This summer it will be thirty years since my first YA novel, Yatesy’s Rap, was published by Penguin Books. Fifty-nine books have followed, including the 200,000 selling You’re A Hero Daley B (Axel Scheffler’s first picture book), the 70,000 selling House of Fun series, the 35,000 selling One Girl School, and the widely-acclaimed YA thriller The Last Free Cat, a passionate indictment of privatisation. The books that I have written in Cardiff are sold as far afield as the USA, Japan and China; I’ve been shortlisted for the Children’s Book Award and a Writers Guild Award and have won a BBC Talent Award for radio comedy.
Just as important to me is my work as a teacher, not just at Welsh universities and the Bute Park Education Centre but on a myriad of school visits and community projects. It has been especially important to me to work in areas such as Adamsdown, where I lived for nineteen years: I don’t come from a professional background and have always been on a mission to encourage others in the same boat.
To celebrate those thirty years as an author I am offering to visit schools, libraries, community projects and events free of charge: I will bring signed copies of my latest book for juniors, Thimble Monkey Superstar, for sale, as well as other books on request. The offer will last to the end of September 2016, so if you are interested, let me know as soon as possible by email, or call me on 07599 203480. I am a qualified teacher and hold a disclosure certificate.
For details of Bute Park courses, see below.
Are writing courses in Bute Park behind improvements in wildlife literacy? (photo:Rhiannon Hobbs)
It’s been a fantastic year so far in Bute Park: the third six-week course is nearing conclusion and last Saturday’s monologues workshop, the third one-off event of the year, was a great success. As usual there will be a summer break now, but more courses are planned for the autumn: if you’re interested in attending one or more of these, email me and I’ll make sure you hear about them. I always aim to provide whatever writers are looking for: check back through previous courses and workshops advertised here to see the range available. If you have an interest that hasn’t been covered, let me know.
Online tuition and editing are available at www.storyvet.net. My children’s books site is at www.jonblake.co.uk.
Matthew Bulgo’s Constellation Street, a series of interlocking monologues, was a huge hit when performed recently at the Other Room. Now there’s a great chance to meet Matthew in the beautiful setting of Bute Park: he’ll answer questions on his work and conduct a workshop on the writing of monologues. Writers of any or no experience are welcome.
The date is Saturday 25 June (1-3pm) and the cost just £12. As always it is recommended to book early.
For all enquiries email Jon Blake or ring 07599 203480.
The next course at Bute Park will be Creative Writing For All, a general creative writing class suitable for people of all ages and experience. As always, the emphasis will be on learning through doing; writing in a relaxed and encouraging environment and having fun doing it. The course will be tailored to the interests of those taking part; you will be able to write for whatever age-range and genre you prefer. It will run on Sundays from June 5 to July 10, 1.30 to 3pm, and the price will be £95 (£85 for those who’ve done a previous course). There is a numbers limit on courses to ensure that everybody gets sufficient attention, so it’s a good idea to book early. Check out the other pages here for details of the venue and tutor, and book here. Ring Jon Blake on 07599 203480 or email for further details.
Please note: owing to a large increase in room hire rates I’ve made a small increase to the concessionary rates. Email me for details of how to enrol if unwaged.
Sorry – workshop now full. Next course starts June 5.
On Sunday 15th May I’m running a workshop for anyone who is interested in writing for children. Can You Write A Children’s Book? will look at the basics of plot, character and voice, giving participants the chance to write a story under the guidance of Cardiff’s most successful children’s author for the past thirty years. The workshop will run from 1 to 3pm in the beautiful and spacious setting of the Bute Park Education Centre – and should you choose to take the six-week course on writing for children which will start soon after, I’ll discount the £12 from the price.
As always with my courses, experienced writers and novices are equally welcome. If you’re full of doubt, fear not! You won’t be by the end of the workshop. Any questions, give me a ring on 07599 203480 or email me.
Numbers are limited to ensure everyone gets enough attention, so book early.
Stop press: the next course will be now be a general creative writing course which will include writing for children if there is interest in this. Students can use the £12 discount on this or wait for the next Writing for Children course.
The next course at Bute Park will be slightly different from its predecessors. It’s an opportunity for those with work in progress, or planning to write a story, novel or script, to get expert feedback through a series of six workshops, at the usual price of £95 (£85 for past students, further concessions if you’re unwaged). This in my opinion is a better option than paying an editor for online feedback, besides being considerably cheaper!
If there is anyone who wants to write, but it is not sure what, you are also welcome: you’ll get the support and inspiration you need.
As always, I welcome writers of any experience. Numbers will be limited; you can book a place here. Email me if you have any questions, or phone 07599 203480.
Please note: this course will now run till May 1st. If you want to attend any of the remaining workshops, it is now possible to book by the week.
This month Creative Writing in the Park reached 5000 unique visits. The current course is number thirteen and Bute Park Education Centre has also hosted a number of one-off events: don’t miss the next one, Meet the Publishers, on Feb 28th.
The Bute Park courses have been designed to suit writers of varying experience. However, as there are now so many ex-students wanting to continue writing, I’m now planning a course, Advanced Creative Writing, which will give more experienced writers the chance to workshop work in progress or gain the motivation to get going with projects they are planning. As always I promise a standard of tuition equal to that which you would expect at a university, at a price most can afford (there are also concessions for the unwaged).
The provisional starting date for this six-week course is March 13th (excluding Easter Sunday), so if you are interested, drop me a line to a reserve a place or ask any questions you may have.
For updates on courses follow me on Twitter or check out the Facebook page.
In response to popular demand, I’ve organised a question-and-answer session with Susie Wild, publishing editor for Parthian Books, on Sunday February 28th. There will be a numbers limit, so as always it’s best to book well in advance: the cost is just £10. Once you’ve booked, feel free to email me with any question you may have: that way I can collate the most common questions and make sure these get covered.
The session will start at 1pm in the Bute Park Education Centre and last about one and a half hours. Details of how to find the centre can be found here.
I can now confirm that the next course at Bute Park, Writing Short Stories, will begin on Sunday January 17th, running as usual for six Sundays from 1.30 to 3pm. You are welcome regardless of experience. The cost is £95 (£85 for those who’ve done a previous course). Early booking is advised as there is a numbers limit on all courses to ensure everyone gets sufficient attention.
Update: the course is now underway but I can take two more students at £16 per week: email me or ring 07599 203480.
The next course at Bute Park will be Creative Writing For All, a general creative writing class suitable for people of all ages and experience. As always, the emphasis will be on learning through doing; writing in a relaxed and encouraging environment and having fun doing it. The course will run on Sundays from November 1 to December 6, 1.30 to 3pm, and the price will be £95 (£85 for those who’ve done a previous course). There is a numbers limit on courses to ensure that everybody gets sufficient attention, so it’s a good idea to book early. Check out the other pages here for details of the venue and tutor, and book here. Ring Jon Blake on 07599 203480 or (029) 20213053 if you want to know more.