This funding comes in response to the six-month attachment I was recently granted by arts organisation Metal Culture in Peterborough, enabling me to reengage with the city where I was born and brought up.
Using Metal as a base, I want to write about the concept of home. Why do some people leave their hometowns and some people stay? Why do some people who run away eventually return?
I also want to write about takeover, something Peterborough has experienced in both economic and social ways. Peterborough’s ethnic diversity and large immigrant communities are something that makes the city vibrant, but can also cause tensions.
I am keen to involve Peterborough residents in my research, sharing my work in progress with them while in the city and running workshops for those who want to write themselves. Growing up in Peterborough, there was limited access to the arts, so it will be exciting to be part of the city’s unique and expanding cultural scene.
Aged 4, in the backyard of my maternal grandparents’ rented house in Bamber Street
The physical and organisational support I’ll be receiving from Metal has now been reinforced by generous financial backing from Arts Council England and the Society of Author’s K Blundell Trust, which supports writers under 40 who need financial support for important research into social and economic organisation.
Both the ACE Funding and K Blundell Trust Award were granted on the strength of my intended project and my previous work, in particular my most recent novel The Big Lie, which examines sexism and revolution through the lens of an alternate UK under Nazi rule.
Additional support for my research comes from Marriott Hotels in Peterborough (formerly the Swallow Hotel, the location of my first job, aged 15) who are making me their ‘writer in residence’ for the next six months, from Vivacity and Peterborough Archives and Collections who will share their specialist knowledge of the city, and from Headlong Theatre who are offering dramaturgical advice and a place to write in London.
I’m overwhelmed and very grateful for this support for a period of research which I hope will result in a risk-taking, pertinent and universal piece of writing.
Through books and the arts we gain a better understanding of who we are, and who we could be. The support of organisations like SOA and ACE allow a broader range of voices to be heard, and allow a broader audience to engage.