This page shows some of my recent blog posts. If you want to read more, see my blog.

18 July 2019, 12:18 pm
I’m feeling very sad on the day I should be celebrating. The Gene Pool has now been published – the fifth and final novel in the Nirvana series – so I should be dancing, eh? Instead, my guts ache with a feeling that I’ve managed to identify as loss. I miss my Nirvanan family. I’ve lived with them for about 20 years and it’s not just that they’ve gone off into the world, like your kids leaving home. I have to recognise that I’m never going to be sharing space with them again.

I’m handing them all over to you now. Please be gentle with them – though they’re tough enough to kick back if you’re not.

Oh, and if you want the full set you can buy all five for under a tenner from you know where.




15 July 2019, 5:59 pm
Drumroll…
On Thursday (18 July) I will be publishing The Gene Pool, the fifth and final novel in the Nirvana series. The first two, Nirvana Bites and Trading Tatiana, were originally published by Orion before being re-published by my Nirvana Publishing imprint, along with De Nada Nirvana and Me, John and a Bomb
I ought to have a mailing list. I should be sending round ARCs. I should have organised a blog tour. I ought to have set up advance orders. I should be BUILDING A BUZZ FFS. 
If you know me, it will come as no surprise that I’ve done none of these things. This blog post, and an update when the book is up on Amazon, is the limit for me. My utter crapness at self-promotion is legendary. I’ve come to terms with it, as I said a while back, at the end of my Facing the Fear post. Do as I say, not as I do, folks.
It’s odd to be publishing this final Nirvana novel and I have to admit to feeling bereft. Nirvana Bites was originally published in 2002. The Gene Pool was written over a decade ago (though it’s been recently edited). I’ve lived with these characters for about 20 years and now the time has come to share them with the world for the last time – and to let them go. 
When I began writing the lives of these people, I originally thought they would sustain a single novel. I had a two-book deal with Orion and when I started writing Trading Tatiana, focusing on a different main character narrator, my Nirvanan characters muscled their way back in, insisting they weren’t done yet. It was my agent who suggested I should continue writing their story, saying he thought they were ripe for a TV series. And so De Nada Nirvana was born – the first novel I’d written in third person, following the lives of the narrators from the first two novels: Jen in South London and Jo in Spain. In this novel, Jen was pregnant, and the members of the Nirvana Housing Co-op were all learning and growing, continuing to do so in Me, John and a Bomb, where Jo had returned to the co-op and Jen and Ali were by now the parents of twins.

I didn’t know it at the time, let alone intend it, but, looking back over the five novels, I can see there’s an overarching arc for all the main characters. The members of my Nirvanan family, having established the power of non-blood relationships, were now ready to concede that blood-ties also matter. While the plot of The Gene Pool revolves around local government corruption, by the end of it, one thing was clear to me: my Nirvanans had grown up.

Although, theoretically, each of the novels can stand alone, my hope is that readers will have bonded with my Nirvana family over the whole series. They’re still out there somewhere, living their lives, but my time with them is done.

I’d love to release them as paperbacks eventually but, for the time being, they’re e-book only. And just think about this: after Thursday, you will be able to buy all five books for less than a tenner. That can’t be bad, eh? Check ‘em out here.




14 September 2018, 12:36 pm
The annual self-edit alumni photo at York
Friday Night Live winner, Helen Kampfner

The 9th Festival of Writing in York, and the first under the banner of Jericho Writers – formerly Writers’ Workshop – passed in the usual blur of activity, creativity and enthusiasm. As a result, I have a tsunami of work to catch up on so this post is going to rely on pictures to convey a flavour of the weekend in which lives were changed.

Friday Night Live hopefuls

The view over the lake
Jody Klaire and Ferb

My secret festival sweet spot
Writers writing in my self-edit mini course
The fabulous Julie Cohen and John Taylor, wearing his storyteller face
John Taylor and Mandy Berriman
Helen Kampfner, self-edit graduate and winner of Friday Night Live!
The Psychic Distance workshop
Mandy and John again, scrubbed up for the gala dinner
Self-editing lovelies: Julie Cordiner, Janette Owen, Helen Kampfher
The Jericho Writers posse
The 1-1 hall
Sharing the love in my Facing the Fear workshop
Sitting on the floor. We need a bigger room next time
The closing keynote speakers: Susanna Wadeson, publishing director at Transworld, and Mandy Berriman, author of Home – and my mentee!
Grabbing their places early for the closing keynote: Janette Owen, John Taylor, Vanessa Thornton-Rigg, Julie Cordiner
On stage for the final keynote: Susanna Wadeson, Mandy Berriman and yours truly
Mandy signing copies of Home




21 November 2017, 2:15 pm

The story behind the stories: 256 anonymised submissions, all on the theme of ‘Home’. 55 stories chosen (with great difficulty!) for the anthology.

 

Another 29 published free on our website.

And, now after many, many hours of hard work by our team of committed volunteers …

… I’m more than delighted to share the news that the paperback launch for Stories for Homes 2 is TODAY!

See an interview I did with Retreat West here.

Check out our forthcoming events here.

And, in case you need any persuasion, this is why we’re committed to doing something about the housing crisis.

* According to Shelter, 65,000 families will be homeless this Christmas.
* At least one more family becomes homeless in Britain EVERY TEN MINUTES.
* There are 250,000 homeless people in England. That’s a quarter of a million!
* 300,000+ in Britain.
* In the worst hit areas, 1 in 25 people are homeless.
* Last year, the lowest number of socially rented homes were built in 71 years. 71 YEARS!
* Tory austerity is linked to 120,000 deaths, according to a study in BMJ Open (medical journal).

The devastating tragedy of Grenfell Tower should never have happened. That’s why we dedicated this book to the victims and survivors of the Grenfell fire.

SfH1 raised over £3000 for Shelter. This is a photo from our previous launch. We eventually doubled the figure in that dummy cheque! You can still buy the first anthology here.

Read more about the project here, in a blog by the wonderful Jel, who has been doing sterling work with promoting the anthology. The gorgeous cover was designed by Head and Heart, featuring an original artwork by my co-editor, Sally Swingewood. 



As before, all this has only been possible thanks to our fabulous team of volunteers. Their unpaid hard work means that every penny raised goes direct to Shelter. 


Access to a safe and secure home is a human right – one that thousands of people are denied in 21st century Britain. This world class anthology is a good deed in a very naughty world. Thanks so much for your support. Together, we can make a difference.




16 September 2017, 11:33 am
Another brilliant year in York for the 8th Festival of Writing and I now have the distinction and pleasure of being one of only three people who have been to every single one.

As well as running the self-edit mini course, a Voice workshop …

… chairing the literary genre panel …

… chairing the final keynote address and doing two hours of Book Doctor sessions (this is the view from my Book Doctor desk) …

 … I devised a new workshop this year.

The idea for Facing the Fear came as a result of the responses to this blog post, where I had a conversation with the Doubt Demons. This photo is of people struggling to find the love for themselves.

And in this one, they’re sharing that love with each other.

Tha gala dinner rocked, as ever. This will be the last year in which Mandy Berriman, my wonderful friend and mentee, is at the festie as an unpublished author. Her stunning novel, Home, will be published next February and I couldn’t be more delighted and excited. John Taylor and I are two of the three people who have been to every FoW.

Lovely to share a table with literary lovelies, Deborah Install and Tor Udall, who were also both on the platform for the final keynote address. Both credit FoW for setting them on their journey to publication, having met their dream agent, Jenny Savill, at York

Massive congratulations to Sophie Snell, who won Friday Night Live, and Ruby Speechley, who won the Opening Chapter competition, as well as being runner up for Pitch Perfect. That’s Ruby at the mike, with agent Sallyanne Sweeney, who judged the Opening Chapter comp, on the left.

And here’s the traditional photo of Emma Darwin and yours truly, with our self-edit alumni who had made it to York. We keep adding new names to our Hall of Fame. Details of the next online self-edit courses will be appearing here.

While I’m here (and we all know how scarce I am on my blog these days) I want to talk briefly about Stories for Homes. Remember the amazing success we had last time, when we published our world-class anthology and raised over £3000 for Shelter? Well, we’re doing it all again and this time the book is dedicated to the victims and survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire. I’m sure no one here needs to be reminded of how acute the housing crisis is in the UK and the causes of the tragedy, as well as the response since, highlight just how appalling life is for the most vulnerable people in our society. The fire happened three months ago and, at this point, there are still no firm figures for the number of people who died (‘about 80′) and only two families have been permanently re-housed.

This time, Sally Swingewood and I received 256 submissions for the anthology, which we had to whittle down to 55. Damn, but that was hard. So hard, in fact, we decided to also publish an online anthology, where people can read free stories on the theme of ‘home’. The website has been spruced up, with tabs for Real Life stories and posts by a professional who works with homeless people, as well as the online stories and a donate button that goes direct to Shelter. Once again, producing an anthology at this standard has only been possible thanks to our wonderful SfH community, who have generously given their time and skills to create a world-class anthology.

The e-book is due to be launched on 28 September, with the paperback following in November. This is when we’ll start to make serious money for Shelter. Please keep an eye on the news tab on the site. Meanwhile, we want to spread the word and get the hashtag #SfH2 trending. Please help us to make that happen by supporting our Thunderclap, as well as publicising (and buying!) the anthology.




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    @DebiAlper
    Author, freelance editor, creative writing mentor & tutor. 1st 2 novels published by Orion & re-published by moi, along with next 2. Proud co-editor #SfH2