Tag Archives: manchester

Episode 20 – The age of miracles


In this episode, Rob talks to lovely purveyor of Savidge Reads and youtube sensation, Simon Savidge about Daphne Du Maurier, Liverpool, northern female writers, the fact that we are bizarro twins and(rather selfishly) podcasting. They also talk about ‘merica, Leonard Cohen and Simon recommends a book about the earth slowing down to Rob. Freakishly apt when you consider it was recorded over a month ago.

Rob (sigh) gets a bit sweary about Donald Trump. Interview starts at 12:59(ish).



Jenn Ashworth, Emma Jane Unsworth, Daphne Du Maurier, Garth Greenwell (again), EM Forster, Margaret Atwood, Leonard Cohen, Donald Trump, Armistead Maupin, Charlotte Wood, Val McDermid, Evie Wyld, Carys Bray, Caroline Smailes, Karen Thompson Walker, Andrew McMillan

Episode 19 – Words matter


In this episode, Rob talks to novelist, essayist, editor and activist, Nikesh Shukla about good immigrants, uncomfortable writing, diversity panels, mentoring yoofs, african barbershops and motherfucking microgressions (Nikesh’s words). The interview took place backstage at Gorilla on the night of his show for the Manchester Literature Festival. (Special appearance by festival director Sarah-Jane Roberts)



Nikesh Shukla, Inua Ellams, Bobby Nayyar, South Asian Literature Festival, Bharit Mehta, Riz Ahmed, Himesh Patel, Reni Eddolodge, Chimene Suleyman, Selena Godden, Kate Tempest, Nish Kumar, Varaidzo, Rife magazine, Galdem magazine, Vera Chok, Coco Khan, Sarah-Jane Roberts, Vinay Patel, JK Rowling, Wei Min Kam, Daniel York, Paul Hyu, Ben Myers

Episode 18 – Horror is in everything


In this episode, Rob talks to novelist and METALHEAD, Stephen McGeagh, about METAL, the state of Horror writing, having his novel, Habit, made into a film, MORE METAL, MAs in Creative Writing, beautiful Manchester and EVEN MORE METAL.



Rachel Richardson-Jones, Simeon Halligan, Colibra, Sam Eades, Jess Barton, Nikesh Shukla, Garth Greenwell, Simon Savidge,

Episode 16 – Writing worried


In this episode, Rob takes to the Wilderness festival to chat with Emma Jane Unsworth about physics, frostbite and murderous cats. Emma also talks about the movie being made from her novel, Animals, and Rob begs to be in it. Emma also reads from her brand new and yet unnamed novel.


Links mentioned in the podcast:
The world’s smallest movie: A boy and his atom
Roisin and Chiara “Wild at Heart”


Sarah Brocklehurst, Wyl Menmuir, Sophie Hyde, Jenn Ashworth, Margaret Atwood, Jo Bell, Caitlin Moran, Garth Greenwell, Edinburgh Book Festival, Literary Friction podcast, Lord Piddick, Camilla Elworthy and Roisin and Chiara

The Manchester Literature Festival



In this mini-episode, Rob talks to Kate Feld about the Manchester Literature Festival. In addition to MLFing it out, they talk about Good Immigrants, they try to figure out what “working class” means and of course, chat about the end of the world. Rob has a bit of a sweary whinge (what else is new?) about the Olympics.



Ian McMillan, Andrew McMillan, Simon Savidge, Nikesh Shukla, Selena Godden, Hollie McNish, Dead Ink Books, Olivia Laing, Garth Greenwell, Yuval Noah Harari, Margaret Atwood, Richard Hines, Lionel Shriver, Dr Katy Shaw, Andrew Michael Hurley, Jenn Ashworth, Gillian Slovo, Lemn Sissay, Jenny Murray, Rose Tremain, Jonathan Safran Foer, Jeanette Winterson, Anne Enright, Vivienne Westwood, Susan Calman, Margaret Drabble, Jane Rogers, Johnny Marr, Kamila Shamsie, Deborah Levy, Jo Bell, Michael Symmons Roberts, David Gaffney, Eimer McBride

Episode 14 – The page is a stage



In this episode, Rob talks to poets Amy McCauley and Robert Harper about Lit mags, Oedipus, the origins of poetry and using a PhD to make fat stacks (not really). They also talk about (ahem) Europe and the fear of not being in it.

Warning: This one is properly sweary.



Society of Authors, Bloodaxe, Andrew McMillan, Dan O’Brien, Rebecca Goss, Bare Fiction, The New Welsh Review, Helen Mort, David Gaffney, Courttia Newland, Annette C Boehm, Zelda Chappel, Carcanet, PN Review, Peter Greenaway, Aki Shilz

Episode 13 – Working it out


In this episode, Rob talks to the winner of the last ever Guardian First Book Award, Andrew McMillan, on “modern male anxieties” as the Guardian puts it, working out in gyms, writing poetry like Jon McGregor writes prose, Creative Writing MAs (again), Horror as a gateway drug (again), and what it’s like growing up Gay in Barnsley.

NOTE: This was recorded before the terrible homophobic nightclub shooting in Orlando, which is why we don’t talk about it in the interview and why I don’t mention it in the intro. But let me say something about it now: Fuck these terrorist shitbags.



Jon McGregor, Sara Howe, Rebecca Perry, The Guardian, Fenton Aldeburgh prize, Colin Barrett, Dylan Thomas Award, Max Porter, Jonathan Cape, New Writing North, Sharon Olds, Mark Doty, Geoff Hattersley, Chicago Rock Cafe and Robin Robertson

Episode 12 – Squaddies


In this episode, you get two interviews for the price of one. In the first, Rob talks to Steve Dearden, writer, producer and director of The Writing Squad. We talk about Creative Writing MAs, Manchester United, the rise of genre and YA fiction and the best time ever to be a writer(hint:now). In the second, Rob talks to Writing Squad alum Lenni Sanders and Jasmine Chatfield about Manchester lit nights, Putting a show on in Edinburgh and (my favourite) Post-apocalysm.

At the end, Steve reads his short story, No Caller ID. She’s a long one, this, so get comfortable.

0:30 – Intro
13:05 – Interview with Steve Dearden
58:12 – Interview with Lenni Sanders and Jasmine Chatfield
1:26:40 – Outro
1:30:13 – Steve reads his short story No Caller ID

’tis sweary.



Steve interview: The Writing Squad, Jane Rogers, Jenn Ashworth, Stevie Ronnie, Mark Catley, John Griffin, Catherine Williams, Ronnie Smith, NAWE, Jamal Gerald, Harry Jelly, David Gaffney, Gemma Saltzer

Lenni and Jas interview: Flim Nite, Stirred poetry, Rebecca Audra, Anna Percy, iOrganic, Harry Jelly (again), Wonder Women, Claire Pollard, Manchester Art Gallery, Instigate Arts, Dead Lads, Harriet Williamson, PBH, The Laughing Horse, Edinburgh Free Fringe, Bad Language, First Draft, Cheethams Library


Episode 7 – The perils of live performance


In this episode, Rob talks to David Hartley and Ben Judge, two seasoned literature performers about the ups and downs of performing your work live. We talk about Dave’s new night Speak Easy, Ben’s stint as a Not the booker prize judge and evil evil coffee machines. Ben was (sadly) not available for the photo sesh so we did the best we could. Recorded live on Pomona island.


Namechecks: Paul McVeigh, Tania Hershman, Jo Bell (again), Ambit magazine, Unsung, Not the booker, Sam Jordison, Adam Marek (again), Claire Dean, Nightjar (again), Socrates Adams, Trish Starbrook, Didsbury Arts Festival, Chorley Arts Festival, Joy France, Fat Roland, Lancaster Lit Fest, Bad Language (again), Verbose, First Draft, National Flash Fiction Day, Sarah-Clare Conlon (again) and Tom Mason… phew

Sounds from the other city

I have been to Salford exactly three times and always by accident. I suppose that’s odd considering Salford is precisely 2.1 miles from my front door (thanks Google Maps) but I just never felt the need to go there. On purpose.

The area around Chapel St has been described to me as an “ungentrified Northern Quarter”, and if you think about it, it is quite like Manchester’s Northern Quarter except that it is nothing like it at all. The Northern Quarter has bars with DJs, gourmet burger joints, music venues, art galleries and craft beer shops. Salford has a Premier Inn with all the letters in the sign burned out, a pub off Coronation Street and a boys home you can cycle around like him from The Smiths. Salford has beards like the Northern Quarter, but unlike a well-coiffured NQ beard, a Salford beard has things in it. Like fluff. Or chips.

Only a music festival in a place as odd as Salford could you see a band called Kult Country in a pub called The Old Pint Pot, or Grumbling Fur in an old mill. Only at a Salford festival could an active parish church be home to ambient techno. There is an actual tent as well (just so you know it’s a festival), but I imagine it exists solely as a place to self-righteously tut. Yech, a tent? So Glasto.

With a festival as bonkers as this, I thought it might be a good idea to do some research. For you. I had big plans. I was going to listen to every band and create a fancy infographic, dividing the acts into tidy genres so you could decide in which venue you should plonk yourself down and at which time. A good idea, right? It was impossible.

How do you classify a band who does Spanish surf rock, punk and dub all on the same album (Las Kellies)? Or a band with a name that is unpronounceable (ZZZ’s)? How do you classify a band who has yet to release an album or who are in fact not even a band? How do you classify an activist? It’s really annoying for an OCD, data dork like myself; that infographic was gonna be awesome. With bespoke images and everything.

Mark Carlin, SFTOC head honcho describes it thus:

”We tend to favour promoters and programmers that are blurring the lines between disciplines, be it art, music, theatre, film; so rather than having music in one place, visual art in another place, theatre in another space, we really enjoy when they all meld together as in one in chaotic cross section.”

Music is in a strange place at the moment. The pop juggernaut that is currently steamrolling everything is making it difficult for anyone without electric teeth or a push up bra to get on a festival stage, so it is nice to find a festival that hasn’t a single act I’ve heard of on the bill. A festival with an eclectic mix of underground acts, artists, producers and venues. A festival in a city 2.1 miles from my house (or a quick train ride from Liverpool).

One thing is for sure, this is not a festival for planning ahead. No lists, no diaries, no apps required. Like the city itself, this is the festival for flipping coins and hoping for the best. This is a festival for winging it.

Published 1 May 2014 by The Double Negative.