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Jon Stock considers life as a nine-to-five novelist and finds unexpected pleasures in editing, a sometimes-overlooked part of the writing process.

Bethan Roberts yearns for Anglesey, a place of family history, childhood holidays and a beautiful, mysterious family language.

Morgen Witzel explores the moods of Dartmoor, and surveys the many writers, including himself, who have been inspired by its solitude.

Rebecca Goss looks up at the skies she's lived beneath, and considers how they've shaped her writing from above.

Born in Soviet-era Ukraine, Vitali Vitaliev has written books in both Russian and English. In this essay he considers the joys and challenges experienced by bilingual authors and revisits his childhood to remember his first teacher of English.
'A soundtrack switches on and off, relentlessly searching for words to describe my sensations. This inner monologue accompanies me throughout my daily life, storing up ideas for me to draw on when I'm working on a book.'
'What Agatha Christie knew deep down, is that not only is the writer an outsider, but that the act of telling a story requires that outsider-ness to be part of the narration. The classic detective story tends to rely upon the central detective being outside.'

Sarah LeFanu explores the question of what name(s) to use for biographical subjects, the ongoing danger ‘of not being quite critical enough’ when the subject starts to feel like a friend, and the persistent asymmetry of naming men by surname and women by first name.

Caroline Brothers investigates the issue of cultural appropriation in fiction, suggesting the right way for novelists to avoid crossing that line.


Sarah LeFanu speaks with Ann Morgan about how activism preceded authorship, writing a critical history of women’s speculative fiction because she wanted to teach it, her experiences in revolutionary Mozambique and her role in the Women’s Press and the subsequent illusion of ‘post-feminism’.

'Writers don't need to be prisoners, or exiles, or even cursed by elements of their own society to feel an outsider. The biographies of writers are littered with references to feelings of distance.'
Andrew Martin describes his lifelong fascination with trains, and the way the coming of the railway transformed literature.
John Harrison describes his investigations into the earliest human societies, and what he looks for when he is on the trail of these ancient settlements.
'Being able to spend three years in the company of extraordinary characters such as Ian Fleming, Rudyard Kipling, Dylan Thomas, Arthur Conan Doyle and Wilkie Collins has been more than a privilege, it has helped make me who I am. '

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.

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