Journalist Hattie Crisell visits the studies of writers of all kinds – novelists, screenwriters, poets, journalists and more – to find out how they write, why they write, and what they can teach us about doing it better.
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Rumaan Alam, novelist
For the last episode of the fourth series of In Writing, Rumaan Alam joins me remotely from his house in Brooklyn, New York. Rumaan is the author of Rich and Pretty, That Kind of Mother, and most recently Leave the World Behind – a literary thriller about a family holiday that takes a sinister twist. (Leave the World Behind is set to become a Netflix movie, with Julia Roberts and Mahershala Ali reportedly in lead roles.)
Rumaan talks to me about the lengthy preparation that allows him to write a first draft fast; how his omniscient third-person narrator helped him to manage the mystery at the heart of his book; and why he thinks most modern novels are too long.
Buy Leave the World Behind and browse other books by guests of this series at https://uk.bookshop.org/shop/in-writing
Thank you to The Novelry for sponsoring this episode: https://www.thenovelry.com/
Georgia Pritchett, comedy and drama writer
Georgia Pritchett is my very funny guest this week. She's been writing for TV since the early Nineties and has worked on Smack the Pony, The Thick of It, Veep, Succession and, importantly, Spice World. She's also the creator of the new Apple TV series The Shrink Next Door, starring Will Ferrell, Paul Rudd and Kathryn Hahn – and she has recently published a wonderful memoir about anxiety, My Mess Is a Bit of a Life.
Georgia spoke to me in early November about the grain of honesty in every good joke, why Armando Iannucci says that team writing is like making a gravy, and what she's learnt about rich people from working on Succession.
Buy My Mess Is a Bit of a Life here: https://uk.bookshop.org/a/5954/9780571365883
This episode is sponsored by Scribe Lounge: https://scribelounge.com/
Shaun Usher, curator of correspondence
The 40th episode of In Writing focuses on the art of letter-writing. Shaun Usher, who spoke to me last week from his home in Manchester, is the founder of Letters of Note, a blog that led to several very successful books and a star-studded live event (Letters Live). He has dedicated his career to finding the most brilliant, funny, insightful or poignant letters from all over the world and bringing them to a wider audience – whether that's a young Tom Hanks trying to charm the director George Roy Hill, or Albert Einstein's letter to a Sunday school class.
Shaun speaks to me about falling in love with his wife and the letter-writing tradition at the same time; the massive research involved in his job; and the very finest letters he's read.
Shop the Letters of Note series in the In Writing bookshop: https://uk.bookshop.org/shop/in-writing
Follow Letters of Note on Twitter: https://twitter.com/lettersofnote and make sure you have a look at Letterheady, Shaun's collection of wonderful letter heads: https://www.letterheady.com/
Liane Moriarty, novelist
Australian writer Liane Moriarty joins me this week from her family home in Sydney. Liane has written nine novels, including her latest mystery Apples Never Fall, and has sold over 20 million books worldwide. She is perhaps best known as the author of Big Little Lies and Nine Perfect Strangers, which were adapted into glossy TV series starring Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon and Melissa McCarthy.
Liane talks to me about the dark turn that took her fiction from successful to stratospherically successful, her no-planning approach to plot, and how she and her writer sisters help each other navigate reviews.
Browse Liane's books and buy Apples Never Fall at the In Writing bookshop, where 10% of your money goes towards the making of the podcast: https://uk.bookshop.org/shop/in-writing
Craig Taylor, oral historian
Today's interview is with the writer and editor Craig Taylor, who dials in from an island shack off the coast of western Canada. Once a Guardian contributor, with his column One Million Tiny Plays About Britain (which became a book and a play), Craig has since become known for oral histories including 2006's Return to Akenfield and 2011's Londoners. For his latest book New Yorkers, he collected and edited over a million words of interviews with residents of the Big Apple; this week it won a Brooklyn Public Library Literary Prize.
We spoke in May, when he told me all about his quiet island life, the routines he uses to keep himself productive, and how he pulled together his ambitious portraits of London and New York.
Buy New Yorkers here: https://uk.bookshop.org/a/5954/9781848549708
Craig is also the editor of the literary magazine Five Dials: https://fivedials.com/
And read the Guardian piece on handwriting vs typing here: https://www.theguardian.com/science/2014/dec/16/cognitive-benefits-handwriting-decline-typing
Hattie has a great interview style. She lets the author be the star, her questions are gently probing and interesting, she seems like a friendly person you want to chat with, she asks the questions I’d like to ask. I’m learning so such about writing. Please keep going Hattie!
A Must Listen For Writers & Readers
Hattie is a brilliant interviewer and I have learnt so much from a host of amazing authors & writers.