'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.'
Shanta Everington describes her experiences as an adoptive parent and how adopting her son led to a life-changing project about unrepresented forms of motherhood.
'My first year at Latitude it was baking with sunshine and I ended up having a drink under a tree with John Cooper Clarke, who heard one of my gloomy poems and called me 'Sylvia'.'
'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.'
Clare Shaw speaks with Geoff Hattersley about the origins of her love of poetry, the legacy of mental illness in her writing, and her drive to find the light in even the darkest material.
As a transracial adoptee, Katharine Quarmby wondered if her family stories – Yugoslav, English, Iranian – really belonged to her. Looking back, she asks herself which stories were real and which imagined, and concludes that adoption ‘cannot make you a writer, but it can help’.
Travel writer Helena Drysdale has observed death rites in Tibet, Madagascar and Romania. Undergoing radiotherapy, she experiences the surge of life and the risk-taking excitement that also drives her writing.