Pulp Idol is a unique writing competition for novelists. Many previous finalists have gone on to have their debut novels published by mainstream and independent publishers. Pulp Idol focuses on supporting new original voices and getting them heard by providing platform for up-and-coming writers, helping with exposure to new audiences and providing contacts with key publishers and agents.
Pulp Idol has had many successes, but few so quickly as the outcome of the 2017 competition when runner-up Ariel Kahn’s debut novel was snapped up almost immediately after the final by North-east based award-winning independent publisher Bluemoose Books. So, well done to Ariel – look out for his debut novel Raising Sparks, which will be published in 2018.
This year we are offering new novelists the opportunity to take part in Preparing for Pulp Idol, a course led by novelist and children’s writer Sally-Anne Tapia-Bowes.
We are so, so sad at hearing the news of Linda Meagor’s death, a sadness that we know is being shared across the whole of the artistic and cultural community in Merseyside. We first met Linda in late 2014, when she was working for Culture Liverpool, and was helping us find a venue for one of our festival events. We were struck by her enthusiasm, commitment and shining personality. From then on, we – I say we – all the WoW team past and present, collectively and individually, became friends with Linda; how could you not be friends with her? She had a unique ability to be knowledgeable about the arts, an astute and highly organised organiser, and always retain her sense of balance, never ‘losing it’ as is so often the case when we’re all under the usual insane pressures of festival and event delivery, and keep her sense of fun, with her own great laugh.
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Missed the book launch? Jigsaw is now available to buy online and paperback soon from Waterstone's and directly from our office is Toxteth Library. This is the third book published from our course, Write to Work. The course is funded by the Liverpool City Region ESF Community Grant.
Writing on the Wall’s Lauren Buxton interviewed Pulp Idol 2018 winner, Laura Bui.
Have you always wanted to be a writer? And was there a specific moment you thought, ‘I can do this’?
It was only recently that I considered writing fiction. When I was younger I didn’t think I had this option of ‘being a writer’. Part of this had to do with the idea instilled in me that writing was not a feasible or practical career— sitting around and writing made-up stories? What a farce. The assumption was that being a writer was reserved for people of leisure, and fiction writing was this simple exercise in the insincere: it was believed that anyone could sit around and make up lies if they could afford to. Of course this isn’t true. Later, about six or seven years ago, I developed a kind of obsession with being a good thinker. Being so requires original thought and a lot of creativity. One outlet has been fiction writing. I admire writers, particularly literary fiction writers, for their thoughtfulness and accurate observations about us and life. I want to be like that but it is still a work in progress.
Do you have a writing routine; if so what is a typical writing day for you?
My routine is in the form of phases if that makes sense. I try to treat (fiction) writing like a project with a deadline alongside projects/ tasks related to my profession. So the phase could last for several weeks, end because of another project, then I might return to it months later and work on the writing again for a few weeks or days. Sometimes it can even be alongside another piece of work. A problem, sometimes, is I reason to myself that the fiction writing and reading are a hobby and can be pushed back whenever I feel like it. Then, of course, nothing gets done.
What was your motivation for entering this year’s Pulp Idol competition?
Acknowledgement I guess? I’m surprised I even got as far as I did. I think many who have written a lengthy piece of work will empathise: you spend so much energy and effort in creating this piece. Alone. This can go on for months or years. The end result is completely unknown: will it get to be out there or will it just go in a drawer never to be seen again? I entered just to give my story a chance to be out there, an opportunity for my voice, and the perspective that forms it, to be heard.
Could you tell us about your novel Someone You’d Admire, and what your primary inspiration for the novel was?
Certainly. The story takes place in 2015, forty years after the Fall of Saigon. It focuses on Hien who has to decide whether to return to his homeland, Vietnam, for his father’s funeral after having settled in America since the fall. The bulk of the Vietnamese-American literature comprises stories about what happened to characters during war and shortly after, or about the experiences of the children of these refugees growing up in the US. Viet Thanh Nguyen’s The Sympathizers was an exception because it was the first book I read to have addressed this relatively unknown history about the anti-communist group that developed in the Vietnamese-American community after many had settled in America. It was different and expanded the literature. I wanted to contribute to this expansion by writing about the refugees themselves, four decades after. I wanted to focus on the lingering effects of loss well into the twilight years, and explore resilience and hope despite major adversity.
How do you feel about your overall experience of Pulp Idol?
Very positive. Generally I’m really impressed by the scope of projects that Writing on the Wall (WoW) has and the effort the WoW team invest to include and support anyone who is interested in sharing their voice and story. They sponsor and create events where people, whose voices are likely to be seldom heard in mainstream publishing and literature, can have a platform. They even publish books of these unheard stories and distribute them widely.
Since winning Pulp Idol talk to us about what your experience is like now?
It has provided me with some new and exciting experiences: winning a writing competition for the first time; reading what I wrote in front of audiences; being interviewed about my writing whose first chapter has been published; and gaining some exposure for my writing.
If you could pass on a single piece of advice to writers who would like to enter next year’s Pulp Idol Competition, what would it be?
Do not let the reading part, where you read out loud your story in front of a bunch of strangers, put you off. Yes, it is an atypical competition where you need to be present to participate. This, actually, is a good opportunity-- not just for building confidence but to be there, in-person, with other writers. The competition provides this sense of community and it was wonderful to witness this diverse and thriving world of local and not-so-local writing. I think just to participate in the competition is enough. It makes it real to you that you have expressed your unique perspective through fiction and you are sharing it with others: you are here.
You can buy a Kindle Copy of Pulp Idol 2018 by clicking here
You can buy a hard copy book of Pulp Idol 2018 by clicking below
Missed the finale of our project Rap Vs. Rhyme on Wednesday at Studio 2? You can pre-order your own filmed copy of the event. Featuring exciting performances from C-Two and TL himself and new work from the young participants of the project, this DVD is an absolute steal for £2.99 (exc. postage and packaging).
Our first Enterprise Hub event for 2018 was on Wednesday 24th January at Central Library, and featured acclaimed novelist Tony Schumacher in-conversation with WoW Co-Director Mike Morris. They talked about his latest novel, An Army of One, which concludes his enthralling John Rossett trilogy and Tony's own journey of how he became a writer. There was certainly a buzz for this event. This event was part of Enterprise Hub's Start Up Festival that took place all over the city. There was also a chance to sign up for the next Enterprise Hub drop in session at Writing on the Wall, which focuses on giving creative, business advice.
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Pulp Idol has had many successes, but few so quickly as the outcome of this year’s competition. Runner-up Ariel Kahn’s debut novel was snapped up almost immediately after the final held in May during WoWFest 2018 by North-east based award-winning independent publisher Bluemoose Books. So, well done to Ariel – look out for his debut novel Raising Sparks, which will be published in 2018.
Congratulations also to all our finalists whose opening chapters are published here for the first time. The quality of writing in this, the 11th year of our annual competition, is as good as any in previous years, and we wish them all the best of luck in finding publishers for their work.
Pulp Idol was born out of a desire to achieve two things: to give a platform to the literary talent across the region and find an outlet for it by building a bridge between the national publishing industry and Merseyside. We have achieved this and more, with over ten writers finding success through publication and commissions, and more and more agents and publishers looking out for the latest batch of Pulp Idol finalists and signing them up. We now also welcome the many writers taking part from across the country.
Writing on the Wall is grateful to all the writers who entered the competition. We encourage them to keep on writing and enter again in the future - Deborah Morgan found success the second time she entered with her superb debut novel Disappearing Home being published by Tindall Street.