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'What genre would Shakespeare be? His works contain horror, history, myth, fantasy, ghosts, crime. Dickens, too. I always have a Dickens on the go, and dip in just as I would a giant bag of pick and mix. I want a novel to have it all; why not?'
'Select a book from my shelves, open it and you’ll find an unconventional bookmark — a Post-it note, a child’s drawing, even a prescription for folic acid never collected. My bookshelves contain secrets; I plot my life through the books I’ve read.'
Jeremy Treglown considers the allure of working with historical archives and shares some literary anecdotes from a lifetime of documentary research.
'We need to imagine intensely, to identify strongly with the people whom we're writing about, however uncomfortable or difficult that might be. To live the minutiae and texture of their lives. We need to be insiders. '
'I returned to UEA to teach on the MA, and though I still valued Angela Carter's advice to me, it isn't advice I readily pass on to my students. I do believe we should write about what we know, but I no longer interpret that maxim quite so literally.'
08-07-2021

Andrew Cowan speaks with Bethan Roberts about growing up as a working class boy in Corby, eventually taking a Creative Writing MA mostly because he liked being a student, the way his writing proceeds from the visual to the written to the auditory and the slow genesis and under-appreciated success of his first novel.

'The singer-songwriter Matt Johnson and his band The The has probably inspired my work the most; when I was reunited with Johnson's music I was amazed to hear how this inspiration is so prominent in my early work.'
'I'm inspired by novelists who reveal the extraordinary in what are patronisingly called 'everyday people'; that refusal to confine interest to life's winners... in Carter's work, and in Mantel's.'
'I should also mention Stan Lee. Spiderman caught criminals and saved lives but had trouble getting a girlfriend. The X-Men saved the world frequently but were somehow hated and misunderstood.'
'Immersed in domains of magic and adventure, I wondered how these story people tackled the great unknown. What did they feel at a given moment? Why did strangers choose to help or hinder them?'
In the course of his writing career, Brian McCabe has discerned the influence of a number of other writers on his own work — influences which may or may not have proved enduring. Here he considers some of the more important.
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