Death Of 1000 Cuts – Season 2 Episode 38 – Chatting With Andrew Cowan

In this episode I chat with author and creative writing teacher Andrew Cowan about writing fiction, finding details, perfectionism and helping bring others’ stories to life.

Andrew talks switching from pottery to fiction, finding his own voice, ways round perfectionism and self-doubt, and his career in teaching creative writing on residential courses and at the University of East Anglia. He shares some of his favourite creative writing exercises, including ones that helped him break through serious blocks and get the words flowing again. We also talk about the novels he’s written so far, how he’s researched topics from pig-rearing to eugenics, and the authors and mentors who inspired him.

This is a great episode to listen to if you want to know:
– how can I get myself going again after my writing grinds to a halt?
– what are the best ways to research my novel?
– how can I get over perfectionism in my writing?
– what is the best creative writing exercise?
– can creative writing be taught?
– what’s it like going on a creative writing course?
– what’s the most common mistake writers make?

Get Andrew Cowan’s comprehensive course on how to write fiction, THE ART OF WRITING FICTION.

And I really recommend trying one of his novels.






And of course if you’d care to support me and my career, please treat yourself or a friend to my novel THE HONOURS.

If you enjoy the podcast and you’d like to help me cover the costs of running it, hosting the audio and the website, you can chuck a few beans into my upturned hat in a couple of clicks here:

Thank you!

Death Of 1000 Cuts – Season 2 Episode 37 – Chatting With Tim Pychyl

In this episode I chat to Dr Tim Pychyl, psychologist and head of the Procrastination Research Group at Carleton University, Canada.

Tim has devoted over 20 years to the ‘breakdown in volitional action’ we call procrastination. Since I get more letters about struggling with procrastination than all other creative writing topics combined so I thought it was worth approaching one of the world’s leading experts on procrastination for advice.

We talk neuroscience, specifically the roles of the amygdala and prefrontal cortex in procrastination, and what recent MRI scans of the brains of procrastinators and non-procrastinators have revealed. We talk psychology – what’s going on with procrastinators, what we’re trying to achieve when we procrastinate, and why procrastination fails on its own terms, let alone frustrating us in other ways. We talk statistics – the latest data from various studies all over the world, showing what, verifiably, works and what doesn’t work when we’re trying to reduce procrastination. And to kick it all off we talk semantics – what procrastination is and what it is not, and why being able to distinguish between the two is so essential.

This is, for me, one of the most important episodes out of the 100+ so far that I’ve recorded. I’ve started applying the knowledge Tim gives me in this chat and it’s had such a positive impact on my writing practice and my life. I’m writing much more, I’m having more fun and I find it easier to spot myself procrastinating and step out of it into action. If you suffer from procrastination, I really, really hope you listen and apply the science-based, data-driven advice so you can start giving yourself the rich rewards of diving in and achieving things large and small.

This is a great episode to listen to if you want to know:
– how can I stop procrastinating?
– what is procrastination?
– why are some people more prone to procrastination than others?
– why do writers procrastinate?

If you want to read more by Tim, check out the website of the Procrastination Research Group where he shares blog posts, podcasts, and all sorts of powerful knowledge on what procrastination is and how we can help free each other from it.

Of course if you want to practise translating dynamic decision-making into immediate action, a great opportunity would be to click this link and buy my weird historical adventure novel set in England in the 1930s, THE HONOURS.

I don’t get any money for making the show. There are no premium episodes for subscribers – it’s all available to everyone for free. If you’d like to help me cover my running costs, such as Soundcloud hosting, website hosting and suchlike, you can drop a few beans into my digital guitar case here.

Thank you.


I wrote a poem hailing old-fashioned Englishman & Brexit eminence gris Jacob Rees-Mogg. Thought I’d put it up for you on National Poetry Day. What an unusual fellow!


His knightly politeness is known round the counties
Through dewy green pastures of infinite bounties
More courteousness than a passel of mounties
Who is he? Why, Jacob Rees-Mogg

A moment of national peril’s upon us
We need some refinement, a cultured Adonis
A tad less ‘free Tommy’, more ‘liberate Thomas’
That’s better, that’s Jacob Rees-Mogg

So what if he met with that fascist, Steve Bannon
Or nationalist fervour’s the oeuvre he ran on?
It’s softened with nods to the literary canon
Should refugee children be met with compassion?
Nevermore! quoth the Jacob Rees-Mogg

His suits sharp as long knives, his sentiments blunt
His views to the right of both Johnson and Hunt
Cometh the shitshow, cometh the count-
ry gent with grit and national front
Scourge of the foreign! Prince of the pale!
Extracting the fly from our country’s warm ale
It’s the Eurocrats fault if his policies fail
You’re infallible, Jacob Rees-Mogg

And yet you’re attacked – like it’s all just an act
Like your seemly demeanour’s a smoke screen, in fact
Who needs marriage for gays? Or a liveable flat?
Or control of their womb? Here’s some moderate tact
They can’t see you just want the best for your party
Ensconced in your mansion in bluest West Harptree
With just enough sense not to dress like a Nazi
(Just borrow their ethics and zest for autarchy)

As white as a plate of potatoes au gratin
Which – if it were yours – the chef probably spat in
You pepper each lecture with clichés in Latin
‘Yes, I luncheoned with racists who fear Muslim culture
And chant “send them back”. My mistake. Mea culpa.’
‘Did I really say Scots should be put to the sword?
Errare humanum est. Safely ignored.’
‘Would I dissolve parliament? Crown myself king?
Well, look at it this way:
Obligato regatta meccano excelsior quorum etcetera…
That sort of thing.’

A Mail reader’s portrait of class and refinement
Your squeamish obsession with sexual alignment
Leads ignorant critics to label you snooty.
Sex isn’t for pleasure. It’s more of… a duty
Conceiving your scions from Peter to Sixtus
Your countenance locked in a gravedigger’s rictus
While thinking of regional cricketing fixtures
And boys singing carols in churches at Christmas
And queues at the pictures, and pink dolly mixtures
Lawnchairs in wicker. Topiary clippers.
Cycling vicars… Men sipping bitter…
Multiple Hitlers… Britannia Invictus!

When you start each reply ‘Well, it’s quite clear to me,’
I picture you hogtied and dropped in the sea
While envious Frenchmen all pelt you with brie
They wish they were English, that’s all it can be

I hope that you suffer, a martyr for Blighty
A Christlike piñata for downtrodden whitey
Who bears his stigmata oh-so-politely
Like when Nursey would fasten your jodhpurs too tightly

I hope you get debagged while leaving your Bentley
I hope you get teabagged – I hope it’s not gently
I hope you get kneecapped by three lads from Tenby
And left in a bear cage – I hope it’s not empty
You studied at Eton
I hope you were beaten
With bell ropes, I hope that they got the whole street in
And folks stood competing to see who could flog
The spots off that bounder called Jacob Rees-Mogg

O Jacob Rees-Mogg, o Jacob Rees-Mogg
I hope you get eggbound and die on the bog
I hope you get found with your pants round your calves
And your socks stained with faeces, and everyone laughs
I hope someone brown gets their face on a coin
And you weep, and spill scalding Earl Grey in your groin
And your penis gets gangrene and burns when you piss
And falls off and gets lost in a layby, near Diss

O Jacob Rees-Mogg! O Britannia’s last hope!
To gammon-faced racists you’re almost the Pope
I’m afraid that a soul’s something money can’t buy
You’re not King Arthur, Jake
You’re a twat in a tie
You think you’re distinguished
You’re just rich and pinkish
This bullshit we sniff’s just the stink of your privilege
Which zings like a vintage to dim-witted English
Who’d burn down the country to heat up their village
You think you’re St George
I think you’re engorged
At the thought of more wars and the poor staying poor
You take your eggs boiled and your women indoors
And your orders from Tories who sit in the Lords

You look like a maribou stork shitting gorse
Or a headmaster crossed with a mortician’s horse
A skeleton’s butler, a cricket bat’s ghost
An English Von Ribbentrop scraped into toast
You look like a paedophile off to the morgue
A whiff of Gestapo, a touch of the Borg
A vampire enshrouded in mothball-tinged fog
But the truth is more dreadful – you’re Jacob Rees-Mogg

O Jacob Rees-Mogg! O unconscionable cur!
Most punchable fizzog from here to Jaipur
They say you’re a bigot, I have to aver
I’d call you a turd, but to turds that’s a slur
A cheaper grim reaper in overpriced clothes
Who feeds from the colon of Cecil B Rhodes
The pinnacle prick of the parasite class
A soulless and cynical Thatcherite arse

The greed of a grass snake, a frog’s empty stare
With morals so bankrupt, you make us miss Blair
I’m sure you can list when our kings came to power
But not one name of someone who burned in that tower
Or the staff of just one local library shut
Or a suicide who’d had their benefits cut
Or the gay fathers you think aren’t fit to raise kids
Did God tell you they weren’t? I don’t think that He did
I don’t think you know Him – He’s just an excuse
For your capital creamed off systemic abuse
May your conscience constrict round your throat like a noose
Please: pull on your tie till your jowls turn puce

Death Of 1000 Cuts – Season 2 Episode 36 – Chatting With Ross Sutherland

This episode features me chatting to writer, performer, poet, podcast presenter, film-maker, playwright and educator Ross Sutherland about his work experimenting on words to make them do cool stuff.

His podcast Imaginary Advice recently won Best Fiction Podcast at the British Podcasting Awards, he’s produced work for radio and TV, he’s a legend of the UK poetry scene and his critically-acclaimed solo show Standby For Tape Backup stormed the Edinburgh Fringe and has toured the world. His work is funny, dark, emotive and brain-melting. He’s really cool, you guys. He’s also my mate.

We talk about how he got into writing, his early experiences learning from his grandma and punk poet John Cooper Clarke, how he uses repetition to induce trance states in audiences and get past his own internal censor, and his advice as an experienced creative writing teacher for finding the ‘game’ of a piece of writing. He explains how the work of French experimental literature group the Oulipo inspired him to rip Little Red Riding Hood apart noun by noun, and how he helps teach writers to hack language to create weird, vivid effects. We also talk about what it’s like when you or your work don’t quite fit anywhere, and how to make a virtue out of writing work that’s ‘hard to explain’.

This is a great episode to listen to if you want to know:
– how do I find ideas?
– what should I write about?
– what if my work doesn’t fit into an existing genre?
– what are some warm-up exercises I can do to kickstart my imagination?

You would be foolish indeed not to sample an episode of Ross’s award-winning podcast Imaginary Advice. Here’s the episode he talks about writing towards the end of our chat.

If you like it, please do Ross a big favour and subscribe to it on Soundcloud or iTunes, leave a little review so other folk can find it, share it on your Twitter or Facebook. All that stuff helps so much, and you’re helping someone else stumble across it and have some of the same happiness you did.

If you haven’t read my novel, THE HONOURS, and you like secret tunnels, conspiracies and a 13-year-old girl in the 1930s trying to piece it all together, give your life a massive shot of the good stuff and click here to treat yourself to a glorious copy with free shipping worldwide.

And if you’d like to support the podcast, I appreciate any contributions towards hosting costs. You can drop me something in two clicks here.

Death Of 1000 Cuts – Season 2 Episode 35 – Chatting With Melissa Harrison

In this episode I chat to writer Melissa Harrison about becoming a writer, the pressures of writing, and the process of bringing the past and the natural world to life.

We chat about her new novel ALL AMONG THE BARLEY, how she struggled to admit to herself that she wanted to write, research, farming, fascism, and why we write when, at times, it can be difficult and painful.

This is a great episode to listen to if you want to know:
– how should I research my novel?
– should I keep writing if I’m not enjoying myself?
– how can I find the story amongst the scenes in my head?

If you enjoyed this chat and want more, please support Melissa Harrison by grabbing a copy of her latest novel, ALL AMONG THE BARLEY.

Here’s her Costa-shortlisted novel AT HAWTHORN TIME.

And her first, CLAY.

I really appreciate it when you support authors who give their time to come on the show. Thank you.

If you’re interested in something historical set in the 1930s in England, you might also like my novel THE HONOURS.

And, if you like, you can help me cover the cost of running and recording the podcast by dropping me something here.

Death Of 1000 Cuts – Season 2 Episode 34 – Chatting With Micah Yongo

This episode I chat to debut Fantasy novelist Micah Yongo about his novel of warring assassins and clashing ideologies, LOST GODS.

We get into everything, from working with an editor to researching crossbow physics, to how you go from big ideas and sprawling, complex imaginary worlds down to a story, and the character who’s going to propel you through it. Micah also talks about what it’s like to be published for the first time, building a writing routine, and representation in SFF and beyond.

This is a great episode to listen to if you want to know:
– how can I turn my ideas for a setting into a story?
– what’s the best sort of character for a Fantasy story?
– how can I research my Fantasy world when it doesn’t exist?
– what it like working with an editor?
– who has the right to write what stories?

I know you are awesome and I can rely on you to treat yourself and support Micah Yongo by ordering LOST GODS right now – do it, it’s ace!

If you’d like to read my work, please order my novel THE HONOURS – you can get it here (shipped anywhere in the world) via awesome indie bookshop Mr B’s Emporium.

And if you want to support the podcast and help me pay for hosting costs and website fees, you can click here and drop me a little something in a couple o’ clicks. Thanks. 

Call For Awesome Unpublished Books!

Hey dear friends. Are you an author? Do you have an unpublished novel you’d like agents or editors to read?

I want to do a bonus episode in a few weeks’ time where I do a pitch rush for a bunch of listeners’ books. So basically, you lot send me in the title, a paragraph of blurb, and a paragraph extract of the actual story. And your name, of course. Then I will read out as many as I’ve got time to read out in an hour. I already know several agents and editors who listen to the show, and I’ll drop a line to a bunch more letting them know it’s happening. So this is a chance for you to potentially get your work heard by a passel of publishing industry professionals, and of course a load of your fellow writers. Also, from your perspective as a listener, it’ll be a chance for you to hear a range of different novel pitches, and ask yourself: which of these hook my interest? Which of these do I actually want to read more of? The best way to learn how to write them and frame your thoughts about your own work is to listen to a bunch of people pitch theirs and develop an ear for the stuff that makes you sit up and think: ‘Ooh!’

I’m quite aware that this will only happen if people are interested and actually submit. If not, no worries. It’s just an idea I had to do something positive and give folks a leg-up, but if it’s not what you’re all after, that’s fine. I haven’t actually asked anyone yet.

If you’d like to submit, please click the ‘Contact Me’ link on the right, and add the heading ‘PITCH RUSH’. Here’s what I want, in the body of the message:


Your novel’s TITLE

A max 100 words BLURB/PITCH telling us what the book’s about. Don’t get too neurotic about getting this exactly right. The stakes are not that high, my friend. Best format is probably like the blurbs you read on the back of books. I’m not asking for a full synopsis. Just a taster of what it’s about. Remember: MAX 100 WORDS.

A max 100 words EXTRACT from anywhere in the novel. Just a bit that you think is cool or interesting or representative that I can read out WITHOUT CONTEXT. So don’t add a preface explaining where this moment comes in the book. I just want a short snippet that gives a flavour. Could be the beginning if you’re stuck. Remember, people will have heard your pitch, so they’ll have some context, but it’s ok if not everything is explained. MAX 100 WORDS.


That’s it. That’s all I want. No apologies, lengthy explanatory glosses. When sending me a message via the Contact box, don’t send multiple times if you get an error message. It throws up one every so often then I get like 10 copies of the same email as the person sends and resends over and over.

Ok. So please share this post with your fellow authors. I would love to support as many of you as possible, and I hope we can have some fun doing it. PS: I won’t be critiquing the pitches I read out or anything. I feel like that might not be fair. Better to let them stand for themselves.

DEADLINE: Friday 28th September

Death Of 1000 Cuts – Season 2 Episode 33 – Chatting With Temi Oh

This episode I chat to debut author Temi Oh about her upcoming novel DO YOU DREAM OF TERRA-TWO? We talk research, handling big casts, giving characters motivation, & novels of ideas.

This is a great episode to listen to if you want to know:
– how can I research my story if some aspects (like space travel) aren’t accessible to me?
– how can I make sure my characters are well-differentiated?
– how can I handle a big cast in my novel?
– how does Science Fiction deal with big themes?
– how does Science Fiction deal with autobiographical elements?

If you like today’s episode and want to read Temi’s upcoming novel, DO YOU DREAM OF TERRA-TWO? you can pre-order it here. Pre-ordering makes a huge difference to authors, so I encourage, beseech and coax you towards doing so in this instance, right now.

You can also support me by ordering my novel, THE HONOURS.

And if you’d like to toss a few quid into the podcast’s coffers to help me pay for hosting costs and overheads, you can do so here.

Thank you very much. Your patronage is not just appreciated but essential, and I doff my cloth cap to you.

Death Of 1000 Cuts – Season 2 Episode 32 – Difficult 2nd Novel (Writing Ramble)

In this episode I talk about some things I’ve learned from the 4 year process of writing my 2nd novel, THE ICE HOUSE (out May 2019). This is an unscripted episode where I talk through some of my first thoughts about the process, which at times was not easy, to put it mildly. Like anything difficult, doing this novel and seeing it through to completion has taught me a great deal, and so I break down some key principles which I’m going to be taking with me into future writing projects.

This is a great episode to listen to if you want to know:
– what’s it like writing a novel?
– why are second novels harder than first ones?
– how can I be prolific?
– what are some specific strategies for overcoming blocks and procrastination?
– how should I approach my first draft?
– how should I approach redrafting?

If you like this episode and you’d like to support my writing, please click this link and order yourself a copy of my first novel, THE HONOURS. It will be good prep for reading THE ICE HOUSE.

And if you’d like to support the podcast, please drop me a buck or two via my Ko-fi page.

Thank you. Have a great time writing.

Death Of 1000 Cuts – Season 2 Episode 31 – Chatting With Lauren Groff

In this episode I chat with Lauren Groff, bestselling author of FATES & FURIES, about her latest short story collection, FLORIDA.

We chat about her writing career spanning 6 books thus far, how she moves from short stories to novels, her ways of working, and how she gets her language and characters to sing. (spoiler: I *love* her work – she is really good)

This is a great episode to listen to if you want to know:
– how can I improve the language that I use in my stories?
– how can I learn to see the world around me more clearly?
– what are some unusual techniques I can bring to my writing?
– how can poetry help my prose?
– how can I sustain and develop my voice over several projects?

This episode is supported in part by Mslexia Magazine, the UK’s best-selling magazine for women who write. To subscribe, or check out their competitions and submission opportunities, visit:

You can pick up an issue here.

And subscribe here.

Here’s Lauren Groff’s brilliant latest story collection, FLORIDA – get it now with free worldwide shipping.

And here’s her New York Times bestselling novel FATES AND FURIES.

And hey, you know you’ve been putting it off for ages. Buy my novel, THE HONOURS, and be done with it.

If you’d like to show your support for the show and what I do, I have a Ko-fi page which will help me cover my hosting costs.

Thank you so much for your support and enthusiasm. You’re awesome.

Death Of 1000 Cuts – Season 2 Episode 30 – Chatting With Mark Stay

This episode is a chat with author Mark Stay. He’s an indie author, he’s worked in traditional publishing, he’s co-authored a novel and a screenplay, and he’s crowd-funded a novel. Not only that, but he’s a presenter of the podcast for writers, THE BESTSELLER EXPERIMENT.

This is a great episode to listen to if you want to know:
– what are my options for getting my book published?
– how can I promote my work?
– what are the secrets of writing a bestseller?

Hope you enjoy it.

Here’s Mark Stay’s website, with a link to his new novel, THE END OF MAGIC, which you can – and should – back on Unbound.

Here’s Mark’s novel, BACK TO REALITY, which he co-wrote with Mark Oliver.

You can check out Mark’s fantastic podcast THE BESTSELLER EXPERIMENT here.

Here’s the Ben Aaronovitch episode we talk about.

Oh go on, then – here’s my novel, THE HONOURS.

And the Ko-fi page through which you can show your support for this podcast.

Death Of 1000 Cuts – Season 2 Episode 29 – The Dentist (by Morgan)

In today’s episode I look at the first page of a listener’s story and suggest ways of making it better.

This is a great episode to listen to if you want to know:
– how can I get some tips for editing my novel?
– how can I write a great first line?
– how should I describe my characters?
– what makes good dialogue?
– how can I think about the flow of a sentence?

If you’d like to submit your work for a future show, you can do so via the ‘Contact Me’ link in the right-hand column. Details at the end of the show, or you can read the submission guidelines here. They’re from the old blog but they’re exactly the same for the podcast.

If you’d like to support me, please buy my novel, THE HONOURS. It’s temporarily unavailable on Wordery, so here’s a link to wonderful UK indie bookshop, Mr B’s Emporium, who ship worldwide:

Finally, you can support the running of the show directly via my Ko-fi page:

Thanks very much for all your encouragement and help. Oh, and – before the more analytically-minded amongst you write in – I realise now that ‘against’ is a two-syllable word. Oops!

And here’s today’s extract:

THE DENTIST (by Morgan)

Joy wore a short, black, cotton dress, her hair tied back in a blond ponytail. Around her neck was a thin, golden chain with her star sign, a ram’s head. I had given it to her when we first met. I wore an open-necked, pale blue shirt under a dark-blue suit. It brought out the color of my eyes.

We were celebrating my first proper television role. The restaurant terrace shimmered gold, the candle flames restless in the breeze from the ocean. The crashing waves drowned out the piano tinkling through the speakers.

“I’m proud of you, honey,” said Joy. “A speaking role.”

“Let’s hope I don’t develop a stutter.”

“Aw, that would be adorable!” said Joy, pinching my cheek.


“Oh, sorry, honey, is that the bad side?”

“It’s okay,” I said, “I’m just minding it, so it’ll go away sooner.”

“You know…” started Joy.

Our starters arrived, ending the conversation. I had curried oysters, Joy had asparagus salad. My mouth throbbed. I’d almost gotten used to it. I was pretty sure the tooth was rotten, that the cure would be worse than the disease. Lost in these thoughts I bit down on a mouthful and a sharp pain jolted my head.

There was a hard lump in my mouth. I held my cheek and went to the bathroom. At the mirror I picked a cracked and rotten piece of tooth from my mouth. It was laced with blood and the smell of seafood.

Death Of 1000 Cuts – Season 2 Episode 28 – Chatting With Helen MacDonald

This episode I chat to multi-award-winning writer Helen MacDonald, author of H IS FOR HAWK, about finding the right words, finding your voice, and pushing through in the face of self-doubt.

We discuss her poetic influences, Top Gun, madness, painting and masculine crisis in interbellum England. We really dig down into how you might go about turning your experiences, traumas and big questions into meaningful writing that connects with others. And, as well as talking about how to deal with setbacks and doubt, we cover that so rarely discussed of topics: how to cope with success.

This is a great episode to listen to if you want to know:
– how can I find my voice as a writer?
– what sort of writing routine should I establish?
– how can writing poetry help with my prose?
– what’s it like when your book does really well?
– what are some techniques for overcoming low self-confidence?

If you enjoy this episode and you haven’t yet read H IS FOR HAWK, I suggest you click here to get it delivered (with free P&P) to your door. It really is as good as the reviews and awards say – I found it magnetically compelling.

Oh, and I did a novel! If you like me and want to do me a solid, chuck me a few pence by buying my book, THE HONOURS, please.

And you can support the podcast directly via my Ko-fi page.

Thank you so much for continuing to listen and share Death Of 1000 Cuts.

Death Of 1000 Cuts – Season 2 Episode 27 – Chatting With James W Pennebaker

In this episode I chat with social psychologist James W Pennebaker about his research into expressive writing, and the tiny words we use each day but don’t notice.

We talk about a specific way of writing that can improve your mood, sleep, immune system function and even help your body heal faster. We discuss computer analyses of language, from old diaries to emails to poems, and how a particular category of words that accounts for less than one-tenth of 1 percent of your vocabulary makes up almost 60 percent of the words you use. And we find out how your output of these almost subliminal words can predict everything from status, age and gender to the likelihood the writer will take their own life.

This is a great episode to listen to if you want to know:
– can writing make me feel better, and if so, how?
– what are some different categories of language?
– how is language processed in the brain?
– how can I make my characters’ dialogue more genuine, and representative of their backgrounds?
– what does my writing say about me?

This is a very different show to our usual style, but it’s truly fascinating. I really recommend you check out THE SECRET LIFE OF PRONOUNS, which our discussion only scrapes the surface of. There’s a huge wealth of knowledge in there for writers.

You might also like James W Pennebaker’s OPENING UP BY WRITING IT DOWN, a book about his research into the benefits of expressive writing, which includes exercises to try it out for yourself.

And of course if you haven’t treated yourself to it yet, there really is no better tonic for the troubled heart than my novel, THE HONOURS. Buy it here, with free shipping – it will come to your door, it looks beautiful, and you’ll be helping me out.

Finally, you can always support the podcast directly by dropping a few beans into the upturned guitar case that is my ko-fi page.

Thank you so much, and I hope you find this episode enlightening.

Death Of 1000 Cuts – Season 2 Episode 26 – Chatting With Guy Gunaratne

In this episode I chat to novelist and film-maker Guy Gunaratne. We chat about how he got into telling stories, the movie that changed his life, and the challenge of listening to the voices of the five very different characters in his debut novel, IN OUR MAD AND FURIOUS CITY.

We also chat about saunas, road talk, finding the stories that obsess you, freestyle rap battles, and the performative nature of talking about being an author.

This is a great episode to listen to if you want to know:
– how can I find a character’s voice?
– what are the best techniques for writing in the first-person?
– what are some ways to keep going to the end of my novel?
– how can I discover the stories behind the issues I care about?
– how can I bring a theme or topic to life?

Please support the authors we have on the podcast. You’ll be helping them have careers and write more stories, and also you’ll find yourself reading great novels you didn’t expect to. I urge you to treat yourself to Guy Gunaratne’s brilliant IN OUR MAD AND FURIOUS CITY, available with free shipping here.

One way to support the podcast and me is to order my novel, THE HONOURS. You can get it here with free shipping.

And of course you can chuck me a few quid directly via my Ko-fi page.

Thank you very much for your continued enthusiasm and support. It means the world.

Death Of 1000 Cuts – Season 2 Episode 24 – Chatting With Gareth L Powell

In this episode I chat to SF author Gareth L Powell about his pistol-toting flying ace monkey, ACK-ACK MACAQUE, writing sentient spaceships, winning awards and being nice on the internet. We get into his new novel, EMBERS OF WAR, and he shares his best writing tips for novice authors.

This is a great episode to listen to if you want to know:
– how much should I plan my story?
– how do I get to know my characters?
– how do I write from the perspective of unusual / non-human characters?
– what’s the difference between a story being absurd and funny?
– what’s it like winning a major award?
– how can I write compelling dialogue that flows well?

You can find Gareth’s website here.

Here’s his Patreon page where you can support him and get all sorts of goodies depending on your supporter level, including feedback on your work.

Here’s his Twitter.

What’s that? You want to read his excellent novels? Why not try big SF adventure EMBERS OF WAR?

Or if you like monkeys liberated from cyber-servitude, smoking cigars and shooting stuff up (and who doesn’t), try ACK-ACK MACAQUE.

And of course, if you fancy reading something by me, THE HONOURS is a cosy interbellum yarn with sawn-off shotguns and nameless terrors hidden in the walls of a Norfolk country house.

And yo, if you want to drop the podcast a few bucks to cover expenses and keep us on the air, you can do so in a couple of clicks, here.

Death Of 1000 Cuts – Season 2 Episode 22 – Chatting With Claire North

In this episode I chat to novelist Claire North (aka Catherine Webb) about her amazing career spanning 20 (!) novels so far, starting when she was just 14. We chat about genre, growing up geeky, dystopias, craft, and changing the world – and her latest novel, 84K, set in a frighteningly familiar corporate near-future where everything – including murder – has a price and ad support.

This is a great episode to listen to if you want to know:
– does genre matter?
– who decides what genre my book is?
– can stories change the world?
– what are some ways in to writing about big themes or social issues?
– how can I write consistently?

You can grab a copy of 84K by Claire North here.

Here’s THE FIRST FIFTEEN LIVES OF HARRY AUGUST, which we chat about.

You can follow Cat on Twitter: @ClaireNorth42

Please support me and the show by buying my cool book, THE HONOURS.

You can also drop me a couple of bucks directly to help with the show’s overheads, via my ko-fi page.

Thank you!

Death Of 1000 Cuts – Season 2 Episode 21 – Chatting With Peter Newman

This episode I chat to Peter Newman, author of Fantasy trilogy THE VAGRANT, THE MALICE and THE SEVEN, and – released in the UK *this week* (!) – his latest, THE DEATHLESS. I grill him for precious, precious info on how he builds worlds, his philosophy on creating characters, and what makes Fantasy so compelling. We end up chatting about everything from roleplaying on school buses, to why goats make the perfect jesters to critique humankind. Whatever genre you write in, there are bucketloads of down-to-earth advice from an experienced author on how to keep writing and find the good stuff.

This is a great episode to listen to if you want to know:
– what makes a good protagonist?
– how do I write stories set in a dystopia?
– how do I make my readers care about my characters?
– what’s Grimdark Fantasy and should I write it?
– what are good ways to think about world-building?
– how can I convey my world while keeping the story going?
– what things do readers need to know, and when?

Peter Newman’s latest novel (out this week!) is THE DEATHLESS, and you can grab yourself a copy here.

But you should read all Pete’s novels! (I enjoyed them) A good place to start is THE VAGRANT, which we discuss on the podcast.

2nd in the trilogy is THE MALICE.

And it closes with THE SEVEN.

You can grab my novel, THE HONOURS, here.

You can also drop me a couple of bucks directly to help with the show’s overheads, via my ko-fi page.

Thank you!

Death Of 1000 Cuts – 100th Episode Special – Aing Your Qs

To mark the 100th episode of Death Of 1000 Cuts, my writing advice podcast, I thought I’d record a Q&A, answering listeners’ questions. Here are the questions I answer, in the order I answer them. Thanks very much to everyone who submitted questions!

– How do you know when you’re being original?
– When can you quit the day job? Should you quit the day job?
– How do you balance writing and family life?
– I’d love more tips about writing characters that are consistent and iconic but also growing and complex. ‘How do word people better?’
– What’s the last literary novel you read that you rated highly?
– Do you ever have trouble concentrating on your writing, and if so, what do you do to stay focused and productive?
– What inspired you to write The Honours?
– How do you decide when something is done? A piece of work might never reach the ideal image of it we have in our minds, so at what point then do we stop and send it off?
– How do you know when you should give up on a particular piece of work?
– What boardgame do you enthuse about to other people who love them and what boardgame do you enthuse about to other people who don’t?
– is “secret vampires” your favourite song by the pop group bis?
– Would you advise forcing yourself to finish what you start or trust you’re finishing the important ones?
– I’d love to know your views on research.. are you a thorough mini expert in your subject before you even start? Or do you start then realise you need to research?
– How much did you query before you found an agent?
– Any tips on getting through the big first revision after completing a novel first draft? I find it much harder to summon the enthusiasm to edit than I did to create
– Who is your favourite member of Steps and why?
– When I read books by other authors, what should I be looking for that can help me with my own writing?
– How do you finish stories? As in when do you stop iterating on them?
– Writing right now feels like a completely safe space. Is it harder to feel like that once you’ve been published? What can you do about that?

If you get value out of the show and you’d like to see us continue for another 100 episodes, the best way to show your support is to buy my novel, THE HONOURS.

You can also drop me a couple of bucks directly to help with the show’s overheads, via my ko-fi page.

Thank you!

Death Of 1000 Cuts – Season 2 Episode 20 – Untitled by M (1st Page Critique)

In this episode I take a look at a listener’s first page and suggest ways to make it better. That’s right, it’s an old school In The Barber’s Chair critique!

This is a great episode to listen to if you want to know:
– how can I be a better self-editor?
– how can I make my world-building great?
– what sort of things should I think about when designing a planet?
– what are good ways to introduce a character in a novel?
– how can I improve the ‘flow’ of a sentence?

If you enjoy this episode then for gawd’s sake buy me book, THE HONOURS.

And help me keep the podcast going by laying a few hot pence down on me via this handy-dandy site.

Thank you!

Death Of 1000 Cuts – Season 2 Episode 19 – Chatting With Grant Howitt

In this episode I chat to tabletop game designer Grant Howitt about creating stories out of thin air. We talk about the magic of gathering together to make stories with friends, how characters flow out of the simplest backstories, and ways in which you can use the techniques of roleplaying and improv to get over your creative fears and be happy, prolific and daring in your writing. Grant also talks about his new book, SPIRE, co-written with Christopher Taylor, a roleplaying game and world where you play terrorists trying to overthrow the oppressive high elves of a gigantic and deeply weird city-tower.

This episode is great to listen to if you want to know:
– what makes a good character?
– what drives a brilliant plot?
– how can I use roleplaying techniques to write better and more?
– how can I learn to think like my character?
– what is a tabletop roleplaying game?
– how can I overcome perfectionism?
– can I use creative/roleplaying techniques to feel a bit better?

You can find some of Grant’s brilliant games (including free one-page rpgs you can play with friends in an afternoon) here.

SPIRE is available in hardback here.

Follow him on Twitter: @gshowitt

Here’s a great blog he wrote called 11 Ways To Be A Better Roleplayer that handily serves as a fantastic list of ways to write better and get your characters into more and more interesting flavours of trouble.

Like the show? Gorge yourself on period weirdness with my novel THE HONOURS.

Want to help me pay my exorbitant hosting bills & keep the lights on? A few bucks chucked my way would be deeply appreciated.

Thank you, and please don’t forget to share the show, subscribe on SoundCloud and iTunes, and pop me a little review if you like what I do.

Death Of 1000 Cuts – Season 2 Episode 17 – Chatting With Jeannette Ng

In this episode I chat to author Jeannette Ng about her Gothic Fantasy novel UNDER THE PENDULUM SUN. We discuss how she came upon her tale of a gothic heroine travelling to the mysterious and threatening continent of Arcadia, in search of her missionary brother who has been trying to convert the Fair Folk. We chat about Chinese vampires, world-building, colonialism, the creative freedom of youth, borrowing from established story structures, dreaded second novel syndrome, and writing in the long shadow of the Brontës.

This is a great episode to listen to if you want to know:
– how can I create compelling Fantasy worlds?
– how can I breathe new life into familiar monsters?
– where can I look for inspiration?
– what does Fantasy allow me to do that other genres don’t?
– what strategies can I use to overcome excessive self-criticism?
– what are some pitfalls to avoid when creating Fantasy cultures?

(sorry for forgetting to post this on the site when it went up. Oops!)

If you got value out of this episode please support Jeannette Ng by ordering her novel, UNDER THE PENDULUM SUN.

Please support me and my work by buying my novel, THE HONOURS.

If you’d like to help me cover the costs of making the podcast, you can drop me a few bucks at my ko-fi page – thank you so much for all your support so far.

Mailing List

Hey dear ones, just a quick post to say that I’ve got rid of my mailing list. I was only sending mailouts sporadically, and it was an awkward mishmash of my poetry audiences and podcast listeners. Added to that, the open rate had dropped from around 60% to about 10% – so it was the cyber equivalent of yelling times and dates into a well. As much as digital marketers insist that the only reliable way to reach people is via a mailing list, in future I’m going to do via this blog, my Facebook author page and my Twitter @timclarepoet (click the link on the right to follow me). Of course companies like Facebook and Twitter may choose in future to make it harder to reach out to folks without paying, and some of you aren’t on either platform. But we will find a way to reach one another, I feel certain of it. Also, my podcast, Death Of 1000 Cuts, often acts as a kind of audio diary and I’ll chuck in any major news there.

That’s it. Take care. I’m really excited about sharing Monday’s podcast – it’s a bit of a new area for us, but I want to expose you to new ideas, new ways of working, to see if we can’t create interesting explosions in the laboratory of your brain. I really think you’re going to learn some cool stuff.

Death Of 1000 Cuts – Season 2 Episode 18 – Getting Unstuck & Defining Success (Writing Ramble)

In this episode I talk about creative ways of getting unstuck when you’re working on a project, and showcase John August’s Writer Emergency Pack – a deck of cards designed to help storymakers out of jams. I also review what I’ve learned from speaking to the various authors I’ve had as guests on the show so far, and talk about some key takeaways you can apply to your writing practice right now.

NOT ONLY THAT but I drill down into the idea of ‘success’ and ‘failure’ as an author, and what they might actually look like for different people. My position is that the most common standard of writing success is responsible for a great deal of suffering and neither conducive to happiness nor creativity.

Finally I announce the big Death Of 1000 Cuts listener survey. Please please please let me know your thoughts! What do you like about the show? What would you like to hear more of? What could you do with less of? Tell me! Gimme feedback!

This is a great episode to listen to if you want to know:
– what are a range of strategies writers use to break through blocks?
– is there just one way of writing successfully?
– how can I avoid burnout as a writer?
– how can I motivate myself?
– are setbacks normal?

Please support the podcast and me by buying my novel, THE HONOURS.

If you’d like to help me out with the hosting costs of the podcast, you can drop me a buck or two here.

Here’s the link to the LISTENER SURVEY – please fill it in! It only takes 5 minutes and I want to know what you think.

Thank you very much. I appreciate your support.

Death Of 1000 Cuts LISTENER SURVEY

Create your own user feedback survey

Hey friend. I really want to get to know you. If you listen to Death Of 1000 Cuts, you would be making a big and valuable contribution by filling in this 5 minute (literally 5 minutes – it’s 10 questions) survey about what things you’d like me to do to make the podcast as useful and entertaining and as awesome for you as possible. Let me know your thoughts! I care about what you think, and a foundational principle of this whole silly enterprise is embracing and benefiting from constructive feedback. But I can’t get a feel for what you want unless you make your voice heard.

There are no prizes for filling in the survey, except a better podcast that more meets your needs, for free. If you’ve listened to at least one episode of Death Of 1000 Cuts or the Couch to 80k Writing Boot Camp then you are exactly the person I need to hear from. Thank you in advance.