Hastings & St. Leonards on-line community newspaper

photo-of-man-lying-on-bed-while-reading-book-1485115Comfort food – Part 1 (plus local literary info)

Do you  need a change from nordic noir or, as things are at the moment, global noir? Coronavirus means that we’re all in this together, but ironically, it’s the kind of shared experience that we are going to survive best if we stay on our own. Angela J. Phillip goes in search of some good books to lift our spirits. Time to stock up. Might be just as good as pasta and baked beans – and equally as necessary.

220pix-Hundred Year-Old Man copyThe hundred-year-old man who climbed out of the window and disappeared by Jonas Jonasson (2015)
This is the opposite of nordic noir. It’s about a man who climbs out of the window and escapes from his care home and has extraordinary adventures. ‘Sitting quietly in his room in an old people’s home, Allan Karlsson is waiting for a party he doesn’t want to begin. His one-hundredth birthday party to be precise. The Mayor will be there. The press will be there. But, as it turns out, Allan will not . . .’


220pix-Girl in TranslationGirl in Translation by Jean Kwok (2011)
A Chinese family moves from Hong Kong to Brooklyn. They arrive without a word of English and somehow they have to survive. This is based loosely on Jean Kwok’s own experience as a Chinese child arriving in Brooklyn.

Girl in Translation has won the American Library Association Alex Award, an Orange New Writers title and international critical acclaim.

220pix-Little SnakeThe Little Snake by A.L.Kennedy (2019)
‘This is the story of Mary, a young girl born in a beautiful city full of rose gardens and fluttering kites. When she is still very small, Mary meets Lanmo, a shining golden snake, who becomes her very best friend.’ At the risk of sounding like the bottom text of having just bought something on Amazon, I’m going to say that if you liked Saint Exupery’s Le Petit Prince, you will love this book. The Guardian review by Alex Preston described this book as “charming lessons in life, death and kindness”.

220pix-When you read thisWhen You Read This by Mary Adkins (2019)
Iris Massey has died of cancer aged 33 and her last request was that her  blog posts of the last six months be turned into a book. This is the story of the battles between the boss and the big sister. Simon Simonyi is Iris’s boss and the one who has taken on the task of turning the posts into a book, but he has to get permission from Iris’s big sister, Jade – and she has her own views about what should happen.

220pix-LessLess by Andrew Sean Greer (2018)
Arthur Less is a failed writer whose life is going nowhere. He receives an invitation to the wedding of the boyfriend he’s had for nine years and decides he’s had enough. He sets off to attend various literary events round the world. If he can’t write, he’ll travel….. Less has gained praise for its prose, its fast moving storyline and its wit, humour and wisdom. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize in 2017.


220pix-Meet me at MuseumMeet Me at the Museum by Anne Youngson (2019)
A novel about late and unexpected love. Tina Hopgood writes a letter to a museum about a famous antiquity and doesn’t expect a reply but she receives one from Professor Anders Larsen. So begins a correspondence, started with no expectations where they begin to talk about the most meaningful experiences of their lives. This story reminded me of a real one from two people who now live in Hastings. Unlike Tina Hopgood and her professor, they were young, but they, too, started their relationship with no expectations. As penpals. And love grew.

Please buy books from your local independent bookshops (listed below) if at all possible.

top image ourtesy of Lisa at
book covers from Amazon

News & Events


Write Night from New Writing South
Extract from email from New Writing South:
“New Writing South has taken the decision to cancel our event programme for the next few weeks as we await further advice around the coronavirus outbreak. This means that the April Write Night has been postponed and we will let you know in due course if the May event will be going ahead.”


Thursday 19th March 6 pm – Sheer Poetry at Bookbuster’s 39 Queens Rd, Hastings £3 on the door

Wednesday 1 April  6 – 7.30 pm Reading & music from Clive Parker-Sharp’s novel ConeBoy at Printed Matter Bookshop 185 Queens Rd, Hastings TN34 1RG

Coming soon probably starting in the autumn – Staglit Tuesdays at the Stag Inn in the Old Town 6.30 – 8.30 pm  Monthly.  This is a chance for writers to read short extracts from their work and sell their books – and for readers to listen & comment. If you are interested in attending these events and/ or you would like to read from your work, please contact Angie and you will be included on the email list.

CALL FOR EVENTS INFO – please contact me directly if you would like your event to be included in the HOT weekly Bookchat column. Please write to Angie

Writing Competitions

Short Story

Hastings Literary Festival 2020
Short story – up to 2,500 words see website for details.
BAME short story – up to 5,000 words (BAME entrants only) see website for details.

Hastings Writers’ Room. Theme Misrepresentation (1,500 words) deadline 30 April 2020. Fee £6. First prize Gold membership of Retreat West (worth £100). Please check rules and conditions at Hastings Writers’ Room

Early Works Press. Short Story competition. Entry fee £5 per story up to 4000 words. £10 for over 4000. Maximum 8000 words. £200 first prize. Deadline 31 October 2020. Please check rules and conditions at Earlyworks Press.

Flash Fiction

Hastings Literary Festival 2020
Flash fiction up to 500 words see website for details.

Hastings Writers’ Room. Flash fiction five/ twenty-nine – submit FIVE stories, each with max 29 words, deadline 31 May 2020. Fee £7 for five stories. First prize Gold membership of Retreat West or cash alternative £100. Please check rules and conditions at Hastings Writers’ Room

Early Works Press. Flash Fiction competition 2020. Max 100 words. Deadline 30 August 2020. First prize £100. Please check rules and conditions at Earlyworks Press.


Hastings Literary Festival 2020
Poetry – up to 40 lines see website for details.


Writers’ Groups


Hastings Writers’ Group
Meetings postponed for the time being – please see the website for more details.
meet fortnightly on Mondays 7.30 – 9.30 pm at the White Rock Hotel. Membership is subject to vacancies and costs £80 per yr (or £40 per half year). For more details please see the website.

St Leonard’s Writers  meet on Wednesdays 1 – 3 pm at St Ethelburga Church in St Saviours Rd. There is a small joining fee and weekly contribution (see website for details). Contact person: David Edwards For more details please see the website

Shorelink Writers meet most Monday evenings between September and July  in the Tesco Community Room, Tesco Extra, Churchwood Drive, St Leonards-on-Sea, TN38 9RB. Small donation for each meeting. Membership is subject to vacancy so please get in touch first. Contact /
For more details, please see the website.

The Literary Shed Writing Circle
For writers working on their own material to meet/write in interesting venues.
Weekly. Thursday, from 10am. Café sessions free. Monthly workshop: £8
Details: 12 March, The Piper, 1 Norman Road, St Leonards, 10–12; 19 March, Sea Kale, 29 London Road, St Leonards, 10–11.45; 26 March, Sugarpie Honeybuns, 235 London Road, St Leonards, 10–12. Next workshop, 2 April, 10–12; please contact Aruna for details

Old Town Writing Group meet Wednesdays 4 – 6 pm in The Stag Inn, All Saints St, Hastings Old Town. Free. For more details, please see the website.

CALL FOR WRITING GROUPS & BOOKGROUPS TO GET IN TOUCH – Do get in touch if you would like your group to be listed each week in this Bookchat column. Please write to Angie


Bookbuster 39 Queens Rd, Hastings
Go to Bookbuster’s Facebook page to see more.

Printed Matter Bookshop 185 Queens Rd, Hastings TN34 1RG
Please see Facebook page for more details of these and other events.

The Bookkeeper Bookshop 1a Kings Rd, St Leonards
Come and look at the Bookkeeper Bookshop Facebook page to see more.

The Hare & Hawthorn Bookshop 
51 George St, Hastings Old Town
For more information see the Hare & Hawthorn Facebook page

600pix-AJP-sky banner-squashed

Hi there – It’s been a strange week full of coronavirus news. My friends all seem to have different ideas on how best to cope.

We seem to be the only country that hasn’t locked down at least something. Today (Sunday 15th) I read that the over 70s are going to be asked to self-isolate ‘in a few weeks time’ (?!) and that schools will stay open and universities won’t close. Maybe it’s all part of the ‘herd immunity’ project where the government hopes that as many of us as possible will become infected so that they won’t have to worry because the only ones left will be either immune or dead. Although…. I did read somewhere else that even immunity isn’t guaranteed because the coronavirus might act like the flu virus and mutate into new strains. Hey ho. Nobody knows.

Meanwhile, everyone has been making their own decisions. The major footballing bodies have decided to go their own way and ban large gatherings. Oxford University has decided to send its students home early with nothing settled yet as to what’s going to happen next term. And closer to home, some bands have decided to stop doing gigs until further notice.

I texted with a friend in Rome and she was self-isolating with guitar and art materials to keep her going. Spoke to some friends in Graz, Austria who said that everything there has closed down. But to end on an upnote, here’s the Guardian report on what the inhabitants in Siena are doing  Italians sing patriotic songs from their balconies during coronavirus lockdown.

UPDATE on Mon 16th – much of the above no longer applies as the government has started to move at last. It is heartening to see how many local groups are forming to look after those who need it – and Hastings and SLOS is one of the kindest places. I’m sure that whatever the government does, we’ll find a way to look after each other.

This week (apart from the coronavirus) I’ve been thinking about:
– blurbs
– the pros and cons of getting your own ISBNs and becoming a publisher
– never-ending proof reading

I’ll include thoughts on these in my next Newsletter. Please sign up for it at  – the  signup form is on the right-hand side as you scroll down.

Comments and suggestions on anything and everything are always welcome.

Thanks so much for reading and sending me your thoughts.


Angela J. Phillip


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Posted 09:00 Tuesday, Mar 17, 2020 In: Hastings Bookchat

Also in: Hastings Bookchat

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