T: 0151 703 0020

T: 0151 703 0020

An Interview with Marcello Di Cintio for WoWFest 2018

We spoke with multi award winning Canadian writer Marcello DI Cintio, ahead of his upcoming in conversation with internationally acclaimed Palestinian poet and writer Mourid Barghouti, which will be a moving and insightful discussion on exile, displacement, belonging and political turmoil. A truly one-of-a-kind event featuring a voice of a generation. In this interview Marcello speaks about his own writing life, what our WOWFEST - Crossing Borders theme means to him and how it relates not only with his upcoming conversation with Mourid Barghouti but also to the world today.

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Have you always wanted to be a writer?
I always loved reading and writing stories when I was a young child, but I never thought about becoming a writer. All I wanted to do when I grew up was to work as a biologist in a lab somewhere. Unfortunately, by the time I graduated from university with a bachelor’s degree in Microbiology I’d completely fallen out of love with science. I started to think seriously about writing again, but didn’t feel I had anything to write about. Only after a year-long trip through West Africa did I feel I’d collected enough stories to start writing. My travels became the subject of my first book, and I’ve been a writer ever since.

Describe a day in the life of Marcello Di Cintio.
I wake up with just enough time to walk my eight year-old son to school. Then I eat breakfast and bring a flask of coffee down to my home office. I will then spend far too much time checking emails, reading the news, and scrolling through my social media feeds before getting to work. I probably spend as much time researching as I do writing. I will stop around 4pm to start preparing dinner. After my wife, my son and I eat, there is usually somewhere my son needs to go: soccer practise, piano lesson, swim lesson. I will go for an hour-long swim just before his bedtime. Then I’ll read or – more likely – binge-watch some bad television before going to bed.

What does this year’s WoWFest theme Crossing Borders mean to you?
Borders have been a big part of my life for the last several years. For my previous book, Walls: Travels Along the Barricades, I travelled to fortified borders around the world to learn what it means to live in the shadow of walls, fences and other physical barriers. Lately, I’ve been following Trump’s border wall nonsense. So my appreciation of borders has been quite literal.

There are plenty of literal borders to cross in my new book, too. Researching Pay No Heed to the Rockets required passing through checkpoints between Israel and the West Bank, navigating the security apparatus surrounding Gaza, and crossing over the Allenby Bridge from Jordan into Palestine. But there are metaphorical borders, too. And perhaps these are more interesting. With Pay No Heed to the Rockets, I want to breach the “border” between the superficial and narrowly-defined way the outside world sees Palestine – as a place of trauma and violence – and Palestine’s rich cultural reality. By focusing attention on Palestinian literary culture, I hope the book crosses the border between conflict and art, war and beauty.

What would you say was the most important border you have crossed in your life or career?
The border between being an irresponsible jackass to being a father.

How do you/your work relate to themes of your event with Mourid Barghouti and the world today?
 First off, let me say how excited I am to meet Mr. Barghouti. My book begins where Barghouti’s I Saw Ramallah begins, on the Allenby Bridge that spans the border between Jordan and Palestine. I literally follow his footsteps across that border. Even though I never got the chance to interview Mr. Barghouti personally for the book, his work is mentioned throughout Pay No Heed to the Rockets. Sharing a stage with him in Liverpool will be a great honour. Though this year marks the 70th anniversary of the Nakba, Palestinians still endure the injustice of exile and displacement, and struggle with notions of belonging. The Nakba was less a historical event than the beginning of a process of injustice that is ongoing. How Palestinian writers manage transform their experience into art and beauty will be something Mr. Barghouti and I will surely discuss. The refugees currently fleeing war and poverty must also contend with questions of exile and displacement and home. Sadly, our talk of Palestine is relevant to the world at large.

Your upcoming publication talks a lot about the importance of literature, particularly story-telling in times of conflict to help redefine how people and narratives and perceived globally. Were there or are there any prominent female writers or poets in Arabic culture that are underrepresented in this context?
I write about many female Palestinian authors and poets in Pay No Heed to the Rockets whose work should be read more widely. Maya Abu-Alhayyat is a wonderful poet and novelist in Jerusalem. Khulud khamis and Asmaa Azaizeh are two Haifa-based writers doing compelling and evocative work. I admire the fierce journalism of Asmaa al-Ghul and the sensual prose of Najlaa Ataallah, both in Gaza. Though I never had the chance to meet her, I admire Suad Amiry’s nonfiction. I could go on.

Who is making work that you’re really excited about? And if you could work with any artist, living or dead, who would it be?
Hala Alyan’s Salt Houses is the most beautiful novel I’ve read in years, and I am excited to read her upcoming book of poetry. I would love to work with Joan Didion. Whenever I feel blocked, I open up Slouching Towards Bethlehem or The White Album and read a page at random. That always works. I’ve never been able to figure out the beautiful alchemy of what Didion does on the page, and I’ve love for her to lean over and whisper her secrets in my ear.

If you could offer a piece of advice to any aspiring artist what would it be?
Stop talking about writing and start writing.  

For more WoWFest events and information about this event, click here: 

Preparing for Pulp Idol, with novelist and children’s author, Sally-Ann Tapia-Bowes

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.

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Rest in Peace Linda Meagor

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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Pulp Idol Winner Laura Bui Interview

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

If you are an agent or publisher email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for a free copy of the e-book.  


Pre-order Your Copy of Rap Vs Rhyme LIVE

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).

Enterprise Hub: Tony Schumacher in conversation with Mike Morris

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. 



Pulp Idol Firsts 2018

Click on the image or here to buy your own copy online

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.

New Project - Liverpool 8 Archive Project - Call for Participants

The Liverpool 8 Law Centre was one of the most significant community organisations in the city. To a community who bore the brunt of high unemployment and government spending cuts combined with institutionalised racism, it provided support, legal advice and sanctuary. The exciting new Heritage Lottery funded L8 Archives Project will explore, collate and catalogue the collections of the Liverpool 8 law centre and other key community organisations. Using existing material and through the creation of new audio and visual recordings, a unique and important archive will be produced, charting the history, events and influences that have led to the diversity of cultures which make up the Liverpool 8 community and BAME Communities across the City. Writing on the Wall are currently recruiting participants to support this exciting project who wish to gain new skills.

Participants will:
· Take part in a 10-week taught course on the historic context of the archive led by local writer Emy Onuora and WoW Co-Director Madeline Heneghan
· Receive training in archiving, cataloguing and video interviewing
· Catalogue and archive community material under the guidance of a professional archivist
· Interview key individuals related to and inspired by the archive
· Deliver their own Local History project

- The first session will be take place on Wednesday 10th January 2018 at Toxteth Library (Windsor Street, Liverpool, L8 1XF) from 6-8pm. 

To get involved please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or phone 0151 703 0020.

Tapestry & Hope and Two Sugars available to buy online

Hope and Two Sugars and Tapestry are now online to buy on Amazon. Get a copy, support new writing and read these innovative, heartfelt stories. 

Hope and Two Sugars features the stories of kinship carers - grandparents caring for their grandchildren. The book highlights the simplistic things in life, from first jobs and cinema trips to wishes of hope and heartwarming poetry, written by the grandparents and their grandchildren too. 

The writers in Tapestry have found their voice, have created stories, memoir and poems and, during this creative journey, found they had something worth saying. The course is funded by the Liverpool City Region ESF Community Grants.