Show 011: September 2008

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In this month's show:


One of the big thrills of the past few weeks has been going in to the state of the art sound studios at Leeds Metropolitan University and recording thirty of my poems, with musician and sound genius, Kenny Jenkins for a CD which will be out soon. Listen to the recording of The Morning Has Broken [poem of the month a few months ago] and compare it to the track made with Kenny, whose beautiful guitar playing and technical wizardry adds so much to the poem. If you would like to pre-order a copy of my forthcoming CD ‘Some Notes of Your Music’ it can be yours for £4 plus £1 p&p. You can find out about this on the shop page. (The CD will be £5 plus £1 p&p, on its release.)

Book Review

Bog Child by Siobhan Dowd

Bog Child
Written by Siobhan Dowd, Bog Child is set in Northern Ireland of twenty years ago and deals with the finding of a body in a local peat bog. It was lent to me by friend Joe Marriott when I was panicking about not having a book to read on the train up from London The body of a young woman, a small girl, had been preserved by the bog, and had obviously been murdered. The central character Fergus is caught up in the mystery of what happened to the young woman, his growing feelings for the daughter of an archaeologist sent to investigate the find, and his fear of getting caught up in IRA activity.

A beautifully written masterpiece which perfectly filled my two and a half hour train journey.


This is an edited extract from an interview with Stella Duffy, novelist, crime writer and actor.
Stella Duffy

I’m been published since 1994. I sold my first novel Calendar Girl in 1992. I originally wrote for theatre in New Zealand. I didn’t call myself a writer for ages, as I came from a perfectly ordinary working south London family. I used to talk about myself as someone who wrote books rather than as a writer.

In Calendar Girl I thought I was writing a lesbian love story gone wrong; I was bored with the lesbian stories of the time. I thought I’d write something about real women. I wasn’t intending to write a crime novel.

Crime writing means that you have to think about plot. Far too much literary fiction doesn’t contain plot. I think literary fiction is just another genre, where you can have great characters and great plots, and you can tick all the boxes. Almost nothing of me is in the Saz Martin novels, I am not her, but perhaps there is a tiny bit of me that’s Maggie in Calendar Girl.

Now I love to read crime, and have many crime-writers as my friends; there’s a really nice camaraderie amongst them. And I probably I read about one book in every three written by someone I know. I love Mark Billingham and John Harvey. Ali Smith is the under-rated British lesbian writer in the UK at the moment. I use the term ‘lesbian writer’ as a short hand term, no one pays me to be a lesbian, I am a lesbian who is a also writer. You wouldn’t dream of saying, Ian Rankin, the heterosexual crime writer.

I’ve just sent off a tidied up first draft of my next novel for my agent. It’s my first foray into historical fiction. The main body of the work is done in the rewriting. This novel is set in the Byzantine era; even though it’s in the past I don’t think human beings have fundamentally changed. They still eat, fall in love and have sex.

I don’t get advances of half a million pounds for a novel, but I do make my living from my writing, and I love making new work. Now my process it to ‘make’ a lot of different things at any one time. I’m very fortunate to have this mix in my life.

If you keep going, and you’re strong enough, things do tend to work out.

Poem of the Month

I am reading my poem Emily Bronte from my collection Deadly Sensitive for two reasons, one because it makes still me laugh, and the other because I’m doing an event later on this year at Haworth Parsonage, with well known novelist Maggie O’Farrell.