The Writing Life

We’re a podcast for anyone who writes. Every week we talk to writers about their writing journeys and techniques, from early career debuts to self-publishers and narrative designers. We’ve featured Margaret Atwood, Jackie Kay, Sara Collins, Antti Tuomainen, Val McDermid, Sarah Perry, Elif Shafak and many more!

Brought to you by the National Centre for Writing at Dragon Hall in Norwich.

Okechukwu Nzelu joins us on the pod to talk about his debut The Private Joys of Nnenna Maloney, writing in lockdown and balancing life as a full-time teacher and author. Okey was shortlisted for the Desmond Elliot Prize and Polari First Book Prize and won a 2020 Betty Trask Award. Turns out that award-winning debut author + experienced English teacher = a brilliant podcast full of tips and insight.

Hosted by Steph McKenna and Simon Jones.

Join our Discord community:

All about our work:

Get Noirwich workshop tickets:

Photo of Okechukwu Nzelu (c) Martin Glacken

Music by Bennet Maples.

We're joined on the pod by Eliza Clark, the debut author of Boy Parts. Eliza talks to Steph about being published in her mid-20s, the inevitable comparisons with other authors and the series of unlikely events that led to publication. She also discusses how writing fan fiction in her teens helped hone her craft before embarking on her first book, as well as how Covid-19 has affected the book's launch.

Hosted by Simon Jones and Steph McKenna.

Join our Discord community:

Early Career Writers' Resource Packs:

Noirwich Crime Writing Festival:

Produced by the National Centre for Writing

Image by Richard-Kenworthy

Music by Bennet Maples

Our CEO Chris Gribble joins us on the pod to discuss Arts Council England's new National Lottery Funding Grants. Available now to artists they offer much-needed support and relief during Covid-19. Applications are open, and Chris is on the show to provide starter tips and an introduction to the grants system: plus why arts funding is critical, especially at times like this.

It was very hot when recording this episode, so we're going to blame the heat for the slightly glitchy audio quality on Chris' end. Heat rises, so we can only assume that it stole away some of the soundwaves before they reached the mic. Apologies!

Hosted by Simon Jones and Steph McKenna.

Find out more about the ACE grants:

Here's what we do: 

Music by Bennet Maples.

Long overdue, we finally have this wonderful recording from the BCLT Summer School 2019, featuring Swiss-Albanian writer Elvira Dones, her translator Clarissa Botsford and publisher Stefan Tobler. Chaired by Rosie Goldsmith, it's a wide-ranging discussion taking in themes of identity, linguistics, translation processes and the creation of Elvira's book Sworn Virgin.

This event took place in partnership with the British Centre for Literary Translation, with support from Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia.

Meanwhile, Simon and Steph talk about lots of exciting NCW things, from the Book Club and drop-in Writing Sessions to the new Creative Writing Online courses and the exciting announcement of NOIRWICH 2020.

Some useful links:

Join the National Centre for Writing's Discord community:

Check out the full Noirwich 2020 programme: 

More info on all of our work to support writers: 

Hosted by Simon Jones and Steph McKenna.

Music by Bennet Maples.

Get a taste of what we do and meet hosts Simon Jones and Steph McKenna. We're a weekly podcast for anyone who writes - find us on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts and all good podcast apps.

Produced by the National Centre for Writing in the UK.

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We are very excited to have Sarah Perry back on the podcast! Sarah talks to Chris Gribble about crafting characters and what it means when an author talks about their creations 'coming to life'. This conversation was part of our Early Career Writers' Resource pack back in May, so do check out the other contributions from Michael Donkor and Joe Dunthorne -

The pack was made possible by support from Arts Council England.

Hosted by Simon Jones and Steph McKenna.

Find out more about what we do:

Music by Bennet Maples.

Crime writer Nicola Upson returns to the pod to talk about designing a good plot. Nicola tells us how her process has adjusted over time and discusses the unique requirements of the crime genre. Nicola's latest book is Sorry for the Dead, continuing her hugely successful Josephine Tey series.

This episode is part of our latest Early Career Writers' Resource pack, which is all about PLOT. Check out the website for more amazing free stuff from Okechukwu Nzelu and Inua Ellams.

Supported by Arts Council England.

Hosted by Steph McKenna and Simon Jones.

More about us:

Music by Bennet Maples.

Sarah Ardizzone is a translator from the French with forty-something titles to her name. This week she joins us on the pod to discuss her career as a translator, the importance of forging a bond with writers and how translation techniques differ between mediums. Asking the questions is Sarah Bower.

Meanwhile, Steph and Simon talk about the upcoming drop-in writing sessions and Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke, this month's Book Club selection. Join our Discord community of writers and readers here:

Sarah's work spans picture books, graphic novels and travel memoirs as well as children’s, young adult and literary fiction. Notable authors include Alexandre Dumas (a fresh version of The Nutcracker), Faïza Guène, the outspoken young French-Algerian voice from the banlieue, and former ‘dunce’ Daniel Pennac, whose autobiographical polemics about education are illustrated by Quentin Blake. Twice recipient of the Marsh award, she has won the Scott-Moncrieff prize and a New York Times notable book accolade.

What we do: Drop-in Writing info: Book Club info:

Music by Bennet Maples.

Eva Meijer, writer and philosopher, joins Kate Griffin on the pod to discuss her work. Topics range from understanding animal languages to writing routines and redrafting.

Meanwhile, Steph has been back to Dragon Hall as lockdown restrictions are eased in the UK, and everyone is getting excited about The Book Club. If you'd like to read Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke with the rest of us, you can find out more here:

To join the Discord discussions click here:

Hosted by Simon Jones and Steph McKenna.

Also check out this interview with Eva in The Guardian:

Eva Meijer is an author, artist, singer, songwriter and philosopher. Her non-fiction study on animal communication, Animal Languages, was translated to English in 2019. Bird Cottage was her first novel to appear in English, translated by Antoinette Fawcett and published by Pushkin Press. It has been nominated for the BNG and Libris prizes in the Netherlands and is being translated into several languages.

Music by Bennet Maples.

Join us for our summer Book Club! We're reading Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke, a crime thriller set in Texas. Flo Reynolds joins us on the pod today to excitedly introduce the book!

Meanwhile, Steph and Simon are similarly excited about the Desmond Elliott Prize's winner announcement which happens this evening at 6.30pm UK time - tune in live here:

Get involved with the book club: Join the Discord community: Find us on Twitter and Instagram @writerscentre

Hosted by Simon Jones and Steph McKenna. Music by Bennet Maples.

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