Show 021: July 2009

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Carol Ann Duffy
I’ve been finishing up various school and university-based projects, and then last week I went over to Manchester to interview Sarah Waters at a packed bookshop event. Probably the sixth time I’ve interviewed her and she remains as lovely as she did the very first time, almost ten years ago.

Carol Ann Duffy is a terrific choice as Poet Laureate; the first woman appointed to this role, she is a great poet who writes with wit and wisdom and also has quite a bit of political bite.

For those of you who are in West Yorkshire, I’m appearing at Wicked Words at Seven Arts Centre in Chapel Allerton in Leeds tonight as the main reader after the open mic session. It’s rather short notice if you didn’t know about this before, but it would be lovely to see you there.

Book review

Never the Bride
This month’s book is Never the Bride by Paul Magrs. It’s set in Whitby, a vampire Dracula novel, as if written by Victoria Wood and Alan Bennett. The story of Brenda who has moved to Whitby to run a B&B, and gets increasingly involved in supernatural adventures with her neighbour and friend Effie.

Find out at the end of this podcast transcript how you can win my own dog-eared and battered copy of the book.


Footnotes to Sex
Here follows an edited extract of an interview with Mia Farlane whose debut novel Footnotes to Sex was recently been published by Penguin.

I always wanted to be a writer. My mother is a novelist and the idea was always there. I told one or two people that I was writing a novel and then worried that I might have revealed too much. The ideas for Footnotes to Sex have been germinating for a long time. I read La Batarde by Violette Le Duc at university and loved what she had to say about being a writer. When I read it again in this country, I thought I really should be getting on with my writing.

I started by writing scenes between characters; until slowly I realised that I was writing a novel. I read somewhere that it was a good idea to pretend that you weren’t writing a novel. It takes the pressure off you. I kept writing the novel, and I belong to a writing group which I find is a tremendous help. I went to hear Sarah Waters read, and I asked her to read few chapters, which I wouldn’t have done unless I’d had some feedback from her before. And when she wrote a comment for the cover of Footnotes to Sex I thought I might die at that point.

I want to write the second novel and then the third and then I might be able to call myself a writer. I don’t know where I’m going with this one, but that’s how it was with the first. I’m as obsessed with this book as I was with the first.

Mostly when I’m at home I start writing when my partner has left the house. I heat up the coffee and start the computer. Sometimes though I have to get out of the house and perhaps go for a walk. You’re still working and thinking. I like train journeys because you can do the same thing.

Amongst New Zealand writers I admire I must mention my mother Marilyn Duckworth who has been a great influence on me. I also love Katherine Mansfield who is a delicious writer.

Poem of the month

This month's poem is Ruined Abbey from my collection Coma Songs. In Yorkshire we are in the middle of a chain of wonderful abbeys. This was written about ten years ago about Kirkstall Abbey not far away in Leeds.

Read Ruined Abbey

Win a book

To be in with a chance to win my (dog-eared, butter stained) review copy of Never The Bride by Paul Magrs, just send in your own poem on any theme, to [email protected] and not only will I read it as next month’s poem of the month, but I will send you my own copy of Never the Bride.