‘Mandy Sutter has a strong, spirited, firmly contemporary voice… her easy conversational style is spattered with striking images.’ Odyssey magazine
My first novel, a light-hearted look at sex, papier-mache and looking after an elderly parent, is called Keeping Mum and will be published in 2013 by independent press Indigo Dreams. Watch this space for more details! I hope to be able to show you the cover design here very soon!
Life took an interesting turn in the summer of 2010 when my Dad, aged 87, took on an allotment. Knowing I’d be doing most of the work while having to pretend I wasn’t, I decided to blog about it by way of consolation.
But ‘Reluctant Gardener’ became a hit with its readers and when I announced its end, there was an outcry. Well, three people and a dog begged me to reconsider (actually the people asked; the dog begged). And I realised that writing about the allotment had become intrinsically connected with working on it. And so the blog lives on. Perhaps one day we will go viral! In the meantime, there is plenty to do, especially weeding.
I have also blogged regularly for Wildmind Buddhist Meditation since the summer of 2010. As a novice meditator I was honoured yet mildly terrified when invited to contribute to a site I regard as one of the best meditation sites around. Trying to write honestly about my difficulties with meditation and Buddhist practice was the only way forward. But these things are abstract, and therefore devilishly hard to articulate. So writing a post for Wildmind always takes me ages and is a lesson in humility.
Thank goodness I have Reluctant Gardener as an antidote, where I can go back to taking cheap shots at me ole Dad and the charming but agriculturally challenged Mr Mandy Sutter, to say nothing of the delightful but unhinged Dog MS.
My poems have been anthologised and appeared in some good poetry magazines, like The North, Rialto, Stand and on BBC Radio 4.
The latest thing has been coming in the top five in Live Canon’s Poetry Prize 2011 with my poem Old Honda. In Nov 2011, it was performed on stage at Greenwich Theatre by the wonderful Claire Redcliffe and in May 2012 she went into the studio to do a recorded version. Listen to it here.
I still have a few copies left of my two collections, Permission to Stare (Slow Dancer Press, 1994) and Game (Smith Doorstop Books 1995). Get in touch if you would like one.
In 2011, one of my poems appeared on poetry education researcher Anthony Wilson’s list of ‘life-saving poems’.
I’ve published about thirty short stories in magazines like Mslexia and anthologies like Are You She (Tindal Street Press, 2004), Parenthesis (Comma Press, 2006) and A Couple of Stops (Route Online, 2006) and am currently working on a linked collection. It’s called The Habit of Loneliness and is set in Nigeria and Leeds.
People who read my stories often ask whether they have an autobiographical content. Well, they do, but they’re also part fiction. When I’m making things up, I hope they sound credible. On the other hand, when I’m writing down something that really happened, I hope nobody will guess. If you can make sense of that, please let me know! In the end, I suppose that whether a story actually happened in real life or not, it must happen again in the right place: on the page for you, its reader.
I’m currently writing for Keighley Table Tennis Centre, helping keep their profile active in the local newspapers.
From time to time, I get commissioned to write poems and stories, either working alone or with an artist or photographer. Light Transports is one example: in October 2006, three anthologies of short stories were handed out on station platforms throughout Yorkshire. Bradford Square is another: an envelope of handsomely produced poems and stories from six Yorkshire based writers was handed out during Leeds’ 2007 Stir Festival. Read my two part poem, Private Cities, here and here.
When I first went freelance back in 1988, my main work was in copywriting: helping companies write their corporate and sales literature. I still do the occasional copywriting job. One particularly enjoyable one was to produce a series of promotional poetry bookmarks for a company called Momentis when they bid for the Leeds Supertram contract. I worked with photographer David Collins.