Stories are good for you

Well it’s an exciting (read: no sleep ever) time at the moment. I went away to do an aerial course last year and on return co-founded Uncaged: Aerial Theatre with my now business partner, Emma Bloomfield.

We tell stories. We try to do that in a bold and engaging way. Soon we have a Creative Summer residency at Dance City and are running an immersive for emerging aerialists in July, to help them tell a story and find their voice. In October we’ll be sharing some of that work at a scratch showing at the Sunderland Literature Festival in October. The debut of our piece, I Am No Bird, will be at the Sunderland Creative Writing Festival. The drive of the piece is female cooperation.


Image Simon Richardson

I have quite an untidy mind (no??) and shaping thought into narrative has always been a way to have a conversation about those things that tap away at me. So many of the aerialists at Emma’s club have talked about how aerial improves their wellbeing. I’m no different and get quite anxious if I haven’t somehow satisfied that movement, intention and /or sense of expression. So it’s nice that I’ve been invited to talk about aerial and narrative as part of a wellbeing panel. I’ll post dates as and when.

October is a good good month as it also sees the launch of a new novella, The Sea Inside Me from Unthank Books. I love the complexity of the novella’s form, so this was a really interesting project. The plan is to share words with lots of lovely local authors because book launches are so painfully embarrassing. Oh here, here’s all my words: listen. I am really looking forward to the book getting out there though.

sea inside me



F@£&!?g Bad Language and Writer’s Guild event

Had a tremendous time reading at Bad Language. Here’s a picture to prove it. This time, I’m not lurking behind the microphone in an attempt to hide. I enjoyed it, must be getting better…


Lovely line up of own mic readings and they’re doing it all again on 25th September. Get down to one if you’ve never been before. The organisers, Dan and Nicki, are lovely.

So what’s next?

Well, finish the second novel which will actually be more like my fourth, but who’s counting.

Also this, which looks brilliant basically:

Unthank Books – Off the Shelf at Black’s
30 AUGUST 2013


Next Guild literary event – 16 September in London

The next Writers’ Guild Off the Shelf event at Black’s in Soho is a special day with Unthank Books and its writers. Guild members and othersd are invited to hear readings by the chosen authors, followed by a delicious two-course lunch at Blacks members’ club in London’s Soho. The featured writers are: lecturer in creative writing at the Open University Ashley Stokes (Touching the starfish, Unthank’s launch publication, and The Syllabus of Errors); musician, editor and writer Nick Sweeney (Laikonik Express), and writer and lecturer in creative writing in the North West of England Sarah Dobbs (Killing Daniel).

Unthank Books was launched in early 2010 in response to what it saw as a “particularly egregious spell of awful or no literary fiction being published by the mainstream houses and its concomitant deleterious effect on aspiring literary authors”. Since then, it has published 15 books, including its annual Unthology of shorter prose, twice-staged UnLit, The Unthank Literary Festival, and delivered numerous courses in poetry, prose and screenwriting through the Unthank School of Writing.


11am-2.30pm, 16 September
Blacks, 67 Dean Street, Soho, London
Price: £25 (includes two-course lunch, tea/coffee)
Bookings/more information: Jan Woolf

The Guardian’s Not the Booker Prize and Bad Language MCR

My novel Killing Daniel has been nominated for the Guardian’s Not the Booker prize, along with another Unthank book, King of the Jungle (I loved this btw)

If you did like either of them, please vote. Not if you haven’t read it but are my friend, but you know, if you like-liked it. That’s the point, right. I don’t like fake.

Here’s a lovely list of the reviews people have left

Also headlining for Bad Language MCR’s night at The Castle Hotel. You can sign up to come along and hear my read Killing Daniel and other work – there’s also an open mic night so you could read something too right? You have to email to get a spot…

Happy new year

It’s 2013 and though everything feels quite familiar – the crazy new year marking zone in which I go bug-eyed and forget to shampoo – some things have changed.

This time last year I’d found out that Killing Daniel was going to get published but still wasn’t out there. Now it is. There’s been two launches (one freezing both attended in dresses and with thanks to all the people who made them merry). There’s been all sorts of faffery with Amazon and the distributor, making getting hold of the actual book actually tricksome. But still, this will be fixed soon and it is still available in ebook, on Book Depository, ibooks and all that. Oh, and also from the publisher. There’s about to be a new, shiny on-line Unthank shop too, I’m told. This is good.

New readings upcoming this year, more details soon. One of which sees me returning to Wigan, where all the disgruntlement and grit that made me a writer began…

I’m a guest editor for the Australian journal SWAMP. Reading submissions for the next issue as we speak (well, not quite).

And John Rutter named Killing Daniel as one of his books of the year. Lovely.

Follow me on goodreads if you want to keep up to date with reviews and whatnot.

Killing Daniel

Manchester launch of Killing Daniel – the postapocalypse

I had 1.1 glasses of something alcoholic. And I woke up at 12.30 the next day. Always been a bit of a lightweight in this sense. Still, in my favour, I think it’s also because these things (and the build-up to them) are peculiarly tiring.

And now it’s all over.

Still, we had some lovely readings from Unthology 3 to start the night. Debz Hobbs-Wyatt read from Theory of Circles and AJ Ashworth read from Monolith. I noticed AJ wrote ‘Beware the Monolith!’ in her copies when people came to get the book signed and I thought – I need one of those. I think I wrote something lame like, enjoy the book, a lot. So sorry.

My Uncle Michael suggested I think about changing my name. Just a thought, he says. Sarah-Jane Dobbs. Which is my twitter account, but that’s because some other Sarah Dobbs (how dare she) who likes werewolves got there first.

I suppose it does feel peculiar that it’s all done and dusted. But there’s now the next book to focus on, and the one after that and so on…

I hope it’s the start of something. And thank everyone who’s supported it so far.

A nice little adjunct, is that the next day, Killing Daniel was out of stock on Amazon. It’s a temporary phenomenon, but if you would like a signed copy of the book before Christmas, I now have 6 left. Click here to buy or send a paypal payment for £12.99 to

You can get an unsigned one from the publisher for a tenner. Free p&p. Email to order.

Below be photos, to prove (to myself) that I’m not making it all up.

Thanks so much everyone! And now, onwards… back to slouchy pants, back to tapping away at odd hours of the morning. Can’t wait 🙂






my Dad!


Killing Daniel launch #1 – Photos and Fun. Full stop.

I’m a fan of photos. I have that thing of my mothers that made her hoard plastic bags at the bottom of every wardrobe door. Stuffed with photos. Photos at the beach with ice cream and pigtails and my cousins and brother. Present piles at Xmas, through the years, cats. Dogs. Relatives. It’s a good flipping job things are digital these days, because I live in a tiny flat and I’ve got millions of the suckers.

Here’s a selection from the Norwich launch of Unthology 3 and Killing Daniel.

I surprised myself by not being falling-over twitchy nervous and being able to listen to the other wonderful readers – Sandra Jensen, who is just cool, right?, CD Rose (funny man destined for Russia a few hours after his reading!), Sharon Zink in her kitten shoes and The Ashley Stokes who is possibly a magician as he can do everything.

I’ll save the nerves for the Manchester launch. Nothing like having to swear in front of your parents eh?

Please come if you can, it’s destined to be a fun night. We’ll be drinking, reading and hopefully running out of books on 13 December, King’s Arms, Salford. Kicking off at 7.30pm.

We’re also celebrating (Northern-style) the launch of Unthology #3 and happy to announce that AJ Ashworth will be reading from her story ‘Monolith’.  Debz Hobbs-Wyatt will also be reading from ‘A Theory of Circles’. Both beautiful and intriguing stories from Unthology 3. The latter was nominated for a Pushcart Prize! Reviews here –

There’s an event page here if you want to sign up!

Anyway, piccies. Courtesy of @TommyCollin

It was fun. Full stop.

You can order Killing Daniel and Unthology3 for £10 direct from Unthank – email

Shock and Circumstance

A review of Killing Daniel by Max Dunbar @3am Magazine

This is a very dark and frightening novel, told in short chapters and brief sentences, that pass like the shivers of bad dreams. Protagonist Fleur is living in an abusive relationship in Manchester: she manages to escape her scumfuck boyfriend, only to fall into a series of nasty and inconclusive one-nighters with various men picked up in Oxford Road bars. (One memorable opening gambit: ‘Have you ever fucked in a meat freezer? My kid brother’s a butcher. I’ve the keys to his shop.’) She has a counterpart in her old Japanese penpal Chinatsu, locked in an arranged marriage to the sociopathic Yugi, a businessman who is terrified of intimacy with his wife and gets his real satisfaction from the sadomasochistic domination of prostitutes. The novel follows the expected convergence and parallels.

Read more…

Shock and Circumstance.

On the day the cold broke…

I picked up a box of books from my neighbour. Not just any old box of books, but my box of books. 5 years might not be the longest writerly gestation, but it is quite a feeling looking at all that work in such a tactile, tangible form. And knowing that it’s knocking about; it’s being read now. People are having their own responses – you can see some of those here. The questions I wanted to ask are finding answers in other people’s imaginations. I hope.

I don’t know what’s next, really. I just want to explore and be bold. And write. Image

You can have one too 🙂