Today I’m taking part in the blog tour for Tales Of Dark And Light. I’m sharing a guest post with thanks to Zoe O’Farrell for inviting me on the blog tour and to the Oxpen writers for providing this post.
Tales of Dark and Light is the latest collection of short writing from OxPen Writers, a creative writing group that meets at Pentland Community Centre.
The title reflects the varying moods of the stories and poems, which came together following a short course on Life Writing and Memoir, kindly funded by the Scottish Book Trust; some remain very close to fact, others are more fictionalised.
The only criteria for inclusion in the book, is a desire for our – very varied – voices to be heard.
The Oxpen writers answer some questions about the project.
First things first; who are OxPen Writers?
We’re a long-established (fifteen years and counting) creative writing group, based at the Pentland Community Centre in Edinburgh. Originally, we received Council funding, but for the last few years we’ve become – by necessity – independent and voluntary-based (courtesy of financial cuts, cuts and more cuts). Currently, we’re a core group of eight women, all fifty-plus, all with a different writing bent – poets, novelists, flash fiction and memoirists – and all at various stages of our writing careers. One of us is our nominal tutor, but none of us is any more or less a member (or writer) than any other. And we’re not a women-only group! That’s just the way it’s worked recently but fundamentally, we’re a place for any aspiring writer – age, gender, experience immaterial.
And why ‘OxPen’?
That’s an easy one: Pentland Community Centre in based on the Oxgangs estate in South-West Edinburgh: therefore OxPen. That ‘pen’ forms part of the name is a very happy accident!
The book is a collection of short stories and poems, where did the idea come from? Why the title?
We started out with a few sessions on life-writing and using memories to create stories – fact and fiction. Each of the pieces in the book emerged from the exercises we did: some are very clearly very close to our lives, others have taken on a life of their own. Beyond that there’s no theme or intention, but the title, Tales of Dark and Light, relates both to the eclectic tones of the writing: tragedy, comedy, imagination, reflection, and to us as writers. Telling our stories makes us, the invisible women more visible. It brings us from the darkness into the light.
Is this OxPen’s first book?
It’s our first fully published, available to readers on the open mark, book. Back in 2018, pre-pandemic, we received a one-off sum of community funding specifically to write, edit and publish a collection. Writing and editing are ‘our thing’, but book production is another story, so Claire Morley at http://www.myepublishbook.com very kindly took us on.
Our previous production, Kaleidoscope, was produced locally, a limited run of fifty copies, and prior to that we wrote and read – not performed! – a play. Spies, Stilettoes, it was a mix of Agatha Christie-style locked-room mystery, and total farce. Our earlier pamphlets may have been more ‘homemade’ but the writing still speaks for itself.
If you had to sum up OxPen in three words, what would they be?
We’d all pick slightly different ones, but at heart, let’s start with writing, friendship and resilience.
What’s the OxPen dream?
Funding! And a big handful of book sales. Good health. The freedom – for everyone – to write and have their stories heard and appreciated. Continued happy Thursday mornings where we put ourselves and the world to rights.
Tales Of Dark And Light is available from Amazon.
You can follow the rest of the blog tour here: