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The Worm Hole Podcast

A photograph of me sat behind a stack of books

Join me each second and fourth Monday of the month, when I’ll be in conversation with an author about one (occasionally more) of their books. We’ll be taking a fairly deep dive, looking at the background, the topics, writing, and the nitty gritty. Expect some spoilers and frequent discussions of the endings.

To listen to the episodes on this site, click on the links in the table below. This will take you to the episode’s page which includes all the notes. Or, to listen on apps, click the buttons (or links in the case of sites I can’t find buttons for).

You can also listen on: YouTube, TuneIn, Deezer, and Gaana among others.

Subscribe via the RSS feed.

A photograph of E C Fremantle

Episode 70: E C Fremantle

She’s back! Charlie and E C Fremantle (The Honey And The Sting) discuss producing a book that is utterly devoid – and then some – of filler, Black people of the Stuart era, and the film of Fremantle’s first novel, which will star Jude Law and Alicia Vikander.

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A photograph of Cecelia Tichi

Episode 69: Cecelia Tichi

Charlie and Cecelia Tichi (A Fatal Gilded High Note) discuss the Gilded Age in its success and its crimes, her rebellious 1890s character who defies class, and the history of French Bulldogs.

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A photograph of Kate Glanville

Episode 68: Kate Glanville

Charlie and Kate Glanville (The Peacock House) discuss her main character who is 90 years old, and villains who aren’t so villainous after all. Kate also discusses the way her dyslexia has effected her reading, and some of her thoughts on education in this vein in the context of her younger character.

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A photograph of Kristin Harmel

Episode 67: Kristin Harmel

Charlie and Kristin Harmel (The Forest Of Vanishing Stars) discuss the true story, and Kristin’s own fictional one, of a group of over a thousand Jewish people who during WW2 slowly escaped to and hid in a vast forest away from the Nazis.

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A photograph of Sally Page

Episode 66: Sally Page

Charlie and Sally Page (The Keeper Of Stories) discuss story collection, the forgotten mistress of the abdicated Edward VIII, and dogs who swear something chronic!

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A photograph of Natalie Jenner

Episode 65: Natalie Jenner

Charlie and Natalie Jenner (Bloomsbury Girls) discuss Jane Austen in all Natalie’s interesting concepts, tales of related auctions she has been involved in, and the work to ‘preserve and pull together’ a record of the books that inspired her. They also discuss Natalie’s inclusion of Daphne du Maurier in her novel, Persephone Books, and genre in its context as a label.

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A photograph of Chloe Timms

Episode 64: Chloe Timms

Charlie and Chloe Timms (The Seawomen) discuss Chloe’s dystopian fictional religious cult in all its fantasy and reality, the major changes she made to the book as the editing progressed, and her own interpretations of the various parts of the ending.

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A photograph of Amanda Geard

Episode 63: Amanda Geard

Charlie and Amanda Geard (The Midnight House) discuss buying big derelict houses, the importance of community in County Kerry, and Amanda’s stunning epilogue – which is one of Charlie’s favourites.

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A photograph of Grace D Li

Episode 62: Grace D Li

Charlie and Grace D Li discuss Chinese American identity, art theft and repatriation, and bonkers fun fictional heists.

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A photograph of Yvonne Bailey-Smith

Episode 61: Yvonne Bailey-Smith

Charlie and Yvonne Bailey-Smith (The Day I Fell Off My Island) discuss the effects on children of immigration from Jamaica to the UK, the effects on parents, and the lack of educational care afforded to and the assumptions made about Black British students.

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A photograph of Jennifer Saint

Episode 60: Jennifer Saint

Charlie and Jennifer Saint (Elektra) discuss the Trojan War in terms of the women the men left behind – Elektra, Clytemnestra, Cassandra, and, arguably, Helen.

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A photograph of Melissa Fu

Episode 59: Melissa Fu

Charlie and Melissa Fu (Peach Blossom Spring) discuss the experiences of Chinese refugees during the Second Sino-Japanese War – particularly those who fled to Taiwan – the centuries old hand scrolls that inspired her own character’s scroll, and how the lives of her family influenced her work.

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A photograph of Natasha Miller

Episode 58: Natasha Miller

Charlie and Natasha Miller (Relentless) discuss Natasha’s incredible and inspirational life as a classical violinist and jazz singer, and founder and owner of a multi-million dollar events company. Our discussion includes her childhood – she’s a survivor of abuse – and being a parent who strives to get it right.

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A photograph of Kate Quinn

Episode 57: Kate Quinn

Charlie and Kate Quinn (The Rose Code; The Diamond Eye) discuss the extraordinary people behind Bletchley Park’s successes, including socialite Osla Benning, and her relationship with Elizabeth II’s future husband, Prince Philip. And, in a nod to her latest novel, Kate introduces us to Lyudmila Pavlichenko, a WWII Soviet sniper from Kyiv.

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A photograph of Imogen Clark

Episode 56: Imogen Clark

Charlie and Imogen Clark (Impossible To Forget) discuss her latest novel – a pre-release bestseller, creating the story as she goes and publishing what is her first draft, and beginning her career as a novelist in her 50s.

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A photograph of Patrick Gale

Episode 55: Patrick Gale

Charlie and Patrick Gale (Take Nothing With You; Mother’s Boy) discuss musicality – his own and his character’s, setting a childhood in a care home, the beloved Cornish poet Charles Causley, and a future stage production of Take Nothing With You.

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A photograph of Kaia Alderson

Episode 54: Kaia Alderson

Charlie and Kaia Alderson (Sisters In Arms) discuss the little-known 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion, the only all-Black female US unit in WW2 – their day-to-day work dealing with a backlog of post that no one else could figure out, the leaders, and the various responses to them then and now – and Kaia tells us about the influential Dr Mary McLeod Bethune as well as the baseball Negro Leagues.

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A photograph of Sara Nisha Adams

Episode 53: Sara Nisha Adams

Charlie and Sara Nisha Adams (The Reading List) discuss books! The ways they can bring very different people together, the importance of libraries in Sara’s life and their impact as a community hub, and her family in the context of her work.

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A photograph of Edward Carey

Episode 52: Edward Carey

Charlie and Edward Carey (B: A Year in Plagues and Pencils; The Swallowed Man) discuss his epic drawing project wherein he undertook to create a sketch each day of the pandemic, the various individuals whose lives became a part of the wider picture, and finish on a completely different but relevant subject – the literary and social history of Pinocchio.

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A photograph of Janie Chang

Episode 51: Janie Chang

Charlie and Janie Chang (The Library Of Legends) discuss the incredible journeys made by Chinese university students, during the 1937 Japanese invasion, as they evacuated their campuses and made their way on foot to safer areas of the country. We also discuss the Shanghai International Settlement and Janie’s compelling family history.

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A photograph of Samantha Sotto

Episode 50: Samantha Sotto

Samantha Sotto returns! We discuss her latest book The Beginning Of Always (its inspiration was the woman whose death mask was used to create the first aid dummy Resusi Annie), and, not to be outdone, Sam’s dog Alfie also returns to make a second appearance.

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A photograph of Rebecca F John

Episode 49: Rebecca F John

Charlie and Rebecca F John (The Haunting Of Henry Twist) discuss being gay and bisexual in the 1920s, the way the flapper years could mask the effects of War, and the fictional man who cannot believe that his male partner is not some sort of reincarnation of his dead wife.

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A photograph of Rosie Travers

Episode 48: Rosie Travers

Charlie and Rosie Travers (The Theatre Of Dreams) discuss writing novels set amongst the working class of the south coast, Art Deco buildings we’ve lost and those we’ve saved, and the sporting professional heroine publishers rejected.

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A photograph of Jennifer Robson

Episode 47: Jennifer Robson

Charlie and Jennifer Robson (Our Darkest Night) discuss the horrors of life as an Italian Jew during the Second World War, those who fled and those who helped them, and the people who chose to stay behind.

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A photograph of Hazel Gaynor

Episode 46: Hazel Gaynor

Charlie and Hazel Gaynor (The Bird In The Bamboo Cage) discuss the lives of the pupils and teachers of the Chefoo school for missionaries’ children in China during the Japanese occupation, and the way being Brownie Guides helped to keep them going. We also discuss the beginnings of her career, and her collaborations with fellow historical fiction writer, Heather Webb.

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A photograph of Claire North

Episode 45: Claire North

Charlie and Claire North (Notes From The Burning Age) discuss climate change today and into the future, sexism back of house in theatre, and how she views her books in terms of colours and shapes rather than words.

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A photograph of Tyler Keevil

Episode 44: Tyler Keevil

Charlie and Tyler Keevil (Your Still Beating Heart) discuss using the violence of Snow White in an adult thriller to shocking and literary effect, writing in the second person to tell a story within a story where either – or both, or none – may be ‘true’, and the many hearts at the heart of his novel.

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A photograph of Rachel Hore

Episode 43: Rachel Hore

Charlie and Rachel Hore (A Beautiful Spy) discuss the life and work of a female spy in the years between the First and Second World Wars, the man who inspired James Bond’s M, and how Rachel took care to do right in her representation of a real person.

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A photograph of Gill Paul

Episode 42: Gill Paul

Charlie and Gill Paul (The Second Marriage) discuss the lives and loves of Jackie Kennedy and Maria Callas from their early married years until later life, the womanising ways of the men in their lives, and the opera and celebrity that in Gill’s book links them all.

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A photograph of Rosanna Ley

Episode 41: Rosanna Ley

Charlie and Rosanna Ley (The Orange Grove) discuss whether one of her main characters, Ella, made the right decision with the situational contexts at hand, the viability of a shop focused on orange-related products and set up in Dorset, the Seville producers of those products, and the secrets of the flour-free cake that starts the whole thing off.

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A photograph of Zen Cho

Episode 40: Zen Cho

Charlie and Zen Cho (Black Water Sister) discuss traditional Chinese beliefs, smashing up shrines, and Jane Austen.

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A photograph of Christina Courtenay

Episode 39: Christina Courtenay

Charlie and Christina Courtenay (Echoes Of The Runes; The Runes Of Destiny) discuss what the Vikings were really like, time travellers’ historical partners travelling back with them, and predictability and coincidence as plot devices.

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A photograph of Nicola Cornick

Episode 38: Nicola Cornick

She’s back! Nicola Cornick (The Forgotten Sister; The Last Daughter) returns to discuss Amy Robsart and the mystery of her death, the relationship between Robert Dudley and Elizabeth I, and who killed the Princes in the Tower.

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A photograph of Kimberly Derting

Episode 37: Kimberly Derting

Charlie and Kimberly Derting (The Body Finder) discuss publishing a dark YA series in the wake of Twilight, avoiding romance and family tropes, and the further lives of her characters beyond the final page.

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A photograph of Kate Forsyth

Episode 36: Kate Forsyth

Charlie and Kate Forsyth (Bitter Greens; The Wild Girl) discuss the story and history of Rapunzel – which was part of Kate’s doctoral thesis – as well as the woman who told the Brothers Grimm many of their tales, and the progression of change those tales went through as the brothers pursued success.

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A photograph of Liz Fenwick

Episode 35: Liz Fenwick

Charlie and Liz Fenwick (The Path To The Sea) discuss the success of spies in the Cold War who were – on the face of it – ‘just’ housewives, bringing new characters to more prominence and bringing past characters back from other books, and the age-old question of cream or jam first.

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A photograph of Lillian Li

Episode 34: Lillian Li

Charlie and Lillian Li (Number One Chinese Restaurant) discuss racial prejudice in Chinese restaurants, looking at the narrative of immigrant parents and sacrifice, and how her editor pushed her to increase the impact of themes and ideas.

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A photograph of Pasi Ilmari Jääskeläinen

Episode 33: Pasi Ilmari Jääskeläinen

Charlie and Pasi Ilmari Jääskeläinen (The Rabbit Back Literature Society; Secret Passages In A Hillside Town) discuss dreams that become literature – vampires; books where words and plot points change in a sort of book plague; secret passages that wipe your memory, and many more – writing a book that’s difficult for a reader to work out and not knowing yourself what the answer is, creepy and traumatic fictional games, and issuing an alternative ending to your novel in a brand new publication.

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A photograph of Susmita Bhattacharya

Episode 32: Susmita Bhattacharya

Charlie and Susmita Bhattacharya (Table Manners) discuss her world-wide travel and moves abroad – including a visa-less stopover, the experiences of recent immigrants to Britain, and having your work featured and serialised on BBC Radio 4 and BBC Radio 4 Extra.

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A photograph of Elizabeth Baines

Episode 31: Elizabeth Baines

Charlie and Elizabeth Baines (Used To Be; Astral Travel) discuss writing for radio, short stories – the relative importance of their first lines and differences to novels – writing a book about trying to tell a story, and the difficulties in labelling someone complicit or a victim in the context of past societal values.

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A photograph of Katy Yocom

Episode 30: Katy Yocom

Charlie and Katy Yocom (Three Ways To Disappear) discuss tiger conservation in India and balancing numbers alongside human requirements for life, the importance of being diligent when writing about a culture that is not your own, and what the three ways to disappear are.

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A photograph of Marianne Holmes

Episode 29: Marianne Holmes

Charlie and Marianne Holmes (A Little Bird Told Me; All Your Little Lies) discuss procedures when children go missing, societal changes in regards to domestic violence in the 1970s, and, on a lighter note, trying not to finish books you’re not enjoying.

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A photograph of Deborah Swift

Episode 28: Deborah Swift

Charlie and Deborah Swift (Past Encounters; The Occupation; The Lifeline) discuss Brief Encounter at Carnforth, the experiences of prisoners of war at the time and once back home, the real life story of a Jersey woman who hid her Jewish friend, and reactions to the death of the last woman in Britain to be given capital punishment.

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A photograph of Tammye Huf

Episode 27: Tammye Huf

Charlie and Tammye Huf (A More Perfect Union) discuss her great-great-grandparents’ relationship as an 1840s Irishman and a Black American slave, the way owners used Christianity to support their views of a racial hierarchy, and the lengths reached in order to label people by skin colour.

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A photograph of Eric Beck Rubin

Episode 26: Eric Beck Rubin

Charlie and Eric Beck Rubin (School Of Velocity) discuss the representation of the Holocaust in literature, using classical music as a literary device, having a main character whose person limits the opportunity for dialogue through his obsession with another, and the reader being a writer.

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A photograph of Intisar Khanani

Episode 25: Intisar Khanani

Charlie and Intisar Khanani (Thorn; Sunbolt; Memories Of Ash) discuss working to better the health of people in Cincinnati, rewriting and exploring the Goose Girl fairy tale to stunning effect, bonkers jail-breaking heroines, and men who take a far more subtle approach than riding in on horses to save the day.

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A photograph of Joanna Hickson

Episode 24: Joanna Hickson

Charlie and Joanna Hickson (First Of The Tudors; The Tudor Crown; The Lady Of The Ravens) discuss the royal and noble individuals of the War of the Roses, the women who made an impact, the ever-present question of who killed the princes in the tower, and, on another topic entirely, using weasels to prevent conception.

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A photograph of Nicholas Royle

Episode 23: Nicholas Royle (‘critic’)

Charlie and Nicholas Royle (Quilt; An English Guide To Birdwatching; Mother: A Memoir) discuss killing yourself – your avatar – off in your fiction, using ‘it is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife’, and sharing a name with another British writer who also writes fiction… that is also about birds…

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A photograph of Midge Raymond

Episode 22: Midge Raymond

Charlie and Midge Raymond (Forgetting English; My Last Continent; also Everyday Writing; Everyday Book Marketing) discuss the current situation in Antarctica and the balance of keeping it clean whilst allowing research and tourism, environmental and climate changes in the same location, and being followed to the toilet by a penguin.

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A photograph of Peter Ho Davies

Episode 21: Peter Ho Davies

Charlie and Peter Ho Davies (The Welsh Girl; The Fortunes) discuss moving as a writer from Britain to the US, Welsh with English as a second language, the first Chinese Americans, Hollywood star Anna May Wong, and the impact – then and now – of the murder of Vincent Chin.

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A photograph of Tracy Rees

Episode 20: Tracy Rees

Charlie and Tracy Rees (Amy Snow; Florence Grace; The Hourglass; Darling Blue; The House At Silvermoor) discuss Richard, Judy, Dickens, Austen, and Brontë – not all at once – coffee houses in Victorian times, landslides and hourglasses, changes to the Yorkshire mines in the late 1800s to early 1900s, and the inclusion of the average person in historical fiction.

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A photograph of Sofie Laguna

Episode 19: Sofie Laguna

Charlie and Sofie Laguna (One Foot Wrong; The Eye of the Sheep; The Choke; the forthcoming Infinite Splendours) discuss beginning with acting, writing from a child’s perspective and not labelling those who are different, bad fictional parents, not liking John Wayne… and we have the inaugural reading of Sofie’s October release.

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A photograph of Abubakar Adam Ibrahim

Episode 18: Abubakar Adam Ibrahim

Charlie and Abubakar Adam Ibrahim (The Whispering Trees; Season of Crimson Blossoms) discuss Nigeria at this time, publishing a novel on a very controversial subject and reactions to it, effects of grief, and looking at cultural expectations of women as the generations change.

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A photograph of Roselle Lim

Episode 17: Roselle Lim

Charlie and Roselle Lim (Natalie Tan’s Book of Luck and Fortune; Vanessa Yu’s Magical Paris Tea Shop) discuss weaving culture, mental illness, and magic into your fiction, an aid for your eyes when chopping onions, and children you excitedly take to tourist attractions who wonder what you see in them.

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A photograph of Isla Morley

Episode 16: Isla Morley

Charlie and Isla Morley (Come Sunday; Above; The Last Blue) discuss growing up and travelling back to South Africa, creating a negative heroine, the 1800s medical phenomenon wherein people were literally blue, and what it’s like owning five tortoises.

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A photograph of Terri Fleming

Episode 15: Terri Fleming

Charlie and Terri Fleming (Perception) discuss looking at the further lives of Mary and Kitty Bennet, working with Austen’s original stories and prose, Mr and Mrs Bennet’s relationship, and organising bookshelves.

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A photograph of Zoë Duncan

Episode 14: Zoë Duncan

Charlie and Zoë Duncan (The Shifting Pools) discuss coping with and healing from war trauma in reality and fiction, the use and power of dreams, employing various styles and formats, and how fascinating reader interpretations can be.

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A photograph of Dan Richards

Episode 13: Dan Richards

Charlie and Dan Richards (Climbing Days; Outpost) discuss asking to join well-known people for lunch and producing fascinating interviews for your book, travelling the less beaten paths of your mountaineering great-great aunt, finding society in isolated places, and looking ahead to how we might continue to approach humanity’s harming of nature after the benefits to scaling back have been shown by this current crisis.

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A photograph of Weike Wang

Episode 12: Weike Wang

Charlie and Weike Wang (Chemistry) discuss having both a scientific – in epidemiology no less! – and a writer background, making use of extracts and white space and preferring them beyond more long-form prose, the difficulties of studies and incorporating friends’ experiences in your stories, and fictional dogs who are inherently important to the text.

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A photograph of Laura Pearson

Episode 11: Laura Pearson

Charlie and Laura Pearson (Missing Pieces, Nobody’s Wife, I Wanted You To Know) discuss the process of grieving for various members of a family, writing a book about cancer when you are working through the same, and changing stories almost entirely from their beginnings.

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A photograph of Camilla Bruce

Episode 10: Camilla Bruce

Charlie and Camilla Bruce (You Let Me In) discuss the darker side of faerie, being as in the dark about answers as your readers are, survival and coping methods following trauma, and the habits of cats inspiring your work.

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A photograph of Fran Cooper

Episode 09: Fran Cooper

Charlie and Fran Cooper (These Dividing Walls, The Two Houses) discuss open mic nights, current and recent sociopolitical situations in Paris (and the world), the way we talk about women and motherhood, and the complexity of relationships.

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A photograph of Andrew Blackman

Episode 08: Andrew Blackman

Charlie and Andrew Blackman (On the Holloway Road, A Virtual Love) discuss life on the road, following in Jack Kerouac’s footsteps, offline and online identity, writing an entire book about a character but never giving them a voice, current climate change activism, and withholding – for very good reason – the endings your readers expect.

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A photograph of E C Fremantle

Episode 07: E C Fremantle

Charlie and E C Fremantle (The Poison Bed) discuss changing pen names, a horrific murder case in the Stuart nobility, coping as a new mother in a one-of-a-kind situation, and the historical line between witchcraft and ‘simple’ superstition.

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A photograph of Nancy Bilyeau

Episode 06: Nancy Bilyeau

Charlie and Nancy Bilyeau (The Crown; The Chalice; The Tapestry; The Blue; Dreamland) discuss the lifestyle of Dissolution-era nuns, using a website’s ‘contact me’ form to great success, there being more relics than there were items, using your family’s name in your work, and the grand amusement parks and luxury hotels of New York’s past.

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A photograph of Samantha Sotto

Episode 05: Samantha Sotto

Tune in as Charlie and Samantha Sotto (Before Ever After; Love and Gravity; A Dream of Trees) discuss characters that join you in your car in the midst of a traffic jam, time travelling with Issac Newton, switching from your fully researched work in progress to a story that needs to be told, and… chickens?

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A photograph of Phillip Lewis

Episode 04: Phillip Lewis

Charlie and Phillip Lewis (The Barrowfields) discuss planning out fictional houses, the detail and beauty of classical music, books about books, and how real life in all its ups and downs makes its mark on your work.

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A photograph of Naomi Hamill

Episode 03: Naomi Hamill

Tune in as Charlie Place and Naomi Hamill (How To Be A Kosovan Bride) discuss post-war Kosovo, using a narrative method that divides opinion, and researching Albanian folklore.

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A photograph of Orlando Ortega-Medina

Episode 02: Orlando Ortega-Medina

Tune in as Charlie Place and Orlando Ortega-Medina (Jerusalem Ablaze; The Death of Baseball) discuss celebrity fictional reincarnation, writing short stories that don’t have messages, and working with ideas that could – if misinterpreted – look like something else.

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A photograph of Nicola Cornick

Episode 01: Nicola Cornick

Tune in as book blogger Charlie Place and author Nicola Cornick (House of Shadows; The Phantom Tree; The Woman In The Lake) discuss burning down your place of work in fiction, every day objects of ill repute, and solving Tudor mysteries yet to be solved.

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