Write-Off with Francesca Steele


Alan Garner

Season 3, Ep. 7
Last year, Alan Garner became the oldest person ever to be shortlisted for the Booker prize, at the age of 87, for his novel Treacle Walker. Alan has been writing novels and other books for more than 60 years, many of them rooted in the folklore and mythology of Cheshire where he is from. His first novel The Weirdstone of Brisingamen had people calling him the new Tolkien and he received an OBE in 2001 for services to literature. Among Alan’s books is his incredible memoir Where Shall We Run To, in which he describes his childhood. He was a very sick child and spent days, weeks, staring at the wall of his bedroom during the second world war, thinking and dreaming, and perhaps sowing the seeds of becoming an author years later, But he also describes the pain of being cast out of his community when he got into grammar school. A rejection that still seems to pain him today and which feeds into the type of writing that he does. Alan has an unusual writing process, that often involves years of what he calls gestation, where he barely writes at all, waiting for the subconscious part of the brain to come up with the goods, and I think there’s something to learn from this - that a writer’s work really isn’t all done at the desk, and that patience isn’t just a virtue but a necessity. I loved chatting to Alan about writing swear words on the first manuscripts he was throughly dissatisfied with, thinking T.S. Eliot’s wasteland was a load of rubbish and giving up academia to write even when he had no idea whether he’d be any good. Do come find me on Twitter - @francescasteele - or Instagram - @francescasteelewrites - I'd love to hear your stories about self-doubt, rejection and – of course – success!

Sarah Turner

Season 3, Ep. 3
Who deserves to be a writer? When Sarah Turner was in her early twenties she had a baby, found it challenging and, unable to find writing online to match her experience, set up a blog. A couple of years later that blog, The Unmumsy Mum, had nearly 100,000 readers and landed Sarah a book deal. Her three very funny, honest non-fiction books about parenting have all been bestsellers, as has her debut novel Stepping Up, which came out this year. So why is Sarah on Write-Off. Well, because of that question: who deserves to be a writer? Sarah has more than 400,000 followers on Instagram and is famous to many people as an influencer, posting frequently about her three adorable sons, the daily difficulties and the magic of parenting and their house renovation in Exeter. As such she knows she’s seen by some as someone who has just been handed book deals, someone who maybe can’t or shouldn’t be allowed to write. But Sarah got the book deal because she was already writing stuff that resonated with people. And those books are really well written.I absolutely loved dissecting this question of who deserves their place in publishing with Sarah and discussing all the self-doubt that comes with this sort of advantage. Because whatever you think of this sort of route in in the end putting a pen to paper as it were and hoping to do a good job is never easy. Do come find me on Twitter - @francescasteele - or Instagram - @francescasteelewrites - I'd love to hear your stories about self-doubt, rejection and – of course – success!

Liane Moriarty

Season 2, Ep. 10
It’s hard to express quite how much I love Liane Moriarty's writing. I have read all of her books, some of them many times, and I just think she combines such a good eye for women's interior lives and the complex issues we confront in ordinary, everyday life with a great sense of humour and unique momentum. Liane published her first novel at 38, spurred on when her sister Jaclyn, also an author, was published. Her first attempt, though – a children’s book – was, she says, rejected by everyone. I love listening to Liane talk about sibling rivalry and support and the embarrassment of that first rejection.Before The Husband's Secret and Big Little Lies became bestsellers, Liane spent years as a mid-list author and is very honest about the little humiliations she endured before hitting the big time, like doing events where no one turned up. I love Liane’s observation that she’s always trying to get back to the simple joy of writing as a child, unencumbered by publishing needs or expectations. I hope you enjoy listening to her as much as I did. This season is sponsored by the wonderful Jericho Writers https://jerichowriters.com. Listeners of the podcast can get an exclusive 15% discount on membership by going to  www.jerichowriters.com/join-us and entering the code Write-Off.You can find me on Twitter at @francescasteele and Instagram at @Francesca_steelePlease do rate or review the podcast on your Apple podcast app – it helps more people find out about Write-Off, and also I just really like seeing the reviews!