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The Book of Beginnings: interview with Sally Page

The Story Radio team interview Sally Page, best-selling author of The Keeper of Stories, whose new novel The Book of Beginnings has just been published by HarperCollins. We talk to her about stationery, fountain pens, romance and ghosts.


The Book of Beginnings tells the story of Jo, who is hiding from her past when she agrees to run her uncle’s beloved stationery shop.


Glimpsing the lives of her customers between the warm wooden shelves, as they scribble little notes and browse colourful notebooks, distracts her from her bruised heart.


When she meets Ruth, a vicar running from a secret, and Malcolm, a septuagenarian still finding himself, she suddenly realizes she isn’t alone.


They each have a story that can transform Jo’s life… if only she can let them in.


This episode was produced by Martin Nathan. Martin Nathan’s short fiction and poetry has appeared in a range of journals and his novel – A Place of Safety is published by Salt Publishing. His dramatic writing has been shortlisted for the Nick Darke award and the Woodward International Prize.


After studying history at university, Sally Page moved to London to work in advertising. In her spare time she studied floristry at night school and eventually opened her own flower shop. Sally came to appreciate that flower shops offer a unique window into people’s stories and she began to photograph and write about this floral life in a series of non-fiction books. Later, she continued her interest in writing when she founded her fountain pen company,


In her debut novel, The Keeper of Stories, Sally combined her love of history and writing with her abiding interest in the stories people have to tell. In her second novel, The Book of Beginnings Sally draws on her love of stationery.


Sally now lives in Dorset. Her eldest daughter, Alex, is studying to be a doctor and her younger daughter is the author, Libby Page. Both are keen wild swimmers.

Waking the Dead: Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park

This month we are featuring short stories and flash fiction written at a creative writing workshop in Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park. The stories are loosely inspired by the gravestones of people who were buried in the cemetery.

They include Charlie Brown, boxer and publican, Alec Hurley, boxer, singer and husband of Marie Lloyd, the Woods family, who all died from influenza leaving only one surviving child and Maurice O’Connor, a workhouse doctor who committed suicide in mysterious circumstances.

Thank you to all the writers who participated in the workshop for lending us your imagination for the day, and to Claire Slack the Heritage Officer for telling us the compelling real-life stories of some of the people buried in the cemetery park.

This episode contains swearwords so has been marked as explicit.

Pure at Heart by Patricia Furstenberg

A young girl is fascinated by the story of a magical being hidden in the forest outside her home, and goes out at night to look for her.

Written by Patrica Furstenberg and read by Lysandra Furstenberg.

With a medical degree behind her, writer and poet Patricia Furstenberg authored 18 books imbued with history, folklore, legends. The recurrent motives in her writing are unconditional love and war. Her essays and poetry appeared in various online literary magazines. Romanian born, she resides with her family in South Africa.

Follow her on Twitter @patfurstenberg

Find her on Facebook patriciafurstenbergauthor

The story was produced by Tabitha Potts.

Photo credit swatcop on

Interview with Tracey Rose Peyton author of Night Wherever We Go

Martin Nathan and Tabitha Potts interview Tracey Rose Peyton about her beautiful and heart-breaking debut novel, Night Wherever We Go, published by The Borough Press.

Night Wherever We Go is an intimate look at the domestic lives of enslaved women in 1800s America, and an evocative meditation on resistance and autonomy, on love and transcendence and the bonds of female friendship in the darkest of circumstances. It tells the tale of six women who are forced to become impregnated by their owners but decide to take matters into their own hands to prevent this from happening.

Review by Sarah Waters – ‘a haunting evocation of the routine brutalities of slavery that is also a powerful celebration of friendship, community, resilience and rebellion. A hugely impressive debut.’ 

Tracey Rose Peyton also reads from her novel for us.

This episode was produced by Martin Nathan. Martin Nathan has worked as a labourer, showman, pancake chef, fire technician, and railway engineer. His short fiction has been published by Tangent Press, HCE and Grist and his poetry has appeared in Finished Creatures, Erbacce and Aesthetica.

His novel – A Place of Safety – is published by Salt Publishing. In 2020 he was shortlisted for the Woodward International Playwriting Prize and the Nick Darke Award.

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