Author Archives: Stephen Oram

Stop Hate UK

I’m proud to be a contributor to Stop Hate UK’s 25th anniversary festival.

I chose to read Kept Apart from Biohacked & Begging and explain why before reading the story (and then a bit more after).

Please watch and share the video below and then donate to this important cause.

Artwork: from “Kept Apart” by Kim Hutson @batfacedartgirl

Young writers competition

Calling young writers with something to say! ‘Future Stories’ is a writing competition and series of writing workshops for young people aged 11 to 16 who have a story to tell about life in the future.

The “Future Stories: One Day in 2070” competition is part of the King’s College London Utopia Now project and open to young writers in the London boroughs of Lambeth or Southwark.

The competition is open from now until 6 September with some fantastic prizes:

  • Ten of the most creative writers will be selected to take part in a creative writing day, exploring the world of the future.
  • Finalists will also receive a £30 Book Voucher. 
  • All entries will be put into a prize draw to win either a Build Your Own Robot Kit or Book Voucher worth £15.  

Alongside the competition is the 7 day writing story starter challenge. This is a great set of resources, starting with a section on What is Science Fiction followed by 30 to 40 minute sections each day. It takes you through the creative process of writing a science fiction story with writing prompts, film clips, book extracts and loads more to help you along your way.

For those of you who are not eligible to enter, don’t despair. The resources are there for you to use as well.

As one of the judges I’m really looking forward to having my mind stretched by all the speculative stories sent our way so get cracking, you have until 6 September to create your version of the future.

photo credit: wim hoppenbrouwers Bijenkorf Rotterdam 3D via photopin (license)

Imagination < Experience < Life

There’s a vulnerability to life at the moment. I feel it and I’m sure you feel it. For some of us it’s a new kind of vulnerability: the fear of getting seriously ill, the anxiety of not knowing what to do and what not to do; and the heightened sense of mortality.

I experienced this a few years ago too when I developed a DVT and was rushed to A&E. The following months of trying to discover the cause made me mistrust my own body. The slow recovery made me extremely cautious, around traffic in particular because the drugs I was on to stop my blood clotting had no widely available antidote. “If you bleed we really can’t stop it.”

It was a lesson, a severe lesson. The constant background fear and the overwhelming sense of vulnerability gave me a visceral understanding of what it must be like to live your life feeling vulnerable, all the time.

Writers draw their experiences into their imagination and transfer them across to other people’s stories, albeit made up ones. And that’s what can make literature, poetry and plays so powerful.

The trouble is writers can only experience so much of life. They have to use their imagination, inspired by the research and the right conversations, to reflect the inner feelings and resulting motivations of their characters.

If imagination without experience is at one end of a scale and living with something every day is at the other then it’ll be interesting to see how our fiction changes and develops as a result of the current pandemic.

photo credit: Free Public Domain Illustrations by rawpixel Vintage advertisement for a balet “Des Malers Traumbild” featuring Fanny Elssler (1810-1884) via photopin (license)