Episode 106 - LS Hilton: Part 1

16Mar

In a new two-part episode, This Writing Life meets Lisa Hilton: journalist, historian and novelist. Her 15 year-career has produced five works of non-fiction, and three of fiction. Yet it took just one book to make her name, albeit under the thin veil of LS Hilton.

Published in 2016, Maestra was a marmite erotic thriller, that provoked controversy, accalaim and headlines across the world. Rejected by Hilton's own agent who found it 'disgusting', and then by almost every English publisher, it found a home first with a film agent, and then with the up and coming Zaffre Press. 50 Shades of Grey, but cut with American Psycho and Patricia Highsmith, it told the coming-of-rage tale of Judith, an ammoral art historian-turned-call-girl -turned-international-swindler-murderer-sex-kitten. It is unnerving, gripping and darkly funny in equal measure.

The challenge facing This Writing Life: how long can we talk to Lisa Hilton about her career without mentioning her succès de scandale? Find out by listening below. 

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Episode 105 - Richard Russo: Part 5

10Mar

The final part of our epic chat with Richard Russo asks an epic question: what has it been like to write novels for 30 years? Having chewed over that question we move onto some other big topics, including posterity, death and what comes next (not the afterlife, just what is Russo's next project). 

Finally, we ask: will there be another chapter to Donald Sullivan's adventures? Everybody's Fool is available everywhere right now. We urge you to read it at once.

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Episode 104 - Richard Russo: Part 4

5Mar

'This is not an attempt on my part to portray myself as anything like a prophet. I simply was born somewhere...I got to bear witness to something that was tremendously important to me and my family.'

In this fourth and penultimate This Writing Life interview with Richard Russo, we begin with the fictional small-town of Bath that is found in both Nobody's Fool and its sequel Everybody's Fool. Russo discusses his own personal and artistic relationship with small-town life, taking in his childhood in Gloversville and how it has informed much of his work. From here we meander towards death, in fiction and life, with a cheerier side-track marked: how to begin a novel? Keep reading →

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Episode 103 - Richard Russo: Part 3

26Feb

'I have always been a meanderer. I have always loved digression.'

So says Richard Russo in part three of This Writing Life's conversation with the Pulitzer Prize winning novelist. We approach the subject of comic meandering, initially as a way to explore through narrative ideas of luck, fate and free will. We digress through a peroration about self-made men, including President Donald Trump, and Brexit towards a deeper consideration of digression in Russo's new novel, Everybody's Fool, and his work as a whole. (A small warning: the final four minutes of this interview contain a spoiler alert about the end of Everybody's Fool).

Keep reading →

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Episode 102 - Richard Russo: Part 2

13Feb

Part two of This Writing Life's conversation with Pulitzer Prize winner Richard Russo begins with the idea of sequels: his new novel, Everybody's Fool is a follow-up to Russo's masterpiece, Nobody's Fool. What are the risks of continuing a story that is not just admired but loved? Did Russo intend to write a sequel to Donald 'Sully' Sullivan's adventures. What made him return in the first place? What was it like to revisit characters who were created over 20 years before?

Keep reading →

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Episode 101 - Richard Russo: Part 1

7Feb

Part 1 of This Writing Life's interview with the great American comic writer begins in media res. Russo is telling me about signing 9000 copies of his new novel, Everybody's Fool, in a warehouse in Maryland. Russo has recovered enough to discuss the idea of signed copies and what to do with his own personal archive. Keep reading →

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Episode 100 - Richard Russo reads from Everybody’s Fool

31Jan

For the 100th episode of This Writing Life, we celebrate with a very special instalment. Pulitzer Prize winning novelist Richard Russo reads from his wonderful, warm, funny and mordant new book Everybody's Fool. A sequel to one of our favourite novels - 1993's Nobody's Fool - it returns the reader to the life, opinions and travails of Donald 'Sully' Sullivan in the small upstate New York town of North Bath.

In this scene from the distant past (the character Wirf Saks has died by Everybody's Fool), Sully and Wirf settle down in the local bar to discuss the sex addiction of the irrepressible Carl Roebuck.

Enjoy.

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Episode 99 - Matt Haig: Part 4

29Jan

The final part of This Writing Life's interview with Matt Haig (about Christmas, mental health, the internet) begins with Magic Tweets (about Rupert Murdoch), Tweeting addiction and the inveterate competitiveness of writers. Keep reading →

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Episode 98 - Matt Haig: Part 3

23Jan

Part 3 of This Writing Life's interview with Matt Haig changes tack from memories of Christmas past to consider Matt's experience of depression that inspired his non-fiction memoir Reasons to Stay Alive. We begin by discussing general attitudes towards mental health, not least among politicians, before exploring the effect that Reasons to Stay Alive has had on Matt and his readers. Keep reading →

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Episode 97 - Matt Haig Trailer: On Reading vs Depression

17Jan

A very happy new year to all! We open 2017 by returning back to 2016. This Writing Life's interview with Matt Haig was a game of two halves. For the first 45 minutes, we discussed Christmas, inspired by his excellent festive children's story, A Boy Called Christmas. In the second half, we turned our attention to depression inspired by Matt's excellent memoir about depression, anxiety and his own experience of mental illness, Reasons to Stay Alive. In this short taster, Matt recalls how reading helped him in the early days of recovery: what he read and what he found he could not read.

Part 3 and 4 will follow.

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