Virtually Festive

This past year of lockdowns has been a tough time for everyone. And the world of books is no exception. Bookshops and libraries have been shut, publishers have had to work from home. Printers have shut their works. And there have been no literary festivals. However, one former festival that has found a way around the restrictions is the former Winchester Lit Festival – now re-formatted and relaunched as the Virtual Writer’s Weekend.

The Virtual Writers’ Weekend is for writers working at all levels & in every genre who want to improve their writing, get their manuscript published, and network with agents, published authors and other writers.  While nothing will quite replace the joy of hanging out in a beer tent and chatting to fellow authors, this kind of event does some advantages. Overseas guests for starters as the prohibitive costs of travel aren’t an issue. And you can have attendees from anywhere in the world. So in our new cautious world f Covid awareness, could this be the future of literary festivals?

On this episode of We’d Like a Word, we discuss this topic with organiser Sarah Gangai. We also talk to one of the agents who will be scrutinising author’s first drafts – John Baker. In addition we talk to two of the speakers. Adrienne Dines is a veteran of Winchester and works as a speaker and as a mentor. And Dr Reshma Ruia will be speaking on multi-cultural writing, cultural appropriation & political correctness.

Stevyn, Paul Adrienne and Sarah feature in Part 1
John features in Part 2
Sarah and Reshma feature in Part 3

All details for the Writers’ Weekend can be found on the official website.

___________________________________

We’d Like A Word is a podcast and radio show from authors Paul Waters and Stevyn Colgan. We talk with writers, readers, editors, agents, celebrities, talkers, poets, publishers, booksellers, audiobook creators about books – fiction and non-fiction. We go out on various radio and podcast platforms. Our website is www.wedlikeaword.com –  which is where you’ll find information about Paul and Steve and our guests.  We’re also on Twitter @wedlikeaword and Facebook @wedlikeaword and our email is wedlikeaword@gmail.com – and yes, we are slightly embarrassed by the missing apostrophes.

We like to hear from you – your questions, thoughts, ideas, guest or book suggestions. Perhaps you’d like to come on We’d Like A Word in person, to chat, review, meet writers or read out passages from books. And if you’re still stuck for something to read, may we recommend Blackwatertown by Paul Waters or The Diabolical Club by Stevyn Colgan.

Not so secret agents

On this brand new episode of We’d Like a Word Paul and Stevyn dive into the world of agents – not secret, but literary.

Joining them are Piers Blofeld of Sheil Land, and James Wills of Watson Little – two major literary agencies. They discuss how to get an agent for fiction or non-fiction, how to keep an agent, and mistakes to avoid. They also dish up some behind the scenes gossip.

Piers Blofeld

Piers has been the agent for Nadine Dorries, Cath Quinn, Jamie Thomson & Pizza Express. No, really. The Pizza Express Cookbook. He’s also Stevyn’s agent.

James Wills

James is agent for Christopher Fowler, Martin Edwards, Alex Pavesi, footballer Jamie Carragher & the great Alan Moore – crime fiction, thrillers, sports star & graphic novels. He’s also the agent who sold the audiobook rights for Paul Waters’ book, Blackwatertown, to WF Howes. (Patrick Moy is the audiobook narrator. You should have a listen.)  

On this episode we hear about Piers Blofeld’s link to the Bond villain with whom he shares a surname (and Henry ‘Blowers’ Blofeld), and we hear from authors Jo Jakeman and Allie C Hall. We discover the price of getting an agent’s name wrong in your pitch letter, the importance of diversity, comedians called David getting book deals (yes Davids Baddiel & Walliams, we mean you), books on spontaneous combustion, dropping a tea-soaked gingernut on Paul’s phone, why your pitch letter should be ‘half long & twice strong’, changing book titles or not (David Alderton – Fat Dog Thin & Freya Berry – The Dictator’s Wife), author relationships with mega-publishers (like Penguin Random House, Harper Collins or Hachette) versus smaller but perfectly formed ones (like Orenda or Viper), how good storytelling is not the same as good writing (& far rarer), how winning awards may not change your life, why you need an agent to be your bad cop, and how agents cope with rejection. (You see? It’s not just authors who go through it.)

Listen in on iTunes, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts. Or just click here.

___________________________________

We’d Like A Word is a podcast and radio show from authors Paul Waters and Stevyn Colgan. We talk with writers, readers, editors, agents, celebrities, talkers, poets, publishers, booksellers, audiobook creators about books – fiction and non-fiction. We go out on various radio and podcast platforms. Our website is www.wedlikeaword.com –  which is where you’ll find information about Paul and Steve and our guests.  We’re also on Twitter @wedlikeaword and Facebook @wedlikeaword and our email is wedlikeaword@gmail.com – and yes, we are slightly embarrassed by the missing apostrophes. We like to hear from you – your questions, thoughts, ideas, guest or book suggestions. Perhaps you’d like to come on We’d Like A Word in person, to chat, review, meet writers or read out passages from books. And if you’re still stuck for something to read, may we recommend Blackwatertown by Paul Waters or The Diabolical Club by Stevyn Colgan.

OK YA!

Young Adult (YA) fiction has been one of the real success stories of the 21st century and has seen rapid growth – particularly in the fantasy section of the book market. It has spawned hugely successful franchises like Harry Potter, His Dark Materials, The Hunger Games, Twilight, and Divergent.

But audiences have also grown for YA books and films set in our own reality, finding drama in obstacles real teenagers may face. That trend began with the huge success of The Fault in Our Stars, which was soon followed by Paper Towns, Everything Everything, The Spectacular Now and Me, Earl and the Dying Girl.

On this new episode of We’d Like a Word we talk to two successful YA authors who have managed to find a middle ground that combines fantasy with ‘coming of age’ issues faced by young adults.

Shiulie Ghosh

Shiulie Ghosh is an award-winning journalist and broadcaster. She has worked for the BBC, ITN and Aljazeera. She moderates debates for clients including the World Health Organisation and the UN. She also writes young adult fiction novels including the Daughter of Kali and Cetacea series.

Sarwat Chadda

Sarwat Chadda is also an award-winning author of YA books including the Devil’s Kiss and Ash Mistry series. His latest novel City of the Plague God is currently sitting at the top of the charts in several Amazon categories.

In this episode we discuss the appeal and success of YA and the process of writing for a young adult audience. How do you tackle complicated and emotive subjects such as relationships, race and bullying? Are any subjects taboo? How do you deal with the tricky business of teenage sex lives? It’s a lively, spirited and informative chat with two experts of their craft.

____________________________________________

We’d like a Word is a (nearly) award-winning podcast about writing, writers and readers hosted by authors Paul Waters and Stevyn Colgan and served up in three easily digestible 20 minute chunks per episode.

You can find it on most podcast platforms such as iTunes, Spotify, ListenNotes, Podcast Radio, Anchor FM, Google Podcasts, etc.

Or just click here.

Building Worlds

On this new episode Paul and Stevyn are joined, all the way from New Zealand by Elizabeth Knox, and all the way from Cornwall by Stephanie Bretherton – two authors who have created realistic, alternative worlds for their characters to inhabit.

Elizabeth Knox
Stephanie Bretherton

Elizabeth’s latest book The Absolute Book is the story of two sisters. When one is killed and the perpetrator seems to get away with it, the other enters into an ancient and sinister world of myth and legend in search of revenge. It’s an electrifying contemporary fantasy, which features talking ravens, giant crocodiles and the search for the all-important titular volume, The Absolute Book.  

Stephanie’s novel Bone Lines is the story of two women, separated by millennia. Alternating between ancient and modern timelines, the story unfolds through the experiences of a prehistoric shaman, the sole surviving adult of her tribe who is braving a hazardous journey of migration, and a dedicated scientist living a comfortable if troubled existence in London, who is on her own mission of discovery as she studies the shaman’s bones.

We discuss how you do your research and how addictive and immersive it can be (and, more importantly, when to stop and get writing!).

We also mention, in passing, the extraordinary worlds built by people like J R R Tolkien, Anne McCaffrey, Frank Herbert, George R R Martin, Ursula le Guin and many more.

____________________________________________

We’d like a Word is a (nearly) award-winning podcast about writing, writers and readers hosted by authors Paul Waters and Stevyn Colgan and served up in three easily digestible 20 minute chunks per episode.

You can find it on most podcast platforms such as iTunes, Spotify, ListenNotes, Podcast Radio, Anchor FM, Google Podcasts, etc.

Or just click here.

NI Noir

A brand new episode of We’d Like a Word gets released into the wild today in which Paul Waters and Stevyn Colgan discuss the topic of Northern Irish crime fiction. Joining them are authors James Murphy and Simon Maltman, and publisher and owner of the iconic Belfast No Alibis bookshop, David Torrans.

LtoR – Simon Maltman, David Torrans, James Murphy

Among the many topics discussed are whether the ‘ship has sailed’ on Ulster Noir, how the NI Arts Council is supporting writers and writing teachers, and why writing about anything set during The Troubles is problematic. And just who is Barry Murderer??

Simon Maltman is the author of Witness, the Bongo Fury series, The Mark, Return Run and more. His blog is here.

James Murphy is the author of The Rise of Terror, the Terror Within, and Dark Light. His website is here.

David Torrans is the owner of the No Alibis bookshop and the No Alibis Press. Among the title he has published are The Lammisters by Declan Burke, Disorder by Gerard Brennan, and the much anticipated Seed by Joanna Walsh.

____________________________________________

We’d like a Word is a (nearly) award-winning podcast about writing, writers and readers hosted by authors Paul Waters and Stevyn Colgan and served up in three easily digestible 20 minute chunks per episode.

You can find it on most podcast platforms such as iTunes, Spotify, ListenNotes, Podcast Radio, Anchor FM, Google Podcasts, etc.

Or just click here.

Publish and be … interesting!

Hello! And welcome to another episode of our (nearly) award-winning podcast (so close!). This episode we’re looking at the divisive topic of publishers. Are they too celebrity obsessed? Are they driven by accountants rather than people who appreciate good writing? Is it possible to land a book deal without an agent? What is the state of publishing today in the wake of COVID-19?

We put these questions, and a lot more, to our excellent guests – Karen Sullivan of Orenda Books and Miranda Jewess of Viper Books.

Karen Sullivan
Miranda Jewess

You may not be surprised to learn that the world of publishing is like any other area of business – it exists on a spectrum with the greedy and sales-obsessed quantity lovers at one end and the caring, quality book lovers at the other. Both Karen and Miranda are definitely towards the latter end of that sliding scale – of course they want to sell books but not at the cost of quality. Consequently, the books they publish are well-written, often bestselling, and popular with readers. And they care about their authors.

It’s a lively, fun episode and a must for any writers out there.

Find us on iTunes, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Podcast Radio, Anchor FM and, indeed, anywhere else that hosts great podcasts.

Or, just click here.

We’re baaaaack … and we’re listening

Hello! We’d like a Word is back for its second series after a much-needed four month break. We’ve survived Covid-19, a US election, Christmas and New Year, various storms (meteorological and political) and we’ve both managed to stay relatively sane during lockdown.

But now it’s time to dust off the mics, power up the Zoom apps and get stuck into recording some new interviews with people involved – in all of their various roles – in the wonderful world of writing. In this episode we’re looking at the publishing success story of the early 21st century – the audiobook. And to guide us through this world we have three professional audiobook readers – Natalie Chisholm, Patrick Moy and Caroline Lennon.

The audiobooks market is HUGE. It’s worth £2 billion annually and has grown by around 24% per year. However the onset of Coronavirus has almost doubled that amount – a 43% increase in the first half of 2020.

Some other audiobook factoids:

  • 57% of audiobook listeners are under 50.
  • The average person listens to eight audiobooks per year.
  • In 2019 15% of Brits had listened to an audiobook, and 77% had read a paper book but … sales of paper books plunged by £55 million.

So how do you become an audiobook narrator? What’s involved? How do you prepare? And what skills and equipment do you need?

And, looking at the wider topic, is the growth of audiobooks bad for reading skills? Is a book spoiled by a bad choice of reader? And should authors read their own books?

Join the discussion on iTunes, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Anchor FM, Podcast Radio and other places where good podcasts are hosted.

Or just click here.

________________________________

Natalie Chisholm (aka Red Head Voiceover)

Patrick Moy (aka Patrick Doddy)

Caroline Lennon

It’s all in the edit

On the latest locked-down and SWEARY episode of We’d Like a Word, Paul and Stevyn find out all about the arcane art of editing with two jobbing editors – Russel McLean and Linda Nagle. Both have years of experience in the field and are a mine of useful advice.

Russel D McLean is the author of a string of crime novels, including Ed’s Dead, described as a “masterpiece of modern noir” by Euro Crime. In addition to writing his own novels, Russel has provided editorial services – from development reports to full edits – for many clients and has chaired discussions at festival events including The Edinburgh Book Festival, The Dundee Book Festival, Aye Write, The Blairgowrie Book Festival and many others. The authors interviewed include Martina Cole, John Connolly, Chris Brookmyre, William McIlvanney, Justina Robson, Louise Welsh, and Stuart MacBride.

Linda Nagle is a freelance editor specialising in small press and self-published work. She is also an author and screenwriter. She has been published in the following anthologies: Tales of the Female perspective (Chinbeard Books); Paladins (Near to the Knuckle); 6 x 6 x 6 (Ice Pick Books), Within Darkness and Light (Nothing Books), The Black Room Manuscripts, Vol. 3 (The Sinister Horror Company) and her own anthology – Stranger Companies. She has edited numerous books for Haverhill House Publishing and John McIlveen and too many short stories to mention. She was also one of the writers of the acclaimed 2015 TV series Tráfico: Every Body Has a Price.

In this episode the discussion ranges from the difference between copy editing and structure editing, why nobody seems to able to write a good sex scene, how to deal with ‘precious’ authors and how Jake Thackray inspired a very sweary short story.

Mentioned in this podcast:

Blackwatertown by Paul Waters

Dreyer’s English: An Utterly Correct Guide to Clarity and Style by benjamin Dreyer

The Long Drop by Denise Mina

Writing the Novel from Plot to Print to Pixel by Lawrence Block

On Writing by Stephen King

Duncan Bradshaw – Bizarro writer (website)

Jericho Writers website

Russel’s website is here.

Linda’s Blog is here.

Where to find us …

We’d Like A Word is hosted by Paul Waters and Stevyn Colgan and goes out fortnightly. You can find it on iTunes, Spotify, Apple Music, Google Podcasts, Podcast Radio and many other podcast sites. Or you can listen to it via the hosting site – Anchor FM – by clicking here.

Contact the show via Facebook or Twitter at: @wedlikeaword

Or by email: wedlikeaword@gmail.com

‘Til Death Do US Part

Welcome to a new episode of We’d Like a Word with Paul Waters and Stevyn Colgan.

On this episode they talk to author Stephanie Scott about her brilliant debut novel What’s Left of Me is Yours and the topic of cross-genre books.

The book is literary fiction but is also a romance, a thriller and seamlessly dips its toe into several other genres, thus proving that it’s very limiting to consider books solely on ‘what shelf they would go on in book shops’.

There’s also an element of true crime in that the novel was inspired by a real life case involving a wakaresesaya – a professional Japanese ‘breaker-upper’ who was employed to seduce someone in order to shatter a marriage. These agencies really exist and the topic is discussed in the podcast, as is Stephanie’s fascinating family background and history.

STEPHANIE SCOTT is a Singaporean and British writer who was born and raised in South East Asia. She read English Literature at the Universities of York and Cambridge and holds an M.St in Creative Writing from Oxford University. She was awarded a British Association of Japanese Studies Toshiba Studentship for her anthropological work on What’s Left of Me Is Yours and has been made a member of the British Japanese Law Association as a result of her research. She has also won the A. M. Heath Prize, the Jerwood Arvon Prize for Prose Fiction, and was runner up for the Bridport Prize Peggy Chapman-Andrews Award.

Also mentioned on the show:

www.pagesofhackney.co.uk

And we could hardly leave the podcast without mentioning two other debut novels – one by former guest Sue Clarke and one by your very own host Paul Waters. Note to Boy and Blackwatertown are now on sale wherever you find good books!

____________________________________________

We’d Like A Word is hosted by Paul Waters and Stevyn Colgan and goes out fortnightly. You can find it on iTunes, Spotify, Apple Music, Google Podcasts, Podcast Radio and many other podcast sites. Or you can listen to it via the hosting site – Anchor FM – by clicking here.

Contact the show via Facebook or Twitter at: @wedlikeaword

Or by email: wedlikeaword@gmail.com

Shorts Weather

On this latest episode of We’d Like a Word, we have something of a coup! Because Steve and Paul are chatting to Kritika Pandey, overall world-wide winner of the Commonwealth Short Story Prize!

Kritika first won the Asian heat of the competition, which got her to the final along with winners from Canada and Europe, Africa, the Caribbean and Pacific zone. On Tuesday (30th) it was announced that her story The Great Indian Tee and Snakes – had been voted the overall winner!

The Commonwealth Foundation announced Pandey’s win in an online award ceremony which featured readings from Booker Prize-winning author Bernardine Evaristo and actors Swara Bhasker, Elizabeth McGovern, Kerry Fox, and Leila Bertand. 

Pandey, who hails from Ranchi, Jharkhand, was presented with the prize by Ghanaian author and Chair of the Judges Nii Ayikwei Parkes during a video call. She is the second Indian national to win the overall prize after Parashar Kulkarni in 2016.

Pandey’s winning story, The Great Indian Tee and Snakes, tells of an unlikely friendship which reaches across religious divides, set against the background of a tea seller’s stall. She writes of two young people trying to solve an age-old riddle of human existence: how can love overcome the forces of hatred and prejudice?  Pandey says, ‘I created a strong-willed character of a Hindu girl who chooses to love a Muslim boy, even though she knows that she is not “supposed to”.’

You can read the winning story here on the Granta website here.

Kritika’s website is here.

You can learn more about the prize here at the Commonwealth Writers website.

__________________________________________

We’d Like A Word is hosted by Paul Waters and Stevyn Colgan and goes out fortnightly. You can find it on iTunes, Spotify, Apple Music, Google Podcasts, Podcast Radio and many other podcast sites. Or you can listen to it via the hosting site – Anchor FM – by clicking here.

Contact the show via Facebook or Twitter at: @wedlikeaword

Or by email: wedlikeaword@gmail.com