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


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!