Jane Labous Past Participle Interview

Listen to an interview with Jane Labous and hear her reading from her new novel, Past Participle, published by Afsana Press.

Dakar, Senegal, 1987: On a rainy night after a wild party, the British ambassador’s wife, Vivienne Hughes, is involve in a car crash. Her vehicle hits the motorbike of a young Senegalese doctor, Aimé Tunkara, killing him. Pleading diplomatic immunity, Vivienne and her husband flee to England.

Three decades later, Aimé’s little sister, Lily Tunkara, now a high-flying lawyer in Dakar, finds a photograph that compels her to investigate what really happened that rainy night. As Lily faces increasing hostility from the local community, she turns to Vivienne Hughes, the only remaining witness, but is either woman prepared for the truth to emerge?

Past Participle is the story of two women bound together by the faultlines of the past, a study of love and guilt, power and desire, retribution and forgiveness.

Jane Labous is an award-winning author, BBC journalist and broadcaster known for her frontline coverage of human rights and gender issues, always telling the powerful human stories behind the headlines.

Jane read English & French at Jesus College, Oxford, before working for the UK and international press and INGOs, most often out of Dakar, Senegal. This while developing her creative art as a writer, filmmaker and novelist, drawing on her insider knowledge of the aid sector and foreign journalism, and her unique experience of both expat and local family life in Ngor, Dakar.

Jane’s credits span a vista of international outlets, including The IndependentVoice of AmericaGeographicalThe LA Times, BBC Africa and BBC Radio 4’s From Our Own Correspondent. She has also worked as a writer and filmmaker for aid/humanitarian agencies including the UN, the World Health Organisation, Save The Children, and Amnesty International. She has won the BBC Radio 4 and Royal Geographical Society Documentary Award, the Merck More than a Mother Media Recognition & Film Award for Francophone African Countries, and a European Journalism Centre Development Reporting Grant.

Her fiction has been longlisted for the Bath Novel Prize and the Santa Fé Writers’ Project Literary Award.

This episode was produced by Tabitha Potts, writer and podcaster. She recently received an Honourable Mention in the Alpine Fellowship Writing Prize. She has an MA in Creative Writing from Birkbeck University and a First in English Language and Literature from Oxford University. Read her short story collection here or visit her website.

Fantasy: Realms of Imagination interview with Matthew Sangster and Tanya Kirk of the British Library

Tabitha Potts and Martin Nathan interview the lead curator and guest curator of the British Library’s blockbuster exhibition, Fantasy: Realms of Imagination, Tanya Kirk and Matthew Sangster. The exhibition runs until 25th February 2024 and tickets can be booked here.

The exhibition has been critically acclaimed with a five star review in The Telegraph, ‘a visually captivating treat’, and has been featured in The Guardian, The I Newspaper, Apollo Magazine and BBC Radio 4: Front Row to name a few.

We interviewed both curators about the process of assembling an exhibition featuring over 100 objects that spans the breadth of a genre as varied as Fantasy, from its roots in epics and mythology to contemporary writers like Neil Gaiman and Susanna Clarke.

Tanya Kirk, Lead Curator, Printed Heritage Collections 1601-1900, has worked at the British Library for 16 years, currently as the leading expert on 300 years of the Library’s printed collections. She has curated six major exhibitions on topics including Gothic fiction, Shakespeare in performance, the British landscape in literature, science fiction and most recently, Fantasy: Realms of Imagination. She is the editor of four Christmas-themed collections of short stories in the British Library’s Tales of the Weird series. With Matthew, she co-edited Realms of Imagination: Essays from the Wide Worlds of Fantasy (2023).

Matthew Sangster joined the University of Glasgow in 2016 and was promoted to Professor of Romantic Studies, Fantasy and Cultural History in 2022. Prior to that Matthew worked at the British Library cataloguing the archive of the Royal Literary Fund and contributing to the exhibitions The Worlds of Mervyn Peake in 2011 and Writing Britain: Wastelands to Wonderlands in 2012. Matthew is the author of Living as an Author in the Romantic Period (2021) and An Introduction to Fantasy (2023); co-director of Glasgow’s Centre for Fantasy and the Fantastic (with Dimitra Fimi); and a founding co-editor (with Brian Attebery and Dimitra Fimi) of the Bloomsbury Perspectives on Fantasy series.

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.

Episode cover image adapted from Carceri Etchings, Giovanni Battista Piranesi, (17501761) © British Library Board 

The Watchers by Kae Hart

A young woman watches over her little sister in a polluted dystopian world where her scientific knowledge is her only weapon.

The story was written by Kae Hart. Kae is a university student who learned to speak by telling stories to everyone who would listen. The cashier at the local grocery store was her first fan. Since then, she has written stories, poems, and novels, and hopes to continue to do so.

This episode was produced by Tabitha Potts, writer and podcaster. She recently received an Honourable Mention in the Alpine Fellowship Writing Prize. She has an MA in Creative Writing from Birkbeck University and a First in English Language and Literature from Oxford University. Read her short story collection here or visit her website.

The photo used is by Kvaale at Morguefile..com.

S: Beautiful Romantic Piano by UNIVERSFIELD | License: Attribution 4.0

Dust and Oranges by Nicholas Batura

This Halloween, rather than encountering ghosts and ghouls, we explore the horrors of war. A little girl sneaks out of her family home to buy a birthday gift for her mother, a decision that changes her life forever.

Nicholas Batura lives in Salt Lake City, Utah, United States, with his rad wife and their rescue pit bulls. When he’s not writing, he can be found on the jiu jitsu mats, or working through the secrets found in a bottle of wine.

This episode was produced by Tabitha Potts.

Photo by pawankawan at Morguefile.com

S: Beautiful Romantic Piano by UNIVERSFIELD | License: Attribution 4.0

Dirty Chicken and Rice by Simon Roberts

In this darkly comic and moving story, two young flatmates prepare and eat their favourite comfort food, dirty chicken and rice, at a time when there isn’t much comfort to be had.

Simon Roberts is currently based in West London and writes short stories and flash fiction. He was longlisted for the 2022 Fish Short Story Prize. He has read his work on Riverside Radio, London’s largest community radio station. Simon also writes for the theatre; his adaptation of Patrick Hamilton’s 1947 novel The Slaves of Solitude will be produced by the Questors Theatre in 2024.

Photo Credit: Jerry Pank Cookipedia.co.uk

Copyright: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

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, Plooms.co.uk.

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 Morguefile.com.

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.

Dogs by S P Murphy

A woman at home with her baby during lockdown hears the unsettling sound of dogs fighting in the street. It isn’t long before she is in danger herself – and she has to decide how to fight back.

Dogs by S P Murphy was first published in Litro Magazine.

S. P. Murphy is an American writer and arts consultant living in London. He has served on the board of PEN America and the Victoria and Albert Museum. He writes short stories and contributes articles on culture and politics to various publications. He is working on his first novel, a love story set in the US in 1970, when the nation was, like today, tragically divided.

This episode was produced by Tabitha Potts.