UK-based writer Joanna Penn and I connected through email to talk about her creative writing. Penn describes herself as a writer-entrepreneur. Her body of work includes fiction and nonfiction. “I write thrillers under J.F. Penn and non-fiction under Joanna Penn.”
Penn’s three-book thriller series centers on psychologist and ARKANE agent Morgan Sierra. “Set against a backdrop of early Christian history, archeology and psychology,” says Penn, “the fast-paced ARKANE thrillers weave together historical artifacts, secret societies, global locations, violence, a kick-ass protagonist and a hint of the supernatural.”READ MORE...
Tom Magill, co-founder and artistic director of the Educational Shakespeare Company (ESC
), uses drama and film to heal the trauma so deeply rooted within criminal justice and metal health settings. Centered in Belfast, Northern Ireland, ESC works to enable those mired in brutal circumstances to understand and transform their lives through the creative process. The plays of Shakespeare, most prominently Macbeth, feature strongly in this healing process. ESC describes itself as an award-winning culture and arts education charity specializing in storytelling through drama and film.
“The majority of people I work with,” says Tom Magill, “are carrying trauma. Trauma is a wound from the past that is still haunting the present and preventing them from taking meaningful action to enhance their lives.
“Often, as a result of this experience, many traumatized people feel unable to create. First,” Magill says, “we must enable this creative capacity that everyone has. Through experience, I have developed certain skills, as a writer, director and actor, that I can share with people and put at their service, when we are engaged in the creative process of recording their traumatic stories on film.”
Growing Up With Violence
Tom Magill comes to this work with firsthand experience of violence and the prison life.
Magill grew up in the time of “the troubles.” In Northern Ireland, from the 1960s through to the Belfast “Good Friday” Agreement in 1998, the troubles claimed the lives and spirits of many young men, in one fashion or another. It was his own violent behavior that put Magill in a British prison in the early 1970s. Assigned to deliver and retrieve food trays from prisoners’ cells, Magill steeled himself to enter the cell of Frank Stagg, accused republican IRA member and, as such, Magill’s avowed enemy. He was poised to kill Stagg, rather than have him attack first.READ MORE OF THE INTERVIEW...