Write-Off with Francesca Steele


Clare Chambers

Season 2, Ep. 1

Welcome back! Clare Chambers is kicking off this season. Clare has written nine published novels - her first when she was just 26 and her latest, Small Pleasures, a wonderful book long-listed for the Woman’s Prize last year. But just before Small Pleasures there was a failed novel that nearly caused Clare to give up on writing altogether. It took her five years to write and then no one wanted to buy it.

We talked about her feeling her career was over aged 50, working as an editor herself for the legendary publisher Diana Athill, how she switched from being a pantser to being a committed plotter and being given permission not to be funny.  

Don’t forget that I list my guest’s books at my online shop https://uk.bookshop.org/shop/francescasteele. This helps fund the podcast so please do buy there! Also do rate or review the podcast on your app - it helps more people find out about Write-Off, and also I just really like seeing the reviews! You can also find me on Twitter at @francescasteele and Instagram at @Francesca_steele

The lovely Scott Elliott helped me produce this season. Please do consider him for all your pod needs. https://www.podcastconsultant.co.uk

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.

More Episodes

Thursday, February 16, 2023

Tessa Hadley

Season 3, Ep. 10
If you want to write domestic fiction I cannot recommend reading Tessa Hadley, or indeed listening to her here, enough. Tessa, who has been long-listed twice for what is now the Women’s Prize and whom the Washington Post called “one of the greatest stylists alive”, wrote four failed novels throughout her thirties and was finally published aged 46, with Accidents in the Home. She has now written eight novels and is one of the modern masters of domestic fiction, burrowing into the complex inner lives of middle aged women and the clashes between them, their feelings and the outer world. They are books of enormous sensitviy but also, as Tessa says here, born of a lot of control and labour, and while Tessa is clear about how compelled she is to write she is also keen to dispel the idea that it is in any way easy. “I’m a slow and painful writer.. writing in a knot of constipation” she says,. I find her story as riveting as her writing. She worked away for years on what she later realised were all the wrong sorts off things - books about big political events when really she was interested in things closer to home. I found her fascinating on how she kept going (even when someone told her nobody wanted to read stories about people in their forties) and how writing is learning to hear what you sound like in readers minds.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!