I used to listen to the radio all the time… now, apart from the news, I rarely listen… I’m not sure why I don’t, it’s not as if I’ve fallen out with the radio, I just seem to prefer quiet! However, this morning I did listen to part of the midweek programme called ‘Midweek’ – of course! It is a programme which has a host, Libby Purves (pronounced Purvis) and four guests, usually with some link between them, but not always. Today, the four guests were Philip Hoare, James Runcie, Elliot Ackerman and Meera Syal; the thing they have in common is that they are all writers as well as having other occupations or professions.
Philip Hoare is also a broadcaster, film-maker, artist, and Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Southampton. James Runcie is a reviewer, documentary maker, television producer and theatre director. Elliot Ackerman is an American ex-military man and Meera Syal is an actress, playwright, comedian, singer, journalist and producer.
They were on Midweek to talk about their experiences, but also to talk about writing, why they write, what they write about and how they chose to tell the stories in their work. As just an ordinary person who writes, and self-publishes without agents or editors, it was really interesting to listen to them. My life experiences have been very different, however, like Meera Syal, I come from an ordinary family although her background as you might guess from her name if you don’t know her, is not English – her parents were Indian. My life experiences are different, a teacher in ‘challenging’ northern schools, then working in a PRU – a unit for ‘difficult’ young people.
Philip Hoare: “recalls his own memories of swimming alongside whales…”
James Runcie: “inspired in part by his father, the former Archbishop of Canterbury…”
Elliot Ackerman: “spent eight years in the US military as an infantry and special operations officer…. the son of businessman Peter Ackerman and author Joanne Leedom-Ackerman and the brother of mathematician and wrestler Nate Ackerman…”
Meera Syal: “the only Asian family in a small Midlands mining village…”
However putting aside the experiences and the connections that these writers have, I was interested in what they said about their work, and the idea of genre because I have never managed to pinpoint my writing in terms of genre… that is, until I started writing about the Radwinter family and could then categorise these novels as genealogical mysteries… I guess that as I was listening to the programme I was wondering what I would have to say if I was one of the guests on the programme, if my novels ever became best-sellers and I came to the conclusion that however exciting I tried to make my life, it wouldn’t be as interesting as any of these… swimming with whales, being a special ops officer in Afghanistan, having a family from a different country and being a TV star…
Before I give links to these interesting people… here is a link to my page on Amazon, where you can get my novels, the genealogical mysteries, and the other ones… the one about the woman whose husband led a double life, the couple whose son goes missing in north India, the woman who chases a stalker, the hanging man, the ex-soldier with post traumatic stress… oh and the psychological thriller…
Here is a link to the programme:
… and here are links to three of the writers’ pages: