Meet Manchester Writers Andy N and Amanda Steel

in Authors & Books/Community/Spotlight

I believe in starting from the bottom working your way up. I have to. That’s just the way it is in my life.

If you had ever met me, you would know I have been writing poetry of some kind since I was around 11 or so (I’m now 47) and have been getting my work published and performed aloud on a regular basis since the middle of 2007. If you work it out, that’s just over 12 years. Being the way I am as a person, I am always willing to try and help people out with their work in any way I can, but it was only when I started dating a fellow writer I came to see how your writing can change.

I first met Amanda, my partner at the beginning of 2016 through a certain famous dating website I won’t mention by name and we started off as friends. Amanda had been writing for a few years by then and had certainly produced at least two novels and a few novellas by that point. However, what Amanda wasn’t used to was sharing her work and I can remember booking her onto my Podcast series, Spoken Label (where I chat to writers and artists on a regular basis) and I recall her being so nervous, she sent in her poems separately to my chat with her.

Shortly afterwards, I managed to persuade her to come along with me to Speak Easy a lovely, welcoming spoken word night in Stretford, which the pair of us actually co-run now years later with a friend, Steve) just to see other writers read out their work. She almost didn’t bring any of her work to read. Dave Hartley, the gentleman who used to run Speak Easy (and now runs a night called “Big Words” in Chorlton) was encouraging, saying if she wasn’t sure to just listen for the first half and see how she felt. Another friend of mine, Potting Shed Pete then sat with her and talked her through the pacing of her work.

Reading it, she was terrified. Her legs started shaking throughout her short set and although she couldn’t make the month after, she was back again in November. By the time she came to the January event we were then a couple. At the start of that year, I began taking her to other events over time, including one in the Village called ‘Out Loud’ where she read several more racey pieces, comical of course. One of these had a lot of gentleman crossing their legs in discomfort shall we say?

Amanda has finished off her degree in Creative Writing while we’ve been dating and at the time of writing this, has almost finished a Masters in Creative Writing. She’s now as confident and calm a writer as I have ever seen. The reasons behind that are numerous, but in essence simply trying out lots of other nights to keep pushing herself more and more. I took her down to a larger night at Manchester Central Library in July

2017 called Word Central. When she had a go the month after, she was nervous again, but wouldn’t give up and came back the next month after and after and two nights became three where we started going to a local night in Prestwich called Cuckoo calling run by my friends Gordon Zola and Jeffarama! a few months later.

She set up her own Podcast series called Amanda’s Reading Recommendations around then also, then changed it in January 2018 to ‘Reading in Bed’ and asked me did I want to co-host this as a monthly podcast (We will be recording Episode 20 soon) and later in 2018, we both appeared on Hannah’s Bookshelf, a literatures radio programme. We together sat in the studio reading our poems live on air. Amanda then got the opportunity at a night called Verbose to read out some extracts from one of her novels twice, and I was offered money to run a writing workshop in Langley, so I got it amended to cover the pair of us.

We were guests on a Podcast called Sample Chapter during that summer and on Welcome to Bolton Live. I was also asked to read out a few poems for a remembrance reading in a church in Stockport which un-nerved the pair of us. Amanda met a number of people there, from a group I went to called Write Out Loud Stockport (held at Stockport Art Gallery) which she came to once, intending it to be a one-off and now attends every month. I have carried on expanding the places we go together and doing writing projects separately all the time in addition to us working together on a literature magazine called Printed Words.

During this time, Amanda has changed as a person and so has her writing. I suspect it is partly down to her degree training, but also the fact she listens well to other people and is inspired by others to try out other approaches all the time. We recently performed poetry in her hometown of Bradford. She said was amazed it ever had a poetry scene, let alone that it had been going for a good few years. In addition to all this, we nearly have a joint book ready for release, hopefully before the end of the year and another major project which I think we’ll be able to reveal in the new year. I don’t have an answer where this has developed with her and also me to a degree, apart from the fact she constantly tries to come up with new ideas and outlooks. This has come from going out and meeting writers. Whether she would have done some of these projects without this introduction, is another story altogether I feel.

Amanda will be sharing an article about her writing with The Sunday Tribune shortly.

Swallows and Amazons


Pursued by Swallows

we used to sit there

berefit of ideas

before throwing our poems

in the river

whether complete or not.


Now we talk of Amazons

and nodding daffodils

rattling words like rods

across the river

with our pencils

becoming slender daggers

chasing pirates

across our dreams.


from Andy N’s third collection of poetry ‘Birth of Autumn’

Andy N’s website

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