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Leeford Village co-author discusses unique writing project at library talk

By James Driver-Fisher | Kingswinford | Entertainment | Published:

Life in the fictional village of Leeford is still drawing high viewing figures – so much so author Mike Hands was invited to his local library to speak with budding writers.

Author Mike Hands, aka Michael Braccia, was invited by and answering their questions about his latest series Leeford Village - which is being published on the Express & Star website - Wordsley Library Wordsley Green, Wordsley. Pictured with library manager Jackie Bayliss..

Mr Hands, from Wordsley, writes under the pen name Michael Braccia with his writing partner, Jon Markes.

But this partnership is no normal arrangement as they write individually, alternating for each episode, which are then exclusively launched on the Express & Star website.

And as neither knows how the other is going to develop the plot lines or characters, it keep them both of their toes.

Mr Hands, 61, said: "We have a really silly episode where there is a walking football team, which applies to join a local league.

"But what happens is they have actually registered with a normal league, so suddenly there are six 50-something men playing an 11-a-side game against a bunch of athletic 20 year olds.

"When it gets to 17-0 at half time the match has to be abandoned – because the referee has lost count."

Mr Hands said they had both surprised each other during the course of Leeford's 12-episode run, which is written like a soap.

The geography of Leeford is based on Kingswinford but the characters are completely fictional.

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"One example is of Gary, who runs the fish and chip shop– and he really likes a woman, probably half his age, who runs the card shop over the road," said Mr Hands.

"But it's not reciprocal and this bloke is basically having a mid-life crisis.

"Now, I was toying with the idea of a 'will-he-won't-he cheat on his wife' scenario with this character, who hates working were he does and always dreams of a better life.

"But then Jon comes in with the storyline that she is already in love – and it turns out it's with Gary's son. I had no idea that was going to happen.

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"We've had quite a few things like that, where we turn the tables on each other, but it's always fun.

"When I was talking to the writing group they asked me if it was frustrating, but I explained it was fun.

"All we can edited of each other's episodes is spelling mistakes, grammar and continuity.

"We have 65 characters and we've used about 35 of them. I have ideas about how they are all going to develop but some of it is completely out of my control.

"We don't ask about each other's plots and Jon has a different idea about how a character will develop.

"More often than not we will leave the characters alone – but sometimes the evil comes out in us."

Another recent scene takes place in a pub, when Wolves are playing Chelsea on the TV.

And then, from nowhere, someone comes running into the pub to say a man has fallen into some water.

"Jon had come up with plot that a man had fallen in a brook, in five-feet of water, but in real life there is no water in that are of Kingswinford – so I had to completely change the geography," said Mr Hands.

"We decided that 200 years ago there was a River Lee, which once ran behind the pub, and that was where the name Lee-ford came from."

Mr Hands said they had received plenty of nice comments on the series so far and planned to turn some of the episodes into a novel.

"Once we have reached 40 episodes the plan is then to publish them together as novel, adding a bit more character development and a couple of extra scenes," he said.

"We've written 52,000 words so far and we're up to the 32nd episode because we're always 20 ahead.

"If that's successful we'll look to continue a publish another novel in the future."

Mr Hands said he was also keen to support the libraries in Wordsley and Kingswinford, which he said were great supporters of up-and-coming writers.

"We'd particularly like to thank library manager Jackie Bayliss for being a wonderful host," he said.

"They have been very good to us there and it's a library that always helps and supports new, emerging authors.

"It's vital we keep attracting more people to the library because it would be a very sad day if they closed."

Catch up on previous episodes here:

James Driver-Fisher

By James Driver-Fisher

Motorsport journalist and entertainment and food reviewer for the Express & Star and Shropshire Star.

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