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Miss Mary Rose – progress on the Battle of the Solent

on Jul5 2017

I’ve been very busy working on Mary Rose Unbroken.


This week I’ve had to relook at the overall structure. I like to work in word tables, so that I can move section / scenes around really easily. But this leads me to some bizarre acts in chronology, and even though this piece intertwines two time periods, both still need to be chronological for it to work.

I’ve sat down and re-read one of my sources to check whether what I have ended up with is what I wanted it to be when I started. Needless to say, in my enthusiasm of combining timelines, I have gone awry. This has entailed a lot of fixing which has helped with deleting extra scenes.


I am aiming for a 60 min first act, 45 min second. At the moment my poor audiences’ bottoms will be falling to pieces. Both acts are way too long.

In order to help with time, I killed off a character this week. It’s a shame, I really liked her, but she added nothing to the story which couldn’t be worked in another way. She was light relief if you like. So she disappeared, as did her 1,000 words or so.

I find killing off characters quite stressful at times, and there have been more than one instance when I’ve had to go back to a previous draft and bring someone back to life.


Today I’ve been looking at the Battle of the Solent. This is where Mary Rose (spoiler alert) sinks. The scenes around this hadn’t worked for me, or others who have been privy,  so I’ve sat back and thought about what I could do instead. What I don’t want to end up with is a whole lot of people slumping to the floor with a giant aargh. It needed to be much more subtle, and given the number of people who lost their lives, moving.

Today I’ve used a description of the battle from the shore. Originally this was contained in a performance poem I wrote in 2013 (or thereabouts) when I was Henry, overseeing the day’s machinations. I loved the language and rhythm of the piece, but it was far too long for this new piece of theatre, and also, Henry has enough to say all ready. I’ve given the majority of it instead to Catherine Parr, his much younger wife of the time. I’m really happy for this solution at the moment. Tomorrow – who knows?

Check, check and check again

My final task of the day is to look at the blue highlighted sections throughout the piece. I leave markers where I need to go back to as, for example, I need something to pull the timelines together, I’m not sure of a fact, or the pace drops. I’m hoping to clean-up all the factual queries by the end of the day, which should give me a clear run tomorrow at writing a different battle sequence which needs more work (there’s a theme there!).

I also need to get my facts together as best I can as I have arranged for an expert eye to start fact checking for me, one of the original divers no less! More on that to come . . .

And, also today, I went for a lunchtime dip in the sea.

Boat in the solent

A calm July day on the Solent, perhaps similar to the day Mary Rose sunk?

Salisbury International Arts Festival

on May25 2014

Had a super time this weekend, saw some wonderful acts including Wet Picnic, who put me in a lift up to the seventh floor. Absolutely mad and ridiculous fun. A great time had by me to the awesome sound track of New Order’s Blue Monday. You can’t help but dance to that.

If you see Wet Picnic near you, I think it’d be ace to take in one of their shows.

mad lift drama act

in the lift with the bus boys

mad lift drama

joining in with the grand finale

mad lift shennanigans

this man was more than a little scary

terrified that the end of the journey is nigh

Well, that was one heck of an experience


shocking lack of posting on my part

on Nov24 2013

It turns out that I am not much of a blogger – as I keep forgetting to blog!

That’s such a shame as I am having such a wonderful time, visiting lots of different schools on behalf of the Able Writers programme.

Here I am below with some super creative children that I met in Winchelsea, which is near Hastings. The drive home was a long one – it took me three hours – but that gave me plenty of time to reflect on how amazing children are when it comes to writing. They know no fear. Everyone should take a leaf out of their books, and go for it!

To get back to my site, click on zella compton should use caps on her name!

Now that's a story!

Now that’s a story!

Thinking time - only for one second though!

Thinking time – only for one second though!

Busy, busy, busy

Busy, busy, busy

Cheeky grins from the host school - they were so helpful!

Cheeky grins from the host school – they were so helpful!

Me checking we were all okay - and we were!

Me checking we were all okay – and we were!


Alver Arts Festival: Gosport Ever After was amazing!

on Jul14 2013

The festival that I organised with Grange Farm took place on Friday night and it rocked!

Here are a couple of pics taken by the most skill-full Martyn Baldock photographer

all the speakers in front of a shed

Authors taken by Martyn Baldock photography










(From L-R: Diana Bretherwick, Charlotte Comley, Will Sutton, me, Dee Kirby, James Schiellmore, Margaret Jennings, Annie Kirby, Danielle (Bridgemary), Molly (Bay House).)


zella next to wicker man

Red Riding Hood re-told (credit: Martyn Baldock photography)











Over a hundred people for stories!

James S (credit Martyn Baldock Photography)










to get back to my website, click on my name Zella Compton

St George’s Day in the Square Tower: Damn cod-heads!

on Apr25 2013

I was kindly invited to be part of a celebration of Portsmouth and literature at the Square Tower on Tuesday 23rd April.

The brief was to present a piece to do with Portsmouth writers, or heritage, or something that was my best work.

I decided to write something new, and so I did. I wrote a performance poem – or maybe a monologue? – in any event it was quite long, abut Henry Viii watching the Mary Rose sink. It starts with him coming ashore from inspecting his fleet, meeting up with Catherine (Parr – wifey number six), and then together they stand on top of Southsea Castle while the French get rousted and Mary Rose sinks into the Solent’s loving embrace.

Here are a couple of my favourite lines:

My buttocks so tight-rammed, I will pop out as a vulgar cork

Do you see them? The French? Damn cod-heads.

This was the first time EVER that I have delivered one of my poem’s in public. I have always wanted to perform like that, and I LOVED it!

But, despite my best efforts to get on South Today (local news programme who were there filming) by skulking around and looking interesting, they instead interviewed my friend Matt Wingett (wearing his Sherlock Holmes hat). Sadly the link to the footage appears to be broken on South Today, but if I can find it at a later date, I will add it in here.

The evening was oodles of fun, with readings from some very talented writers. I am being very very lazy and linking this page to the excellent Charlotte Comley’s as she has written a super write-up that includes everybody. Check it out. And this is what she said about me: “I was spell bound by her new poem written for the night.” Ha – I like that!

Here is a picture which I have also stolen from Charlotte.

Audience watching Matt Wingett perform in Square Tower.

Matt delivers his Conan-Doyle piece













My friend Tom Harris, excellent author of The Amber Room, just sent me an email which I have to share as it made me very happy:

“fabulous performance the other night too mate, and from conversations we had at Bookfest what a transformation in the way you perform – you were always okay in my view, but the other night was great – you’ve obviously worked hard at this too mate, so congrats! It was brill! “
Tom is going to post about the event soon as well, so I will link to his fab new blog in a couple of days. Keep checking in!

To get back to my website, click on: Zella Compton isn’t quite as fat as Henry VIII, but she’s not far off it. Put down that lump of cheese woman!

South Harting book festival . . .

on Mar14 2013

me in a box

mu name's in the paper!




This picture should have made it into the paper I think!

This is my most favourite photo from the whole of World Book Day (week!). It makes me laugh and laugh every time that I look at it!

I had a very lovely afternoon, eating lots of cakes, drinking tea, and – of course – chatting about my work and reading from my book. I love school visits, especially ones with so much baking on offer! My husband and daughters came home with loads of new books from the book swap.

William Sutton organised it all – he is a lovely man – and is ‘the one in the hat’ in the newspaper picture.

To get back to my website, click on my name, Zella.




Thanks to Paul – – who sent me this last picture.

I’m in a three for two at Blackwells!

on Feb13 2013

But better yet, I’m a CAPTIVATING READ.

Am very chuffed with this news, and the photo that my friend sent.

Get back to my website by clicking on: Zella is having a happy day, oh yes she is!

blackwells portsmouth

next to the Hunger Games - yay!

Portchester Community School (Nov 12?)

on Feb4 2013

This is me showing the children at Portchester a pic of me in my school uniform. They were all enjoying an ‘own clothes’ day. We used to call that a ‘mufty’ day.










Here I am reading from my book, The Ten Rules of Skimming. I have my fave flower attached to me. But in this picture it looks like I am being attacked by a trifid.











Here I am handing out postcards to children who ask GOOD questions . . .









This was the last session of a very long, but very fantastic day. This was in the hall – to loads and loads and loads and loads of children.





To get back to my website, click on Zella Compton PS. I hope that this post looks okay on your computer, I have got myself into a bit of bother trying to get it all lined up. But I don’t have time to sort it out as the dog, Dexter, is whining downstairs which normally means that he needs to go outside! Bye for now XX

Opening a new library

on Oct10 2012

I was very honoured to be invited to open a new library this week. I’ve opened an art exhibition before, so I felt okay about giving a small speech, and waving at the crowds.

This is the head librarian waiting for me:

the head librarian waiting with the ribbon and scissors


When I arrived, and after cutting the ribbon, the head librarian gave me a quick tour. This library hasn’t used the Dewey decimal system, and has instead opted for one chosen by the book cataloguer. The book cataloguer’s job is to write down the name of every single book. When I met her she was considering going digital, but a final decision needed to be taken.

the book cataloguer


The library also has a special shelf for comics and dvds and games. These are kept under a towel. Perhaps that has something to do with humidity? I must go back and ask.

the secret resting place of comics: under the towel!


I was issued with my own library card by the assistant librarian, and then I got to choose a book. I chose Skulduggery as I have wanted to read it for such a long time.

the assistant librarian

I thoroughly enjoyed my visit, and will be going back soon. Well, I have too, as my book needs to be returned.

me and my loaned book

What an excellent library, and what a privilege to open it in front of such a discerning crowd.

the discerning crowd (banned from upstairs)

To get back to my website, click on Zella’s kids’ library opening looked fabulous! But, before you do, leave a comment and let me know what you think! Could you open a library in your bedroom? Who would you like to open it? Would you let ‘death breath’ dogs come in for a visit? What would you keep behind the towel?


look what Waterstones Fareham just sent me . . .

on Oct4 2012

The perfect place: on shelves in a bookshop!


Here's a little display by the door . ..

I am very excited about my first signing this Saturday . . . .

To get back to my website, click on my name: Zella Compton

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