Category Archives: Teaching

I Love Dubai! #DubaiLitFest

I accepted an invitation to work at the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature in Dubai without any preconceptions about the country. My itinerary was clear enough – a panel on contemporary women’s fiction, a couple of receptions and outings and three days teaching. With flight times of around seven hours, it was a busy schedule.

But I still had time to fall in love with Dubai.

Dubai marina Sue 2 smallThe landmark style of architecture entranced me. The sunshine was welcome and 25-27c was perfect for me. During my 7-day trip, I don’t think a single person was rude to me, everyone was warm and friendly, I didn’t see a single piece of litter or graffiti. I felt very comfortable and safe.

Dubai’s considered a global crossroads and I can see how it earned that title. It seems that every culture and religion is represented in its populace and, from what I saw, coexisting peacefully. I so wish the rest of the world exhibited the same tolerance as I witnessed in Dubai.

My first evening saw a welcome reception, which included such luminaries as Alan Titchmarsh. Everybody who worked for the Festival was warm and welcoming. They gave me food and wine, so I was happy.

Festival City smallI spent the next morning walking in the sunshine and enjoying the shore of Festival City. There’s a lot of construction in this new area but still plenty to see and enjoy. I didn’t go into the massive mall next door. Honestly. Not then …

Contemp Fic panel, April, Nadya smallIn the afternoon I was part of the Contemporary Fiction panel with April Hardy, who was launching her new book, Kind Hearts and Coriander (very good – I can recommend it) and Nadiya Hussain. Most people know for Nadiya for her triumphant win of the Great British Bake Off but she also writes for children and adults. Her views on writing collaboratively were fascinating.

The hour shot by as our panel, beautifully chaired by journalist Brandy Scott, discussed our work and whether we felt we needed the word ‘women’ in Women’s Contemporary Fiction. The audience were engaged and supplied plenty of questions for the Q&A, laughing in all the right places. A well-organised book signing followed, which was huge fun. Everyone was so willing to chat and, you know, I’m not backward in that department myself.

Saturday was my day off and Diala, a friend I’d made on Facebook, took me out to Jumeira Beach and Dubai Mall.

Jumeira Beach skyscrapers small

Dubai marina Sue 2 small

Jumeira Beach camel small

Dubai Mall small

 

And then came the Start Up Writing course, three days with a group of ten enthusiastic participants. We covered … well, we covered everything, more even than I’d allowed for as the questions poured in during every session.

My teaching was interspersed with sessions from agents, editors and other industry professionals (during which I think I took as many notes as the students). My thanks to editor Charlie Scott of local publisher Motivate, as Charlie came into my room to talk for twenty minutes to my students about opportunities for writers in the Middle East.

Dinner at the Etihad MuseumWe rounded out my part of the Festival with an open-air dinner at the Etihad Museum, listening to honoured guests speaking about what Dubai meant to them. Moving and inspirational.

I’d like to end this post with extending thanks to Yvette Judge and her fantastic team at the Festival, along with the sponsors who make the event possible.

Thank you to my fantastic students.

And some to those who extended the hand of friendship to me during my stay, especially April and Andrew Hardy, Sharmila, Al, Ronita and Monita Mohan, Dial Atat and Ruba Naseraldeen.

Also to Magrudy’s bookshop, which did such a fantastic job all festival long.Sue Magrudy's books small

 

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Filed under Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, Teaching, The Christmas Promise

Ten things about me you may or may not know

It seems like forever since I originated a post for my own blog. I’ve reblogged a couple of things but haven’t managed a new post. Here’s my list of excuses:

  • imageSummer is my busy time as I’ve led courses in Italy (Arte Umbria), Derby (Swanwick) and Devon (Fiction on the Taw). A fact about running courses is that there’s a lot of behind-the-scenes work, not just preparing the course but being in contact with organisers for admin reasons and perhaps reading work of the participants.
  • 2016-08-09 16.05.48

    Proof copies of The Christmas Promise have arrived!

    The Christmas Promise approached production and I had proofs to check bonus material to write  and promo ideas to talk over. One of the many lovely aspects of being an author.

  • I also took a holiday in my beloved Malta. I had beer to drink and sunshine to enjoy. That took two weeks.
  • I received a lovely invitation to write a two-part story for My Weekly to go in their Christmas issues (3 and 10 December. Look out for that story because you can win a free book!).
  • Throw in the RNA’s conference in the middle of that lot and you begin to get the picture.

Now I’ve realised how much I’ve neglected my blog I can’t really think what to write about! Whenever I’m asked to guest on someone else’s blog I can think of a subject but for my own blog? I’ve come up blank. So, in place of a proper post, here are ten things about me you may or may not know.

  1. My parents were both in the army. My mum originally outranked my dad and he got in trouble for talking to her with his hands in his pockets. He only rose higher than her when she left the army.
  2. I can’t ride a bike no-handed.
  3. I have no tattoos but five piercings.
  4. Chocolate is my favourite food group.
  5. My Saturday job when a teenager was in a butcher’s shop.
  6. I can do the ‘waterfall’ with a pack of cards.
  7. I find it hard to join in conversations about TV because I watch so little.
  8. But I know a lot about Formula 1.
  9. I’m incredibly thankful for good friends.
  10. I try only to read books I love. Life’s too short for those I’m told I ‘should’ read.

Blogpost done! 🙂

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Filed under Arte Umbria, Avon Books UK, Courses, Cover, Fiction on the Taw, Preorder, Romantic Novelists' Association, Swanwick Writers' Summer School, Teaching, The Christmas Promise