INSIGHT

I work with organisations and individuals where ideas, operations and policy meet.

I am experienced in planning, organisational development, bid writing and evaluation. I am good at helping leaders and senior managers reflect and reset. I chair events and facilitate training.

I test assumptions, don’t bring stock solutions and create a space where you find the best way forward for you, with the resources you have.

If I can help you, then please get in touch.

I’ve worked locally as Director of Ilkley Literature Festival, regionally as Literature Officer for Yorkshire Arts and led the National Association for Literature Development.

I founded and direct The Writing Squad, developing writers across the north of England, now funded as part of Arts Council England’s National Portfolio.

Here are some of the organisations I have worked with freelance. If you’d like to talk to anyone about how it went, ask me for a contact.


One word springs to mind: integrity; that quality is present in everything Steve does. 

For Steve, literature above all signifies empowerment, intellectually and existentially, and this is the key motivational force behind his work both as a writer and an activist

RALF ANDTBACKA, WRITER

RALF ANDTBACKA, WRITER

Steve is one of those thoroughly independent minded people who hauls you up short and makes you think again. There aren’t enough people like that around, and he is experienced in just about every angle of literature development.

MIRANDA MCKEARNEY, FOUNDER OF THE READING AGENCY

MIRANDA MCKEARNEY, FOUNDER OF THE READING AGENCY

I enjoy working with you – the insights, distinctions and questions you ask are really powerful.

Richard Watts, People Make It Work

Richard Watts, People Make It Work

If anyone should be thanked for talking sense it’s you!

HENDERSON MULLIN, CEO WRITING EAST MIDLANDS

HENDERSON MULLIN, CEO WRITING EAST MIDLANDS

It’s an absolute treasure to work with someone of your expertise and if anything I only regret we can’t do it more often.

WIEKE ERINGA, DIRECTOR YORKSHIRE DANCE

WIEKE ERINGA, DIRECTOR YORKSHIRE DANCE

WRITING

‘Not  long into a Steve Dearden story, I’m always a bit lost, bewildered almost. I mean in a good way – compelled not confused.  There’s a mystery I have to solve. Part of the mystery is in the meticulous unfolding of the story and the other part is the powerful force and density of his language; dense and then suddenly the language is very spare, oddly abstract, yet I always feel present in the physical event.  Enigmatic. I guess that’s the best word. I’m far away, third person far away, then I’m so close I can smell the breath coming at me off the page.  In a moment, the story can go violent, almost too violent, then sexy, really sexy, then funny. Not just funny, hilarious.  Strangely obsessive.  And very very smart. Wonderful moments of existential clarity. And then he breaks my heart. Bastard.’

TOM SPANBAUER

I’ve been a Writer in Residence at Bluewater Shopping Centre as part of archiTEXTS for the 2013 & 14 Wakefield Literature Festivals.

In addition to the publications in the slider above, my stories have been published in magazines such as Westerly, Horizont and the Reater and anthologies like route’s Compendium and Naked City and Brace from Comma Press.  A rare poem appeared in Red Squirrel Press’s anthology to celebrate the Yorkshire start of the Tour de France. I’ve also used writing as a creative form of evaluation with people like Leeds 365 Stories.

I’ve led prose/short story workshops for festivals and writers groups am a visiting lecturer on the Leeds University Creative Writing MA and a visiting fellow at Manchester Metropolitan University.

Then there are all the writers I help develop in the Writing Squad!

I am always interested in working with new groups, so do get in touch.

Interland was a collaboration with Kath McKay, Adam Strickson and from Yorkshire, England and Carita Nystrom, Marko Hautala and Ralf Andtbacka from Ostrobothnia, Finland.

‘Steve Dearden’s short prose epiphanies are perfectly placed at the beginning of the book. There’s a carefully organised and mellifluous quality that carries you along. There is also a great variety of location: his city centre office, the reservoirs on which he sails, the moors surrounding and draining under his house, the rugby pitch of his school days and the Manchester Ship Canal. Throughout his pieces there is a marriage of detail and resonance that is both beguiling and revealing.’ Ian Pople

Six steps under water – Kuusi askelta veden alla – Sex steg under vatten beautifully edited by Janet Fisher, is published by Smith Doorstop and includes translations into Finnish and Swedish along with photos, introductions and email exchanges from the collaboration.

 

Single Skin features nine short stories and is published by Smith Doorstop as an ebook for Kindle or ePub.

‘The unexpected and the extraordinary presented in a terrific matter of fact way – it startles the reader. Nothing’s redundant but there’s a strange expansion of space inside these stories so that they seem to grow when you’ve read them.’ Patricia Dunker

‘Steve’s stories are populated by real people with real jobs and real desires and real fears; and yet, somewhere in the rhythms of the dialogue and the scaffolding of the terse descriptions, you can find loneliness, and majesty, and a belief in humanity that gives your heart a lift. In these offices and departure lounges and bedrooms and kitchens, lives are made vivid by prose that pins down meaning and ideas without artifice…’  Ian McMillan 

‘I read Single Skin over a family reunion weekend at a rather cheerless Travel Lodge in Southampton which sort of fitted the stories, out of comfort zone, slightly disturbing, making you hold up your own everyday life against it. Not one cliched setting or situation but always a universal truth.’ Jonathan Hall

Wakelost Wakefound was commissioned as part of my residency at the 2013 and 2014 Wakefield Litfests. It allowed me to play with three things I love: writing, taking photographs and messing about with them in Pixelmator.

I have always been fascinated by the way stillness and movement intersect in the patchwork of urban spaces around, what was then, the festival’s beautiful 18th century HQ, The Orangery: a bit of industrial edgeland, a gateway of banks and hotels converted to clubs and bars, a high street of empty shops that local activists were reanimating, an almost collegiate area of Georgian brick, and then the new developments around Burgage Square and Wakefield One. And sitting there side by side, the other worlds of a refugee hostel and the maximum security prison I used to go inside once to place writers in residence!

In the resulting online piece you can follow four characters, Clara, Xoriyo, Lyn and Pete, through 24 Wakefield hours.

 

The LS6 story began many years ago when my Spanish was very poor, I read in El Pais about a Spanish book set in Leeds. I looked everywhere but couldn’t find it (perhaps because I thought it was a book of poetry).  Then I met the author, Mario Crespo, at the Festival de Premier Roman in Chambéry and bought the book, LS6, which I gave to my friend and Writing Squad grad Sally Ashton, knowing she was on the look out things that would expand her successful career as a technical translator into something more literary.

She went for it, but suggested we do it together.  My Spanish was slightly better by then, but I am not a translator.  We translated every word separately, Sally in her head, me with my iPhone, then we worked our versions together pausing to laugh at my literal translations of colloquial phrases, and then we rewrote, redrafted together mostly on Skype, sometimes in Yorkshire, Valencia, Berlin.

Mario was a generous writer, happy for us to work his Spanish text towards a successful English text.  On May 1st 2016 we launched the English translation os LS6 in LS6 Cafe, Leeds, where the final chapter of the book starts.  You can buy your copy from Dead Ink Books here.

‘A fascinating voyage round the world through the postcodes of Leeds as seen by a dazzling patchwork of international characters. Mario Crespo’s flair and his outsider’s eye makes my hometown a new and surprising place.’ Jeremy Dyson

Being back home a series of Manchester stories have been emerging, here’s Cheshire Life in this beautiful anthology of writers associated with Wakefield’s Red Shed edited by John Clarke available from Currock Press.

I have a piece about mourning and loss in an anthology edited by Ray French and Kath McKay. Based on a blog piece about the funeral of my publisher the poet Janet Fisher, I’ve opened out the piece to explore why people are so surprised about death, and it is the first time I have written properly about my Mum’s early death. You can download the book free for Kindle or for E-Readers.

Three small prose fragments on moving to a new place and finding a local, are in this anthology edited by Helen Mort and Stuart Maconie. Available from the Poetry Business. 

 

PROJECTS

  • All
  • Personal
  • Producer
  • Writing Squad
THE WRITING SQUAD

THE WRITING SQUAD

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BEING AMY

BEING AMY

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PHOTO ESSAYS

PHOTO ESSAYS

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O&U IN THE SPACE

O&U IN THE SPACE

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A LEEDS SEEN

A LEEDS SEEN

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OVERWORLDS AND UNDERWORLDS

OVERWORLDS AND UNDERWORLDS

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IMOVE

IMOVE

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VIDEO POSTCARDS

VIDEO POSTCARDS

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BRADFORD SQUARE

BRADFORD SQUARE

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LIGHT TRANSPORTS

LIGHT TRANSPORTS

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INTERLAND

INTERLAND

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FOUNDLAND

FOUNDLAND

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Typing photo by Sara Teresa

Bragg photo by Jerome Whittingham