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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.

‘Diane (Middlebrook)’s study, which crucially extended the right to examine private life, was a turning point in late twentieth century biography.’
‘When I was writing my fourth novel I had two toddlers but I was trapped inside my story; I was compelled to keep writing.’