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 wedlikeaword@gmail.com 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!)

Tinker. Tailor. Barrister. Boxer. Crime Writer.

On the latest episode of We’d Like a Word – the first to be recorded in lockdown conditions due to Coronavirus – Paul and Stevyn talk to thriller writer Tony Kent via the magic of social media.

Tony is a renowned English writer of mystery, thriller, and crime fiction novels, a barrister and a former boxer. He is particularly famous for his book Killer Intent, which became one of the must-reads of 2018. It was followed by Marked for Death and, just released, Power Play.

He also has one of the most colourful back-stories of any author who has been interviewed on the podcast. Tony grew up in a close-knit Irish family in London and studied law in Scotland. He is a top-ranking barrister and former champion boxer who brings a wealth of detail and personal insight to his unputdownable thrillers. A regular at London’s Old Bailey, Tony’s case history includes prosecuting and defending many high-profile, nationally reported trials. Before his legal career, Tony boxed internationally as a heavyweight and won a host of national amateur titles.

Like many authors, Tony has been hit by the Covid-19 virus. However, in his case, it was a double punch – he actually had the virus and recovered and then saw all of the plans for the launch of Power Play go down the pan.

Another author in the same boat is thriller-writer Judith O’Reilly, author of Killing State and Curse the Day. She pops in to tell us about it and about her favourite bookshop (the boys hope to have her on the podcast for a proper chat sometime soon).

Judith O’Reilly

And, in our regular bookshop visit segment, Paul went to Waterstones, High Wycombe (before the current restrictions) to chat to Ben Churchill about the current and future state of the book business. Ben is responsible for a number of branches across Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire.

We wish you all well in these difficult times and, if it’s possible to get new episodes out to you fortnightly, we will do so. Meanwhile, there’s our back catalogue to listen to!

Find us on iTunes, Spotify, Anchor and wherever good podcasts are hosted.

Help Yourselves

Welcome to the wonderful world of self-help! On this new episode Paul and Steve chat to self-help gurus Daniel Fryer and John Williams.

Daniel is a highly experienced and much sought-after psychotherapist and the author of ‘The Four Thoughts that F*ck you up and How to Fix them’. John, meanwhile, is a one-man inspiration industry and has published two bestsellers, ‘Screw Work, Let’s Play’ and ‘Screw Work, Break Free’ and also runs such projects as The Ideas Lab, The Love Challenge and the Five Day Startup Challenge.

From L to R: Paul, John Williams, Stevyn, Daniel Fryer

There’s a lot of great advice in this episode about good mental health and how to turn your passions into a career. We also hear how John used his skills to find love, what Daniel contributed to the Bingo industry and Paul visits the quite lovely Book House in Thame, Oxfordshire – a popular haunt of Roald Dahl – and chats to owner, Brian Pattinson.

Podcast available from iTunes, Apple podcasts, Spotify, Listen Notes, Podtail, Anchor and anywhere else that good podcasts are found.

Now, how will we create the next episode while we’re all on self-isolating lock down due to COVID-19? Watch this space …

Meanwhile, you can contact us on Facebook or Twitter as @wedlikeaword or email us at wedlikeaword@gmail.com – we’d love to hear from you.

Brian Pattinson (and friend)

We’re all in this together

Hello m’lovelies.. Paul and Stevyn here.

Are you an author whose book launch and/or tour was cancelled/postponed because of the Coronavirus pandemic? That sucks and, as authors ourselves, we feel for you.

We can’t hope to replace what you’ve lost but we’d like to help, in some small way, if we can.

Over the next few weeks our (nearly award-winning – we were so close!) podcast WE’D LIKE A WORD is offering you another platform to tell the world about your new book.  All we need from you is a short audio clip telling us:

  • Who you are;
  • The title of your book;
  • A brief summary of what it’s about;

And because we also want to support small indie bookshops in these troubled times …

  • The name of a bookshop that’s dear to you.

You can record it any way you like – your smartphone has a pretty good record function. Then email your file to us at wedlikeaword@gmail.com and we’ll do the rest.

As sound files can be quite large, we recommend using the free service WeTransfer.com to send us files over 20mb in size. Other services are available, of course.

We can’t guarantee to play every single one though we will do our best!


WE’D LIKE A WORD is written and presented by authors Stevyn Colgan and Paul Waters and is available fortnightly on Wednesdays from iTunes, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Anchor, Podcast FM and most other podcast platforms. Former guests have included Graham Norton, Denise Mina, Anthony Horowitz, Asia Mackay, Joel Morris, Helen Cullen, Peter May, Dr Erica McAlister, Adrian McKinty, Alison Finch, Will Dean, Isi the Scribe, Belinda Bauer and many more. It was shortlisted for the 2020 London Book Fair Books Podcaster of the Year Award.

Kids’ Stuff

Paul. Stevyn, Serena Patel and Fritha Lindqvist

On the latest episode of We’d Like A Word, Paul and Stevyn chat to children’s author Serena Patel about her new book Anisha: Accidental Detective (excellently illustrated by Emma McCann). Books for children and young adults are as popular as ever so we talk about how to write for a younger audience and Serena’s dramatic life story and how it shaped her character (and the character of her book’s hero, Anisha). She also reads from her book and talks about her childhood experiences of racism, homelessness and being bullied. We also hear about the detective books she read as a child and the inspirational British Asians she looked up to.

We also go behind the scenes of children’s book promotion with freelancer Fritha Lindqvist (who helped Cressida Cowell train her dragon). Fritha also tells us about the various campaigns that exist to get children reading and learning from stories (see links below).

And in the second of an occasional series of bookshop visits, Paul goes to the beautiful Daunt Books in Marylebone High Street to chat to bookseller Rose Cole & book lovers from the USA.

Go listen now! Click here or find us on iTunes, Spotify, Google podcasts or wherever good podcasts lurk.


National Literacy Trust

The NLT are an independent charity dedicated to giving disadvantaged children the literacy skills they need to succeed. They work to improve the reading, writing, speaking and listening skills in the UK’s poorest communities, where one in three people have literacy problems. Because low literacy is inter-generational, they focus their work on families, young people and children. They help to transform lives through literacy and have stacks of research that shows that reading for pleasure has a significant impact on a child’s future socio-economic chances. Encouraging and nurturing reading for pleasure benefits the whole economy and country.

More information here

The current Waterstones Children’s Laureate is Cressida Cowell author of the How to Train your Dragon books. Her laureate charter is a powerful ten point action plan that champions the creativity, intelligence and empathy skills reading books nurtures. It’s a call to action for all of us to realise the magic of reading for everyone. You can download the charter here


EmpathyLab is the first organisation to build children’s empathy, literacy and social activism through a systematic use of high quality literature. Their strategy builds on new scientific evidence showing the power of reading to build real-life empathy skills. They believe that empathy is a beacon of hope in a divided world. They produce an annual Read for Empathy book collection and run an annual Empathy Day to shine a light on the power of reding to build empathy – it’s in 9 June this year.

More information here

A Day of Highs and Lows

Well, the day started well with the excellent news that We’d Like A Word has not only been nominated for ‘Best Books Podcast’ by those lovely people at the London Book Fair, but has made the final six! Consequently Paul and Stevyn were invited to the awards ceremony at the LBF, hosted by Cressida ‘How to Train your Dragon’ Cowell.

But then, just as the boys were finishing their happy dance, came the news that the London Book Fair has been cancelled due to many exhibitors pulling out (including the ‘Big Five’ British publishers and many major overseas buyers) due to travel issues and concerns over the spread of Coronavirus Covid-19. And we guess that it’s probably sensible – there’s a lot of worry about this issue. It’s even leading people to do things like this on public transport:

Oh the humanity!

Still, it’s lovely to be nominated.

Watch this space …

Comic Belief

On this brand new episode of WE’D LIKE A WORD, Paul and Steve are talking comic books, sequential art, graphic novels and all things Beezer and Dandy with writer/artist/editor DAVID LEACH and Tripwire magazine editor in chief, JOEL MEADOWS.

Paul, David Leach, Stevyn (and Psychogran)
Joel Meadows

We recorded the episode in David’s house which, as it happens, turned out to be a shrine to comics with books and toys everywhere. And we got to see a brand new instalment of his strip Psychogran in the pencils and inks stages.

Also in this episode we have the first of an occasional series of visits to small, independent bookshops – in this case The Little Bookshop at Cookham in Berkshire where we meet Chantal Farquhar and some of her customers.

Enjoy hearing about the past, present and future of comics, how David was nearly hobbled by a Brazilian vicar on an episode of Come Dine With Me and why you should never, ever burgle a house on a Book Club night.

Listen on iTunes, Spotify, Google Pods or here on Anchor.

David Leach’s Psychogran

Tripwire Magazine

Tripwire’s IndieGoGo Crowdfunding Campaign

Joel Meadows’ Masters of Comics

The Little Bookshop, Cookham

Having an Isi fit

This episode of We’d Like A Word features spoken word performance poet Isi ‘The Scribe’ Adeola who reads us several of his poems and one brand new poem written in 24 hours and constructed from suggestions sent to us by our listeners.

And you guys were cruel. CRUEL.

He had to incorporate phrases like ‘I tawt I taw a puddy tat’ and ‘Broken Britain’ as well as ‘unicorns’ and ‘serendipity’. But he prevailed, it’s a great poem and here it is! (reproduced with Isi’s kind permission):

Why do I do this to myself?

I give myself concrete deadlines and then feel crushed beneath the slate

I’m punching well above my weight.

I get inspired because I wish to be the change you want to see, but then deflated as it turns out I’m just chasing unicorns.

Fictional figments of a wandering monkey mind that points out useless distractions on an internet safari of daydreams and cat videos.

Destination procrastination is where I’m headed. It’s why I medicate the pain of loneliness and mad times in broken Britain

My semantics may sound dramatic but that’s genuinely how I feel under self-imposed pressure.

My monkey mind calls the shots now screaming at clip after ridiculous clip.

A TED talk about how to tie your shoes

Is Janice Chandler’s soulmate?

I tawt I taw a puddy tat!

You bet you taw a puddy tat – the six hundredth puddy tat from my YouTube playlist

Because I have taken on too much, I am doing the impossible, like ice skating through Hades

Swimming through a swamp of demands and giving myself reprimands for not meeting them

Just before I give up and curl up in the foetal position, serendipity swoops me off my feet, with a fresh breath and grace catches me before I hit the ground

They warm my face with a smile and say, “We’d like a word”. I laugh out loud, because I know I’m in good hands – my brow softens and I listen to receive and understand.

The wisdom of evolution says change and design happen, incrementally.

We know your load is great, but you’ll get through it, eventually.

We’ll come through when you least expect it – little incremental breadcrumbs of inspiration will fall at your feet when you feel lost at the start of your journey.

All you have to do is show up!

Isi’s done some BIG gigs

We also hear work by Jo Bell, and poems from a couple of excellent young poets and from Paul’s dad.

It’s a grand show. So do listen in.

Isi ‘The Scribe’ Adeola is a spoken word performance poet and zoologist. He’s an Outreach Development Officer at the Royal Veterinary College and a Discovery and Learning Officer at ZSL London Zoo. He has an MSc in wild animal biology too … but we’re just delighted he writes and performs great poetry.

You can hear us on iTunes, Spotify, Google Podcasts and anywhere else that good podcasts are found.

Or just click here!

And, we’re on twice a day on the brand new Podcast Radio channel! Visit it here.

Joel Morris and his surprising tea trays

On this new episode of WE’D LIKE A WORD we speak to award-winning comedy writer Joel Morris who (with writing partner Jason Hazeley) has given us such comedy delights as the Framley Examiner, Philomena Cunk, the Paddington movies, R4’s Agendum and Angstrom as well as being contributors to Viz, Mitchell and Webb and, perhaps most famously, the adult Ladybird books. He’s a very very funny man.

We talk about the joys, perils and frustrations of being a comedy writer, the dearth of comic novels, podcasting, parody adverts, finding a comedy voice and why two expensive tea trays are better than a giant plasma TV screen.

Now available on iTunes, Spotify, Anchor and anywhere else where good podcasts are found.