Monday, 29 January 2007

Local Writers - Phil Caveney

I was taking my daily constitutional along Heaton Moor Road when I spotted Phil Caveney sitting in The Orangery sipping a coffee. Phil is one of the best known authors living on the Moor. I got to know him when I was a member of his Manchester Writers' Workshop which has met every Tuesday in Didsbury for the last twenty-seven years. His first novel, a thriller, did quite well and for a while he combined his day job as a copy writer for Great Universal Stores with turning out highly readable and page turning stories like Slayground, Burn Down Easy, TigerTiger and Skin Flicks. After twelve fairly successful books his publisher pulled the plug and for some six years he was still writing but with no regular publisher. During this period he tried net publishing - but this route is more hyped than well trodden and Love Bites did not sell that well.

During this period he presided every week at the Writers' Group, applying his keen sense of what works and what doesn't to the efforts of the regular participants. Four of the current members have contracts with publishers, which is an extraordinary testament to Phil's skills as an endlessly patient and encouraging teacher. It's a very heterogeneous group of embryonic authors - some might call them oddball outsiders. Maybe, in turn, it was this group which gave him back the thing which has recently fired up his career again. Some members began to write for a younger age group and Phil's recent book, aimed at the same audience, has proved a mega-hit.

Sebastian Darke came runner up in the recent Waterstone's Prize for Children's Fiction and some say he was unlucky not to carry off the main prize. And it's all because he kept writing and self-belief intact when his writing career bumped along the bottom for a few years. The new book has caused such a stir that translation deals have been signed and recently a Hollywood producer emailed Phil expressing interest in film rights to the book. So the sky - deservedly so - now seems to be the limit. Watch this space for updates on the progress of a genuinely talented local author.

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