Gaylene Gould

Gaylene Gould




Gaylene Gould writes fiction, cultural criticism and screenplays. Her first novel was called The Sacrifice. She grew up as one of the few black residents on Leicester's New Parks council estate. Part of the community and yet living at its periphery gave her a lifelong interest in stories that explore liminal spaces.

In her roles as coach, curator, consultant and project manager, Gaylene has supported many groups including black and women artists, young people in former mining towns and African filmmakers. She is regularly broadcast as a critic on BBC Radio 4's Front Row and she runs workshops for writers.

Gaylene studied Arts Administration at De Montfort University (then Leicester Polytechnic). She has worked with a range of national and international agencies including Arts Council England, Toronto International Film Festival, Apples and Snakes and the Bernie Grant Arts Centre.

Leicester has continued to act as muse for Gaylene's work as artist and writer. Her first novel The Sacrifice is set there. She co-founded the Coloured Girls dance collective, produced installations for the Y Theatre in Leicester, documentaries for Carlton TV and was Artistic Director of Griotographies, a performance programme involving over seventy local artists.


Creative Work

From The Sacrifice

I want to fess up. I do. I have to so I can save our Frankie. It’s just that I don’t know how to say it yet or which of the words fit right in my mouth. I ain’t been able to practice. Then I don’t know where to start. If I begin with what I did then you won’t believe me. You’ll say it was Frankie’s fault that he’s a bad influence, which is what you all think anyway. Even TT. It’s only ‘cos Frankie’s coloured, I mean Afro-Caribbean, well Jamaican, or whatever - and he’s a bloke and all black blokes turn you bad don’t they? They won’t believe that girls could come up with a plan like I did.

The only thing Frankie’s guilty of is turning sixteen like it’s some bad t’ing, some sort of curse. Like it's our fault we got to grow up. That’s why I got to tell ‘cos he’s a man now and he’ll get sent down. Frankie couldn’t stand that. I couldn’t stand that either. Me, I’m only 14 and a girl so they can’t do 'owt to me can they? Frankie said that more black men get banged up than get jobs in this country. He didn’t say if black girls get banged up too. I don’t know if anyone’s counted that number.

He’s probably in this pig-pen somewhere. He might be right on the other side of this puke green wall I’m touching. I shouted for him when I got here but they came in and told me to shut it so I did. Frankie would’ve given me that ‘Yes H-inglish girl’ look, would have done that turning away to smile on his own thing that he does. He can’t really be cussing me ‘cos I am an English girl. I mean I was born here. So how comes it makes my insides go cold when he says it like I just downed a Slush Puppie? Anyhow it don’t matter, as long as he’s in here, close to me.



These are the opening paragraphs of my first novel The Sacrifice. The novel is a full-length version of the published short story of the same name. After completing the short piece, the characters didn’t disappear but continued to hang around, reminding me that I had only just begun to tell their tale. And they were right. Those teenagers have a compelling story, as do their offspring and the city that provides the backdrop to their drama. A trilogy was born which will eventually span thirty years and three generations of young black heroines coming of age in multiracial Leicester.

Not to give too much away (it is a thriller after all), this first installment is narrated by Jessie, a fourteen year-old Antiguan-British girl growing up in a children’s home in Leicester and wrestling with faith, loss and sexuality. Set in the late Seventies and early Eighties, the rise of the National Front, riots and paedophilia, Jessie feels forced to make a sacrifice. It will, she hopes, save her makeshift family, a group of friends including Orphan, who isn’t the youngest or the ugliest but was abandoned by his family anyway. It also includes the quiet and fiercely loyal TT, and Frankie who ignites in her a dangerous passion. It’s a story of moral choice and consequence but more importantly it’s an exploration of how impossible it is to understand love if you have never been shown.

People commonly ask why I chose this subject and setting. The simple answer is I am concerned with those who live at the sharp end of life and being abandoned as a child is as sharp as it gets. It also provides a chance to explore one of the most contentious and extraordinary cities in the world. Leicester will be the first in Europe to have a majority non-white population. It showed those of us raised within it what exists beyond tolerance: it is compassion.



The Stories within the Songs, Creativity, Money, Love: Learning for the 21st Century, Creative Blueprint 2011
Shadowing, Flava: Wedge Curatorial Projects 1997-2007, Wedge Curatorial Projects, 2008
The Sacrifice, x-24 Unclassified, Flipped Eye, 2007
Work published in Vertigo Magazine, 2002-2004
Work published in 13 Conversations and art, culture and race politics, Artexte Editions, 2002

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