113 episodios

How To Fail With Elizabeth Day is a podcast that celebrates the things that haven’t gone right. Every week, a new interviewee explores what their failures taught them about how to succeed better.

How To Fail With Elizabeth Day howtofail

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How To Fail With Elizabeth Day is a podcast that celebrates the things that haven’t gone right. Every week, a new interviewee explores what their failures taught them about how to succeed better.

    S11, BONUS EPISODE How to Fail: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

    S11, BONUS EPISODE How to Fail: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

    When I started this podcast, I had a list of dream guests.* At the top was Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Her third novel, Americanah, is one of my favourite books of all time. I can remember exactly where I was when I read it. I was moved by the power of its epic sweep, the brilliance of its observations and the characters who made your heart break.


    But although she's an amazing writer, Chimamanda's cultural reach goes much further than the literary world. Her TED Talks are among the most viewed of all time. Beyoncé sampled her words in Flawless. Anything she writes, whether it be fiction, essays or commentary attracts global attention. 


    Her latest book, Notes on Grief, is an essay examining the devastation of her father’s unexpected death in June 2020. In March 2021, there followed a second heartbreak: the death of her mother, on what would have been her father’s 89th birthday.  Chimamanda joins me to talk about those terrible losses, the grief and rage it has left her with and how she is trying to cope. She also talks about being a daughter, motherhood, fertility and her unsuccessful attempts to conceive a second child, her frustration that she can't seem to write more at the speed she would like and...well, Kim Kardashian.


    NB: This interview was recorded before Chimamanda's recent blog post on cancel culture which is why we don't talk about it. And a further note: this is an emotional listen that explores the raw depths of grief, so if you're not in that frame of mind, maybe leave it for another day. But if you want to hear someone eloquently explain what grief feels like to go through and what to do with the pain, then this is for you.


    Thank you Chimamanda, for your honesty and your power.


    *Michelle Obama, Stormzy, Dr Dre and Michael Jordan, since you ask. I've recently added Marcus Rashford to the list.


     


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    Notes on Grief by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is out now and available to buy here.


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    My new novel, Magpie, is out on 2nd September. I'd love it if you felt like pre-ordering as it really helps authors! You can do that here.


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    This episode is sponsored by Sweaty Betty. Use the code HOWTOFAIL at check out to get 20% off. How To Fail With Elizabeth Day is hosted by Elizabeth Day, produced by Naomi Mantin and Chris Sharp. We love hearing from you. To contact us, email howtofailpod@gmail.com


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    Social Media:


    Elizabeth Day @elizabday


    How To Fail @howtofailpod 


    Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie @chimamanda_adichie


     


     


     

    • 1h 9 min
    S11, Ep8 How to Fail: Maggie O'Farrell

    S11, Ep8 How to Fail: Maggie O'Farrell

    For our season finale, I bring you the glorious Maggie O'Farrell. She is one of my favourite authors, and her books include the highly acclaimed novels After You'd Gone, The Hand That First Held Mine, Instructions for a Heatwave and the bestselling memoir I Am, I Am, I Am. Her most recent work of fiction, Hamnet, imagined the untold story of Shakespeare’s son who died at the age of 11. It won the 2020 Women’s Prize.


    She joins me to talk about resurrecting the untold stories of women, how to be a writer and a parent (Cyril Connolly and his 'pram in the hallway' come in for a bit of a bashing) as well as how she applies concepts of success and failure to her books. She talks about her stammer and her failure to do a PhD and we also discuss how a childhood illness changed her forever, and the various physical repercussions that she still lives with. Plus: why she always finds the back of a tapestry far more interesting than the front...


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    Hamnet by Maggie O'Farrell is out now. You can buy all her books here.


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    My new novel, Magpie, is out on 2nd September. I'd love it if you felt like pre-ordering as it really helps authors! You can do that here.


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    How To Fail With Elizabeth Day is hosted by Elizabeth Day, produced by Naomi Mantin and Chris Sharp. We love hearing from you. To contact us, email howtofailpod@gmail.com


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    Social Media:


    Elizabeth Day @elizabday


    How To Fail @howtofailpod 


     


     


     

    • 54 min
    BONUS EPISODE: HEERRREE'S DOLLY!

    BONUS EPISODE: HEERRREE'S DOLLY!

    SHE'S BAAAAAACK!


    To mark the third anniversary of How To Fail, I invite back the one and only Dolly Alderton.


    Dolly was one of my first ever guests in the debut season of How To Fail, way back in the mists of time (by which I mean the summer of 2018). Back then, she had just published her memoir Everything I Know About Love a few months earlier. She could have had little idea of the success that was to follow: it became a bestseller, won Autobiography of the Year at the National Book Awards and was selected for Stylist magazine’s best books of the decade by remarkable woman. Dolly is now adapting the book into a BBC drama. Her first novel, Ghosts, was published last year and went straight in at Number 2 in the Sunday Times Bestseller list. It's out in paperback later this month. She was also the co-host of the hugely beloved (and sorely lamented) The High Low podcast.


    In public, it might have seemed as though Dolly was cresting the wave of extraordinary success. But it didn't always feel that way for her personally. She joins me to talk about the disconnect between outward success and inward sensitivity; about social media and her strategy for managing it; about love and loss and everything in between; about understanding that she is an extreme person and that's ok; and about her abject failure to bake birthday cakes. Plus she introduces me to the mind-shatteringly great concept of 'creative monogamy'.


    Dolly is one of my favourite people. She's kind, generous, compassionate, wise, empathetic and hilarious and her return to How To Fail demonstrates all these qualities in abundance. I'm so touched she chose to come back and speak so honestly about her experiences. And I hope you enjoy this extra-special treat of an episode.


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    Dolly will be turning the tables and interviewing me on 2nd September at London's Barbican to mark the publication of my new novel Magpie. If you're desperate for YET MORE OF US, I can promise an evening full of big emotion and belly-laughs. To book tickets (there's also an option to pre-order Magpie here so you'll be the first to get your hands on a copy) go to https://www.fane.co.uk/magpie 


    See you there!


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    Ghosts by Dolly Alderton is available to order here. 


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    How To Fail With Elizabeth Day is hosted by Elizabeth Day, produced by Naomi Mantin and Chris Sharp. We love hearing from you. To contact us, email howtofailpod@gmail.com


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    Social Media:


    Elizabeth Day @elizabday


    How To Fail @howtofailpod 


    Dolly Alderton @dollyalderton


     


     


     

    • 1h 8 min
    S11, Ep7 How to Fail: Martine Wright

    S11, Ep7 How to Fail: Martine Wright

    Martine Wright is a survivor of the 7/7 London terrorist bombings. Sixteen years ago today, she was travelling on a Circle Line tube to Aldgate station on the morning of 7th July 2005, when a suicide bomber sitting three feet away from her set off an explosion that would change her life forever. She lost both of her legs and was in a coma for 10 days after which she underwent a year of intensive rehab and multiple surgeries. Astonishingly, Martine went on to become an international sitting volleyball player and represented the Great Britain’s women’s team at the 2012 Paralympics in London. This is her extraordinary story.


    She joins me to talk about resilience, living loss, experiencing an able-bodied world as a disabled woman, fertility, grief and how she believes catastrophic life-changes can have positive outcomes.


    Martine is one of the most inspiring, hopeful, strong and brilliant people I've ever had the pleasure of interviewing. You do not want to miss this episode.


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    You can read more in Martine's memoir Unbroken 


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    My new novel, Magpie, is out on 2nd September. I'd love it if you felt like pre-ordering as it really helps authors! You can do that here.


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    How To Fail With Elizabeth Day is hosted by Elizabeth Day, produced by Naomi Mantin and Chris Sharp. We love hearing from you. To contact us, email howtofailpod@gmail.com


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    Social Media:


    Elizabeth Day @elizabday


    How To Fail @howtofailpod 


    Martine Wright @martine_wright


     


     

    • 1h 8 min
    S11, Ep6 How to Fail: Paris Lees

    S11, Ep6 How to Fail: Paris Lees

    [TW: sexual abuse]


    Today, my guest is the absolute PEACH of a human that is Paris Lees. Paris is an award-winning journalist and a Contributing Editor for British Vogue. She was the first trans woman to present on BBC Radio 1 and Channel 4 and the first to appear on Question Time. Her recently published memoir, What It Feels Like For A Girl, is the uniquely told, semi-fictionalised story of her childhood in Nottinghamshire - which included a spell as a rent boy and an eight-month prison sentence for armed robbery - and the refuge she found in partying, music and, eventually, books.


    Paris joins me to talk about everything from dating and failed relationships to missed deadlines and trans rights. Plus we discuss what it feels like to be a highly sensitive person and how this self-perceived 'failure' has actually turned into one of her biggest strengths.


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    Buy Paris's memoir, What It Feels Like For A Girl, here


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    My new novel, Magpie, is out on 2nd September. I'd love it if you felt like pre-ordering as it really helps authors! You can do that here.


    *


    How To Fail With Elizabeth Day is hosted by Elizabeth Day, produced by Naomi Mantin and Chris Sharp. We love hearing from you. To contact us, email howtofailpod@gmail.com


    *


    Social Media:


    Elizabeth Day @elizabday


    How To Fail @howtofailpod 


    Paris Lees @parislees


     

    • 59 min
    S11, Ep5 How to Fail: Christie Watson

    S11, Ep5 How to Fail: Christie Watson

    Christie Watson is a nurse turned bestselling author who went back to frontline nursing during the Covid-19 pandemic. But if you were to call her a 'hero' she would refuse the label - and during the course of this interview, she tells me why.


    Watson left school at 16 and volunteered at a charity before training to become a nurse at Great Ormond Street Hospital. She spent the next 20 years in hospitals in various disciplines and mainly in paediatric intensive care.


    Alongside that, she built up a successful writing career. Her debut, Tiny Sunbirds Far Away, won the Costa First Novel Award and in 2018, she published a memoir - The Language of Kindness: A Nurse’s Story, which has been translated into 23 languages. Her most recent book, The Courage To Care, is just out in paperback. 


    She joins me to talk about failures in nursing, motherhood and, in an especially enlightening conversation, she tells me what happened when she thought she was having a breakdown only to be diagnosed as peri-menopausal. Every woman (and man) should listen. [WARNING: contains mention of clambering into fishfinger freezers].


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    The Courage To Care is out now and available to buy here.


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    My new novel, Magpie, is out on 2nd September. I'd love it if you felt like pre-ordering as it really helps authors! You can do that here.


    *


    How To Fail With Elizabeth Day is hosted by Elizabeth Day, produced by Naomi Mantin and Chris Sharp. We love hearing from you. To contact us, email howtofailpod@gmail.com


    *


    Social Media:


    Elizabeth Day @elizabday


    How To Fail @howtofailpod 


    Christie Watson @christiewatsonwriter


     


     


     

    • 1h 1m

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