Book Ends, Episode 10: Rae Earl

And just like that, we’re on Episode 10 of Book Ends! I had every intention of it being more regular than this but I’m happy we’re still churning them out as the literary world proves to be a goldmine of interesting and inspiring people to chat to.

Rae Earl

The special guest for this episode is Rae Earl, author of My Mad Fat Teenage Diary, which became an acclaimed TV series, My Mad Fat Diary, earlier this year on E4 (the book is now referred to as My Mad Fat Diary too).

The book is a collection of the journals Rae kept the year she turned 17 – it was 1989, the Berlin Wall was still up, Charles and Di were still together and Rae herself had just been released from a psychiatric ward, suffering from extreme anxiety, self-harm and OCD. There was very little known about, or services available for, adolescent mental health at that time and often teenagers suffering from mental illnesses were lumped in with the adults, as Rae was.

Sharon Rooney as Rae Earl in My Mad Fat Diary. Photograph: Channel 4/PA via The Guardian

As well as this to deal with was her mum’s new Moroccan bodybuilder boyfriend, constant dodging of the neighbourhood bullies (aka The Green Lane Twats) and a perpetual quest to shift some of her 14 ½ stone from her “five foot stumpy four” frame. Writing became Rae’s therapy and her journals recorded all the details of that tumultuous year.

Sharon Rooney as Rae Earl in My Mad Fat Diary, E4

Over a decade later, working as a broadcaster and married to a very lovely Aussie bloke, Rae was about to throw the diaries out when her husband noticed the pile of dog-eared notebooks and asked what they were. He encouraged her not only to keep them but to share some of the (less naughty!) content on their radio show. The response she got from their listeners motivated Rae to collate and publish the journals as My Mad Fat Teenage Diary. In the book’s introduction, Rae poignantly states:

“Everything I’ve written is true. I’ve changed people’s names but they all existed. (One person is actually a mixture of three people: Bethany – she’s three girls rolled into one. There is never just one bitch in a fat, mad girl’s life.) I’ve taken some liberties with time, but everything happened. Every word. I’m sharing it because these days it makes me laugh – and because I still see fat girls everywhere labelled as ‘bubbly with a nice personality’. And I suppose I want to tell them (and everyone else) that in the end it’s all OK. You can be fat and nuts and a virgin when you are 17 – and things can still turn out OK.”

Rae is also the author of OMG! Is This Actually My Life? Hattie Moore’s Unbelievable Year, a YA fictional diary set in the present day, published earlier this year.

In a bizarre coincidence, Rae now happens to live in my hometown and has become a close family friend. So on a recent trip back to Australia I popped round for a coffee and Rae graciously agreed to be this episode’s guest.

Rae and I in her living room, looking at her books!

Rae and I in her living room, looking at her books!

In this magnum opus of an interview, Rae shares the process of turning a personal diary into a book for all the world to read; the response to it; the events that inspired it; the surreal-ness of seeing someone playing YOU in a TV show; hidden phallus projections in English literature; and of course her tips and advice for budding young writers. She even reads excerpts from her two books – we begin with Mad Fat Diary and there’s an excerpt of Hattie Moore at 22:24. I must apologise for being unable to stifle a giggle at some point, listen out for it.

“The teenage experience goes across all generations….it could be set in 2247 and it would still work. The point is not the era, it’s the subject matter.” – Rae Earl in this interview

And like Hattie, I totally got the teasing about having the surname Moore. I even gave Rae a few more (no pun intended) to use in future Hattie stories 🙂

I got to see Rae’s writing shed too. It was as awesome as it sounds.

Where the magic happens....

Where the magic happens….

Rae and I in the shed...not much room to move. And cold, hence the blanket ;)

Rae and I in the shed…not much room to move. And cold, hence the blanket 😉

Thank you Rae for a wonderful few hours in your home, for the milk chocolate McVities and for being the most hilarious Book Ends guest I’ve had so far!

Thank you Tom (who makes his first Book Ends appearance in this episode too) for being the patient genius audio producer that you are.

And thank YOU for listening and reading and following Book Ends! I hope you enjoy this episode – it was thoroughly enjoyable to put together.

You can listen to the podcast here:

Or you can download it in iTunes 

Or download the file separately to your computer.

Guests

Rae Earl
British writer

Publications mentioned

My Mad Fat Teenage Diary (now released as My Mad Fat Diary) by Rae Earl (Hodder)

OMG! Is This Actually My Life? Hattie Moore’s Unbelievable Year by Rae Earl (Walker)

What a Carve Up! by Jonathan Coe (Penguin)

The Turn of The Screw by Henry James (Oxford Paperbacks)

Mister Men by Roger Hargreaves (Price Stern Sloan)

The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 ¾ by Sue Townsend (Puffin)

1984 by George Orwell (Penguin Classics)

“This Be The Verse” by Philip Larkin (poem)

My Mad Fat Diary E4 web site

Credits

Presenter
Philippa Moore
Producer
Tom Schoon 
Music
‘I Want A Dog’ by The Pet Shop Boys (buy on iTunes)
‘Babies’ by Pulp (buy on iTunes)
‘David’s Last Summer’ by Pulp (buy on iTunes)

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 

Book Ends, Episode 2: Lisa Jewell

Welcome to another episode of Book Ends, the podcast for writers and book lovers. I am delighted to welcome Sunday Times best selling author Lisa Jewell as today’s guest.

The author of 10 books, Lisa has had a prolific writing career since the late 1990s when redundancy, a bet with a friend, an admiration for Nick Hornby and “a vague flicker of interest” in writing all combined to set her on the path to becoming one of the most popular authors in the UK.

On today’s episode Lisa talks about her life as a established writer with a lot of inspiring and useful advice, such as:

  • What happens when you run out of ideas?
  • How do you learn to write a book without freaking out?
  • Minimising access to the Internet for maximum writing efficiency!

You can listen to the podcast here:

Or you can download it in iTunes 

Or download the file separately to your computer.

I hope you enjoy this episode and thank you again Lisa for such an inspiring conversation!

Guests

Lisa Jewell
British writer

Publications mentioned

Ralph’s Party by Lisa Jewell (Penguin)

Vince and Joy by Lisa Jewell (Penguin)

After the Party by Lisa Jewell (Penguin)

Before I Met You by Lisa Jewell (Century, Random House)

High Fidelity by Nick Hornby (Penguin)

The Secret Dreamworld of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella (Black Swan)

The Writers and Artists Yearbook

Frida (film) directed by Julie Taymor

Credits

Presenter
Philippa Moore
Producer
Tom Schoon