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While my childhood was in many ways lonely, in my mind I travelled widely. A therapist once asked me who my role models had been, since my parents seemed so absent. I thought for a moment and then said ‘Books’. It was the greatest gift they could have given me.
Zora Neale Hurston left an indelible mark on me as a young journalist. I was first inspired by her book Tell My Horse recounting her audacious expedition in 1936 to Jamaica and Haiti where she documented life and folklore. I wanted to follow in her footsteps.
When I think of life-changing literature, I think of writing which didn’t change me at all, but made me more who I am. Growing up in the South Wales Valleys, and coming from a working-class background, I thought writing was done by other people in other places.
What are we seeking when we visit writers’ homes? Richard Lambert considers literary tourism and shares observations from his own literary pilgrimages.
07-09-2023

Rosalind Harvey speaks with Ann Morgan about learning another language so well you dream in it, the process of finding the voice for other writers’ characters, and the link between writing and translating.

'When I was sure that no one was about, I would talk to myself about the play as loudly and urgently as I could. I began to voice the characters. I had loud family rows with myself. The cows stared. The darker it got, the freer I felt. I finished a first draft. '
'I find myself, in this hopeless longing for the inanimate, in the company of Nabokov, who, target shooting at a fair, won a porcelain pig. He writes: ‘I abandoned it on the shelf at the hotel when I left town. In doing so, I condemned myself to remember it'.'
27-07-2023

Jamie Lee Searle reflects on the experience of building a fiction-writing practice fifteen years into a translating career.

Chris Simms explains why research is his favourite part of writing, considers the advantages of talking with real people when seeking realism in fiction, and his own scary undercover experience at the sharp end of an Alsatian.

'Aquariums, zoos, safari parks, they’re otherworldly places: so many things there have clearly just landed from outer space. So many things there are clearly us. In enclosure after enclosure, tank after tank, I find poem after poem.'
13-07-2023

Sara Wheeler speaks with Caroline Sanderson about the sources of her inspirations as a travel writer and biographer, why the future of travel writing is bright and why the writer’s job is to find hope and celebrate the individual human spirit’s survival.

'I was an outsider within my more fissile than fusional nuclear family. My speech emerged so late, and so mangled, that it was experienced by others as either foreign or gibberish; terms which, in the England of the day, were understood as synonymous.'
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