Episode 140 - Leila Slimani - Lullaby: Part 3


Part three of This Writing Life's podcast with Leila Slimani, author of global smash-hit Lullaby, moves towards more personal territory. We talk about her family, her background and her views on everything from the French language to women wearing the veil.

Along the way, Leila discusses her role for President Macron promoting the French language and ponders whether whether it is courageous to speak out on issues like Islamic fundamentalism that might put her in danger. During this, I accidentally stumble into terrain explored by her current work-in-progress.

The final part to follow.

Episode 139 - Leila Slimani - Lullaby: Part 2


Part two of Leila Slimani's conversation with This Writing Life podcast about her new novel Lullaby begins with a discussion of objectification: in this case, of the nanny who cares for the children of the Masse family. Slimani talks about her own vexed relationship with the woman who cares for her own children, about the power struggles in that interaction and finally about the idea of tragedy in the novel. We talk Mary Poppins, Mrs Doubtfire, and why Lullaby refuses both visions of modern childcare.

Part three to follow.

Episode 138 - Leila Slimani - Lullaby: Part 1


Leila Slimani's second novel Lullaby is a phenomenon. Having sold over 600,000 copies and won the Prix Goncourt in her adopted homeland of France, the book is now spreading around the world in various translations. A movie has begun filming in France and there are rumours of a Hollywood adaptation as well. The reason for the fuss is a plot that grips like a thriller and prose that dissects contemporary life like the most acute literary novel. The nanny of the well-to-do Masse family murders the two children in her care. From this terse, shocking opening, Slimani rewinds to examine the pressures that led up to the tragedy.

In Part One of our conversation at her London publishers, Slimani talks about titles, tragedy, modern parenting, the challenges of being a nanny and how families rely on women from across the world to facilitate their lives.

Part two to follow.

Episode 137 - Lynn Shepherd: Part 4


Lynn Shepherd was the first ever This Writing Life recorded. The final part of our conversation begins with a discussion of social media and publicity, and the part both play in her writing life. From here we zoom through the joys and trials of writing novels: bad days, bad reviews, and how her close friends and confidents help her through. We end by looking to the future, and by asking: what has Lynn learned from her writing life so far.

Lynn's website can be found: here.

Episode 136 - Lynn Shepherd’s Advice to Budding Writers


As a trailer ahead of part four of This Writing Life podcast's conversation with novelist Lynn Shepherd, she offers some advice to budding writers...

Episode 135 - Lynn Shepherd: Part 3


Part three of Lynn Shepherd's This Writing Life podcast mixes business and pleasure: how did a successful city worker become a successful writer? Doctorates on Samuel Richardson, freelance copywriting, and publishing novels all flash past in quick succession. We talk unpublished novels, the challenges of finishing a book and writing for writing's sake. Lynn discusses where her own voice lies in the novels she produces, discusses how to information dump, and how much license to take with historical fact. We end by discussing the complex subject of her latest historical book, A Treacherous Likeness, the Romantic poet Percy Shelley.

Part 4 of 4 to follow.

Episode 134 - Lynn Shepherd: Part 2


Part two of This Writing Life's conversation with Oxford-based novelist Lynn Shepherd begins with some chat about her love of 'clever crime', and how it shapes her novels like Murder in Mansfield Park and Tom All-Alones. We end this edition by discussing the other prime influence on these early historical novels: her love of classic literature, above all Jane Austen and Charles Dickens. But where does Dickens end and Lynn Shepherd begin?

In between we talk novel endings, books series, Shepherd's student days (and those of Percy Shelley), and that old work-life balance.

Episode 133 - Lynn Shepherd: Part 1


The latest episode of This Writing Life podcast is particularly special in that it was the first ever recorded. The subject is Lynn Shepherd, a crime writer, critic, journalist, and copy writer who lives and works in Oxford. Her speciality is literary mystery fiction: each of her novels, Murder in Mansfield Park, Tom All-Alone's, A Treacherous and The Pierced Heart insert an ingenious crime into a well-known story or writer's life. Before we talk about re-mixing Austen, Dickens, Shelley and Bram Stoker, we discuss her life, career, day jobs and love of literature. We even intrigue a little, in the style of Jane Austen.

More information can be found at: lynn-shepherd.com

Episode 132 - Neel Mukherjee: Part 3


In the final part of This Writing Life podcast's conversation with Neel Mukherjee, we begin with Donald Trump before floating in a liberal bubble towards Neel's decision to stop listening to the news. We talk about the novel might cope with a 24 hour news cycle and Neel's own creative method - taking in his daily grind and his experience of studying creative writing courses.

Neel's excellent new novel A State of Freedom is out now.

Episode 131 - Neel Mukherjee: Part 2


In the second part of Neel Mukherjee's chat with This Writing Life podcast, he talks the influence of ghost stories on his excellent new novel A State of Freedom, about returning to India (as a visitor and writer), about the short story-novel, about surviving the Man Booker Prize shortlist for The Lives of Others, about the international trends of English literature, and finally about researching and writing about Indian bear-dancing.

Part 3 to follow.

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