Frances Kay is interviewed by Frances Kay

Guest Article by Frances Kay
Illustration: Bradley Wind

FK: What's a published novelist like you doing on 'AUTHONOMY' - the Harper Collins online slush pile?

Frances: Debut novelist. Still a debut novelist after 2 years. If I have to wait as long to get my second novel published, I'll be over 100 years old at my next book launch.

FK: So why not use your time to write more books?

Frances: I have. I've finished two complete novels and started another three since 'Micka' was published. Sadly, no takers.

FK: Your stuff isn't commercial - don't whinge.

Frances: That's exactly why I joined Autho, as members call it. I wanted to know just how much of a minority taste I'm writing for.

FK: Why that site? There are others.

Frances: I had a personal recommendation - I'm sure the other sites work in the same way. It's all about being connected to a wider public.

Teaching Creative Writing in Prison

Maidy Clark lectures for The Open University and the University of Winchester in creative writing and creative non-fiction, and has taught creative writing in HMP Winchester, HMP Kingston and HMP Birmingham. The View From Here's Shanta Everington talks to her about her work and research teaching creative writing in prison. 

Hello Maidy and welcome to The View from Here. Can you tell me a bit about your background and how you became involved in teaching creative writing in prison?

I was working as a hypnotherapist and psychotherapist when I decided to do an MA in Creative Writing in Personal Development with the University of Sussex. Initially, I thought I would integrate the tool of creative writing into my practice as a therapist but along the way, I decided on a career change into teaching. During the MA, I read about creative writing work in prisons. After completing the MA, I was teaching literacy and numeracy to offenders on community service, I then sent my CV to the local prison, detailing my experience and interest in teaching creative autobiography. I was invited to interview almost immediately and started straight away.

Barry Cunningham Interview

Reader Logo by Jen

The View From Here Interview: Barry Cunningham

After an English degree at Cambridge, Barry joined Penguin Books in 1977. As Children’s Marketing Director for Puffin, he worked with all the great names in children’s books including Roald Dahl and Spike Milligan, and was responsible for the re-launch of Beatrix Potter. In 1984 he was promoted to the Penguin Board and became responsible for the marketing of all Penguin Books, a position he held until 1988, when he was headhunted by Random House.

In 1994 he was approached by Bloomsbury to set up their first children’s book list. Not only was the new list a success, but Barry soon became one of the best known names in publishing after he signed up J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.

‘If it wasn’t for Barry Cunningham, Harry Potter might still be languishing in his cupboard under the stairs… I doubt any of the writers with whom he has worked could be more grateful to him.’
J.K Rowling

Barry left Bloomsbury in early 2000, and decided to start his own publishing company. The result was Chicken House, a lively and creative company publishing highly original and enjoyable children’s books, with a special emphasis on new fiction.


At a time when some were wondering about the future of publishing houses, you had the freedom to set up independently; you set up the wonderful free-range house that is the Chicken House. How did you choose the name?

Norse Code

Reader Logo by Ann Giles

I seem to have lost my Norse gods. Or perhaps I never had them? It was only recently that I realised I ought to have had more of a Norse background than I appear to have managed.

And because I didn’t know why, I had to ask the husband. He’s good with stuff you can’t find, so I suspected he might know something about this lack of gods. I was correct about that, as he came back with an answer pretty quickly.

The answer is Snorre Sturlasson. And once I heard this well known name mentioned after all these years I knew he had nailed it.

Many of you will now be wondering what the question was in the first place. I chat to many authors of primarily children’s books. Most of them are British, or at least from English-speaking backgrounds. Whether or not they write about the Norse gods themselves, they do know a lot about what I almost consider to be my gods. They also know about other deities, be they Greek or from some other near or far flung place.

Iain M. Banks Interview

Iain M. Banks
by Mike French

What follows is an interview we conducted late 2010 but only ever made available in our printed magazine.  Now for the first time we reproduce it here for free on-line ...

Iain M. Banks was born in Fife in 1954, and was educated at Stirling University, where he studied English Literature, Philosophy and Psychology.

Banks came to widespread and controversial public notice with the publication of his first novel, The Wasp Factory, in 1984. His first science fiction novel, Consider Phlebas, was published in 1987. He has continued to write both mainstream fiction (as Iain Banks) and science fiction (as Iain M. Banks).

He is now acclaimed as one of the most powerful, innovative and exciting writers of his generation: The Guardian has called him "the standard by which the rest of SF is judged". William Gibson, the New York Times-bestselling author of Spook Country describes Banks as a "phenomenon".

We’ve interviewed Iain before but when we heard he was rolling up at the Luton Library Theatre in the UK (which is about five minutes’ walk from our UK office), to talk about his latest Culture novel, Surface Detail, we decided you just can’t have too much of a good thing and met up with him backstage beforehand. What followed was a half-hour interview which was both amusing and insightful. I started by balancing the recording equipment – okay a small Dictaphone – on one of the two sinks in his dressing room …

Can I risk putting this here?

Laughs. Yes well!

All Her Father’s Guns : A Review

All Her Father’s Guns
by James Warner
Publisher: Numina Press
Review: Grace Read

Well, let’s start with the ending.

I didn’t like it.

It was out of sync with the rest of the novel. It was ludicrous. It undermined the authenticity of the entire story and stuck out like a surreal sore thumb. I’d go so far as to say that it angered me.

However, given a bit of breathing space (in, and out), I began to wonder if the ending was less ridiculous, and more clever, than I had first appreciated. Yes, perhaps it was a clever ending. Perhaps…but the jury is still out as far as I’m concerned.

All Her Father’s Guns is narrated to us in two distinct voices; Cal (the father; a right wing, repressed, gun loving businessman) and Reid (the boyfriend; an English, foppish academic). Cal and Reid provide a fun juxtaposition of characters – they are like stereotypes brought to life, and through the course of the novel, they seem to converge: Cal shares so much of his heartbreak that he softens in our minds, while Reid finds that the world of academia loses it’s idealism and he learns to fire a gun! An uneasy middle ground is defined, where the opposites share some commonality, and perhaps even start to empathise with each other.

eVolution of a Trilogy

by Louise Cusack

eBooks were little more than a curiosity a decade ago when my agent Selwa Anthony tested the Australian publishing waters to sell my Destiny of the Light fantasy novel.  eReaders were clunky and expensive so the limited number of eBooks available were mostly read on computers.  ePublished authors were rarely paid advances, so their contracts were considered by most to be a form of vanity publishing.  They were marginalised at writing conferences where they failed to receive the elusive 'published author' nametag that allowed entry into Author Only events.  Back then no one made money selling eBooks, and though people ‘in the know’ were touting them as the future of reading, few in the industry were convinced it would happen quickly, or happen at all.

4a.m. : A review

4 a.m.
by Nina de la Mer
Published by Myriad 2011
Review: Jane Turley 

Hamburg. The 1990s. The streets are lined with brothels, nightclubs pulsate with music and in darkened corners squaddies pop pills and snort coke. Meet Cal and Manny, two army chefs escaping the clatter of pots and pans, eyes wide, bodies jerking to the rave anthem 4am. One of these young men will leave for Bosnia and one will become a dealer.

One will live and one will die.

You’ll have to read 4 a.m. by Nina de la Mer if you want to discover their individual fates. The novel is a hell of a read and whilst I found it irksome in parts it is an extraordinary debut and shows de la Mer to be a writer of both skill and aptitude. It’s also refreshing to see a female author who is prepared to stray from the clichés of chick lit, psychological thrillers and family dramas and write from the male perspective in a gritty contemporary drama.