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.

RENDANG by Will Harris has been revealed as our new Book Club book! Flo Reynolds returns to the pod to introduce the book and why it's been selected for the book club. They also give some great tips for beginners on how to read poetry, so if you're more used to fiction and non-fiction don't feel like you need to sit this one out.

We'll be doing live Zoom sessions to discuss the book in October and you can jump into the book club area on our Discord community right away by clicking here:

If you missed our previous Book Club book, Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke, you can still catch up on the website where you'll find links to Flo's additional resources:

You can also rewind and catch up on all the Noirwich 2020 events over on the website:

Hosted by Steph McKenna and Simon Jones.

Music by Bennet Maples.

Is Hercule Poirot the world's greatest detective? Dr Mark Aldridge certainly think so, as he explores in his latest book Poirot: The Greatest Detective In The World. Mark is joined on the podcast for the Noirwich 2020 finale by crime writer Sophie Hannah, author of the Poirot continuation novels including the new The Killings at Kingfisher Hill. Their conversation takes in everything a Poirot fan could want, from discussing his best - and most unusual - cases, and why Agatha Christie's detective continues to be popular a century after his introduction.

If you missed any of the Noirwich Crime Writing Festival 2020, or want to rewatch or relisten, do head over to where you can find links to all of this year's amazing free events.

Hosted by Steph McKenna and Simon Jones. Event chaired by NCW Chief Exec Chris Gribble.

Music by Bennet Maples.

The Noirwich Crime Writing Festival continues with Anita Terpstra joining us on the pod from Leeuwarden in the Netherlands to discuss her crime writing. Talking with Flo Reynolds, Anita reveals her path to becoming published and how keeping the faith and continuing to write are essential. It's an inspiring and positive conversation.

Check out yesterday's pod with Paddy Richardson if you missed it and keep an eye on your podcast feed for our Hercule Poirot special this Sunday, featuring Sophie Hannah and Dr Mark Aldridge. Noirwich 2020 is packed full of amazing live videos, including appearances from Attica Locke, Oyinkan Braithwaite and Olivier Norek. Full details at over at

You can find the short stories by Anita over on the Noirwich blog: 

Hosted by Steph McKenna and Simon Jones.

Join our Discord community and ask us questions:

Photo by Harry Cock.

Music by Bennet Maples.

Noirwich 2020 has begun! Our crime writing festival is online this year, which means all the author events can be accessed for free here on the podcast and over on our YouTube channel. We kick off with an interview with Paddy Richardson, one of our 'virtual' writers in residence. Paddy is talking from Dunedin in New Zealand to our programme director Peggy Hughes.

Paddy Richardson is the author of two collections of short stories and seven novels. Traces of Red and Cross Fingers were long-listed for the Ngaio Marsh Crime Fiction Award and Hunting Blind and Swimming in the Dark were shortlisted. Through the Lonesome Dark was shortlisted for the New Zealand Historical Novel Award and longlisted for The Dublin International Literature Award.

Paddy has been awarded Creative New Zealand Awards, the University of Otago Burns Fellowship, the Beatson Fellowship and the James Wallace Arts Trust Residency Award. She has been a guest at many writing festivals and was one of the New Zealand writer representatives at both the Leipzig and Frankfurt Book Fairs in 2012 when New Zealand was the guest of honour. In 2019, she was awarded the Randell Cottage residency in Wellington where she spent six months writing and researching her latest novel to be published in 2021.

Read an extract from Swimming in the Dark:

Read A Soft Flowing Veil of Grey, an exclusive reflection from Paddy: 

Hosted by Simon Jones and Steph McKenna.

Join our Discord writer and reader community:

View the complete Noirwich programme:

Find out about everything we do and sign up to our newsletter:

Music by Bennet Maples.

Poet Flo Reynolds joins us on the pod to share their tips on getting published as a poet. This episode is packed full of practical advice, including what NOT to do, guiding you along the process of building your writer CV through zines and competitions towards being ready for larger pamphlets, chapbooks and collections. Flo has been writing for over ten years and is also an essayist and editor. Their debut pamphlet, the other body, is forthcoming from Guillemot Press in 2021. Recent poems have appeared in The White Review, Stand, The Interpreter’s House, amberflora, Magma, Datableed and more.

When they're not writing, Flo is a literature programmer who works here at the National Centre for Writing. You can usually find them on our Discord community, where Flo runs the NCW Book Club and the Drop-in Writing Sessions. If you've been to any of our workshops or festivals over the years, there's a good chance you'll have benefited from their programming skills!

Check out Flo's what-to-do checklist on the blog here: 

You can join our Discord community to ask follow-up questions here:

Hosted by Simon Jones and Steph McKenna.

Flo's website: 

Noirwich Crime Writing Festival:

Drop-in Writing Sessions:

Join the Book Club:

Music by Bennet Maples.

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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