Creating a pop-up mural in Nottingham to celebrate the launch of WriteNow 2018

Celebrating the launch of WriteNow 2018

On Friday 1 June Penguin travelled to Nottingham – one of this year’s three WriteNow locations – for an afternoon of art, music and spoken word for the launch of the 2018 WriteNow programme.

Setting up camp outside Rough Trade on Broad Street in Hockley, we teamed up with local artist Rikki Marr from Hawk and Mouse to create a pop-up, interactive mural made up of the first lines of stories. In celebration of the fact that a story can start anywhere, we asked members of the public to contribute to the mural by submitting the first line of their favourite book or, for aspiring authors, what the first line of their own story might be.

To shine a spotlight on some of the best local talent, throughout the afternoon we also hosted live readings and music from local Nottingham writers, poets and musicians, including Nottingham Young Poet Laureate Georgina Wilding, young poet laureate finalist Ty Healy, and musicians Adam Peter Smith and Jasmin Issaka.

Celebrating the launch of WriteNow 2018

We had some fantastic suggestions, including:

“I write this sitting in the kitchen sink.” ~ Dodie Smith, I Capture the Castle

“Morris is suffering from that affliction known as teetotalism.” ~ Bernardine Evaristo, Mr Loverman

“Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.” ~ Daphne du Maurier, Rebecca

“Ours is essentially a tragic age, so we refuse to take it tragically.” ~ DH Lawrence (one of Nottingham’s literary greats), Lady Chatterley’s Lover

“Call me Ishmael.” ~ Moby Dick, Herman Melville

The final four canvases will now be donated to local libraries.

Celebrating the launch of WriteNow 2018

Watch a video of the afternoon's activities below:

The event marked the launch of our 2018 WriteNow programme, which aims to seek out, mentor and publish new and under-represented voices on the UK’s bookshelves. This year, WriteNow is working in partnership with Nottingham UNESCO City of Literature and Writing East Midlands in order to specifically seek out new voices – both writers and illustrators – from Nottingham and the East Midlands.

We are looking for unpublished writers in fiction, non-fiction, and children’s/Young Adult genres, as well as illustrators of children’s picture books, who consider themselves under-represented in publishing to apply to WriteNow 2018. 50 of the most talented and promising applicants will be invited to attend a free workshop in Nottingham on 29 September about how to get published, with advice and insights from established authors, illustrators, literary agents and other industry experts.

The application period for WriteNow 2018 is open until midnight on Monday 9 July (for writers) and midnight on Monday 23 July (for illustrators), and further information about how to apply to attend the workshop is available at

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