All You Need is Pen, Paper and a Smile, from Jenny Kane

All You Need is Pen, Paper and a Smile, from Jenny Kane

Everyone has a story to tell, and everyone has their own way in which to tell it.

Life writing concentrates on using your own experiences and turning them into works of fiction.

In 2013 I wrote my first contemporary fiction novel, Another Cup of Coffee. The idea for this book came from a conversation I had with some friends I’d been at university with. Several years after the event, I confessed to them that after having my heartbroken by my then boyfriend, I had packed my bags with every intension of taking a job I’d been offered in Scotland. It was only a crippling lack of self confidence that stopped me running away back then.

What, I asked, would my life have been life it I had run? So, giving myself and my friends new names, I began to weave our real lives together into a fictional tale. A modern day story of what might have been.

Twisting and exaggerating my many adventures as an archaeologist, historian, mother, writer, and serious coffee drinker, into fiction was so much fun that I continued to employ the technique through several more novels; most recently, Abi’s House and Abi’s Neighbour. These two stories are set in Sennen, St Just, St Buryan, and Penzance (where my father was born, and where I spent most of my childhood holidays). These books answer the question, what would have happened if I now owned a house I fell in love with in Cornwall when I was 8 years old?

Taking aspects of your own life and twisting them into tales for other people to enjoy is such a natural way to create, that I had no idea there was a special name for it until recently – Life Writing!


My life writing workshop at Penzance Literary Festival will introduce new writers, as well as anyone who fancies having their imagination massaged a little, to the world of ‘What If…?’

  • What if my flight hadn’t been delayed that day?
  • What if I’d stayed at university longer?
  • What if I hadn’t run away?
  • What if we’d got a cat instead of a dog?
  • What if I drank tea and not coffee?

By asking questions, and using everyday objects and our environment as memory triggers, I will show you how construct a work of fiction out of fact.

Whatever your preferred genre, and whether you which to set your book in the past, the present or the future; life writing has something for you.

All welcome. I hope to see you there!

Jenny x

(PS- All you’ll need to bring is a pen, paper, and a smile)

For more information about Jenny’s workshop on Saturday July 8th and to book your place, visit the event page