We get to know the passionate tutors behind Faraway and Matthew’s Hub’s Let’s ‘Be Authors’ Creative Writing Workshop Project.
The project focuses on giving autistic people the tools to create fun and engaging stories. This is to be delivered in two 12-week workshops, both online and offline, by two autistic creative writing experts.
Meet Rosemarie Cawkwell, tutor for the in-person workshops, and Melissa Bowles, tutor for the online workshops.
Rosemarie is the Research Assistant for Faraway and an enthusiastic writer with a deep love for dragons and fantasy. We asked Rosemarie who they are and what their background is in writing. They said:
“I have been writing stories since I could write. I wrote 'Swallows and Amazons'-inspired fiction at 10, wanted to be a professional children's writer until a career's advisor said it wouldn't be a good idea and I should probably do something with better job prospects.
“So, I did chemistry instead. I carried on writing stories, but it wasn't until 2016 when I started my MA in Creative Writing to help with my mental health issues, that I started taking things seriously again. I graduated with a Merit in January 2019, at Lincoln Cathedral, having self-published two novels and a couple of short stories.
“My dissertation was about the representation of autistic women in crime fiction. I've since had a short story published in an anthology, a short book on the history of neurodivergent people in Western society for a Faraway project, and I've been working on several more novels; not got very far though.
“I've had an article published in Lincolnshire Poacher magazine about the history of the Lincolnshire regiments during the Napoleonic Wars, and regularly review books on my website, www.everythingisbetterwithdragons.co.uk; I also write articles and posts on my other website, www.neurodivergenthistory.co.uk.
“I'm currently interested in autistic people and fantasy fiction - why we read it, why we write it, what does it do for us.
“I collect dragons, I crochet and embroider, and garden. I am fascinated by society and social conventions (and why most of them are rubbish). I like to deep-dive into random subjects, like learning Finnish, because Tolkien based one of his Elvish languages on Finnish when he translated the Kalevala. I regularly go to FantasyCon to mingle with other authors and readers. I collect Discworld books and related items. I love to use writing to explore my thoughts and areas of interest, to process emotions and life-events, and think it's a brilliant way to connect with people.”
Melissa is currently doing an MA in English and Creative Writing at Hull University and is delivering her online workshop on behalf of Matthew’s Hub; a Hull-based support service for autistic people. We asked Melissa Bowles about her background and what got her into creative writing. She said:
“I've been writing since I was young, on scraps of paper that I stapled into little books. When I'm not writing, I enjoy playing video games, reading and learning about prehistoric mammals!
“What motivates me to write is knowing that no one can write exactly the same as me. Everyone's stories, however similar, will be different in some ways. Don't be put off by thoughts of 'originality', you have something unique to share in your pieces!”
We asked the Creative Writing Tutors what their aims are in their new role.
“My aims are to share my excitement about writing, engage with the members to explore our lives as autistic humans in a world that struggles to accept us, and communicating that through story. I also hope to help them gain confidence as writers.”
“My aims as a tutor are to inspire those who attend. Everyone has a story to tell in some way and I would love everyone to share creative work and build up their confidence with writing.”
We then asked both tutors how they feel about the classes before they start on September 6th (Online Workshop) and October 2nd (In-person Workshop).
“I am terrified that no-one will come, that I won't be very good as a tutor and excited to be giving it a go!”
“I'm excited to get started and I want to make sure everyone gets a good experience. I'm a little nervous about doing a good job but I'm sure the group will be great!”
Finally, we asked them both, ‘what would you say to someone interested in joining the workshop?’
“Go on! You can do it! Come and join us for 12 weeks of writing.
“There's a chance of being published in the anthology and we have some really cool badges to give out at the end of the course. Talking about dragons is optional.”
If you are interested in joining our creative writing workshops, make sure to register!
This project was made possible by Amazon Literary Partnership.