THE WOMEN WRITERS HANDBOOK by Ann Sandham (Editor) @aurorametro @lovebooksgroup @DrHorrocks #lovebookstours #VWoolfstatue #Bookreview

A revised edition of the publisher’s inaugural publication in 1990 which won the Pandora Award from Women-in-Publishing. Inspirational in its original format, this new edition offers insight and motivation for budding writers from dozens of distinguished authors, celebrating the breadth of women’s writing in all its forms. Also includes the original writing workshops from the first edition plus quirky B/W illustrations as well as a foreword by Cheryl Robson, publisher and Managing Editor, who was a recent finalist in the ITV National Diversity Awards – Lifetime Achievement category. Aurora Metro Books was a finalist in the 2019 IPG Diversity in Publishing Awards and has a 30 year history of ground-breaking publishing, featuring both diverse and international authors.

 The complete list of contributors: 

A.S. Byatt, Saskia Calliste, April De Angelis, Kit de Waal, Carol Ann Duffy, Sian Evans, Philippa Gregory, Mary Hamer, Jackie Kay, Shuchi Kothari, Bryony Lavery, Annee Lawrence, Roseanne Liang, Suchen Christine Lim, Jackie McCarrick, Laura Miles, Raman Mundair, Magda Oldziejewska, Kaite O’Reilly, Jacqueline Pepall, Gabi Reigh, Djamila Ribeiro, Fiona Rintoul, Jasvinder Sanghera, Anne Sebba, Kalista Sy, Debbie Taylor, Madeleine Thien, Claire Tomalin, Ida Vitale, Sarah Waters, Emma Woolf

A wide-ranging collection of over 30 essays, poems and interviews from top, international women writers, poets, screen writers and journalists. 

20% of profits to go to the Virginia Woolf statue campaign.

The Virginia Woolf statue campaign: The proposed statue will be located in Richmond on Thames where Virginia and Leonard Woolf lived from 1914-1924 and set up the Hogarth Press. A public consultation by the local council was 83% in favour of the statue and planning permission has been granted to site the first life-size statue in bronze of the famous author on Richmond riverside where the author walked her dog daily. Over 20% of the £50,000 target has been raised so far. 
See more at: https://www.aurorametro.org/virginia-woolf-statue

To donate to the project go here: https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/charityweb/charity/displayCharityCampaignPage.action?charityCampaignUrl=VirginiaWoolfStatue

So I have written a number of reviews now but this is my first time as part of a tour. It’s been quite exciting seeing the reviews coming out from people like @ChicksandRogues and @LynnUtting. I cannot think of a better way to get people talking about new books, the ultimate online book club, being inspired and encouraged by other members of the club; approaches that encourage us to view the book differently. It is this spirit of collaboration and shared endeavour that is at the heart of The Women Writers’ Handbook, for this is no ordinary anthology, collection of writing, it is, as the title suggests a Handbook, a Guide to writing. So this is a book for those who enjoy producing women’s writing, as much as it is for those who read women’s writing.

Published by @AuroraMetro, this edition of the Handbook has been published to celebrate the indie publisher’s 30th anniversary. Both the Handbook and the publishing house itself had its origins in a series of creative writing workshops that drove the initiative for publication. So, it is nice that the book remains true to this heritage with a series of workshop ideas and creative writing tasks at the end of the collection – I rather liked the Subverting Fairytales workshop where we are asked to read the traditional story The Little Mermaid and write a new version of it from a different perspective. There is also a handy Resource Directory complied by Saskia Calliste which directs readers to Grants, Awards and Bursaries(UK), Literary Festivals (UK), Publications and Organisations (UK), Related Organisations (UK), Publishing Houses for Women (UK and International), Workshops and Training (UK and Ireland) and Film Festivals for Women (UK and International). I suppose the only remaining question is when a companion volume can be written on the early sections to make them internationally facing too.

The collection begins with the infamous Virginia Woolf quote “A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction”; apt, when you consider a 20% share of the profits from the book will go to the Virginia Woolf statue project (www.aurorametro.org/virginia-woolf-statue<http://www.aurorametro.org/virginia-woolf-statue>). There are more handy quotes and tips dotted through the book, one of my favourites from Ursula Leguin was that “the creative adult is the child who survived”. There is the inference here that innocence, a willingness to escape through fiction is needed to truly create a world that people wish to share with you in your fiction.

Throughout the collection are a variety of different genres of writing from fiction, to polemic, to poetry and interviews. There are names people will be familiar with from the Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy, to infamous authors like Sarah Waters. However, there are plenty of new authors to be introduced to such as Schuchi Kothari who writes screenplays for the film industries in New Zealand, India and the USA. As an academic myself, I was interested to read the Interview with Laura Miles author of Transgender Resistance: Socialism and the Fight for Trans Liberation (2020). It is good to see academic work being acknowledged in this context for, too often, our books are only usually shared with fellow academics and students. And yet, within our research there is much to interest wider audiences too. Her call for “unity in action not division” holds particular relevance in the wake of the JK Rowling Twitter row and the ongoing debates about proposals for updating the Gender Recognition Act. Perhaps this article will lead authors to Miles’s book and on to creating narrative plots around trans figures that celebrate their contribution to society rather than denigrating their difference.

Definitely a five star review for this book, there really is something for everyone!

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