writing routines

Episode 13: Hannah Kent

Australian author Hannah Kent (left) with Book Ends host, Philippa Moore

Australian author Hannah Kent (left) with Book Ends host, Philippa Moore

And just like that, it's December and the last Book Ends episode for 2013 is (finally) ready for your listening pleasure.

Although this interview took place during a heatwave in September, Hannah Kent's haunting and beautifully written first novel Burial Rites, one of the most talked-about Australian débuts of 2013, is actually perfect winter reading!

In 1829, the last public execution in Iceland took place - a man and a woman were beheaded for a brutal murder committed on a remote farm. As there were no prisons in Iceland at the time, the condemned woman, Agnes Magnúsdóttir, is sent to spend her final months on the farm of district officer Jón Jónsson, under the watch of his wife and their two daughters. Horrified to have a convicted murderer in their midst, the family avoid contact with Agnes and regard her as something of a monster. Only Tóti, the young assistant priest appointed to supervise Agnes’s spiritual wellbeing, tries to understand her. As the months pass, the winter deepens and the hardships of rural life force the household to work side by side, the true story of Agnes's crime unravels and it is revealed to be far more complex than anyone imagined or, more to the point, was willing to believe.

Set against the backdrop of the exquisite Icelandic landscape, which I've actually seen with my own eyes so I can attest to how hauntingly beautiful it is, Burial Rites is a compelling read and a moving meditation on human nature, on truth, survival, freedom and on the painful gulf that often exists between how we are seen by the outside world and how we see ourselves. 

Hannah was born in Adelaide in 1985 and found herself in Iceland at age 18 as an exchange student - not in Reykjavik as she thought, but in a remote fishing village in Iceland's north called Sauðárkrókur...so remote, Hannah couldn't even find it in her atlas! Despite struggling at first to find her place in the close-knit community there, Hannah fell in love with Iceland and has since returned many times. But it was on her very first visit, as a teenager, that she first heard the story of Agnes Magnúsdóttir and was instantly captivated.

Returning to Australia, Hannah completed a BA and in her honours year, she submitted a creative writing project inspired by Agnes's story. Encouraged by this (and now certain this was well and truly a story she wanted to write), she then embarked on a PhD in Creative Writing, for which Burial Rites was her project. She submitted the first draft of Burial Rites to the inaugural Australian Unpublished Manuscript Award in 2011, which it went on to win! Burial Rites has now been published in Australia, the UK and the US and has been shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award.

"Persist. It's really important not to let any feelings of insecurity or disbelief in your own ability paralyse you. Just keep on pushing through and maybe accept that you will always feel this way....but you'll never be objective about your own work and therefore shouldn't listen to yourself! And be disciplined. Write regularly, even when you don't want to. Don't wait until you're inspired because you'll so rarely feel that way. Persistence and the ability to work very hard on something consistently pays out a lot more than talent."

- pearls of wisdom from Hannah Kent in this interview

 

Highly articulate, funny, modest and generous, Hannah was a delight to interview and this was such an enjoyable hour or so that we spent together in her publisher's office in London. I can't wait to see what she does next.  Thank you so much Hannah for being on the show!

You can listen to the show here:

 

Guests

Hannah Kent

Australian writer

Publications mentioned

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent (Picador)

Fred and Edie by Jill Dawson (Sceptre)

The Icelandic Sagas (Penguin)

Kill Your Darlings (literary journal of which Hannah is Publishing Director)

You can also read a great interview with Hannah at Bookanista and I'd also recommend reading Hannah's own account of the Burial Rites journey in the April 2013 issue of Kill Your Darlings.

Credits

Presenter

Philippa Moore

Producer

Tom Schoon 

Music
"Aurora" by Bjork (buy on iTunes

Book Ends, Episode 9: Adrian Teal

Adrian Teal
Adrian Teal

Welcome to another episode of Book Ends, the podcast for writers and book lovers. This episode is a rather momentous one.....not only is the guest the first cartoonist on the show.....but he's also the first bloke on the programme too!

In this episode, I am in conversation with cartoonist Adrian Teal, author of The Gin Lane Gazette, which was a successful crowd-funded project for independent publisher Unbound.  It was printed in hardback for supporters of the project at the end of 2012 and the trade edition has just been launched in UK book stores this week.

GINLANE_TRADE
GINLANE_TRADE

Ade has been drawing caricatures for as long as he can remember and learned the craft in the workshop of Spitting Image, a satirical puppet show shown on television from 1984 to 1996.  Always interested in the eighteenth-century thanks to an early obsession with the film The Bounty and mutineer Fletcher Christian, Ade worked as a political cartoonist for newspapers and then for historical publications until he came up with the idea for a fictional Georgian tabloid using real life events and figures.  The result is the very funny and clever Gin Lane Gazette, which Ade describes as "an eighteenth-century version of Heat magazine" full of eccentric larger-than-life personalities, scandal and gossip....and all of them are true stories.

"You can stick a pin anywhere you like in the eighteenth-century and you will find wonderful, engrossing, weird, scandalous, sexy stuff...it's everywhere." - Adrian Teal in this interview

baboon
gypsywife
handelpic
xmastree

You can hear all of the above hilarious true tales in the podcast!

On the road to publication, Ade's brilliant book hit a few roadblocks when he approached mainstream publishers - he was told his idea was too risky and quirky for their lists - but his answer eventually came in the form of crowd-funding his book with independent publishing company Unbound.

"Crowd-funding and subscription publishing is actually a very eighteenth-century concept," Ade explains.  "Authors would get enough  people to order advance copies of their book and once they had enough, the book got printed.  Unbound is now doing the same thing for the internet-age."

As with all Unbound projects, Gin Lane Gazette supporters were able to choose from varying levels of pledges - £20 got you a first-edition hardback copy of the book, £85 got you a signed copy of the book and your likeness appearing in its pages.  In fact, I spotted a few familiar faces!  It's a great way of bringing readers and authors together and getting readers more involved in the publication process where they can make a visible and meaningful contribution to a book they really want to see in print.

In this interview, in addition to sharing the journey of The Gin Lane Gazette, Ade shares some advice and tricks of the trade for budding caricaturists (he uses and recommends Edding 1800 Profipens) and the typical working day of a cartoonist.

And will there be a Gin Lane Gazette II?  Listen to the interview to find out!

You can listen to the podcast here:

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Ade also has some upcoming Gin Lane Gazette appearances so if you're keen to meet him and hear more about eighteenth-century scandals and oddities, you can catch him at one of the following:

9 April 2013 at Danson House, Bexleyheath, Kent

15 April 2013 at Benjamin Franklin House, London (free event)

Many thanks to Ade for giving up an afternoon to chat with me and also to the staff at the Cowper and Newton Museum in the charming village of Olney, Buckinghamshire, who kindly let us record the interview on location.  Being the home of eighteenth-century poet William Cowper it was most fortuitous and appropriate!

Guests

Adrian Teal

British cartoonist, writer and eighteenth-century enthusiast

Publications mentioned

The Gin Lane Gazette by Adrian Teal (Unbound)

The Age of Scandal by T.H White (Penguin)

The Bounty (film) (1984) directed by Roger Donaldson (Scanbox Entertainment)

The QI Annual 2009 (Ade did the front cover of this issue)

The Big Story (short film) (1994) by David Stoten and Tim Watts

Credits

Presenter

Philippa Moore

Producer

Tom Schoon 

Music

Concerto grosso Op.3 No.6 in D Major

1.Vivace 2. Allegro

 and Concerto grosso Op.6 No.6 in G Minor

3. Musette(Larghetto) 4. Allegro  

both by Georg Friedrich Handel

All images from

The Gin Lane Gazette

are copyright Adrian Teal and used with permission.

Book Ends, Episode 8: Pippa Kendrick

Welcome to another episode of Book Ends, the podcast for writers and book lovers.  This episode may be the most delicious yet....it's all about cookbooks and food writing.  If you've ever wanted to write a cookbook you won't want to miss this! In this episode, I am in conversation with cook and food writer Pippa Kendrick, author of The Intolerant Gourmet, which was named as one of The Times Top 40 Cookbooks of The Year in 2012.

Pippa Kendrick

After becoming seriously ill in her early twenties with complications from undiagnosed food allergies, passionate food lover Pippa began to look for ways she could adjust to her new way of life without compromising her enjoyment of food and eating.  Always a keen writer, Pippa began a food blog, also called The Intolerant Gourmet, as she explored this new terrain of allergy-friendly cooking and discovered there were many like her, daunted by what seemed to be a bland, unpalatable and unexciting but necessary way to eat.  Pippa's zest and passion changed all that!

Pippa's revolutionary and deservedly popular approach to indulgent, exciting and sumptuous allergy-friendly cooking has won her many fans and resulted in her first cookbook, The Intolerant Gourmet, being published last year.

In this episode, Pippa shares the journey of The Intolerant Gourmet with me, from the proposal and agent-hunting stage, through to production and finally publication.  She also shares her writing (and cooking!) routine.  There are many wonderful nuggets of inspiration in this conversation but I found this one particularly memorable:

"(Book publishing) is such a tough competitive market....if you don't know your own potential  it will be harder for other people to see it.  Do yourself a favour and make yourself as marketable as possible.  Remember they (agents and publishers) won't read your submission twice!"

You can listen to the podcast here:

 

Many thanks to Pippa for her time in giving the interview, and do go and check out her website for more delicious recipe inspiration, including her favourite, Bakewell Tart!

"A great book tells you something you already knew but that you hadn't said out loud." - Pippa Kendrick, in this interview

Guests

Pippa Kendrick

British cook and food writer

Publications mentioned

The Intolerant Gourmet by Pippa Kendrick (Collins)

Full of Flavour: Create...How To Think Like A Chef by Maria Elia (Kyle Books)

Alice's Cookbook by Alice Hart (Quadrille Publishing)

Ottolenghi: The Cookbook by Sami Tamimi and Yotam Ottolenghi (Ebury Press)

Miss Smilla's Feeling For Snow by Peter Hoeg (Vintage)

Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L James (Arrow)

Credits

Presenter

Philippa Moore

Producer

Tom Schoon 

Book Ends, Episode 7: Isla Dewar

Isla Dewar

Isla Dewar

Welcome to another episode of Book Ends, the podcast for writers and book lovers, and the FIRST episode for 2013.  The break has been lovely but now it's time to get back to the writing, and the talking about writing! In this episode, I am in conversation with Scottish novelist, Isla Dewar, author of 16 novels, one of which is one of my most favourite books of all time.

Isla started her working life as a journalist but found she was drawn more to fiction than facts.  Her first novel was published when she was 40 and she's gone on to enjoy a rather prolific career as a novelist and fiction writer.

Isla even wrote the screenplay when one of her books, Women Talking Dirty, was made into a film.  She talks to me about this process, as well as giving her tips for those who want to follow in her footsteps!

You can listen to the podcast here:

 

Many thanks to Isla for her time in giving the interview.  I hope you find it as illuminating as I did.  I don't know about you, but I feel like a good cup of coffee now :)

"You must master the vices.  You know that if a thing is worth doing it's worth doing well.  If, however, a thing is not worth doing then it's worth doing fabulously, amazingly, with grace, style and panache." - Isla Dewar, from Women Talking Dirty

Guests

Isla Dewar

Scottish writer

Publications mentioned

Izzy's War by Isla Dewar (Ebury Press)

Secrets of a Family Album by Isla Dewar (Headline Review)

The Consequences of Marriage by Isla Dewar (Headline Review)

Women Talking Dirty by Isla Dewar (Headline Review) (and the film of the same name)

Keeping up with Magda by Isla Dewar (Headline Review)

Larry's Party by Carol Shields (Fourth Estate)

Unless by Carol Shields (Fourth Estate)

Girls Night In II (anthology) edited by Jessica Adams, Chris Manby and Fiona Walker (Penguin Books Australia, now out of print)

Credits

Presenter

Philippa Moore

Producer

Tom Schoon 

Book Ends, Episode 6: Andrea Eames

Welcome to another episode of Book Ends, the podcast for writers and book lovers. I am delighted to welcome Andrea Eames as this week's guest.

Andrea Eames is a Zimbabwean writer now living in the USA who has a most impressive writing CV at only 27 years old.  She has published two novels, The Cry of The Go-Away Bird and The White Shadow, the latter of which was short-listed for this year's prestigious Dylan Thomas Prize.

Narrated by a young boy who struggles to protect his mysterious and gifted younger sister, The White Shadow is a compelling and utterly absorbing read set against the backdrop of the Zimbabwean War of Liberation in the 1970s.

I so enjoyed speaking with Andrea about her work.  She had a lot of inspiring things to say about the writing process, particularly when your work involves somewhat complex and loaded topics.  I was certainly in awe of her very disciplined daily working routine, it's something I can only aspire to!

You can listen to the podcast here:

 

Many thanks to Andrea for her time in giving the interview.  I'm sure we're going to continue to see amazing things from her!

You can find out more about Andrea, the writing life and her next book at her blog.

Guests

Andrea Eames

Zimbabwean writer

Publications mentioned

The White Shadow by Andrea Eames (Harvill Secker)

The Cry of The Go-Away Bird by Andrea Eames (Harvill Secker)

Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Harper Perennial)

Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Harper Perennial)

Seating Arrangements by Maggie Shipstead (Blue Door)

Credits

Presenter

Philippa Moore

Producer

Tom Schoon