Sam Lewis – Appreciation

Sam Lewis

Sam is one of TSL’s youngest authors. He joined the fold through a previous work relationship where I got to know Sam as a young person. It’s been great to watch him develop and become the confident and independent young man he is. Reading his book, Eyes to the East, inspired by time he spent working in China is testamony to his formative years and the various influences in his life. And for anyone wondering, he speaks the language too.
I do hope we see more fiction writing from Sam in due course – a book of adventure, suspense, cultural insights (into the ex-pat English teaching world) and human behaviour. For now, new ventures in his chosen career take precidence.


The calming effects of water …

For many looking out over an expanse of water can be quite calming. It allows for contemplation in chaotic and fraught lives…
Water too can bring about life changes – it is necessary for life …
Various TSL authors (and associates) have used water on their covers – which one(s) will you read?


Cartoon Covers – don’t assume…

The jury is still out, as far as I’m concerned, about the role a cover plays in whether a book is bought or not. Is it the cover, is it the title or something else? By all accounts, it’s 50-50. The impact of blurbs, reviews and word of mouth seems to be more settled. Whilst blurbs were important in years gone by, todya they have often deteriorated into telling the story or being purely a range of quotes by well-known names. Reviews, whilst they still seem to be popular to write and be read seem to have very little impact generally speaking on whether a book is bought or not. That, I suppose links with word of mouth – by far the best way to get people to buy a book. Being a subject specialist reader (in my other life) where topic determines whether or not I invest in a book, I rely on recommendations by a few trusted people and more often than not, a footnote…

Onto cartoons – again, not everyone’s cup of tea, as they say. But a good means to convey a message, often belying a more serious topic. See what you think of these books by TSL authors… history, poetry, limericks, humour, and political parody all feature in this collection.


Amna Agib (bit Nafisa) – Appreciation

Amna Agib (bit Nafisa)

Amna joined TSL when she was a member of Harrow Writers Circle. From Sudan (before it split), she had a collection of poems and short stories giving insight into aspects of life in that troubled part of Africa.
As with a number of TSL authors, Amna had a clear idea on how her books were to feel – it was more than crafting the words. Through the process, we both learnt much on many fronts. And in particular, I discovered what an incredible life she’d led (and still does). Amna’s work is a testamony to tenacity and finding ways to have minority voices heard. Whilst she hasn’t published anything further with TSL, she has been exploring more accessible means of getting her work into Africa, where books are expensive to buy once other hurdles have been navigated, including languages.
She also has a short story in the TSL compilation Where Mental Health and Human Rights Align.
While I might be biased because of my African heritage, I do believe that Amna’s publications do not get the readership they deserve (and I can say that about most of our authors) – they break the mould and don’t always follow the currently approved ‘rules’ for writers. If you’re looking for an authentic voice, or something to challenge your current status quo, I recommend Amna’s two books… and that you consider some others in the TSL catalogue…


Stephen Baker – Appreciation

Stephen Baker

Through his collection of 10 minute monolgues, Stephen Baker conveys an astute insight into human behaviour. Taking everyday scenarios, he explores the motives and actions of various types of people he’s encountered in his life – one that brought him into contact with diverse peoples. His collection Twists and Turns is aptly titled, and could well apply to the other four monologue collections: Secrets , Reckoning, Brief Encounters and Against the Tide. All contain monolgues for men and women – although can no doubt be adapted as the performer/reader desires.
Six for the Road, is a collection of six sketches (variable lengths and number of actors) set in a pub.
He also has a piece, “The Waiting Man” in the TSL compilation, Relationships: 6 Monologues.
Stephen says he was inspired to write in this format by Alan Bennett’s Talking Heads. Irrespective of that, I’ve enjoyed reading Stephen’s pieces – more than I did Talking Heads. I could just see the situations evolving.


Eco & Climate Change

The ecosystem and climate are currently hot topics. Although authors have been addressing the issue for over a century, as I discovered a year or so ago when reading Doctor Doolitte.
TSL authors have addressed the topics in different ways – both in fiction and non-fiction. Take a look…


Dogs, Cats and Horses

You either love animals or you don’t… and of those who love animals, some have a preference for a particular kind or breed.
Here at TSL, we don’t discern… as seen in our collection of books about, or which feature, these fluffy creatures.


Ezra Williams – Appreciation

Ezra Williams

Ezra joined the TSL fold through a Harrow Opera connection who is also a TSL author Rachel Haywood. Ezra had a collection of short stories he was looking to publish – the result was Fairytales and Oddities, illustrated by Steve Poulacheris.
I can’t say I fully understand all of Fairytales and Oddities – it’s definitely not what I understand Fairytales to be, and is also definitely not for children. Ezra’s imagination comes to the fore in this compilation of writing which is well constructed and crafted. He is a versatile word artist and performer.
More my style is Losing Henry which he had published before joining TSL, and also his second book with us, Selected Pieces. The former being a story I’ve previously reviewed, while the latter is a collection of more journalistic pieces he’d written over the years. While more conventional in style, both contain elements of the quirky (to me) thought processes he exhibits in Fairytales and Oddities.
An accomplished Tenor, Ezra has been musical director for Harrow Opera, performs himself and composes – I wait to hear the outcome of his current project. The synopsis of it sounds quite intriguing and in a different direction to what I’ve seen so far produced by Ezra.

TSL author Leslie Tate interviewed Ezra on Radio Dacorum in 2022 – listen here.