On Thursday 27 April I was delighted to be guest author for the seventh time at a People’s Friend story-writing workshop. This was the first one in Newcastle (following three in Dundee, two in York and one in Glasgow) and nineteen people signed up for it. The workshop is organised and hosted by Fiction Editor Shirley Blair. Shirley has been with the publisher D C Thomson for many years, the last twelve as Fiction Editor for the world’s oldest woman’s weekly magazine – The People’s Friend will celebrate its 150th birthday in January 2019!
When I say I write for The People’s Friend people invariably say, Oh my mum/granny/auntie used to read that – and they have a fixed idea in their heads as to what the magazine is like. In some ways it hasn’t changed since their aged relative read it. It does not have celebrity gossip. It does not have lurid real-life confessions. You could still call it wholesome and heart-warming. But it has moved with the times – of course it has; it wouldn’t still be here if its mindset was still in the 1860s, or even the late 20th century. The stories are still feel-good and upbeat but they reflect 21st-century dilemmas and situations.
So if you have never read the magazine or haven’t read it for some years do give it a go.
And, if you are a writer, let me tell you that Shirley Blair and her team are passionate about stories and encouraging and supportive of their authors – and they are looking for SIX HUNDRED stories a year to fill the pages of the weekly magazine, the specials and the annuals. See their guidelines here.
What’s not to like?
I look forward to reading stories from some of Thursday’s delegates.
This is the format for the workshops:
When I talk in the morning session about how to find inspiration and develop ideas I give examples from some of my own stories which were published in the magazine. Three of them – Class of ’64, The New Eighteen and Three’s a Crowd – are in a collection called Three’s a Crowd and other family stories, available on Kindle and in print.