Episode 13: Hannah Kent

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Australian author Hannah Kent (left) with Book Ends host, Philippa Moore

And just like that, it’s December and the last Book Ends episode for 2013 is (finally) ready for your listening pleasure.

Although this interview took place during a heatwave in September, Hannah Kent‘s haunting and beautifully written first novel Burial Rites, one of the most talked-about Australian débuts of 2013, is actually perfect winter reading!

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent

In 1829, the last public execution in Iceland took place – a man and a woman were beheaded for a brutal murder committed on a remote farm. As there were no prisons in Iceland at the time, the condemned woman, Agnes Magnúsdóttir, is sent to spend her final months on the farm of district officer Jón Jónsson, under the watch of his wife and their two daughters. Horrified to have a convicted murderer in their midst, the family avoid contact with Agnes and regard her as something of a monster. Only Tóti, the young assistant priest appointed to supervise Agnes’s spiritual wellbeing, tries to understand her. As the months pass, the winter deepens and the hardships of rural life force the household to work side by side, the true story of Agnes’s crime unravels and it is revealed to be far more complex than anyone imagined or, more to the point, was willing to believe.

Set against the backdrop of the exquisite Icelandic landscape, which I’ve actually seen with my own eyes so I can attest to how hauntingly beautiful it is, Burial Rites is a compelling read and a moving meditation on human nature, on truth, survival, freedom and on the painful gulf that often exists between how we are seen by the outside world and how we see ourselves. 

Hannah was born in Adelaide in 1985 and found herself in Iceland at age 18 as an exchange student – not in Reykjavik as she thought, but in a remote fishing village in Iceland’s north called Sauðárkrókur…so remote, Hannah couldn’t even find it in her atlas! Despite struggling at first to find her place in the close-knit community there, Hannah fell in love with Iceland and has since returned many times. But it was on her very first visit, as a teenager, that she first heard the story of Agnes Magnúsdóttir and was instantly captivated.

Returning to Australia, Hannah completed a BA and in her honours year, she submitted a creative writing project inspired by Agnes’s story. Encouraged by this (and now certain this was well and truly a story she wanted to write), she then embarked on a PhD in Creative Writing, for which Burial Rites was her project. She submitted the first draft of Burial Rites to the inaugural Australian Unpublished Manuscript Award in 2011, which it went on to win! Burial Rites has now been published in Australia, the UK and the US and has been shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award.

Persist. It’s really important not to let any feelings of insecurity or disbelief in your own ability paralyse you. Just keep on pushing through and maybe accept that you will always feel this way….but you’ll never be objective about your own work and therefore shouldn’t listen to yourself! And be disciplined. Write regularly, even when you don’t want to. Don’t wait until you’re inspired because you’ll so rarely feel that way. Persistence and the ability to work very hard on something consistently pays out a lot more than talent.”

– pearls of wisdom from Hannah Kent in this interview

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I wasn’t ready for the camera!

Highly articulate, funny, modest and generous, Hannah was a delight to interview and this was such an enjoyable hour or so that we spent together in her publisher’s office in London. I can’t wait to see what she does next.  Thank you so much Hannah for being on the show!

You can listen to the podcast here:

Or you can download it in iTunes 

Or download the file separately to your computer.

Guests

Hannah Kent
Australian writer

Publications mentioned

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent (Picador)

Fred and Edie by Jill Dawson (Sceptre)

The Icelandic Sagas (Penguin)

Kill Your Darlings (literary journal of which Hannah is Publishing Director)

You can also read a great interview with Hannah at Bookanista and I’d also recommend reading Hannah’s own account of the Burial Rites journey in the April 2013 issue of Kill Your Darlings.

Credits

Presenter
Philippa Moore
Producer
Tom Schoon 
Music
“Aurora” by Bjork (buy on iTunes
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Book Ends, Episode 12: Jessica Brockmole

My guest for Episode 12 is Jessica Brockmole, author of the novel Letters from Skye and the very first American writer on the show.

Jessica Brockmole

Jessica Brockmole – photo by Sarah Lyn Acevedo (from jabrockmole.com)

A lover of books from an early age and a linguist by trade, Jessica began writing her own stories after the birth of her children. She and her young family moved to Edinburgh for a few years, where she kept in touch with family back home mostly through letters and emails. “At that time I was exploring epistolary relationships in my own life, trying to stay in touch and depending on words to hold things together,” she says.

It was on a week away from the bustle of Edinburgh on the more isolated, quiet and dream-like Isle of Skye that Jessica had the idea for her novel, captivated by the atmosphere on Skye and the hidden histories it seemed to have. She started writing Letters From Skye on the way home.

Letters from Skye takes an unusual format for a modern novel – the narrative is entirely in letters, allowing for an intimate and ultimately very compelling read as we get deep into the hearts and minds of these characters as their lives span both two continents and two world wars.

The story follows Elspeth, a poet living on the Isle of Skye before the outbreak of the First World War, and David (or Davey as he comes to be known), who writes to her from America, initially as a fan of her work but eventually, as time goes on, as her friend and lover. However, their blossoming relationship is cut short by the outbreak of war. It is only several decades later, after an early shell from the Second World War destroys part of their house, that Elspeth’s daughter Margaret begins to piece together what really happened.

Now living in Indiana, Jessica’s road to publication was not an easy one – she wrote long into the night after her family went to bed and amassed an eye-watering 200 rejections before finally selling her book. Her resilient and tenacious story is sure to inspire every aspiring novelist out there!

Jessica was in the UK in August for the Edinburgh Book Festival and I was fortunate enough to grab some time with her on her whistle-stop tour of London.  Thank you again Jessica for a thoroughly enjoyable chat!

You can listen to the podcast here:

Or you can download it in iTunes 

Or download the file separately to your computer.

Guests

Jessica Brockmole
American writer

Publications mentioned

Letters from Skye by Jessica Brockmole (Hutchinson)

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (Wordsworth Classics)

Little House On The Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder (Egmont)

Credits

Presenter
Philippa Moore
Producer
Tom Schoon 
Music
“Other Side Of The World” by KT Tunstall (buy on iTunes

Book Ends, Episode 8: Pippa Kendrick

Welcome to another episode of Book Ends, the podcast for writers and book lovers.  This episode may be the most delicious yet….it’s all about cookbooks and food writing.  If you’ve ever wanted to write a cookbook you won’t want to miss this!

In this episode, I am in conversation with cook and food writer Pippa Kendrick, author of The Intolerant Gourmet, which was named as one of The Times Top 40 Cookbooks of The Year in 2012.

The Intolerant Gourmet

After becoming seriously ill in her early twenties with complications from undiagnosed food allergies, passionate food lover Pippa began to look for ways she could adjust to her new way of life without compromising her enjoyment of food and eating.  Always a keen writer, Pippa began a food blog, also called The Intolerant Gourmet, as she explored this new terrain of allergy-friendly cooking and discovered there were many like her, daunted by what seemed to be a bland, unpalatable and unexciting but necessary way to eat.  Pippa’s zest and passion changed all that!

Pippa Kendrick

Pippa Kendrick (photo courtesy of theintolerantgourmet.com)

Pippa’s revolutionary and deservedly popular approach to indulgent, exciting and sumptuous allergy-friendly cooking has won her many fans and resulted in her first cookbook, The Intolerant Gourmet, being published last year.

In this episode, Pippa shares the journey of The Intolerant Gourmet with me, from the proposal and agent-hunting stage, through to production and finally publication.  She also shares her writing (and cooking!) routine.  There are many wonderful nuggets of inspiration in this conversation but I found this one particularly memorable:

“(Book publishing) is such a tough competitive market….if you don’t know your own potential  it will be harder for other people to see it.  Do yourself a favour and make yourself as marketable as possible.  Remember they (agents and publishers) won’t read your submission twice!”

You can listen to the podcast here:

Or you can download it in iTunes 

Or download the file separately to your computer.

Many thanks to Pippa for her time in giving the interview, and do go and check out her website for more delicious recipe inspiration, including her favourite, Bakewell Tart!

“A great book tells you something you already knew but that you hadn’t said out loud.” – Pippa Kendrick, in this interview

Guests

Pippa Kendrick
British cook and food writer

Publications mentioned

The Intolerant Gourmet by Pippa Kendrick (Collins)

Full of Flavour: Create…How To Think Like A Chef by Maria Elia (Kyle Books)

Alice’s Cookbook by Alice Hart (Quadrille Publishing)

Ottolenghi: The Cookbook by Sami Tamimi and Yotam Ottolenghi (Ebury Press)

Miss Smilla’s Feeling For Snow by Peter Hoeg (Vintage)

Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L James (Arrow)

Credits

Presenter
Philippa Moore
Producer
Tom Schoon 

Once a month

Hello there!

I’m just about to publish the latest Book Ends interview….you may have noticed that the original schedule of every Wednesday hasn’t been happening since Christmas!  Mostly because my work (of the paid variety) has got extremely busy  and things have just had to be less frequent on here.  I’m still figuring out how to best keep this podcast live and kicking and for now I think having one top-notch, chock-full-of-goodness interview a month is the way to go.  So do bear me with while I fine tune this new schedule.  I appreciate your support and interest very much.

Without further ado, I hope you enjoy March’s interview 🙂

Book Ends, Episode 7: Isla Dewar

Welcome to another episode of Book Ends, the podcast for writers and book lovers, and the FIRST episode for 2013.  The break has been lovely but now it’s time to get back to the writing, and the talking about writing!

In this episode, I am in conversation with Scottish novelist, Isla Dewar, author of 16 novels, one of which is one of my most favourite books of all time.

Isla Dewar

Isla started her working life as a journalist but found she was drawn more to fiction than facts.  Her first novel was published when she was 40 and she’s gone on to enjoy a rather prolific career as a novelist and fiction writer.

Isla even wrote the screenplay when one of her books, Women Talking Dirty, was made into a film.  She talks to me about this process, as well as giving her tips for those who want to follow in her footsteps!

You can listen to the podcast here:

Or you can download it in iTunes 

Or download the file separately to your computer.

Many thanks to Isla for her time in giving the interview.  I hope you find it as illuminating as I did.  I don’t know about you, but I feel like a good cup of coffee now 🙂

“You must master the vices.  You know that if a thing is worth doing it’s worth doing well.  If, however, a thing is not worth doing then it’s worth doing fabulously, amazingly, with grace, style and panache.” – Isla Dewar, from Women Talking Dirty

Guests

Isla Dewar
Scottish writer

Publications mentioned

Izzy’s War by Isla Dewar (Ebury Press)

Secrets of a Family Album by Isla Dewar (Headline Review)

The Consequences of Marriage by Isla Dewar (Headline Review)

Women Talking Dirty by Isla Dewar (Headline Review) (and the film of the same name)

Keeping up with Magda by Isla Dewar (Headline Review)

Larry’s Party by Carol Shields (Fourth Estate)

Unless by Carol Shields (Fourth Estate)

Girls Night In II (anthology) edited by Jessica Adams, Chris Manby and Fiona Walker (Penguin Books Australia, now out of print)

Credits

Presenter
Philippa Moore
Producer
Tom Schoon 

Book Ends, Episode 6: Andrea Eames

Welcome to another episode of Book Ends, the podcast for writers and book lovers. I am delighted to welcome Andrea Eames as this week’s guest.

Andrea Eames is a Zimbabwean writer now living in the USA who has a most impressive writing CV at only 27 years old.  She has published two novels, The Cry of The Go-Away Bird and The White Shadow, the latter of which was short-listed for this year’s prestigious Dylan Thomas Prize.

Narrated by a young boy who struggles to protect his mysterious and gifted younger sister, The White Shadow is a compelling and utterly absorbing read set against the backdrop of the Zimbabwean War of Liberation in the 1970s.

I so enjoyed speaking with Andrea about her work.  She had a lot of inspiring things to say about the writing process, particularly when your work involves somewhat complex and loaded topics.  I was certainly in awe of her very disciplined daily working routine, it’s something I can only aspire to!

You can listen to the podcast here:

Or you can download it in iTunes 

Or download the file separately to your computer.

Many thanks to Andrea for her time in giving the interview.  I’m sure we’re going to continue to see amazing things from her!

You can find out more about Andrea, the writing life and her next book at her blog.

Guests

Andrea Eames
Zimbabwean writer

Publications mentioned

The White Shadow by Andrea Eames (Harvill Secker)

The Cry of The Go-Away Bird by Andrea Eames (Harvill Secker)

Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Harper Perennial)

Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Harper Perennial)

Seating Arrangements by Maggie Shipstead (Blue Door)

Credits

Presenter
Philippa Moore
Producer
Tom Schoon 

Book Ends, Episode 5: Stella Newman

Welcome to another episode of Book Ends, the podcast for writers and book lovers. I am thrilled to welcome Stella Newman as today’s guest.

Stella’s first novel, Pear Shaped, is a tale that will make you laugh, probably make you hungry as it’s filled with delicious descriptions of food (!), but it might also make you wince with recognition too if you’ve ever had your heart broken by someone who, in hindsight, really wasn’t worth it. Described as achingly funny, searingly honest, sharp and sweet….Pear Shaped is very much like the author herself.  And not only is the novel compulsive reading – I read it in one afternoon – but it’s also a bit of a foodie’s guide to London (and New York too) in disguise.  I blame this book entirely for introducing me to Compost Cookies.

You can listen to the podcast here:

Or you can download it in iTunes 

Or download the file separately to your computer.

UPDATE 9/12/12: You can listen to this episode via SoundCloud too as the above options aren’t working at the moment!

 

I hope you enjoy listening to our very abridged chat!  Thank you again to Stella for having me around for tea, cookies and eventually wine…and of course my wonderful audio producer Tom for turning our three hour conversation into a far more reasonable forty odd minutes.

If you’d like to know more about Stella and her work she keeps a number of blogs – one of which features her editor’s recipe for the best ever brownies.

Guests

Stella Newman
British writer

Publications mentioned

Pear Shaped by Stella Newman (Avon, Harper Collins)

Take Care of Yourself by Sophie Calle (Actes Sud)

Heartburn by Nora Ephron (Virago)

Credits

Presenter
Philippa Moore
Producer
Tom Schoon