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:

‘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:

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:

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:

War Torn

Welcome to this new episode of We’d Like A Word in which Paul and Steve chat to author Geoffrey Gudgion about his new novel Draca, and to General Sir Peter Wall – ex head of the British Army and now President of the charity Combat Stress which helps people with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Geoff is an ex-Royal Navy veteran who, as you’ll hear, is no stranger to life-changing trauma himself (he’s not averse to the odd explosive prank either!). Draca is his latest novel and it tells the story of Jack, a man haunted by his past, who is rebuilding his life and a boat that belonged to his grandfather and which may have a kind of life of its own …

50% of all proceeds from the sale of the book will go to Combat Stress, a charity that means a great deal to Geoff.

For over a century the charity has been helping former servicemen and women deal with issues like PTSD, anxiety and depression. Today they provide specialist treatment and support for veterans from every service and conflict, focusing on those with complex mental health issues. They also act as advisers to people in other stressful work arenas such as the NHS frontline and police officers.

We also pay a pre-Covid visit to Geoff’s favourite bookshop in Marlow, Buckinghamshire (it’s also one of Paul and Steve’s favourite bookshops too) to have a chat and eat cake.

Combat Stress website is here.

The Marlow Bookshop is here.

Geoff’s website is here.

Buy DRACA here.


We’d Like A Word is available from iTunes, Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Podcast Radio and wherever else good podcasts are found. Or you can listen to the episodes on their hosting site at Anchor by clicking here.

Working Class Hero

Welcome to another locked-down episode of WE’D LIKE A WORD with Paul Waters and Stevyn Colgan and their guest this episode – novelist and screen-writer Dougie Brimson.

Dougie is the author of several novels including The Crew, Billy’s Log, Top Dog, Wings of a Sparrow and his latest – In the Know. He’s also the author of several non-fiction books that mostly centre on the culture of football fans and explore the subject of hooliganism. He’s also a screenwriter with several films to his credit including Green Street (starring Elijah Wood) and Top Dog, directed by actor an ex-Spandau Ballet bassist Martin Kemp.

After 18 years service as an engineering sergeant with the RAF – including deployment during the Falklands conflict – Dougie’s literary career began in 1996 when he co-wrote a book exploring the culture of football hooliganism entitled, Everywhere We Go: Behind the Matchday Madness. He has subsequently written a further 14 books in a variety of genres including fiction thriller and fiction comedy.

In 2003 he made the move into screenwriting with the short film It’s a Casual Life, which looked at the world of football violence from the fans’ perspective. His first full-length feature, the Hollywood-funded Green Street won numerous awards including:

  • Narrative Jury Prize-SXSW Film Festival
  • Narrative Feature Audience-SXSW Film Festival
  • Best of Festival–Malibu Film Festival
  • Jury Award (feature)–Malibu Film Festival
  • Official Selection–Tribeca Film Festival

His next feature was an adaptation of his own novel Top Dog in 2014 which won ‘Best Feature’ at the British Independent Film Festival 2014 as well as a string of acting awards.

November 2014 saw the release of We Still Kill The Old Way, a vigilante thriller starring Ian Ogilvy, Chris Ellison, Steven Berkhoff and Lysette Anthony.

On this episode we discuss the differences between writing for books and writing for the screen. We also talk about the difficulties faced by working-class writers who have huge audiences but almost no representation among traditional publishers.

Mentioned on the show:

Kit de Waal’s excellent Common People: An Anthology of Working Class Writers

Paul McVeigh’s The Good Son

Sabrina Mafouz’s Smashing It: Working Class Artists on Life, Art and Making It Happen


WE’D LIKE A WORD is available on iTunes, Spotify, Google Pods, Apple Music, and wherever good podcasts are hosted. We’re also to be found at Podcast Radio and here on our host site, Anchor. Or just click here!

Contact us by email at

We’re also on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram as @wedlikeaword

The name’s Rain. John Rain.

Welcome back for another lockdown episode of WE’D LIKE A WORD. And, before we start, may we ask a favour? This podcast has been nominated in the ‘People’s Choice’ category of the British Podcast Awards. Yay! So, if you think we’re worthy of a vote, pop along to this webpage and sling our name in the ballot box. Thank you. You’re lovely.

Now, on with this week’s pod. And this episode we’re lucky to have James Bond aficionado and host of SMERSHPOD, Mister John Rain.

John loves films. And, in particular, he loves the James Bond films. So he started a podcast called SMERSHPOD where he discusses the films, one per episode, with such people as Mark Gatiss, Rufus Wright, Samira Ahmed, Joel Morris, Dan Tetsell. Al Murray and more. He also does ‘side projects’ with episodes looking at films starring Bond actors. Or just action films that he likes.

And last year, he put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and wrote a love paean to Bond in the form of THUNDERBOOK, a series of very funny essays in which he pulls each film apart in turn and fills the reader with fun trivia, fascinating facts and unexpected insights. It’s a great book.

We’re beginning to hate Zoom. Roll on the days when we can record properly again and not have to cope with Steve’s bad wifi, barking dogs and children asking what’s for dinner.

We also talk about the problems of translating books to film (and vice-versa), John’s second love (H G Wells’s War of the Worlds) and who might, or might not, be suitable to be the next Bond.

We’d Like A Word is available on iTunes, Spotify, Apple Music, Google Podcasts or wherever else good podcasts lurk. or you can click here and hear us on our host site at Anchor.

Oh, and VOTE FOR US!

Mentioned in this episode:

The Empire Strikes Door – a film by Jamie Stangroom (it’s great!)

Judith O’Reilly – A great thriller writer

A Question of Us – Mary Jayne Baker’ award-winning comedy novel

Loving the Laughter

In this new episode of We’d Like a Word Paul Waters and Stevyn Colgan talk to authors Lisa Firth (aka Lisa Swift and Mary Jayne Baker) and Sue Clark about romantic comedy and a much bigger question … where have all the comic novels gone?

Lisa Firth

Lisa is the author of eight novels (under her two pen names) including The Honey Trap, Meet me at the lighthouse, Runaway Bride and The School of Starting Over. Her book A Bicycle Made for Two was a finalist in the Romantic Novelists’ Association ‘Romantic Comedy of the Year 2019’ award and in 2020, she scooped the award with A Question of Us. Her new novel The Never Have I Ever Club is published in June.

Sue Clark

Sue is a comedy writer with many TV and radio credits to her name including The News Huddlines, Alas Smith and Jones, Three of a Kind, Weekending and many more. Her first novel Note to Boy is published in July 2020.

This episode tackles the vexing question … where have all the comedy novels gone? Wind the clock back just twenty years to the start of this century and the bookshops were full of works by people like Sue Townsend, Terry Pratchett, Stella Gibbons, Douglas Adams, Tom Sharpe, Helen Fielding, George McDonald Fraser, David Nobbs and so many more. and if you ask people what their favourite books are, there’s nearly always a comedy novel in the list. But where are all the funny novels now?

We discuss the dearth of comic novels and why things are so bad for comedy novelists right now. However, one area of fiction where comedy is still thriving is the ‘romcom’ and we discuss such topics as: Why are romcom books packaged so differently for male and female authors? Why is romcom often sniffily viewed as ‘fluff’ by reviewers and even TV presenters? And should you include pets as characters?

Books mentioned in this podcast

Also mentioned …

(Lisa’s favourite book)

You can find We’d Like A Word on iTunes, Apple Music, Spotify, Google Pods, Podcast Radio and pretty much anywhere that good podcasts are found. Or you can listen buy visiting our hosts at Anchor.

Writing in the Deep South (and a visit to deep South Buckinghamshire)

Welcome to a new episode of We’d Like A Word featuring acclaimed and award-winning American writer Taylor Brown, joining us all the way from Georgia, and listener Jason Grubbs from Michigan. We discuss Taylor’s books, particularly his latest novel Pride of Eden, and also river monsters, the joy of cafes, how a sense of place can define your writing style and why you should never give your dog a new squeaky toy just before a podcast recording.

We also take a nostalgic last visit to the iconic but now sadly closed Cottage Bookshop in Penn where we speak to previous owner Alan Campbell and new owner Daniel Upwood. And, as if that wasn’t enough, we also have a special guest appearance by comedian and co-host of BBC R4’s The Infinite Monkey Cage, Robin Ince, to share some memories of the shop.

Robin Ince

The episode was recorded via a video sharing app during the current Coronavirus lockdown restrictions so the sound quality does vary at times (and we lose Stevyn on a couple of occasions).

Taylor Brown is a recipient of the Montana Prize in Fiction, and he’s been a finalist for the Press 53 Open Awards, Machigonne Fiction Contest, and Doris Betts Fiction Prize. He is the author of In the Season of Blood and Gold (Press 53, 2014), Fallen Land (St. Martin’s Macmillan, 2016), The River of Kings (St. Martin’s, 2017), Gods of Howl Mountain (St. Martin’s, 2018), and Pride of Eden (St. Martin’s, 2020). He lives in Savannah, Georgia, and is the founder and editor of BikeBound, a custom motorcycle blog.

The fake Altamaha-Ha

We were introduced to Taylor’s work by listener Jason Grubbs and figured that it might be nice to have him on the show too as it gave him a chance to put some questions to a writer he admires.

Paul, Alan Campbell, Daniel Upwood and Stevyn at the Cottage Bookshop in Penn

As mentioned above, we also visited (before the lockdown) a bookshop – as we do in most episodes – because we love them. However, this visit was tinged with some sadness as the Cottage Bookshop in Penn – a vast storehouse of second-hand books crammed into a tiny, gutted 19th century cottage – finally closed its doors in 2018 after being open since 1951. We were allowed a final rummage among the books – now being sold off to warehouses and collectors or being donated to charities – and reflect on what the place meant to us and to famous regular visitors such as the late Terry Pratchett and Robin Ince. Robin joins us by phone for a few reminiscences.

The Cottage Bookshop
The kitchen corner so beloved of Robin Ince was through the white stable door
Labyrinthine …
Deliciously chaotic …
The ‘secret’ attic room – now cleared – that Robin mentions … but, luckily, no vases.

We’d Like a Word is available from everywhere that good podcasts are found including iTunes, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Podcast Radio and our host, Anchor.

If you’d like to get in contact with us (like Jason did) we’re or you can find us on Facebook and Twitter as @wedlikeaword

More in a fortnight!

Books mentioned in this episode (other than Taylor’s)

Being a Beast by Charles Foster

The Tiger: A True Story of Vengeance and Survival by John Vaillant

Whale Nation by Heathcote Williams

The Elephant Whisperer by Lawrence Anthony, Graham Spence and Naomi Clark

Making The Elephant Man by Jonathan Sanger

The Sheltering Desert by Henno Martin (the German soldiers living rough story mentioned by Taylor)


The Bitter Southerner – a Southern States writing initiative supported by Taylor

E Shaver Bookseller, Savannah, Georgia

The Booklady Bookstore, Savannah, Georgia

Goldsboro Books, London – specialising in signed first edition hardbacks

Lemuria Books Bookstore, Jackson, Mississippi – also specialising in signed first editions

Camilla’s Bookshop, Eastbourne, East Sussex (As a bonus, scroll down the website’s homepage and you’ll find a short post by Robin Ince talking about Camilla’s and The Cottage Bookshop in Penn!)