Jeffrey Archer Master Storyteller

The globally bestselling (more than 300m books sold) storyteller Jeffrey Archer tells We’d Like A Word hosts Paul Waters & Stevyn Colgan how he does it, in the 3-part episode. Jeffrey takes research to extremes – he been to prison, been an MP and is now in the House of Lords. He reads from his latest rip roaring thriller is Traitors Gate – all about how to steal the Crown Jewels and get away with it. Jeffrey also breaks down his classic 100 short story, Unique, in a writing masterclass. Start listening here, or wherever you get your podcasts.

Jeffrey also announces the winner of the We’d Like A Word competition for a new Google Pixel Fold mobile phone (cost £1700). We spoil you on this podcast!

We also talk about: jeweller Alan Gard, Maupassant, O Henry, Ajay Chowdhury & his Detective Kamil Rahman series, Roald Dahl, Dickens, Sean Connery, Ben McIntyre & Colditz, Rula Lenska, AI – artificial intelligence, reading out loud, athlete Adrian Metcalfe, Betty Boothroyd, Barry Humphries, Paul Dacre & the Daily Mail, killing dogs, counterfeit books & cricket in India, JD Salinger, the editor author partnership, Dr Who, Roy Jenkins, Adrian McKinty & The Chain, F Scott Fitzgerald, Somerset Maugham, Chief Superintendent John Sutherland, Miss Potter with Renee Zellweger and Ewan McGregor, Brad Pitt, digging the plot hole even deeper, why authors should avoid biros, mortality, getting up early to write & cutting down alcohol, Richard Adams & Watership Down, rare originality, Jefferson & a missing American Declaration of Independence, & Frederick Forsyth.


We’d Like A Word is a podcast & radio show from authors Paul Waters & Stevyn Colgan. We talk with writers, readers, editors, agents, celebrities, talkers, poets, publishers, booksellers, & audiobook creators about books – fiction & non-fiction. We go out on various radio & podcast platforms. Our website is for information on Paul, Steve & our guests. We’re on Twitter @wedlikeaword & Facebook @wedlikeaword & our email is [email protected] Yes, we’re embarrassed by the missing apostrophes. We like to hear from you – questions, thoughts, ideas, guest or book suggestions. Perhaps you’d like to come on We’d Like A Word to chat, review or read out passages from books. Paul is writing a new cosy mystery series set in contemporary Delhi – more on that anon. And if you’re still stuck for something to read now, may we recommend Blackwatertown, the thriller by Paul Waters or Cockerings, the comic classic by Stevyn Colgan.

Win a Google Pixel Phone + Ajay Chowdhury on AI & writing books

Crime author & tech entrepreneur Ajay Chowdhury tells We’d Like A Word hosts Paul Waters & Stevyn Colgan about how he uses artificial intelligence tools to help him write his excellent Detective Kamil Rahman series. Plus our competition for a chance to win a brand new Google Pixel Fold mobile phone. (We’ve heard they cost £1,700 – so it’s a good prize!) The competition is now closed, but you can hear the question, and the rest of this 3-part episode, starting here.

Also in this episode: Is it ethical or useful to use AI / artificial intelligence tools like Chat GPT to help write books? Is AI an existential threat to human creativity? Will AI put book cover designers out of work? Which of us has a third nipple and why does James Bond get his nipple arrangement all wrong?

We also talk – Lily Allen, author Jude O’Reilly, Roger Moore, Children of the Ghetto by Israel Zangwill, A Child of the Jago by Arthur Morrison, John Wyndham, John Wick, Philip Kerr, Jewish East End London, book cover designer Dan Mogford, Barry Cotter v Harry Potter, Christopher Lee, Scaramanga, India, ANPR and other surveillance, AI dating website, Honcho, the Indian epics the Ramayana & Mahabharata.

Amish on writing Indian history as fiction

Amish Tripathi on writing Indian history as bestselling fiction: Diplomat, TV star & author Amish tells We’d Like A Word hosts Paul Waters & Stevyn Colgan about writing new versions of classic Indian epics like the Ramayana, in this 3-part episode. He shares how he creates bestselling series that sell millions of copies faster than any others in India. But how does he keep it exciting when most people know how these classic stories end? And what about those readers who feel they already “own” these stories & jealously police any deviations or fresh takes? How do these new tellings of old stories fit in with today’s India? Listen here.

Plus – as Amish is also a diplomat, head of the Nehru Centre in the UK, a TV presenter & a prolific author – how does he find the time? And what role does the Goddess play in how his books make it to print? And where & why does Amish Tripathi fit in the pantheon of one-name celebrities – Beyonce, Madonna, Prince, Masaba… Amish?

Amish is the author of the Shiva Trilogy, the Ram Chandra Series, & others. His latest book, the fourth in the Ram Chandra Series, is War of Lanka. Brace yourself for all-out conflict, intrigue, strategy, philosophy and some unexpected geography. Think you know your ancient Indian history? here’s a new take.

Melvyn Bragg, Eddie Izzard, Little Red Riding Hood, marriage & old British folk tales also get a mention. And we drink tea in the very grand surroundings of the Nehru Centre in London.

Romance: Movie star Michael Douglas, authors Georgina Moore & Becky Hunter

Movie star Michael Douglas, authors Georgina Moore & Becky Hunter tell We’d Like A Word hosts Paul Waters & Stevyn Colgan about writing romance, authors supporting other authors, and reading to counter depression, in this 3-part episode. Listen here.

Hollywood star & double-Oscar-winning Michael Douglas has had a string of hit films including Basic Instinct, Fatal Attraction, Wall Street, Romancing the Stone, Behind the Candelabra, & Falling Down – plus producing One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest. His latest is the Marvel superhero movie, Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania. He gives us his book recommendations.

Georgina Moore & Becky Hunter have worked together in book publicity & also wrote their romance books together – on Georgina’s house boat off the Isle of Wight. So they both know about publicising books and supporting each other.

Georgina is the author of The Garnett Girls, published by HQ, Harper Collins. It’s set on the Isle of Wight & in Venice. & is on loads of Best Books of 2023 lists.

Becky’s new book is One Moment, published by Corvus – Atlantic Books. It’s described as a moving novel about the life-affirming power of friendship.

We also talk about how to get the most out of publicists; mistakes authors make; the dreaded second book syndrome; the blissful ignorance of debut authors; the risks of chasing trends; the struggle to justify devoting time to writing; writing to the market for a deadline; choosing a book title; how to bounce back from rejection; why you should big up other writers & people with whom you work; authors Shari Lapena, Marian Keyes, Sophie Kinsella & Eva Rice; writing what you love; how to stay resilient & upbeat; the contemplative Japanese activity known as boketto: plus the newly invented booketto – with may be accompanied by a cornetto; the novel Less by the Pulitzer Prize-winning Andrew Sean Greer; American revolutionary hero, inventor, scientist & US declaration of independence signatory, Benjamin Franklin; and the history books, Benjamin Franklin: An American Life by Walter Isaacson, & A Great Improvisation: Franklin, France and the Birth of America, by Stacy Schiff.

Climate Change Fiction: Peter May & Paul Hardisty

 Peter May & Paul Hardisty tell We’d Like A Word hosts Paul Waters & Stevyn Colgan about bringing our climate emergency into mainstream popular fiction, in this 3-part episode. Peter May’s new crime thriller A Winter Grave (published by riverrun), & is set in Scotland in 2051. Paul Hardisty’s adventure thriller The Forcing (published by Orenda Books), & is set in a future when younger voters turn on the older generation they blame for destroying our world. Listen here.

Do we need the authors of popular genre fiction to include climate emergency themes in their fiction? Lots of us ignore the science of climate change, so are stories which appeal to our imagination the way to get the message across? Do authors have a duty to reflect climate change, or does the creative heart rebel against being told what to do? Why don’t more authors do it already? Is our looming climate catastrophe just too bleak? Too difficult? Do readers need happier endings? Do agents & publishers? How should authors get the balance right between waking readers up and scaring them into despairing inaction? And how do you wrap it all up in exciting, enjoyable stories?

Peter May is the bestselling author of thrillers series set in Scotland, France & China – as well as prescient standalone thrillers, like Lockdown, which predicted the pandemic lockdown. We’ve delved into his past already on We’d Like A Word, but had to have him back (the first time we’ve done this with a guest) when he came out of retirement to lead the literary vanguard trying to communicate with big audiences about climate change in a new way. He’s also released an anthem by the Peter May Band to accompany A Winter Grave. You’ll hear it on the show – Don’t Burn The World.  (Co-written by Dennis McCoy.) You can stream it on the usual music platforms & watch the YouTube video here: ⁠Don’t Burn the World – The Peter May Band – YouTube⁠  You can also hear Peter’s previous surreal episode involving being hired as a private detective by giant geckos here: ⁠⁠

Paul Hardisty lives by Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. He got there from Canada via a bewildering series of steps through the world’s trouble zones, including, in November, Ukraine. As a leading environmental scientist, engineer & lobbyist of politicians, he knows how urgent it is for people to wake up on climate change.

We also talk about Amitav Ghosh; resurrecting the book in your drawer that you thought would never get published; The Rig on Amazon Prime; Kate Raworth & Doughnut Economics; & Negeley Farson & The Way of a Transgressor.

Writing dynasties: Felix Francis, Andrew Child/Grant & Rajmohan Gandhi

Writing dynasties: In this 4-part episode Felix Francis, Andrew Child/Grant & Rajmohan Gandhi tell We’d Like A Word hosts Paul Waters & Stevyn Colgan about taking on a big book brand or carrying on a family writing tradition. It’s different from continuation novels, they say, like when Anthony Horowitz took on Ian Fleming’s James Bond character (see episode 4, series 1 of We’d Like A Word with Anthony Horowitz ). These are books, stories and characters with whom they have grown up. But do they try to be exactly like their predecessor or collaborator? Distinctively different? How open are they about it? Is it better to keep it a secret until you’re sure that readers will like it? And what if the originator decides he maybe does not want to retire after all? How do they write? And what books are they writing next? Listen here.

Felix Francis is the son of Richard and Mary Francis, who together created the internationally bestselling Dick Francis thrillers, set in the world of horse racing. Felix began contributing to, then co-writing, then solely authoring the Dick Francis books long before his name was on the covers. He’s written 16 of them now. Where does Dick end and Felix begin? Listen to find out.

Andrew Grant – now also known as Andrew Child – is the younger brother of Lee Child (real name Jim Grant), the creator of the bestselling Jack Reacher series – which you may also know from the Tom Cruise movies or the Amazon series starring Alan Ritchson. When decided he had only 4 more books left in him, he asked his brother Andrew to collaborate with him with a view to ultimately taking over. (Though that particular plot thickens…) But Andrew was already a successful thriller author in his own right. And he has a personal past cloaked in mystery.

Rajmohan Gandhi was a teenager when he was inspired to investigate how the world works and to write about it when his grandfather, the Mahatma, Mohandas Gandhi was assassinated in 1948. He spoke to We’d Like A Word at the Khushwant Singh Literary Festival in Kasauli in India. It’s hard to think of a more famous forebear than Gandhi. So how does Rajmohan fit into the tradition?

Lots of other authors, people & topics get discussed too – Tasha Alexander (the Lady Emily Ashton mysteries), Ben McIntyre, Desmond Bagley, Alistair Maclean, Alan Davies (Just Ignore Him), Arthur Ransome (Swallows and Amazons), Paul Gallico (The Snow Goose), Airey Neave and PD James.

Writing history & India with Shashi Tharoor and William Dalrymple

In this three part episode, Shashi Tharoor and William Dalrymple talk about how they write history, how they got started, why history is important, how history is used as a weapon in today’s culture wars, and who has the right to write a country’s history. Shashi tells us about his least favourite historian. And William dodges some extreme criticism of the bullet-from-a-gun variety and has a happy reunion with a lost manuscript. We also investigate the rumours that the character of Indiana Jones was based on William. Listen here.

Shashi Tharoor is former Under-Secretary General of the United Nations, former Indian Government minister, Member of the Indian Parliament, prolific author and historian. His many books include Riot, India: From Midnight to the Millennium, Nehru: The Invention of India, and An Era of Darkness: The British Empire in India also published under the title Inglorious Empire: What the British Did to India.

William Dalrymple is one of the co-founders and co-directors of the Jaipur Literary Festival, a broadcaster, curator and the author of many books, including In Xanadu, City of Djinns: A Year in Delhi, White Mughals, The Last Mughal: The Fall of a Dynasty Delhi 1857, Return of a King: The Battle for Afghanistan, Koh-i-Noor: The History of the World’s Most Infamous Diamond (with Anita Anand) and The Anarchy: The Relentless Rise of the East India Company.

Lots of other authors, people and topics get a mention too – JP Martin’s Uncle books, Barbara Tuchmann’s The March of Folly: Troy to Vietnam, Anita Anand, Stephen Fry, Gabriel Byrne, Samson Kambalu and the 4th Plinth, Americanisms, Captain WE Johns & Biggles, Operations Bellows, Enid Blyton, The Six Solvers, contested histories, the evolution of language, bloodthirsty St Agnes, Cornish & Irish giants, The Goodies, Sachin Tendulkar, Shah Rukh Khan, Narendra Modi, Neil Jordan’s Lord Edward and Citizen Small, Victoria and Abdul, & Miki Berenyi (formerly of Lush, and who has an excellent memoir published recently fingers crossed: how music saved me from success).

Plus a certain pug joins in…

Writing advice from Anthony Horowitz

We try to ask our We’d Like A Word guests to share a writing tip for other authors and aspiring authors.

This one comes from Anthony Horowitz, who you can also hear at fascinating length on our podcast which is about Life After Death: Giving new life to classic characters after their original authors have died. Like Anthony Horowitz does with James Bond and Sherlock Holmes.

David Bramwell’s Odditorium, weird bum reading and Jacob Rees Mogg

Dr David Bramwell

‘A small Odditorium’ featuring Dr David Bramwell. In this episode author, musician, truth-seeker, Utopian and all round oddfellow Dr David Bramwell discusses bum readers, the world’s largest underground temple, a haunted moustache, Jacob Rees Mogg and singalonga Wicker Man. And we’ll be asking … is Milton Keynes the new Stonehenge?

Our competition question is: What is the official term for a bum reader? Listen to the podcast and email your answer to [email protected]

Anthony Horowitz on James Bond & giving life after death

Anthony Horowitz looking like he’s up in front of a firing squad. Picture taken at the wonderful Noireland international crime fiction festival in Belfast.

Anthony Horowitz admits he’s a killer. Dozens of times over. The thing is, we’re not just talking about the dozens and dozens he’s dispatched in the pages of his many books or TV shows like Midsommer Murders and Foyle’s War. But that’s all I’m saying here. You can hear his startling revelations from his own mouth on the latest episode of We’d Like A Word.

Our official topic is life after death – whether it’s right for new authors to give extended life to characters after their original authors have died. Anthony Horowitz does it – and does it well – with Sherlock Holmes and most recently with James Bond in Forever and A Day. (You can win a copy of that in the competition – details on the podcast.)

But we talk about a lot else and a lot of other authors, in particular Sophie Hannah, who has brought Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot back to life.

You’ll also hear Anthony Horowitz read from his James Bond book, let slip his views on Brexit, villains and where he writes.