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Q&A with Kevin Walker for National Storytelling Week and LGBT+ History Month


Storytelling is an art - and the best storytellers draw you into their world and you feel like you’re drinking every word up. This is definitely the case with Queer Folk Tales, a collection of delightful, empowering, and often magical, tales that Kevin Walker has created and adapted for the LGBTQ+ community. These sometimes traditional and sometimes modern tales show queer people that they belong not only in today’s world, but also in a storytelling tradition going back centuries, if not millennia. We caught up with Kevin ahead of National Storytelling Week and LGBT+ History Month to get the lowdown...

2021….how is it all going?

Well, January 2021 must have gone down as one of the longest months in memory. Yes, it may have had the usual 31 days but oh, it has dragged on for so many reasons.

What have we got to look forward to?

It is normally a bit of a bleak month too, weather wise. It is also my birthday month.

The month does however start off with something dear to my heart. National Storytelling Week. It is a week where the ancient oral art of storytelling is celebrated nationally. Normally, there would be events popping up in schools, museums, care homes, theatres, supermarkets and many other available spaces, where storytellers would gather audiences both small and large, entrancing them with tales and fables, rhymes and epics. Of course, this year will be vastly different, as the current health challenges make live performances impossible. But storytellers are creative geniuses.

What makes you say that?

Oh, they will be making magic wherever they can. I am sure they will be inhabiting social media platforms throughout the land. Look out for online performances everywhere and support them if you can.

Who organisers it all?

The week was founded by The Society for Storytelling, so start by looking at their website to point you to what is going on

Are you taking part this year?

No, not this year. I have taken a step back from telling to concentrate on writing. I worked as a professional storyteller for twenty years, and it is through my love of stories and the huge stock of stories I carry in my head, that lead me to the new path of a writer.

So your first book was as a result of your storytelling?

Yes, my first book, published by The History Press, contains several stories I had researched for a performance piece for adults called Faerie Wanting to Meet Unicorn….a reet set of queer tales. The book was renamed Queer Folk Tales and is a collection of fifteen short stories, each with LGBTQ+ characters at their very heart. I find that having been a performance storyteller really impacts on the way I write; I still imagine an audience in front of me as I create.

And getting back to February?

Ah yes, this brings me on to another treat during February, LGBT+ History Month. An annual celebration of all things queer. I am sure that TV will be broadcasting programmes and films showing support for the queer community. There are more and more film makers, artists and actors waving their rainbow credentials and I salute their work. Visibility and representation being the key words.

Does it have a theme each year?

Yes, it does. It will be concentrating mainly on women and unsung stories this year and the overall theme is ‘Body, Mind, Spirit’.

And the written word?

Oh, look out for a plethora of books too. There are some moving novels, stunning collections of photographic images, poetry and non-fiction, all charting LGBTQ+ creatives and their work.

Of course, all this will be joyously lapped up by the LGBTQ+ community and our friends but I urge everyone to take advantage on what is on offer too.

So, not exclusively for the LGBTQ+ community?

No, definitely not. When I first began researching the queer performance piece which then morphed into the book Queer Folk Tales, I spent much time deciding as to whether a collection of queer stories was really needed in the 2020s? Would it be better if I just included stories with LGBTQ+ characters in them amongst other stories? Who would my audience be? How would it effect marketing? How satisfying would it be creatively?

I obviously decided to go ahead with the original concept, and I am so glad that I did. We write about what we care about, about topics that we have something to say about, about topics that matter. Sorry, that was a lot of abouts!

The Queer Folk Tales have not just been read by the LGBTQ+ community?

No. The book has been read by all sorts of readers and that is wonderful for any author. Here are a few comments.

‘Absolutely wonderful! Storytelling is an art - and the best storytellers draw you into their world and you feel like you’re drinking every word up! That’s exactly how this book makes me feel! Kick off your shoes, lift your head up to the sun and lose yourself in this tapestry of beautiful stories! Thank you Kevin Walker!’

‘You don't have to be LGBTQ - I am enjoying reading Kevin's book of little gems. I just wish I was curled up somewhere in a cosy corner with Kevin reading the stories!’

That must be very gratifying?

Very. It means that my initial thoughts about the collection were on track. I appreciate that online comments are just one person’s view, but it is wonderful to get feedback.

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