Stephen Sharkey asks why anybody would want to turn a perfectly good novel into a stage play, and explains the value in turning the solitary pursuit of reading into the shared experience of theatre.
Bill Kirton considers Gustav Flaubert’s masterpiece, suggesting that its irregularities might be subversion rather than error, and spends an evening with his eponymous heroine.
Shelley Harris speaks with Bethan Roberts about prose perfectionism and embracing the ‘dirty first draft’, the fear of ‘using up’ all your talent, other disabling myths about writerhood and the writer’s ideal superpower.
Shelley Harris speaks with Bethan Roberts about writers’ outsiderhood, the influence of moving to the UK from South Africa as a child, overcoming a crippling fear of failure and having her first published novel picked for the Richard and Judy book club.
Amanda Dalton speaks with Amanda Whittington about moving from teaching to writing, the cross-fertilisation of poems and drama in her work, and the bold approach she’s taken to audio drama in reimagining classic silent films for radio.
Former RLF Trustee Richard Holmes speaks with Gabriel Gbadamosi about the intrusions and liberations of biographical research, shares some useful advice for aspiring biographers and considers the impact of photography and the changing nature of biography as a form.
Former RLF Trustee Richard Holmes speaks with Gabriel Gbadamosi about falling in love with your biographical subjects, the importance of notebooks and the biographer’s own experience, the role of empathy and the “imaginary conversation” between biographer and subject.
Shyama Perera speaks with Ann Morgan about her move from journalism to fiction writing, the influence of music in her work, growing up around casual racism and being a ‘portfolio woman’ thriving on teaching as well as writing.
Mirza Waheed speaks with Ann Morgan about why non-Western literature shouldn’t have to explain itself to Western readers, who can tell which stories, how parenthood and being primary carer have affected him as a writer, and the secret joy of working on buses.
Mirza Waheed speaks with Ann Morgan about his childhood in Kashmir and the injustice and violence he witnessed there, encountering the English literary canon in Delhi, and the influence of those experiences when writing his first novel in London.
Sue Teddern speaks with Bethan Roberts about her varied writing career in magazines, radio, TV and fiction, and the need for realism when dealing with the unavoidable constraints of commercial writing.
Hannah Vincent speaks with Bethan Roberts about how acting led her to playwriting, working as a script editor, her mid-career move into fiction, the ‘core self’ that drives creativity and some of the recurring themes in her work.
Heidi Williamson speaks with John Greening about inspirations including science and traditional print processes, the importance of pattern in writing poems, her need to surprise herself and her new collection drawing on a painful section of public and personal history.
Mahendra Solanki speaks with Amanda Whittington about the meaning of ‘home’ in his poetry, the legacy of violence in his childhood, the vital role of libraries and the crucial difference between ‘writing and therapy’ and ‘writing as therapy’.
Tim Pears speaks with John Greening about how family history took him from contemporary novels to historical ones, eschewing psychology for a newly filmic style of fiction, seeing his work on television and the benefits of a hands-on early career.
Shahrukh Husain speaks with Amanda Whittington about the enduring presence of myths and fairytales in her writing, how Jo from Little Women became her first literary heroine and why Princess Diana is the greatest mythic figure of our age.
Stephanie Norgate speaks with Jane Draycott about dramatising the life of a pioneering undercover woman journalist, giving voice to the collapsing landscapes of West Sussex and her out-of-doors childhood in Gilbert White’s Selborne.
Horatio Clare takes us to Hebden Bridge and its connections with the poets Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes.
Lucy Moore celebrates the London she travels through at human pace on her bicycle.
Curtis Jobling recalls Great Sankey, where childhood phantoms became the grown-up imaginings of unsettling fantasy novels.
Becca Heddle speaks with Jane Draycott about discovering traditional African ‘dilemma’ tales, the psychological dimensions of cloning in her new YA novel, and the continuing need for bold fiction writing for younger readers.
Nicola Baldwin speaks with Amanda Whittington about the distinctive nature of radio drama, how the unique demands of the medium shape her writing, and why radio offers a radical way to tell stories by, for and about women’s lives.
Zoë Marriott speaks with Amanda Whittington about identity politics and feminism in her YA fantasy fiction, why diversity is a deliberate and essential choice and how she fuses historical facts with fantasy worlds to find a 21st century truth.
Tania Hershman explores the cornucopia of libraries offered by the great northern city of Manchester, including private and public collections and modern trimmings including digital pianos and foosball tables.
Rick Stroud takes us to St James’ Square and the quiet sanctuary of the London Library, a private and productive space beloved by writers and readers alike.
Stephen Romer speaks with John Greening about the themes and technical preoccupations of his poetry, his life in France, his poetic influences and the deeply personal source material that inspired one of his collections.
Stephanie Norgate explores her practice of keeping notebooks, relishing the 'unexpected jewels' they produce, and shares her fascination with the notebooks of other writers and the remarkable insights they can provide.
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.
Marcy Kahan speaks with Gabriel Gbadamosi about rejecting the overly literary via her inner clown, writing urbane romantic comedies for radio, why fascists hate satire, and her long-running series Lunch.
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.
Roopa Farooki speaks with Jane Draycott about writing of deception within families, the monster hiding in us all, embellishing the story of her father’s ‘astonishing and wayward life’ and the importance of diverse characters in writing for young people.
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.
Susan Fletcher speaks with Caroline Sanderson about the importance of setting to her novels, how her love of the natural world and writing outside helps her bring poetry to her prose, and what really motivates her as a novelist.
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'.
Courttia Newland speaks with Catherine O'Flynn about childhood inspiration from TV and music, his doubts about diversity initiatives in publishing and the threads linking his work across different media and genres.
Ian Thomson speaks with Gabriel Gbadamosi about the writer’s need for selfishness, the use of not being comfortable in one’s own skin, subverting Englishness with JG Ballard and writing about Jamaica, Primo Levi and Haiti.
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.
Charles Jennings speaks with Catherine O’Flynn about the lost era of career magazine journalism, how his early career consisted of being 'roped in' to everything from writing books and plays to TV work, and the pros and cons of writing to spec.
Michael McMillan speaks with Gabriel Gbadamosi about growing up in Buckinghamshire and London, the ongoing influence of his widely-toured ‘front room’ installation, the role of music in black British culture, and the important culture and politics of the 1970s.
Helena Drysdale speaks with James McConnachie about male vs female travel writing, journeys alone and with others, becoming literally radioactive during cancer treatment and chasing the past in Romania, Greece and New Zealand.
Trish Cooke speaks with Caroline Sanderson about her children’s picturebooks and the eerie prescience of some of her illustrators, exploring fairytales in books and pantomime, and the real-life tragic roots of a dramatic work for Black Lives Matter.
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.
Trish Cooke speaks with Caroline Sanderson about her Dominican heritage, her Yorkshire upbringing, how her parents’ love of stories inspired her as a teller of tales, and how her career kicked off in multiple directions all at once.
Wendy Moore speaks with Catherine O’Flynn about the loss of diversity and career opportunities in journalism, historical characters who demand to be written about, and her motivation to find parallels between the past and the present.
Mark McCrum speaks with James McConnachie about his long term background efforts in fiction, his experiences with self-publishing and how to do it properly, finding success in genre fiction and his openness to whatever comes next.
Nick Holdstock speaks with John Siddique about living in and writing about China and the nature of the 'Chinese dream', his unexpected job cataloguing the book collection of the late Doris Lessing, and the inspiration of serendipitous finds in second-hand books.
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.
Claire Harman speaks with Caroline Sanderson about the painstaking, and sometimes obsessive art of literary biography, and how careful detective work can bring new insights into even the most written-about lives.
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.
Penny Hancock speaks with John Greening about discovering dark inner places as a crime writer, inhabiting different characters, real-life story inspirations and her writing approaches and motivations.
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.
Mark McCrum speaks with James McConnachie about his first travel writing adventures in South Africa during the last days of apartheid, being sent rather unwillingly for a further book about Australia, and working out what you’re writing about as you go along.
Dipo Agboluaje speaks with Gabriel Gbadamosi about Britain and Nigeria, the big dreams of his characters and his knack of combining satire with character development, and the necessity for diverse playwrights to aim for the mainstream.
Max Eilenberg speaks with John Siddique about the importance of love in children’s fiction, his previous career in publishing, retelling a traditional fairytale and his enduring enthusiasm for the work of Bob Dylan.
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.
Caitlin Davies and her father Hunter Davies let us eavesdrop on a conversation about their respective writing careers, being compulsive writers in a family of writers and generational changes in the publishing industry.
Rukhsana Ahmad speaks with John Siddique about her peripatetic childhood in Pakistan, how her concern for other people motivates her to keep writing across years and genres, and how she’s avoided the constraints of the ‘post-colonial’.
Leigh Russell speaks with Robin Blake about becoming a crime writer in her fifties, writing series books that can also stand alone, what readers want from her genre and her surprising crime-writing hero.
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.
Susan Barker speaks with Cherise Saywell about the international origins of her novels, the way her characters and storylines emerge organically as she writes and her experiences living in Japan and China.
Rick Stroud speaks with Robin Blake about how his film-making background influences his literary projects, his fascination with WW2 and the projects it has led him to, and his love of simple, clear writing.
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?
Meaghan Delahunt speaks with Cherise Saywell about revolutionary beginnings, the physical nature of her writing and drafting process, being a 'citizen of nowhere' and the pressure on Australian writers to conform to Colonial perceptions of their country.
Mimi Khalvati speaks with John Greening about losing her Persian origins in an Isle of Wight boarding school, the creative benefits of constrained poetic forms, the neglected role of abstraction in English poetry and why she co-founded the Poetry School.
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.
Jane Shilling speaks with Robin Blake about how learning to hunt inspired her first memoir, accepting botox in the name of art, writing without an audience in mind and moving to fiction in a new, metrics-driven publishing climate.
Joanne Limburg and our host Julia Copus discuss two classic poems by Mathilde Blind, a once-celebrated, now neglected poet, scholar and intellectual, in another instalment of our special ‘Poetry Break’ series.
Doug Johnstone speaks with Cherise Saywell about shifting from engineering to domestic noir via music journalism, exploring conflicted masculinity in his work, and being part of the Tartan Noir family of Scottish crime writers.
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?
Lucy Moore speaks with James McConnachie about prominent political women in the French Revolution, her study of the lives of some controversial maharanis, and the value of detail such as dress in recreating the past.
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.
Lucy Moore speaks with James McConnachie about recovering the life of a civil war aristocrat from her ‘receipt book’, the roots of chemistry in the housewife’s distilling room, and the contrasting attitudes of Puritans and Royalists to the role of women in society.
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.
Robyn Marsack speaks with Cherise Saywell about how her interest in the literature of WW1 led her to the work of Edmund Blunden, about discovering her own grandfather’s WW1 writings, and an astonishing literary surprise.
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.
James Woodall speaks with Robin Blake about how his mother is accidentally responsible for his writing career and some of his subject matter, how his love of Spanish music eventually led him to Latin America, and wanting to escape the constraints of biography.
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.
Pippa Little speaks with Geoff Hattersley about poetry in her African and Scottish childhood, building a career as an early school leaver and her return to Higher Education, and her approaches to writing.
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.
Laura Hird speaks with Geoff Hattersley about her beginnings as a writer of bleak and gritty short stories, the real reason her first novel was written in four different voices, and how she gave her mother a literary afterlife in ‘Dear Laura’.
Elanor Dymott speaks with Robin Blake about storytelling’s essential role in the British legal system, migrating from law journalism to fiction, and the childhood origins of an unsettling recurrent theme in her writing.
Jon Mayhew speaks with John Siddique about his typical working day, creating a plausible back-story for Jules Verne’s Captain Nemo while remaining true to Verne’s fictional universe, and making the leap from full-time employment to full-time writing.
Amanda Mitchison speaks with John Siddique about her family’s writing legacy, her eccentric newsroom roles in the Vatican and Cairo, the current plight of career journalists, and her wistful links to Scotland.
Nicholas Murray and our host Julia Copus discuss two favourite classic poems, ‘To His Coy Mistress’ by Andrew Marvell and ‘The Sun Rising’ by John Donne, in another instalment of our special ‘Poetry Break’ series.
Jon Mayhew speaks with John Siddique about schoolkids’ ongoing love of ghost stories, his reasons for getting into teaching, the pros and cons of plot templates, and how his writing career started with a running accident.
Steven Pinker speaks with his old friend and schoolmate, the RLF’s Marcy Kahan, about his writing and editing process, why the Enlightenment matters more than ever, why the world is actually better than it used to be, and some approaches to achieving happiness.
Steven Pinker speaks with his old friend and schoolmate, the RLF’s Marcy Kahan, about coming of age in Montreal’s Anglophone Jewish community, the nature of good writing and the 'classic style', and managing a dictionary by democratic processes.
Nigel Cliff speaks with James McConnachie about the 19th century 'Shakespeare Riots' in New York, what might be driving his choice of subjects, and the differences between the US and UK publishing industries.
Nigel Cliff speaks with James McConnachie about cold war concert pianist Van Cliburn and Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama, and considers their roles at turning points in history and meetings of cultures.
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.
Chris Arthur speaks with Cherise Saywell about the essay as a multifaceted and ‘heretical’ form, the notion of a ‘dangerously failed’ piece of work, and the encouraging fact that ‘If you can find the objects that speak to you, essays will follow’.
Jane Rogoyska speaks with Frances Byrnes about being drawn to her father’s homeland of Poland, telling hidden stories from that country’s brutal history, and how the frustrations of film production drove her to writing.
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.
Paula Byrne speaks with James McConnachie about Jane Austen’s laptop, why she wouldn’t write about somebody she had no affinity with, being a ‘footnote queen’, recovering lost women’s voices, and being a pioneer of the ‘partial life’ biography.
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.
Jonny Wright talks to John Siddique about his need to write the roles that have been missing from theatre repertoire, his attraction to protagonists who find themselves at odds with the world, and the literary values of Hip Hop.
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.
Catherine Czerkawska speaks with Cherise Saywell about her fascination with Jean Armour, the greatly underestimated wife of Scots bard Robert Burns, and discusses writing history as fiction, and her own professional journey.
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.
Cynan Jones speaks with James McConnachie about 'the square mile' in Welsh culture, the experience of re-telling stories, and the spark that sends him to the writing shed to get a pending novel down on the page.
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.’
Mary Colson speaks with John Siddique about the value of children’s non-fiction and the unusual constraints involved in writing it commercially, her love of writing for screen and stage, and the right way to teach writing and nurture children’s voices.
Donny O’Rourke speaks with Geoff Hattersley about losing and rediscovering self-belief as an artist, the pleasures of improvisation, handling midlife melancholy and the joy of that moment 'between apprehension and comprehension'.
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.
Cynan Jones speaks with James McConnachie about writing as a kind of imaginative remembering, the act of taking a novel from ninety to thirty thousand words in a single cut, and why it’s good to have more abandoned books in drawers than published ones on the shelf.
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.
Martina Evans joins host Julia Copus to discuss two favourite classic poems: ‘They Flee From Me’ by Sir Thomas Wyatt, suggested by Martina, and ‘Aspens’ by Edward Thomas, suggested by Julia, in the first installment of our new 'Poetry Break' series.
Todd McEwen tells Frances Byrnes about how his early life in Southern California gave him abundance – in literature and landscape – but also taught him scepticism and helped him develop his distinctive writing voice.
Penny Black speaks with Frances Byrnes about teenage summers in Vienna, the shock of revisiting old contracts, and how her desire to speak perfect German accidentally led to a passionate career in writing for theatre.
Tobias Jones speaks with James McConnachie about his lifelong fascination with communal living, the secrets of making it work, and his own experience in establishing and nurturing a residential community.
Julia Copus shares her diary in ‘My Writing Week’, encompassing a glitzy awards night in the city, the challenge of everyday administrative distractions back at home, and the role of dogs – the ‘heartbeat at my feet’ – in the lives of writers.
Tobias Jones speaks with James McConnachie about the 'dark heart' of Italy during the Berlusconi era, and his experiences as a Briton living in and documenting the real Italy beyond the journalistic bubble of Rome.
Sarah Ardizzone and Euan Cameron speak with fellow translator Nick Caistor about the pleasures and challenges of rendering another writer's work into a new language — and what liberties a translator should and shouldn't take.
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.'
Horatio Clare speaks with James McConnachie about the pleasures and plights of Welsh sheep-farming, the creative criminal record of his youth, and why writers should 'live it and leave it until it's ready' when using real life as material.
Kevin Clarke speaks with Frances Byrnes about playwriting as an essential dramatic apprenticeship, completing his education as an adult, and how his dramatic subjects choose him, rather than the other way around.
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.
Brian McCabe speaks with Geoff Hattersley about why mathematicians are a bit like artists, how something being funny doesn’t mean it’s light, and the process of imaginatively recreating the worldview of a child.
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.
John Keay speaks with James McConnachie about hands-on historical researches from the Himalaya to the Highlands, his best writing advice and the idea that what historians really need is not more documents but stronger boots.
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.
Tracey Herd speaks with Julia Copus about the prevalence of female iconography in her work, the low status of writing based on popular culture, and how the spirits of the truly gifted can live on through music, film and literature.
Roy Bainton speaks with Frances Byrnes about the stories an adventurous life accumulates, the increasing difficulty of surviving as a freelancer, and the way music and writing come together as a cornerstone of his career.
Kerry Young speaks with Frances Byrnes about how her early life in Jamaica influenced her novels: her father’s gangster life in Kingston and her mother’s Catholicism and ideas of redemption and Kerry’s passionate feelings about being Chinese-Jamaican.
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.
Cliff Yates speaks with Geoff Hattersley about changing from school hater to school teacher, his poetry collections and his love of performing, and shares some poems featuring his distinctive touch of surrealism.
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.
Mavis Cheek continues her conversation with James McConnachie, discussing how her writing life has charted enormous changes in women’s lives and regretting the dearth of humour in ‘serious’ contemporary fiction.
Kathleen Jones tells Frances Byrnes about the mythic relationships between people and their landscapes in her writing — be it a disturbing poem set in her now-abandoned childhood Cumbrian fell home, or fierce non-fiction about the Haida Gwaii islands.
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.
Mavis Cheek speaks with James McConnachie about her challenging family background, and how discovering that she ‘had a brain’ took her from ‘Sixties dolly bird’ to acclaimed author of witty contemporary novels.
David Spencer, who has written intense dramas in Halifax dialect even while living and working in Berlin, speaks with Geoff Hattersley about his playwriting career, life in a different language, and remaining true to the speech of his characters.
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.
Jonathan Gregson speaks with James McConnachie about travelling the Himalaya by unorthodox means including a horse and an Enfield Bullet motorbike, and his mixed emotions about the now-vanishing Forbidden Kingdoms.
Sarah Salway shares what she calls a ‘realistic’ rather than glamorous writing week, full of teaching, mentoring, fending off Facebook, a weekend busman’s holiday and — most importantly — some highly enjoyable writing.
Christopher Wakling talks about making the transition from lawyer to novelist and capturing the joys and pains of family life on the page with humour and subtlety in books such as What I Did and Towards the Sun.
Peter Forbes tells Carole Angier about the appeal of objectivity and poetic forms, and discusses the art of mimicking nature — be it learning from burrs how to make velcro, or learning from animals how to camouflage armies.
Lyn Webster Wilde speaks with George Miller about Becoming the Enchanter, a very personal exploration of the hidden world of Britain’s native traditions, which takes her to ancient places in search of enduring spiritual meaning.
Annette Kobak speaks with Carole Angier about her biography of Isabelle Eberhardt, her memoir of her father and his wartime experiences, and the important role of parallel travels in the structure of her books.
Caitlin Davies confronts every writer’s dilemma in her audio diary: how, in a busy week, she can find enough time to write?
This episode also features two recent highlights from the Vox section of our website.
Julia Copus is joined by poets Debjani Chatterjee, Basir Kazmi and Mimi Khalvati, to explore the long history and contemporary pleasures of the ghazal.
Hugh Thomson speaks with George Miller about the importance of a sense of humour to the travel writer, the erotic pottery of the Moche people, the challenge of writing about his own country, and the importance of the vodka mule in archaeological expeditions.
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'.
Fiona Shaw tells Frances Byrnes of how she felt an affinity with her PhD subject — the poet, Elizabeth Bishop — but never anticipated being a writer herself until severe emotions forced something out of her.
Emma Darwin retreats to country solitude, where she’s writing a memoir about failing to write a novel about her busy family history.
Charles Boyle and Fiona Shaw tell us about why they write, as featured in the Vox section of the RLF’s Showcase.
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.
Kate Colquhoun speaks with Carole Angier about the workaholic Joseph Paxton’s parental regrets, the pros and cons of British cooking, and 'holding the basket of domesticity' while ideas float away like untethered balloons.
Kate Colquhoun speaks with Carole Angier about the pleasures of rich source material and her need to be surprised while writing, the trials of ever-changing writing technology, and how her career as an author was started by a strawberry crinoline.
Michael Bywater talks with George Miller about his book on the infantilization of contemporary culture, Big Babies, the nature of male friendship, and his recent work on a musical about the life of Oscar Wilde.
Jonathan Falla shares his experiences and observations (and even some of his writing exercises) as he directs a residential Creative Writing summer school in St Andrews.
We also share two recent highlights from our Vox short audio series.
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.