I’m working on a study guide to accompany ‘Ugly Dogs Don’t Cry’

I am currently working on a Study Guide with 3 different English teachers to create the resources for schools to teach UDDC at GCSE level. It will offer an alternative to the typical literature. My aim is to offer some diversity that students from all backgrounds can relate to. I hope to run a campaign later this year to raise enough to buy 3000 books and offer 30 books along with the study guide to a hundred schools nationwide.

Ugly Dogs Don't Cry

Ugly Dogs Don't Cry

I run a social enterprise that promotes creative arts to young people and prisons.

I started volunteering over 8 years ago with a charity called BTEG on their Routes2Sucess programme. This gave me a vast experience dealing with young people and offenders and designing workshops. Because many of the prisons and schools I visited would ask me to return to speak to users outside of the charity’s remit, I set up my own social enterprise called Castletown Arts. Our mission is to promote and development new skills through creative arts.

I have produced two anthologies with prisoners in the UK and United States.

One of the first courses I ever designed was the ‘Beyond Words Self-Development Through Creative Writing course.’ I piloted it in HMP Wayland in 2015. The course mixes learning cognitive skills alongside creative writing. Prisoners on the course have to write a short story for their final piece. We later collected and published these stories. The end result was the Beyond Words Anthology. In 2018 I was invited by the University of Wisconsin to replicate the course in Dane County prison and Madison Juvenile Centre. The outcome was our second anthology Beyond Words - Madison Uncut.

I blagged my way on to a Master’s Degree with only 5 GCSEs

How best can I explain this? ‘He who dares wins.’ Basically, I won a scholarship from Regents University to study an MA in Stage & Screenwriting. When I first inquired about the course I didn’t know the difference between an MA and BA - it was all just letters to me. So when the Course Administrator asked me if I had an undergrads degree at 2.1, I said ‘yes.’ Once she sent out a prospectus, I knew I had to get on it, but also knew I was under qualified. My sister convinced me to call back and tell them about my experience. I told the administrator I’d written a novel (Lynch’s Road) and worked on Adulthood as consultant to Noel Clarke (all true - you can see me in one of prison scenes). The administrator said she was glad I called back and told me they have a scholarship for exceptional cases. So all I can say is thanks sis xxx.

I hope to one day open a writer’s retreat in Barbados.

My mum and maternal family are originally from Barbados and own some land on the west side of the island. Around 12 years ago she built a house in St Peters where my grandfather grew up. It’s a beautiful area called Boscobelle which is not too far from Speightstown. It’s the ideal spot for a writers retreat as it’s away from all the hustle and bustle, but still close to plenty local amenities. I spent the summer of 2018 there reading and writing. Then one day I was chilling with my mum on the rooftop. We were watching the sun go down and she asked what I thought we should do with the rest of the land. That when I had the idea.

Is a big West Londoner

Yes I’m proud to say I was born and bred in West London. I’ve lived here all my life. I grew up across the road from Stamford Bridge. I once attended a Commonwealth reception at Buckingham Palace where I met the Queen. When she asked me where I was from (I was there representing the Barbados High Commission & diaspora) without thinking I blurted out ‘I’m from West” because I was so used to saying it. The only thing that saddens me about West London is it has been come synonymous to big money and property prices. I don’t like this because it means people forget about the working-class families that live here. For example, communities like those who lived in and around Grenfell tower (my aunt lives there). Ugly Dogs Don’t Cry is my homage and love letter to West London and these forgotten communities.

Considers writing the perfect therapy for city life.

I think so many people in big cities struggle with the constant pace, especially in London. You can see people’s stress levels peaking every day. I think writing whether its creative or jotting thoughts in a journal can relieve that stress. I think it offers people the opportunity to purge the things they don’t usually get to air. Through writing people either escape or find their voice.

Ugly Dogs Don’t Cry by DD Armstrong is published by Jacaranda and the audiobook is available now on Audible.