Saturday, 9 August 2014

What's new?

Or: another post containing a list of good news....

"Brick Mother... is urban, northern and authentic", says Dave Schofield over at Structo magazine; you can read the full review here

Upcoming appearances:

Richard Smyth and I will be appearing at Bad Language on 27th August, at The Castle Hotel in Manchester. More information here

I'll also be appearing at Wakefield Lit Fest, alongside Richard Smyth, as part of 'Dead Ink in Conversation', on Thursday 24th September.

The next Fictions of Every Kind is themed: Whodunnit?! with invited speaker AJ Taft and murder ballads performed by Lowlands. As ever, there'll be a writers' open mic, sociability, and word games. You can find out more here, or the facebook events page is here. We love to see new faces and we're a very friendly lot - you're welcome to come along even if you're not planning to read anything out - we would love to meet you. (Wharf Chambers is a members' club and you do have to be a member to attend events, but it is very easy to join - it only costs £1 and anyone can do it! See the Wharf Chambers website for details.)

Currently reading

How to fight Islamist terror from the missionary position Tabish Khair

Sunday, 27 July 2014


Had an amazing time at last week's Dead Ink Book party in London. It was great to see so many friendly faces, and to meet so many interesting people. Since I don't really know anyone in London (5 people to be exact), it was an amazing surprise to see how many people turned out for a book party for two new, and pretty much completely unknown, writers. My Dead Ink compadre Richard Smyth did a brilliant job of organising it all. We even managed to sell two books to a drunk man on his way to the toilets. That'll have been a nice surprise for Sober Him come Saturday morning... 

Here are a couple of videos from the event, in which I read a couple of extracts from Brick Mother. I hope you enjoy them!

Donna (Chapter 2)

Barney (Chapter 5) 

Currently reading

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves Karen Joy Fowler

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

A status update!

Hello, sorry, hello, I have been busy.

Item one: writing short stories for a collection.

Item two: starting work on a new novel. More news as it emerges.

Then! Also!

Here are links to a couple of really great reviews of Brick Mother. Many thanks to Max Dunbar and Jenna Isherwood, respectively, for these.

"At first glance this is pure kitchen sink. The tone is made out of damp, wet clothes, missed appointments, unhappy relationships, lack of money. But this miasma of mediocrity gradually resolves itself, through Bradley’s intricate and unseeable skills, into something absolutely horrifying." Through the Dark Glass: SJ Bradley's Brick Mother, by Max Dunbar

"The pace is also helped along by Bradley’s prose style, which is perhaps deliberately un-showy but still leaves room for moments of austere beauty.... An impressive feature of this novel is the way Bradley’s simplicity of style contrasts with the complexity of the questions she is raising" Jenna Isherwood over at Quadrapheme magazine

Soon I will become a real person, who blogs properly. Soon, I promise, soon. Until then...

Currently reading

Gentlemen & Players Joanne Harris
Any Other Mouth Anneliese Mackintosh

Monday, 7 July 2014

London book party!

Myself and fellow Dead Ink author Richard Smyth are having a London book party for our novels!

The event is on Friday July 25th, at 7pm, at the New Moon Pub on Gracechurch Street. Entry is free, and the pub serves food and booze (very good food and booze, if the rumours I've heard are right).

There's more information about the Dead Ink Book launch on the facebook page...

Currently reading

The Diaries of Jane Somers Doris Lessing

Saturday, 28 June 2014

Why haven't I blogged for a while?

“Brick Mother is a stunning debut. It manages at once to be both thought-provoking and terrifying, a thrilling page-turner that has a great deal to say about the atomisation of 21st Century society. It goes beyond newspaper headlines to give the reader a real insight into the ordinary and extraordinary daily lives of a seemingly-impenetrable institution.” Anthony Clavane, author of Promised Land

Oh dear. I've been really busy lately. What with the book being out, and writing, writing, writing.

The good news is, that my book is out! Review copies are available for book bloggers and review editors. Contact either me (@bradleybooks on twitter or SJ Bradley on facebook) or the publishers (@Deadinkbooks on twitter) if you want one.

You can buy it in paperback direct from Dead Ink Books here.

Or for Kindle here.

If you read the book and like it, please rate it on GoodReads, leave a review online somewhere, and tell your friends. Thankyou!

Currently reading

The Diaries of Jane Somers Doris Lessing 

Sunday, 1 June 2014

New short story!

I'm really pleased to announce that a new short story of mine, 'Weak Heart', has been published in issue two of The Honest Ulsterman.

The Honest Ulsterman is a great mag, with loads of great interviews and poetry - the first issue had an interview with Eimear McBride, and fiction by Benjamin Myers. It's really exciting to have my work appear alongside that sort of thing.

You can read The Honest Ulsterman online here.

Currently reading

Tree of Smoke Denis Johnson

Monday, 26 May 2014

Why shouldn't we privatise child protection services?

In the news this week, quietly shuffled out behind the much larger and louder European Elections, were Michael Gove's plans to privatise child protection services. 

There's a lot of hatred for rubber-faced, self-satisfied despot Gove in the literary world right now, mainly around his fuckwitted decision to take To Kill A Mockingbird out of the GCSE English curriculum. But this blog is not about that, infuriating though it be. This is about child protection. 

Child Protection services - services which are meant to protect and remove children from situations of abuse and neglect - are currently provided by statutory social services departments, under the auspices of the local authority. Most are stretched and understaffed. But they are still a statutory service, paid for by your council taxes, and your and my income tax. There's no profit involved. 

Child protection is extremely specialised work. No child walks around with a sign around their neck, which reads, "I am being neglected by my parents", or "I am being abused." The protection of vulnerable children relies on the co-operation of all sorts of agencies who might come into contact with a child - the school, health professionals like nurses and doctors, even the assistants who run after school clubs. 

Following the death of Victoria Climbie in 2000, a child who died despite being seen numerous times by doctors, there was an enquiry to find out what had gone wrong. There were several findings from the Lord Laming enquiry. 

One was that, even though Victoria had been seen by lots of different doctors, and lots of different social workers, nobody was holding 'all the pieces of the jigsaw'. Though lots of people had concerns that Victoria was being maltreated or neglected, there was no single named person (for example, a social worker) who knew about all of these concerns, and could patch them all together into a comprehensive picture of neglect and abuse. One finding of the Lord Laming review was to compel all agencies working with children to stay in better contact, to help protect vulnerable children like Victoria in the future. 

Since those days, child protection has improved. Yes, other children have died since; the case of Baby P, in 2007, highlighted the lengths that some abusers will go to to mislead the investigating services. In Baby P's case, the mother was able to hoodwink social services into thinking that she was engaging with them in order to improve her parenting skills. 

So, you can see from this how specialised child protection work is. It's not easy for social workers to tell whether a parent genuinely engaging with them, nor is it easy for social workers to piece together all the parts of a 'neglect jigsaw' to see when a child is being mistreated by its parents. This kind of work takes a lot of expertise and, most crucially, support and supervision. 

Now I'm not an expert in tendering procedures, so I don't really know how this stuff works. But I'm imagining that when child protection services are put out to tender, for bidding by private companies, the 'winner' of the tender will be the company that says it can provide child protection services the cheapest. 

How will they provide these services cheaper than the local authority can? Hazarding a few guesses here:

  • By cutting managers' salaries ("You get what you pay for", as the saying goes; cut managers' salaries, and you'll attract less experienced managers, perhaps managers who don't know anything about children's services or child protection)
  • By cutting staff costs (by lowering pay)
  • By increasing social workers' caseloads; (and higher caseloads means that social workers won't be able to do their jobs properly; they won't be able to do preventive work with the most complex cases, mistakes will be made; phone calls to schools & doctors' surgeries not returned; social workers might not have time to look for the best possible placements for looked after children)
And let's remember that some of the global privatising companies do not have good records when it comes to organisation of large-scale events, or of protection of the vulnerable:

In 2011, the army had to step in to take control of Olympic security when it was revealed that G4S, the company who had run the tender, had 'underestimated the scale of the event'

Earlier on this year abuse cases came to light from an immigration centre run by the company SERCO, who apparently went to great lengths to cover the abuse up, rather than making it stop

These are the kinds of companies likely to be bidding for tender to look after the most vulnerable children in our society. Please take a moment to sign this petition to help put a halt to the plans: