Raymond Soltysek's Blog

Upcoming author events

Posted in Conferences, Reading review, Teaching Writing by raymondsoltysek on September 13, 2012

I’ve been very quiet lately – always the same at the start of the academic year when I’m chasing my tail – but I’ll be back on the gig trail soon and have a few film outings to report.

However, I’ll be workshop leading at the Aberdeen City Council’s annual “Northern Writes” event – my third year in a  row, so they must be getting sick of me by now – on the 19th September in the Belmont cinema.  It’s a day I always enjoy because of the creativity of the young people I get to work with.

Videos of last year’s event are available online.  In part 2, at around 18 minutes, you can see me reading “Bellflowers”, which was published in the “1000 Cranes” anthology in support of Japanese earthquake relief.  You can get a good sense of the workshops we all did, as well as an interesting Q&A which showed just how perceptive these young people are. Unfortunately, sound and vision don’t always tally.



Then on the evening of the 17th October, I’ll be leading a workshop as part of North Lanarkshire’s “Encounters” Cultural Festival.  I worked with a creative writing group last year, and they were kind enough to want me back to do some more work with them.  The workshop will be at the Sir John Wilson Town Hall in Airdrie, from 6.30 to 8.30pm.  It’s free, but if you fancy coming along, book up at the Encounters website.  Perhaps see some of you there…

“Northern Writes” Creative Writing magazine

Posted in Education, Publications, Teaching Writing by raymondsoltysek on May 24, 2012

I’ve blogged a couple of times about the excellent Northern Writes conference for young writers that Aberdeen council runs each year.  The annual anthology of writing by those young people is now online here:


The quality of the young people’s writing is terrific, and I’d recommend it to English teachers for use with their senior writers.  Well worth a download!

Tutors were asked to contribute something, and I submitted a short character study that goes to prove I can’t really write poetry!  Here it is:

Edith Piaf on the Metro

Old Edith Piaf is on the Metro.
She sits opposite, asleep,
buttoned tight in a burgundy coat
which falls aside so slightly
at the knee,
revealing the colour picked out
in the stripes of her dress.
She is muffled in one, two, three scarves,
layered thermally and aesthetically,
purple, green-purple, green,
and her sky blue headscarf
matches the audacity of her handbag.
She wears, though, sensible brown shoes,
scuffed and worn smooth
like the tiniest and oldest of otters.
The train rolls into Falguière:
I reach across, touch her elbow,
“Madame, excusez-moi,”
my fearful French supplemented
by an eyebrow raised,
“votre station?”
She blinks,
wipes a drool from the corner of her mouth,
flusters to her feet.
Bustling through the door
she remembers her fading charm
turns, gap-tooth smiles,
flirts a wink
and says, “Merci, Monsieur.”
Having woken her
and been so blessed
I have not one regret.

Northern Writes, Aberdeen, 29/9/11

Posted in Conferences by raymondsoltysek on September 29, 2011

My second stint at the very rewarding Northern Writes conference for young adult creative writers.   It’s now in its eleventh year and is brilliantly organised by Aberdeen City Library’s Curriculum Resources and Information Service, especially Helen Adair and Jacqueline Adam.  Hosted by Steven Knox, the Head of English at St Machar Academy, it’s a terrific event.  The kids are, of course, fantastic.  As usual, so many write better on the day than I do; honorable mention to  Hannah of the final group of the day, who conjures up the most vivid image of anger as a slithering, red-clawed, sharp-toothed beast in the belly.  Lovely stuff!

The other writers on the day include Pam Beasant, Keith Gray, Stuart McHardy and David Smith

Northern Writes, Aberdeen, 10/9/10

Posted in Conferences, Education by raymondsoltysek on September 12, 2010

Had a good day working with Sixth Year pupils from Aberdeen’s secondary schools at the 10th annual Northern Writes conference.  Organised by Aberdeen City Library’s Curriculum Resources and Information Service (thanks, Iona, Jacqueline and all) it’s an opportunity for Advanced Higher students to meet and work with published authors.  As ever, some of the talent of the young people amazed me.  Nice to meet five other interesting writers – Alex Gray, Tom Murray, Pamela Beasant, Tim Turnbull and Isabel Wright. 

An enjoyable day that other authorities should think about replicating.