Alyson Hallett speaks with Jane Draycott about the migration of stones and people, the mischief of making anonymous work, the responsibility of writing for public spaces, and writing decades later about a secret affair.
Tim Pears explores the double bind that professional authors find themselves in when teaching creative writing, and the unteachable essentials of style and the ‘strangeness’ that reveals the world anew.
Andrew Cowan considers the history of university Creative Writing courses in the UK, their roots in the longer-established English Composition and Creative Writing strands in the US, and the way in which Creative Writing can be vocational even beyond the confines of professional authorship.
Helena Drysdale explains how a family connection and a difficult recovery from cancer led her to Greece and to considerations of imperialism in travel writing.
Nicola Baldwin notices the absence of playwrights taking up Artistic Director roles in theatres, and explores the potential advantages of a “roll-your-own” theatre company.
RLF Trustee Joanna Trollope speaks with Caroline Sanderson about bringing her readership along with her through the decades, the importance of siblings and family origins, and gender issues in reading, writing and reviewing.
Tina Pepler speaks with Jane Draycott about the responsibility to real lives when fictionalising traumatic experiences, how the internet can’t beat talking to people for stories you didn’t even know you were looking for, and working as a mentor with young people arriving in the UK from other cultures.
Marcy Kahan describes how a sudden, unexpected mid-career dip led her to playwriting manuals, while maintaining a ‘respectful ambivalence’ towards the genre.
Zoë Marriott explains how character is the North Star that steers her journey through each new fantasy novel, shaping every aspect of setting and story.
RLF Trustee Joanna Trollope speaks with Caroline Sanderson about how Freudian psychology changed fiction, updating Jane Austen, taking children seriously in her writing and being inspired by 'preoccupying situations'.
Helena Drysdale speaks with James McConnachie about the treasure trove of her ancestors’ archives, her study of minority ethnic populations in Europe and the endangered languages that help define them, the colonial impositions of the English language, and why you should ask when you don’t know.
Roopa Farooki describes some highs and lows on her journey to becoming a published author, and shares advice and encouragement for beginning writers from diverse backgrounds.
Trish Cooke discusses how the Caribbean and Yorkshire have influenced her work as a playwright and children’s book writer, and driven her sense of responsibility towards diverse audiences and characters outside the mainstream.
Cynthia Rogerson takes us on a wry and rueful whistlestop tour of the perils, pleasures and pitfalls of the writing life, for both writers and those who have to put up with them.
Anna Reynolds encounters a perplexing dilemma when an ostensible writing necessity, the ‘room of one’s own’, becomes an obstacle to progress instead of a creative oasis.
Julian Turner speaks with Amanda Whittington about the ways in which his psychotherapeutic practice has influenced his writing, how metaphor and creativity are important in more than just literary practice, the role of religion and the human capability to transcend experiences of cruelty.
Susan Fletcher explores the experience of outsiderhood, both physical and social, and its influence on her writing, and wonders whether readers, too, are increasingly recognising themselves in outsider protagonists.
Lucy Flannery describes how an idle moment on twitter led to her accidentally writing a novel, and how the process of doing so raised old demons about her right to be an author.
Mark McCrum speaks with James McConnachie about how he came to take up ghostwriting, its similarities with travel writing, the drama of being the official documenter of the troubled Castaway TV series in 2000, and the challenge of Robbie Williams versus impending deadlines.
In ‘My Hero', we talk to a number of RLF writers about their personal heroes, and how those heroes have had an impact on their lives and their writing.
James McConnachie looks back on the gender bifurcation of childhood reading - and reminds us not to underestimate the gender-transcending power of the empathetic imagination.
Mark McCrum leads us into the strange world of the ghost writer, whose perilous path encounters both too little and too much material, and where the famous subjects of ghost-written autobiographies can co-operate or not.
Donny O’Rourke visits old haunts in Dumfries and the Borders, ghosted by the bards of Scotland’s past, for the liminal Celtic festival of Samhain.
Julian Turner considers the usefulness of imagination, not just to the writer, but also to the exile and the abused child, and suggests that metaphorical thinking may be psychologically essential.
Dipo Agboluaje explains how migrating from London to his family’s homeland of Nigeria as a young boy shaped his interest in playwriting, with inspiration along the way from diverse mythologies.
Penny Hancock wonders when it's legitimate, if your professional occupation leaves you free to manage your own time and involves an activity other people do simply for pleasure, to say that writing is your career?
Jonathan Tulloch takes us to a Cumbrian riverbank, circa 1983, for a picnic eagerly awaiting the end of the world at half past three (please pass the ham sandwiches.)
Mary Colson faces down the aimlessness and lack of purpose that takes hold when a book has been finished, but hasn’t yet found its place in the world.
Elanor Dymott explains how an encounter with the tangible aspects of photography, during deeply immersive research for her second novel, almost stopped her being a novelist.
Alex Martin considers whether it's better to be a man of action, or to live a more contemplative life. Or can a writer do both?
Maura Dooley, former RLF trustee, speaks with Jane Draycott about her complex connections with her Irish heritage, reaching to the realm of the 'beyond' when translating the work of Iranian poet Azita Ghahreman, and the unanticipated rewards of her residency at Jane Austen's Hampshire cottage.
Brian Keaney speaks with Robin Blake about growing up London Irish and the challenges of identity that presented, jumping from a secure teaching job into the precarious freelancery of writing, and how he wrote his first novel to discover the secret behind a pair of mysteries.
Ann Morgan retells the grand old myth about becoming a published author, then takes her editorial red pen to all of its inaccuracies.
Nicholas Murray dissects his own reluctance to call himself a writer, after an early career in journalism and despite having subsequently published more than twenty books in a huge variety of genres.
Donny O'Rourke takes in the ‘simmer dim’ in Orkney, a land of subtle greens and long histories, for the midsummer solstice festival of Litha.
Hugh Thomson splashes down in London’s famous Serpentine, where hardy and mostly convivial outdoor swimmers share a unisex changing room and run a regular gauntlet of swans.
In ‘Writing vs Life: A Delicate Matter’, we talk to a number of RLF writers about the challenge of re-using real life material in their work, the impact their writing has on their personal life, and where they draw the line on privacy.
Donny O’Rourke finds himself in the book-blessed town of Ullapool in May, celebrating the bonfires and bluebells of the Celtic Beltane festival.
Chris Arthur reflects on the inspirations of his ‘odd-object’ essays, and considers the popularity of this particular form and the most important aspect of oddness within it.
Stephen Wyatt takes us to an unusual destination: the Gallifrey One convention, where participants are enthusiastic, oddly dressed, and gratifyingly appreciative of his own 30-year-old TV script.
Doug Johnstone reminds us that no completed novel lives up to what its creator initially imagined, and explains how a complete failure three books in led him to find his true writing voice.
Ali Knight explores the murky depths of the Grand Union Canal in Londonand explains how it inspires her crime fiction.
John Greening takes us to the poetic village of Little Gidding and its nearby literary landmarks.
Miranda Miller introduces us to Henry James’ Lamb House in Rye and its connections with various writers.
Paula Byrne speaks with James McConnachie about the tragic fates of two lesser-known Kennedy siblings, doing meticulous scholarly research and yet publishing accessible books, moving into writing fiction, and investigating the psychological health benefits of reading with ReLit.
In ‘Writing vs Life: On Balance’, we talk to a number of RLF writers about the challenges of balancing writing against other aspects of their lives, how to stay grounded, and whether it’s ok for artists to be selfish.
Pascale Petit recounts how the sudden re-emergence of her long-absent father triggered both a sense that she’d discovered the material for her new book, but also a complete inability to write it.
Penny Hancock explains how a professional setback and a series of personal losses led her to decide to give up writing completely - and how the unusual life story of an elderly relative provided two kinds of inspiration for starting again.
Kathleen Jones revisits the remote hill farm she grew up on in Cumbria, and the landscape that shaped her.
Catherine O'Flynn explores the hidden spaces of Merry Hill, the suburban shopping centre where she used to work.
Doug Johnstone ponders his adopted city of Edinburgh, a literary capital that he was nervous of using as a setting for his novels.
In ‘Writing vs Life: The Pram in the Hall’, we talk to a number of RLF writers about the challenges of balancing parenthood and a professional writing career, and whether mothers and fathers still have differing experiences in this area.
Amanda Mitchison shares the ways she’s entwined with Scottish history, and how one of Scotland’s great historical outrages reached through time to shape the course of her novel.
Lucy Moore explores the challenges of choosing a subject, the dangers of identifying too closely, and how she looks for stories that both allure her and also urgently need telling.
Judy Brown considers how two decades spent as a practising lawyer have impacted her experiences and processes of writing, and considers the parallels and contrasts between the law and poetry.
Martina Evans considers her unlikely literary beginnings as the youngest of ten in a County Cork family: ‘I was known as a dreamer, a fumbler, a fool; if I was so busy dreaming, how did I notice so many things? My family asked this question too, even then.’
Ruth Thomas explains how the publishing industry went cool on her genre, and how a 60p discovery at a charity book fair helped her regain her mission and extend her range.
Mimi Thebo considers the myriad ways writers can fail, and describes how she came back from failure, and before that, from something even more serious.
Catherine O’Flynn dissects her enthusiasm for failed utopias, such as the ghost real estate ventures of the Spanish Riviera, and the influence of growing up surrounded by the 'bizarre and melancholy landscaped public spaces' of Birmingham.
Siân Rees takes us to Asunción in Paraguay, where magical realism makes sense and ghosts haunt the landscape and the imagination.
Cherise Saywell describes how an unexpected writing career descended into paralysis, and how a short and anonymously-published piece helped her to reconnect with what she loves about writing.
Cynthia Rogerson explains how escaping to a weekly writing group turned her from a frustrated mother-of-many to a fledgling novelist, who discovered that as far as family went, ‘it was extraordinary how happy we all were just suiting ourselves’.
Diana Evans takes us to a writer’s retreat in upstate New York, where she considers how race is a theme that seems imposed on black writers, obligating them to rage against racial injustice. Her characters, she says, have the right to be human first, 'to be ordinary.'
Cynan Jones considers place and authenticity in the storytelling process. 'Risk being unique or aim for palatable? That’s the choice, in writing as in wine-making.'
Jonathan Tulloch, in his final seasonal piece of the series, revisits a child’s Christmas in Cumbria, with a stray appearance of Saxon the family dog, a big black bible plucked from a Dylan Thomas sky, and an orange bulging in a rugby sock like an anaconda’s meal.
Marina Benjamin examines the changing role of the personal voice in contemporary memoir, celebrates the sharing of ecstatic highs and vertiginous tumbles, and notes that it’s writerly craft that lifts a work beyond mere self-pimping.
Alyson Hallett takes us to Launceston in Cornwall, home of the writer Charles Causley, in the centenary year of his birth.
Jonny Wright considers the sobering parallels between the 1959 play A Raisin In The Sun, featuring a black family in Southside Chicago, and the racial inequality, downward economic mobility and defacto housing segregation of contemporary London.
Kerry Young describes her journey from failing 'O'-level English to becoming a successful novelist, and how her writing is a gift both to her late father and to the diverse cultures that have produced contemporary Jamaica.
Charles Boyle considers the range of circumstances that make writers stop writing, sometimes forever, and why this can be an amicable separation.
Kevin Clarke shares a cautionary tale about deliberate plagiarism in the screen-writing industries - an issue he has had to contend with not once, but at least five times.
John Keay explains why writing a foreign nation’s history is no more presumptuous than writing about Picts and Scots, and shares his enthusiasm for RH Tawney, a man who was ‘more history writer than historian’.
Tobias Jones considers, as both reader and writer, the fascination of the true crime genre, and the profound truths with which it can connect us.
Jonathan Tulloch shares the second of his gustatory delights, the heterogeneous cakes of summer, from the societal nuances of home-baked vs. shop-bought to the unfairness of selective corpulence and his granddad’s final Victoria Sandwich.
Cynthia Rogerson contemplates the literary spurs of exile and outsiderhood, wonders whether she would have written any novels if she’d simply stayed at home in the USA, and explains why being a writer is easier in Scotland than in California.
Brian McAvera considers what we’ve lost in favouring naturalistic, TV-esque theatre over the wider and deeper possibilities offered by non-naturalism.
Rahila Gupta tells George Miller: 'I have a British passport but I’ve always felt like an immigrant'. Their conversation explores the background to that statement, touching on some of the political causes that Rahila has been involved with and how her writing has served those causes.
Roopa Farooki explores what it’s like to be brown when all your childhood literary heroes are white, and explains why representation matters if we want to draw more children into reading.
Ray French considers his Irish roots and adopted British identity, and how, in writing about the Irish experience in Britain, he inhabits ‘that fascinating space between home and exile.’
MIranda Miller works to finish a novel, visits an exhibition related to an old one, and considers whether she wants to ‘be a brand’ in the brave new world of 21st century publishing, in her audio diary.
We also feature two recent pieces from the Vox section of our website, 'Letter to my younger self', from John Greening and Mary Colson.
Julia Copus is joined by poets Debjani Chatterjee, Basir Kazmi and Mimi Khalvati, to explore the long history and contemporary pleasures of the ghazal.
Is writing a ruthless business? How much honesty is too much? Should you mine your own life for stories? RLF writers explore this literary quandary in 'The Splinter of Ice'.
The RLF takes an inside look at how writers navigate the shoals of literary genre, and how they really see themselves — despite what those book blurbs might say.
The RLF provides an inside look at the diverse and surprising ways in which contemporary writers support themselves beyond their writing lives.
Marcy Kahan shares an exciting writing week with us in this nightly audio diary.
Babs Horton, Neil Hanson, Esther Selsdon, Philip Caveney, Susan Price and David Spencer tell us about why they write, as featured in the Vox section of the RLF’s Showcase.