, as it is, in other areas of my life, I wonder if it’s worth it; if all of these ambitions are nothing more than ego. Because if I’m being honest, I like how it feels when the awards come around and the young writers are recognized. It feels good, like I’m doing some good. And it reminds me of that episode of Friends where Phoebe tries to prove to Joey that there is such a thing as a self-less good deed. But if doing the good for someone else makes you feel good, is it truly selfless?

Yesterday A few Saturdays ago, I left the Cushion Club, a reading club I volunteer with, albeit intermittently these days, feeling pretty good. I had decided to do a kids writing workshop with the Cushion Club, bringing my two main voluntary activities together, in part in hopes of turning that trickle of Wadadli Pen submissions into more of a steady flow. My carefully laid out plans quickly fell victim to a late start, technical difficulties, and the stress of trying to get kids to settle when for all your prep you’re not settled yourself. I had to wing it, all of it. And I just decided to get the kids writing as quickly as possible before they got distracted and bored. Some did get distracted and bored at points anyway, but by the end, everyone had written and read something, and some some very interesting and creative things as well. I left the session feeling positive which if you know how I was feeling going in is quite the emotional switch; and I remember saying to Brenda Lee, the fellow travelling writer who’d stopped by to interact with the kids for a bit, that while I don’t get paid for the work I do with the kids, it feels good, so they do give me something back.

So perhaps there is no truly selfless deed, but perhaps there is nothing wrong with a little give and take, if your intention is to do some good and if you can see the blossoming of possibility as a result of it. I saw the blossoming of possibility during that joint Cushion Club-Wadadli Pen kids writing workshop.

That said, I’d like to say thanks to all the generous patrons who’ve given to Wadadli Pen over the years, for whatever reason. We couldn’t celebrate these blossoming young writers (35 and younger) as we do if not for you. Yes, that means you too, Elaine, for contributing a copy of one of your novels to our prize package for a second straight year. You’ll be have been added to our growing list of prize donors because a little public “thank you” is the least I can give to the people who give to a programme I care deeply about.

As with all content on wadadlipen.wordpress.com, except otherwise noted, this is written by Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, and Oh Gad!). All Rights Reserved. If you enjoyed it, check out my page on Amazon, WordPress, and/or Facebook, and help spread the word about Wadadli Pen and my books. You can also subscribe to the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks.

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What’s Eating Me?

I thought I’d posted this already. Guess not. Here’s a pic of Heather Doram and Elaine Spires at Spires’ book launch not long after the duo shared the stage to uproarious hilarity at the 2011 staging of When a Woman Moans. The excerpts read from the book at the launch at Best of Books, promise even more humour with some levity as it tracks a woman’s struggle with weight and other things. I haven’t read it yet; but it’s on the list.

UPDATE!! They’re coming fast and furious, Spires has released another book and this one – Singles' Holiday Singles’ Holiday - sounds even more exciting. It sounds like one of those lay out on the beach page turners.

On a related note, given Spires’ involvement in When a Woman Moans, came across this poetic review of our efforts with the When a Woman Moans production this year.

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