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This evening, ‘Lightning Talks’ comes to John Mac

Archive photo by Johnny Bugeja of a pop-up book store at the Literary Festival.

As part of Gibraltar Literature Week a series of 10-minute ‘Lightning Talks’ will take place this evening at 6pm, where local writers will discuss their thoughts and projects.

Organised by Gibraltar Cultural Services on behalf of the Ministry for Culture, the evening will see a selection of five speakers inspire, engage and enthral in 10-minute presentations. These talks promise to be fun and entertaining whilst shedding a spotlight on some curious literary journeys and related experiences.

The audience will learn about an international writer and illustrator’s residency held on the Rock, the experiences of a young writer as he completes his first novella; writing for the stage, becoming an established author on Amazon, and a joint school writing project where students have written content for their younger counterparts.

Eleanor Taylor Dobbs

The Rock Retreat - A week long, industry led, residency for aspiring children’s book writers and artists

In late 2021 as the lockdowns and travel bans were beginning to ease, publisher Sarah Odedina and I began to dream of life beyond covid.
Our plan was to bring the children’s book making community together for a physical, in person, residency. We wanted to be in the room together, exchanging ideas, taking time to talk and unpick our common interests face-to-face.

We knew that Gibraltar, this extraordinary hinge between the Mediterranean Sea and Atlantic Ocean, would be the perfect location for such a residency.

In May 2022 after a call-out for participants, 27 writers and illustrators hailing from 11 countries were selected from more than 80 submissions.

Led by children’s publishing professionals and publishers, The Rock Retreat is a place where the platform of storytelling is open to everyone. We believe that good stories help connect us. The outreach programme also took the facilitating authors to schools, inspiring the next generation of Gibraltarian storytellers.

Our thanks go to every single person from the inclusive cultural community of Gibraltar. During the days at The Garrison Library we had visits from mothers and their babies for life drawing, historical scholars came through to exchange ideas with the attendees; the museum, botanical gardens and wildlife parks were opened to us and sports facilities were given over for events.

People took time off from work to guide groups around their beloved Rock. Our evening dinners were filled with fascinating presentations from artist, poets, historians and cultural commentators. Every person who generously shared time and knowledge left an indelible and positive mark on each person who was part of The Rock Retreat.

It is with heartfelt thanks that we acknowledge every person, business and charity that made The Rock Retreat possible: Blands Travel, Gamma Architects, Masbro Insurance, Darch and Co., Bloomsbury Publishing, Accord Literary, Abe Odedina, Gib Laundry, JJ De La Paz Consulting Engineers, Kusuma Trust, Darwinian Edge, AKS Architects and Engineers, Pushkin Children’s Books, Hammonds Ltd, Einar Hafstad and Atri Noroozpour, William Hill, Ellul and Co., Gibraltar Rugby, Gibraltar Cultural Services.

Stephanie Digham

Have you ever dedicated your entire life to something but still feel like you’re a fraud just waiting to be found out? Imposter syndrome might just be one of the biggest dream killers out there and it’s something that most if not all of us have experienced in our lives at some point or another.

The side effects that come with it such as anxiety and depression are known to be two of the most common obstacles in a creatives journey which some of us can find almost impossible to overcome. It destroys motivation, breeds self doubt and induces stress to the point of burn out but it doesn’t have to be that way.

Stephanie will be giving a very personal and in depth talk on her experience with imposter syndrome and how even after 8 years of working in the self publishing industry she still has difficulty with calling herself an author and taking pride in her accomplishments that she has achieved.

But she will also be sharing how she has used it to her professional advantage and will be giving guidance on ways to beat the intrusive thoughts that can prevent you from creating your future masterpiece.

Hannah Mifsud

How to build a convincing character

Winner of Best Play at the Drama Festival 2022, Hannah Mifsud, will talk about the importance of building a convincing character. Her point of view comes from that of a playwright, and she will discuss how characters move not only the narrative of a story forward, but the emotion too.

Her talk will revolve mainly around writing for stage but she hopes that all advice shared can be translated into other forms of media too.

Hannah will delve into the inner psyche of popular characters, and use her writing as a tool to understand what makes these characters engaging. Her background in acting, consistently influences the way she writes, pushing her to create characters that are three dimensional and textured - a difficult feat in and of itself. Through her use of dramatic techniques and writing knowledge, she hopes to help others understand the importance of building interesting characters and how this is central in elevating any piece of writing from good, to great.

Jared Cruz

Journey of a young writer’s first novella

Jared Cruz has been on a creative journey alongside the Gibraltar Cultural Services after having been hand-selected for the Young Writer’s Initiative following a successful submission and interview. Since then, he has been incredibly fortunate to have a team behind him, with writing mentors, as well as experts in their fields, to craft a novella from start to finish.

He will talk about the entirety of the process that it takes to write a story, including how ideas can be found, how research is crucial to storytelling, the planning (or non-planning) for a story, and the creative process that worked for him in order to make his idea come to life.

He will also explore why he believes stories are so important to our lives, and why his passion for darker stories pushes him to create them. He will also discuss what he learnt during his time in the initiative, including some surprises he may have come across as well. Lastly, he will also specifically explain his novella, which launched on Amazon Kindle on the 1st November and paperback on the 3rd November, and why this was the perfect story to start his writing career with. He is very excited to be able to share his story with as many people as possible.

Melissa Bosano and Jade Herbert

A creative writing project

Last academic year, Year 10 English students at Westside School took part in a creative writing project where they wrote a selection of books for Reception students at St Paul’s School.

As English teachers who prepare students for increasingly prescriptive GCSE and A-Level exams every year, we feel that there are now fewer ways to develop the creativity that should, by rights, be a large part of this subject. This creative writing project was born out of a desire to reintroduce creativity and collaboration for our students, whilst also focusing on developing important curriculum skills in writing plot, character and description for a very specific purpose and audience.

The project was made a reality by the interaction between St Paul’s School teachers and Westside teachers; we could not have completed this project without their enthusiasm and desire to accommodate our students. We liaised with Headteacher Jerry Aguilera, Deputy Headteacher Genevieve Vinet and the Subject Leader for English at St Paul’s School, Nichola Navas, to make this project a reality: Reception students’ thoughts and ideas were brought into our classrooms using video; Mrs Navas visited Westside to speak to some classes and offer students an opportunity to ask any questions or explore ideas and our students got the chance to visit St Paul’s, in many cases their old school, and speak to Reception students in person.

Once the stories were written, we gave our Year 10s the opportunity to go back to St Paul’s School to read their stories to Reception students. Having a receptive and expert audience of 5 year olds listening to the stories they had written was a first for all our students, and made the experience realistic and exciting!

We are very proud of the work they put into this project and we are pleased to announce that their work has been nominated for a Cultural Award in the Best Educational Project category!

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