Show 027: January 2010

You can listen to the podcast here on the site or subscribe to it using iTunes or other podcatching software. Subscribing in iTunes is easy. It takes just two clicks then computer will download each month's new show automatically.



I’m looking forward to three events in January 2010. First o all I am hosting crime readers’ day in Jarrow, organized by Faber, with authors i Andrew Creed, Andrew Martin, Helen FitzGerald, Stav Sherez and Nicola Upson.

On January 27th I am reading a poetry commission for National Holocaust Day at the Victoria Theatre In Halifax.

On 28th January I am hosting an event at the Central library in Leeds with humorous novelist Jasper Fforde.

Book review

In this first crime novel by Nicola Upson she has incorporated a real life crime writer into the novel, Josephine Tey, whom many of you will know as the writer of crime novels like the Franchise Affair and Brat Farrar.

Set in the theatre world of London in 1934, with detective Archie Penrose, this is ‘a perfect curl up and read on a winter evening book.’


I’m very old now, I was a late starter, I didn’t write anything until I was thirty-five. I procrastinated for about thirty years before I got round to it. The two formative influences, both very strange, are writers I hardly look at now, I read Ray Bradbury for his beautiful writing and his lyricism, and John Steinbeck who wrote in an introduction to one of his books his friend Ed Ricketts, a man who shared john Steinbeck’s life for a bit. Those two American writers infected me with the idea of writing.

I deliberately set out as a young man to be a relentless self-improver, to know something about everything. As you get older you realise the task is impossible. Ruskin, whom I have just been writing about, wanted to know about everything too.

I was a journalist for a while. Then I thought I was going to be an academic, and then I worked for the BBC as a producer. After that I worked for the Independent on the arts pages.

There is truth in the joke that I wanted to be a vampire as a child. I lived in a small flat in London and then I read about Count Vampire. Then I subscribed to Famous Monsters of Film land. It was about the old films and partly about modern horror films. My publishers saw that vampires were everywhere now and commissioned my book Bite. Twilight is such a staggering phenomenon., more successful than any other vampire product has ever been. I think Twilight is both the symptom and cause of the current interest.

When researching Bite I discovered a story about a Welsh vampire chair that bit people who sat in it.

I have a book about Ruskin coming out in January 1010, and I’m in the final stages of a book called 1922, which looks at the culture and history of that year. It tries to recreate the world of the year when The Waste Land and Ulysses were published.

I am reading all the time but I don’t read much modern fiction. I read much more history. When I read novels they don’t seem to measure up to the hype. I read novels by people I know. I re-read Bleak House recently, and read a Dickens every summer.

Poem of the Month

This month's poem is Voyage.