Catherine Czerkawska Live Literature Session Thursday 17th November


Catherine’s early literary career began with poems, fiction and BBC 4 radio plays. Now with over 100 hours of aired work plus a huge volume for both major and minor theatres she presented her experiences as an accomplished playwright.

Insights provided covered all aspects of drama from one act plays to professional, amateur and community presentations with a brief mention of one of the latest innovations – ‘a play, a pie and a pint. Specific areas included an understanding of stage direction from the audience’s point of view; why setting, style and form are all key to moving the plot along; character definition as the best starting point; and the importance of monologue.

Due to time constraints she was only able to touch briefly on her latest historical novel, The Jewel – about the life and times of Jean Armour, the wife of Robert Burns but the whole evening was both interesting and instructive and enjoyed by all the members present.

Catherine Cz

by Tony Parkinson

Review of Live literature event with Jonathan Falla by Hayley Emberey


Jonathan Falla, born in 1954 in Jamaica, former nurse and charity worker and author of his first published novel, ‘Blue Poppies’, plus many more since, graced the first Borders Writers’ Forum meeting of the new 2016/2017 programme, with his distinctive and flamboyant presence on 15th September 2016.  It was also the first BWF meeting at the St. Boswells Village Hall in The Lesser Room, the new venue for monthly meetings where all members are welcome.
It was a fiction workshop considering how the senses are used in different settings to drive a story with the focus on Flaubert, Hardy and Jo’s own work.
After a brief introduction of his background, more of which was shared intermittently throughout the session, Jo invited the attendees, of which there was a high turnout with regards numbers, to read silently and then a few members were asked to read aloud, a couple of extracts from some recognised novels where the setting was of prominent focus.  The idea was to look for words, underlining them during reading, which depicted feelings and senses, atmosphere and to observe the use of adjectives to describe these.

A key point to note was that of the sheer abundance of use of words by the author to express the senses and sentiments and the atmosphere created by these from the characters.

The group looked at all the senses which can encapsulate the focus of moments in a scene within a chapter, with regards to:  sight (what is seen by the character/s);  smell (what is/are the odours within the setting and/or emanating from the character/s);  touch (what or whom the character/s may come into physical contact with);  hearing (what sounds the character/s may hear or choose to hear or not to hear);  and feelings described in detail as to what the character/s may be feeling in any moment in the scene.
The importance of the energy and power behind the words, often each word and its full meaning engaging the reader fully, was discussed and led to an informal linguistic, verging on intellectual and philosophical at times, discussion yet was not overly critical nor analytical, with much exuberance and laughter at times, and of course healthy sarcasm.
Jo Falla was a master of recital, performing extracts from a couple of his own novels with professional gusto, expression and personality.  His abundance of historical work tends to be based on experiences abroad including drama productions, script writing, short stories both published and broadcast, essays, a musical libretto, ethnography, book reviews history, poetry translation and five novels.  He has endured vast travelling to Java, Indonesia, Nicaragua, West Sudan, El Salvador, Brazil, Nepal, Chile, India, West Africa and much of Europe.  Jo now teaches Arts for the Open University and is Director of the Creative Writing Summer School at St Andrews University.  His awards have included a Fulbright Fellowship to the USC film school (Los Angeles), a Creative Scotland Award in 2007, a PEN fiction prize and the short list for the National Short Story Prize.
The session ended with a group left fulfilled, inspired, informed, excited and with plenty to think about.  Personally, I left with a signed copy of his novel ‘The White Porcupine’, set during the Indonesian War of Independence and in Holland in the 1970s, one of 150 limited edition copies numbered and signed by Jo himself.  Another member has since commented positively about how much she enjoyed reading his ‘Poor Mercy’ novel, set in Darfur, the novel is a dramatic and tragic story of an improbable love between two people caught up in an African famine. Mogga and Leila, a black and an Arab, who should supposedly not even like each other.
For the next BWF meeting in October, the content of the session with Jo Falla was then used as the foundation, where members were invited to write and present their own 3-5 minute readings with the ‘setting’ as an important feature (non compulsory).  This proved very popular and led onto further discussions on writing techniques, use of words and humour with constructive, positive feedback from other members.
For more information on Jonathan Falla, visit
Hayley M. Emberey

Member’s Spotlight


Member’s Spotlight on October 20, 2016 – Harry Scott interviewed by Campbell Hutcheson

Harry Scott, a writer of historical non-fiction, became the first person to be featured in the Member’s Spotlight.harry-scott
Raised in Lauder, where his father had a butcher’s shop, he joined the police in 1967. He transferred to the Scottish Borders in 1971 and moved to Edinburgh in 1992. After
working as emergency planning officer for NHS Borders, in 2004 he became the national emergencies planning officer for NHS Scotland at the Scottish Government. He
retired in 2010. Harry lives in Galashiels with his wife Sheila, who runs a photography business. The couple have two grown-up children.

Harry’s writing was sparked when his wife’s cousin discovered a batch of journals, letters and photographs relating to World War II. They belonged to an uncle, Ian Robert
Waddell, who had been a radio officer in the Merchant Navy during the conflict. He was killed in 1942 at the age of 20 when his ship was torpedoed off the east coast of the
USA. After reading the material, Harry felt it was a great story worth telling.

With the permission of Sheila’s cousin, he wrote “The Radio Officer’s War: Ships, Storms and Submarines” in 2013, going through the self-publishing route on Amazon. To
date, it’s sold about 1,000 copies. Harry feels the story has the key elements – adventure, danger, humour and a love interest – to make a fine film. He’s considering having
a crack at a screenplay.

Since then he has written “Berwick-upon-Tweed – for King and Country: The Story of Berwick and its People during WW1” and “Forgotten Poems and Sonnets from the
Great War”, both published on Amazon.

Harry is writing a fourth book, another historical non-fiction tale. Until it’s complete and published, he’s keeping the subject under wraps.