Despite all the horrors of the outside world, 2016 has been a great year for Hannah’s Bookshelf! I’ve been lucky enough to have some wonderful guests on the show – including novelists, poets, publishers, editors (and even the odd musician) – and I’m grateful to North Manchester FM for continuing to let me haunt the airwaves and to my lovely husband Rob (aka Digital Front) for being my unofficial producer on the show. Here’s a little reminder of all the awesome people I got to talk to this year…
As my first show of the year was just after New Year, I began 2016 with a repeat of my Boxing Day show, which featured a selection of some of my favourite festive-themed books. You can see the list of featured books in this blog post. My first new show of the year was on Saturday 9th January. I had intended to do a retrospective of ‘2015 in Literature’, but I got a bit distracted and decided to a show about the best books of 1915 instead. You can see the titles I talked about here.
2016 started in earnest with some absolutely fantastic guests. I talked to the legendary Ramsey Campbell, then had a lovely transatlantic conversation with Kate Laity. Finally, I wrapped the month up with an interview with Adele Wearing of Fox Spirit Books. It was a pretty good start to the year.
February was all about the interviews on Hannah’s Bookshelf, and I had four brilliant guests to talk to. First, there was Erik Hofstatter. Then Jane Bradley and Emma Jane Unsworth joined me on the airwaves. And on Saturday 27th February, I welcomed Dean Kirby to the studio, for a fascinating conversation about Angel Meadow and the Victorian history of Manchester.
By contrast, March saw more specials. On Tuesday 8th March, North Manchester FM broadcast a show for International Women’s Day, hosted by a number of the station’s female presenters (including me!). Inspired by this, my regular show that week was an International Women’s Day Special, featuring a selection of the books by women that have been saved on Apocalypse Books so far. After this, it was my Easter Saturday Spring Special, in which I talked about a selection of books that all have flowers in their titles. You can see a list of the books I discussed in this blog post.
Of course, it wasn’t all specials in March. I also got to interview the wonderful Matthew Frost from Manchester University Press, which was very enjoyable.
I had lots of really great guests on the show in April – and such a diverse group of writers! I began the month with another transatlantic interview, this time with author Scott Thompson. Then Xavier Aldana-Reyes from MMU joined me in the studio to talk about all things Gothic. I also got to talk about science fiction with Gwyneth Jones, comic books with John Reppion, and early modern medicine with Sara Read of Loughborough University. It was pretty cool month, all told.
I don’t know if you remember, but there was some pretty extreme weather in April and May, and it felt like the year just couldn’t settle into normal seasons. To mark this, I kicked off May with a Weird Weather Special, discussing some of my favourite examples of freaky weather in fiction. You can see a list of the books I talked about here.
Once things had settled down a bit, I chatted to Kate Ash-Irisarri about medieval literature, and followed this with another special – this time on my favourite Gothic Heroines (inspired by a conference I attended at the University of Kent). There’s some info about the books I discussed in this blog post.
June was kind of dominated by a few… ahem… big issues, and so obviously I decided to give a couple of these my slightly weird treatment. As the World Cup was in full swing, I thought it was only right to do a show inspired by this. But in my usual tangential way, this ended up being a 1966 Special, where I discussed some of my favourite books published in the year for English football fans. You can see the list of books I included here. Another big story in June was astronaut Tim Peake’s return to Earth after six months on the International Space Station. I celebrated this with a Hannah’s Bookshelf Outer Space Special – and you can see the books that were featured on the show here.
July was quite a full-on month for the show. June ended with the announcement of Prime Minister David Cameron’s resignation. I marked this in the only way I know how – by doing a show devoted to my favourite Fictional Prime Ministers. You can see which PMs made the cut in this blog post.
It was also great to welcome back my first ever returning guest this month – the fabulous Gwyneth Jones popped back into the studio for another interview (which was great, as we’d run out of time to talk about everything we wanted to in April). Other shows in July featured conversations about zombie horror with Amanda Steel and Victorian London with Lee Jackson.
On the 23rd July, North Manchester FM held a live music day, in collaboration with ALL FM (our sister station). As part of this, I hosted a Live Poetry Special, with performances from William Michael Neary, Andy N, Seamus Kelly, Joy France, George Melling and Sharon Lowe. Other presenters also had slots during the event, featuring performances from local bands and singers.
I enjoyed the performances by all the poets on my Live Music Special so much, I invited them all to come back onto the regular show as guests. And in August, William Michael Neary (joined by musician Tom Metcalfe), George Melling and Sharon Lowe took me up on my offer. I also enjoyed chatting about Peterloo, local history and folk music with Martin Gittins and Bob Ashworth (who performed a few songs live for us as well).
My birthday is on 13th August, and this year it fell on a Saturday. So I had to do a birthday-themed show, didn’t I? To celebrate – and to accidentally give away my age, of course – my Birthday Edition was a run-down of some of the top books published in 1978. You can see which ones I talked about here.
It was an absolute please to welcome back more of the poets from my Live Poetry Special in September. Seamus Kelly and Joy France both joined me in the studio this month. As well as this, I presented a Museums Special (inspired by the Golden Age detective novel Murder in the Museum, which I got as a birthday present from my parents-in-law). You can see the list of books I included in this post.
Because a good friend of mine got married in September, I had to miss one of my regular shows. So, instead, there was a ‘clips show’ featuring some of the amazing selections my guests have made on Apocalypse Books.
October is perhaps one of my favourite months of the year – because it’s the month that Halloween’s in! I kicked off the month in style with an interview with Catherine Spooner from Lancaster University, in which we talked about Gothic literature, the Lancashire witches and a whole host of other spooky stuff. I also welcomed back another returning guest (this time for a chat about vampires, fairy tales and crime fiction), Nancy Schumann. Tony Earnshaw also joined me in the studio to talk film (including Night of the Demon – just to keep the Halloween theme going). On a somewhat less spooky note, the sixth poet from my Live Poetry Special – Andy N – made a welcome return to the show, and performed a few more pieces of his work for us.
In the run-up to Halloween, Hannah’s Bookshelf ran a Greater Manchester-wide creative writing competition called 3 Minute Scares. Writers were asked to submit a recording of a scary story told in under three minutes. On the Halloween Edition of the show, I was joined in the studio by Sorcha Ní Fhlaínn from MMU (one of the competition judges), and we ran down the Top 5 stories before announcing Greater Manchester’s Spookiest Wordsmith. Of course, as is only fitting, I presented the Halloween show in fancy dress.
November saw two more transatlantic interviews: Stephen Morris joined me (over the ether) from New York, and Kim Bannerman talked to me all the way from Vancouver Island, Canada. (Both of these interviews contain a healthy dose of werewolf folklore, naturally.) I also had some more poetry from the fabulous Pete Slater, and talked publishing and performance with Christopher and Keri-Ann Moriarty of Bunbury Magazine.
And so we moved into the final weeks of 2016. I began December by welcoming the fab Pete Kalu to the studio. Next, I talked to Nigel Barlow about Manchester’s history and geography. Then my final interview of 2016 was with the mysterious Jonah Locksley of The Thinker’s Garden, in which we discussed magic, alchemy, philosophy and the occult.
And then it was Christmas. As you know. It still is, if we’re honest. My Christmas Special this year fell on Christmas Eve and, as is now tradition (well, I’ve done it for two years in a row), I talked about a selection of my festive literary treats. You can see details of the books I discussed this year in this blog post. If you got a book token or an e-reader from Santa this year, there’s still time to indulge in a bit of seasonal reading…
Now we’re beginning to get ready to say goodbye to 2016. As I said, it’s been a really great year for the show, and I’ve been absolutely blown away by all the awesome guests who’ve agreed to share their work and chat about books with me. I’ve just got one show left this year, and I hope you’ll tune in…
Coming up at 2pm on New Year’s Eve, I’m doing my end-of-year show. Tune in for some of my personal highlights, including a selection of the books saved in The Library at the End of Days. As always, you can listen on 106.6FM (if you’re in the North Manchester area) or listen online (if you’re further afield).
Happy New Year!