Interview | Ben Pastor, novelist | Author of the Week

Author, BEN PASTOR, lived for thirty years in the United States, working as a university professor, before returning to Italy to write historical thrillers. Bitter Lemon Press have published six of her novels to date.

Where were you born, and where did you grow up?
I was born in Rome, and grew up in the hill country southeast of the city. Ten elements typified our small town: Roman ruins; rainy springs; olive groves; sparkling red wine; farm women dressing in beautiful traditional garb on holidays; the Thursday fair; more steps than streets (a problem and a good exercise for my family doctor father); a tall church steeple from where you could glimpse the sea in the far distance; cats, dogs, and farm animals of all kinds; the feeling that the world was orderly, cyclical, and safe.

What sorts of books were in your family home?
All sorts (except pornography) and too many to count. As children, my sister Simona and I used to read avidly, and then have a picnic on top of the tall bookshelves of the family library. Years later, we found mummified little pieces of sandwiches behind the furniture when we moved out. Mother had a passion for nineteenth-and-twentieth-century literature: the great French, English, Spanish, Russian, Italian, American authors . . . Father loved geography, history and mysteries; all of us had a fondness for poetry and art. From The Epic of Gilgamesh to Nicholas Nickleby, from Blood and Sand to Dead Souls, the steps to culture and to our picnic place were all there! Continue reading Interview | Ben Pastor, novelist | Author of the Week

Interview | Print & Podcast | Maggie Gee, author

Maggie Gee was born to working-class parents, and climbed into an uneasy place between classes. She was educated at state schools, and won a major open scholarship to Somerville College, Oxford where she did an MA in English literature and an MLitt on Surrealism in England. She was one of the original Granta 20 Best of Young British Novelists in 1983.

Gee has published fifteen books, thirteen of which are novels, including her latest, which is published by Fentum Press, Blood. A new, extended and updated edition of her 2014 novel Virginia Woolf in Manhattan has just been published by Fentum in the US.

She is a Fellow and Vice-President of the Royal Society of Literature, a Professor of Creative Writing at Bath Spa University, and was awarded an OBE for services to literature in 2012. She is a Non-executive Director of the Authors’ Licensing and Copyright Society.

Hear the Podcast of our conversation if audio is your thing

You grew up in Dorset before moving to the Midlands. Tell us about your early years.
My first memories are of running on a beach, which is probably significant since I’ve always been drawn back to the sea. I had a brother so we ran around and I did boy’s things.
Continue reading Interview | Print & Podcast | Maggie Gee, author

Interview | Lucy Tertia George | Author of the Week

@wordville

What sorts of books were in your family home?
My childhood home was packed with books. There were a lot of scripts and poetry collections as well as books that my parents used for research. I remember flicking through a book about witchcraft when I was about six or seven and asking Mum if I could take it to school. I imagine at the time my father was doing a production of ‘the Scottish play’ as he’d call Macbeth. Continue reading Interview | Lucy Tertia George | Author of the Week

Podcast | LIVE interview: Andrew Crumey, author

Andrew Crumey: “Art is the expression of value and science is the explanation of phenomena . . . I’m interested in the borderline of the explanatory and the expressive.”

Alasdair Gray, James Kelman, A.L. Kennedy, Allan Massie, Val McDermid, Andrew O’Hagan, Ian Rankin, Ali Smith, Irvine Welsh, Alan Warner . . . the list of fine Scottish writers is a long one.

dedalus eric lane margaret jull costa andrew crumey 2Andrew Crumey was in conversation with doyenne of translators, Margaret Jull Costa, and Eric Lane, founder of Dedalus Books at the opening event of the BookBlast 10×10 Tour at Waterstones in Gower Street, Bloomsbury, on 11 September. HEAR HERE

Continue reading Podcast | LIVE interview: Andrew Crumey, author

Interview | Chris McCabe @mccabio | Author of the Week

Where were you born, and where did you grow up?
Mill Road hospital Liverpool, and then in Liverpool (built on the site of a Victorian workhouse), until moving to London in my early twenties. I now live in Liverpool and work in London.

What sorts of books were in your family home?
My dad was an autodidact, acquiring a good collection of books through joining various book clubs. As a result there was an impressively wide range of books on our shelves at home, from history (The World at War; The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire; The Third Reich), fiction (The Lord of the Rings, all the novels of Thomas Hardy), complete Shakespeare and most useful for my development as a writer and poet, the works of Dylan Thomas and James Joyce. Continue reading Interview | Chris McCabe @mccabio | Author of the Week

Interview | Peter Kalu, author

Meet Peter Kalu in person at the BookBlast 10×10 Tour event, Waterstones, Bristol Galleries: 11A Union Galleries, Broadmead BS1 3XD 6.30 p.m. Thursday 18 October. Theme: Trading Places: Bright City, Dark Secrets. In conversation with Rosemarie Hudson, HopeRoad Publishing, (chair), and author Qaisra Shahraz. Book Tickets

What is your favorite quality?  Brevity.

Where were you born, and where did you grow up?  Earth. Ditto.

What sorts of books were in your family home? Paper ones.

Who were early formative influences as a writer? Tom & Jerry.

Do you write every day, and do you write many drafts? Yes. Yes.

As an author, what are you most proud (or embarrassed) of writing? Words. (Words).

Books that changed your life? Cicero: Murder Trials.

Your views on book publishing? Vague.
Continue reading Interview | Peter Kalu, author

Interview | Qaisra Shahraz, author

Meet Qaisra Shahraz in person at the BookBlast 10×10 Tour event, Waterstones, Bristol Galleries: 11A Union Galleries, Broadmead BS1 3XD 6.30 p.m. Thursday 18 October. Theme: Trading Places: Bright City, Dark Secrets. In conversation with Rosemarie Hudson, HopeRoad Publishing, (chair), and author Pete Kalu. Book Tickets

 Where were you born, and where did you grow up?
I was born in Pakistan and arrived in the UK at the age of nine. I grew up in Manchester.

What sorts of books were in your family home?
All sorts. In my childhood days, there was a book shelf stacked with volumes of Encyclopaedia Britannica  that my father bought to educate his children along with books by famous Pakistani poets, for example the work of Allama Iqbal.  Near my bed I had Enid Blyton’s Malory Tower series of six novels and the Famous Five collection. In my teenage years, quite a few Barbara Cartland books entered my bedroom. In our ancestral home in a wooden cabinet in Lahore I came across two of William Shakespeare’s plays. One was my father’s student copy of Hamlet, with margins lined with notes neatly scribbled in his elegant handwriting. As I pursued my studies of English literature, I proudly lined my bookcase with volumes of world literature, including numerous classics. I developed a literary appetite for the works of Leo Tolstoy, Henrik Ibsen, Ruth Prawar Jhabawalla,  Molière, Emile Zola, the ancient Greek tragedies, as well as the work of many popular Victorian novelists, including that of Elizabeth Gaskell. It was a proud moment when I was invited to read in her house at 84 Plymouth Grove here in Manchester.
Continue reading Interview | Qaisra Shahraz, author

Interview | Paul Ewen, author

Meet Paul Ewen in person at the 10×10 Tour event, Waterstones, Castle Street, Norwich 6.30 p.m. Thursday 11 OCT. His latest novel Forbidden Line,  Francis Plug: Writer in Residence is published today, 4 October. Theme: All Hail the New Modernists! Experimentalism & Contemporary Literature. With Sam Jordison from Galley Beggar Press, chair, and authors Alex Pheby, Paul Stanbridge.  Book Tickets

Forbidden Line,  Francis Plug: Writer in Residence is published today, 4 October.

Where were you born, and where did you grow up?
I was born in Blenheim, New Zealand. I grew up in various places around the South Island, like Christchurch and Lyttelton, but I spent my formative years in a town called Ashburton (nicknamed Ashvegas).

What sorts of books were in your family home?
All sorts. Art books, NZ fiction, and lots of library books because my Mum was a librarian.
Continue reading Interview | Paul Ewen, author

Interview | C. D. Rose, author

Meet C. D. Rose in person at the 10×10 Tour event, Waterstones, Leeds 6.30 p.m. Thursday 20 SEPT. Theme: Birmingham & Leeds: A Tale of Two Cities. With Ra Page COMMA PRESS chair, authors  C.D. Rose (The Book of Birmingham) and Ian Duhig (The Book of Leeds). Book Tickets

Where were you born, and where did you grow up? 
I was born in a small semi-detached house in south Manchester, and there I grew up. While I still love Manchester, I have an inexplicable fear of semi-detached houses. Continue reading Interview | C. D. Rose, author

Interview | Dan Micklethwaite, author

Meet Dan Micklethwaite in person at the BookBlast® 10×10 Tour discussion at Waterstones, Newcastle, 6.30 p.m. Wednesday 12 SEPT. Theme: The Northern Influence on Culture. With Kevin Duffy BLUEMOOSE BOOKS chair, authors Dan Micklethwaite (The Less than Perfect Legend of Donna Creosote) and Colette Snowden (The Secret to not Drowning). Book Tickets

Where were you born, and where did you grow up?
I was born and brought up in Brighouse, West Yorkshire. 
Continue reading Interview | Dan Micklethwaite, author