Hannah Kate

poet, short story writer and editor based in Manchester

April 21, 2021

North Manchester FM: Hannah’s Bookshelf, Saturday 24 April, 2-4pm

Join me on Saturday at 2pm on North Manchester FM for another episode of Hannah’s Bookshelf. This week, I’ll be welcoming the wonderful Rose Cullen (aka Greater Manchester’s Spookiest Wordsmith, the winner of the 2020 3 Minute Scares competition) to the virtual studio.

Rose was born in Dublin and now lives in Manchester. Her career has included theatre stage manager, front of house and puppeteer, but principally writing for theatre, film and TV. She taught scriptwriting at Bournemouth University whilst also facilitating creative writing in prisons, psychiatric institutions and to other writers with limited access to writing workshops. In recent years she has concentrated on prose, from flash fiction to saga novel.

I’ll be talking to Rose about her writing for stage, screen and page, as well as finding out all about her latest writing project, and her inspirations and influences. And, of course, she’ll be sharing her selections for this week’s Apocalypse Books.

Catch the show on Saturday at 2pm on 106.6FM (if you’re in the North Manchester area) or listen online (if you’re further afield).

April 19, 2021

Cut and Dried: A Selection of Fictional Hairdressers

On Saturday’s Hannah’s Bookshelf (my weekly literature show on North Manchester FM), I turned my attention to hairdressers – most likely because I’ve been missing mine so much and can’t wait to get an appointment! The show featured a little selection of fictional hairdressers, barbers and stylists. You can catch the show again on the player at the end of this post, but, as promised on the show, here’s a list of the books I featured.

The String of Pearls; or, The Sailor’s Gift (1846-7)

What better way to start a Hairdressers Special than with possibly the most notorious barber in literature: Sweeney Todd? So today’s list begins with a nicely grisly bit of early Victorian pulp fiction.

The String of Pearls was published in instalments between 1846-47 by the King of the Penny Dreadfuls, Edward Lloyd. The actual writers weren’t credited, but it’s now believed that the story was written by James Malcolm Rymer and Thomas Preskett Prest. While modern readers will be likely be familiar with some elements of the story from modern retellings, there’s quite a bit more plot to The String of Pearls than just those mysteriously meaty pies. The title (and the alternative title) refers to a gift sent to a young woman named Johanna Oakley from her sailor lover Mark Ingestrie. Before getting lost at sea, Mark entrusted a string of pearls to Lieutenant Thornhill, who promised to take them to Johanna when he reached London. But Thornhill disappears before he’s able to fulfil his promise, and Johanna teams up with a naval colonel to discover his fate. It seems he was last seen going for a shave and a haircut at a certain barber’s shop in Fleet Street…

Even if you think you know the story, I would definitely recommend reading the Victorian penny dreadful. There’s a lot in it that will surprise you and – if anything – the Demon Barber of Fleet Street is actually more sinister and more unpleasant here than in any of the later versions!

Legally Blonde by Amanda Brown (2001)

A bit of a change of pace with this next one! When I first starting thinking about this list for the show, the genre that immediately sprang to mind was Chick Lit. In fact, it was Chick Flicks that really popped into my head and, in particular, one of the more iconic beauty salon scenes in cinema. Fortunately, the film that I was thinking of was based on a novel, so I can happily include Legally Blonde on today’s list.

Brown’s novel was published in 2001 and adapted into a film very shortly afterwards. It is – as if you need to be told – the story of So-Cal girl Elle Woods’s escapades at a prestigious law school, and it’s partly based on Brown’s own experiences studying at Stanford Law. The film was a relatively faithful adaptation of the novel, but there are some differences between the two. For one thing, it’s set at Stanford, rather than Harvard Law. For another, Elle’s determination to win back ex-boyfriend Warner doesn’t actually wane much in the novel – despite the fact that, as in the film, he’s not very nice to her. And I do have to admit that the novel is also a little lighter on the beauty salon scenes, and we don’t get to see the same development of female friendships and support networks as we do in the adaptation, but it still uses the beauty parlour as a place that stands in contrast to the competitive, unfriendly, and very masculine environment of the law school and the courtroom. Legally Blonde has definitely earned its place on today’s list. (What, like it’s hard?)

Hair: A Journey Into the Afro & Asian Experience, edited by Pete Kalu and Shirley May (2006)

This next book takes us more into the realm of hair styling, rather than hair stylists (though there are a couple of mentions of hairdressers dotted throughout the collection), but I have some personal affection for this book that means it was one I really wanted to include on the list. I have some fond memories of helping to workshop some of the pieces included in the book at a Commonword writing group in Manchester, and one of the editors (the fantastic Peter Kalu) has been a guest on Hannah’s Bookshelf in the past.

Hair is an anthology of short stories, creative non-fiction, poems and styling tips, in which the writers explore their personal relationships to their hair. There’s a lot of personal experience described in the poems and stories here, but also a powerful consideration of history, identity and legacy. Racist attitudes towards Afro and Asian hair are confronted head on – there is real anger in some of the pieces – but this is combined with a sense of love and admiration for the cultural identity expressed through hair styling, as well as the communal experience of dressing hair. Hair is a collection I’m really fond of, and not least because it brings back some happy memories for me of old writing groups and book launches. It’s full of powerful and thought-provoking pieces by some wonderfully talented writers.

Even Monsters Need Haircuts by Matthew McElligott (2010)

A very definite change of pace now… and a change of genre, style and target audience too! Even Monsters Need Haircuts is a children’s book aimed at the 4-7 age range, with some comical illustrations and a charming (but easy to follow) storyline.

McElligott’s main character is the young son of a barber who sneaks out to his dad’s shop every full moon to cut the hair of a very special set of customers. Because, well, even monsters need haircuts. This is a fun little book with a child-friendly Halloween twist. Young readers – or listeners, if the book is being read to them – will enjoy the pictures of various monsters getting their hair styled. How do you cut a vampires hair since they have no reflection? And how do you get round the difficulties of braiding Medusa’s locks? Parents and teachers will also appreciate the subtle reassurances the book provides to children anxious about going to the hairdresser’s – or facing other anxieties about unfamiliar experiences. I always like to include a children’s book in my themed shows, and this one seemed like a very good fit. I started the show talking about a monstrous barber, so it’s only right to balance that out with a monster’s barber!

The Hairdresser of Harare by Tendai Huchu (2010)

Continuing the wild journey around genres and styles today, the next book on my list is actually the only one with the word ‘hairdresser’ in the title!

The protagonist of Tendai Huchu’s debut novel is the eponymous hairdresser. Vimbai is a single mother, estranged from her family, who has managed to secure a reputation as the finest hair stylist at the salon where she works. This is threatened by the arrival of Dumisani, a new hairdresser on the scene with very different background and life experience to Vimbai. Although jealous of Dumi, Vimbai strikes up a friendship with her rival, but she doesn’t realize that there are secrets being kept that will totally change her view of the world in which she lives. The Hairdresser of Harare is a really compelling novel with a very strong sense of both character and place. I loved the way Huchu uses Vimbai’s rather mundane perspective (and, as I’ve said before, ‘mundane’ is never really an insult on Hannah’s Bookshelf – I love books that create powerful stories out of the quotidien) to present Harare as a place that is at once ordinary and extraordinary, filled with both the boring inanities of life and the striking scars of Mugabe’s rule and colonial legacies. The beauty salon emerges as the perfect place to set such a story – its familiarity and intimacy works to set the scene for both Vimbai’s world and her character. And even though much of the novel is set outside the salon, and as the title reveals, Vimbai’s identity is bound up with her occupation. She is a hairdresser, and a very good one at that.

Beauty is the Beast by Jennifer Zamboni (2018)

Let’s end with another good hairdresser then… though a somewhat different character to Vimbai, in a very different type of book. My final fictional stylist of the day was Gretchen, the 24-year-old hairdressing protagonist of Jennifer Zamboni’s Beauty is the Beast.

Except Gretchen isn’t actually 24 years old. She’s 150. And she’s a werewolf. (She is a hairdresser, though, that bit is true!) Gretchen lives and works with her two best friends, who happen to be a vampire and a Classical goddess. Together they work in a beauty salon, but their world is rocked by the murder of one of their friends and colleagues. Zamboni’s novel is described as urban fantasy – which it undoubtedly is, as it is set in a version of the ‘real world’ that includes magic and Fae – but it is also a murder mystery. Gretchen and her friends have to work out who has committed the murder and keep themselves safe from the threat at the same time. I know I keep coming back to monsters on today’s show – and I’ll be honest, I really didn’t expect to talk quite so much about vampires in this list – but I wanted to include Beauty is the Beast here because it has so many great scenes in the salon itself. As in most of the other books on today’s list (not The String of Pearls, I hasten to add), the hairdressing salon here is an intimate and personal space where nurturing and supportive friendships can develop. And I love the fact that, while Gretchen is a werewolf, it’s almost equally important to her character that she is hairdresser. For that reason, this seemed like a very apt book on which to end today’s show!

To hear more about all of these books, and my reasons for choosing them, you can listen again to the show here:

April 9, 2021

Hic Dragones: Writing Prompts (Week 2)

Last week, I wrote a series of writing prompts for Hic Dragones, the dark fiction small press where I’m editor-in-chief. I continued the series this week, posting daily prompts with a slightly more Gothic-inflection on the Digital Periodicals social media.

Digital Periodicals is a series of eBook editions of Victorian penny bloods, remastered and formatted for your reading pleasure by Hic Dragones. You can buy the titles as complete editions, or in instalments for that true penny dreadful experience.

My prompts went out daily on the Digital Periodicals social media, but here they all are in one place.

April 5, 2021

North Manchester FM: Hannah’s Bookshelf, Saturday 10 April, 2-4pm

Join me on Saturday at 2pm on North Manchester FM for another episode of Hannah’s Bookshelf. This week, I’ll be welcoming the brilliant Simon Michael to the virtual studio.

Simon has been a published author in the UK and the USA since the late 1980s (St Martins Press, WH Allen, Grafton Press and others). He also has experience writing for the screen. Simon is today probably most recognisable as the author of the best-selling Charles Holborne thriller series published by Sapere Books. The series features his antihero barrister, an East End villain made good, battling the prejudices of the 1960s, the Kray twins and the corrupt Metropolitan Police. Frequently called ‘the British John Grisham’, the Charles Holborne series draws from the headlines of the day, the criminal cases in which Simon was instructed and his own family history. Refugees from the Spanish Inquisition, the Michael family arrived in the Port of London in 1492 and remained in the East End for the next 450 years. Simon believes himself to be the only member of the Honourable Society of the Middle Temple formerly to have been a council labourer, a van driver and a gardener. Having been called to the Bar, he practised as a barrister for 37 years, working at the Old Bailey and other criminal courts, defending and prosecuting a wide selection of murderers, armed robbers, con artists and other assorted villainy, gathering enough real life stories to populate an entire series of crime fiction.

Simon also writes in other genres and has written romantic fiction, including the Cosmopolitan Short Story Prize shortlisted ‘Split’, and speculative fiction. He performs his one-man show, My Life in Crime, approximately 50 times a year at literary festivals, libraries and to Women’s Institutes, Probus, U3A and Rotary groups.

I’ll be talking to Simon about the Charles Holborne series, and about his writing, inspirations and influences. And, of course, he’ll be sharing her selections for this week’s Apocalypse Books.

Catch the show on Saturday at 2pm on 106.6FM (if you’re in the North Manchester area) or listen online (if you’re further afield).

Missed the show? You can catch it again here:

April 2, 2021

Hic Dragones: Writing Prompts (Week 1)

Following on from my Clayton Hall-inspired writing prompts, this week I’ve been created a slightly weirder series of prompts for Hic Dragones, the dark fiction small press where I’m editor-in-chief. Each day this week, a mini writing exercise has been published on the Hic Dragones social media to stimulate the darker corners of the imagination. And then next week, there’ll be daily writing prompts on the Digital Periodicals social media as well.

Here’s all this week’s posts in one place for you.

March 26, 2021

Clayton Hall: More Writing Prompts (Week 4)

Over the four weeks, I’ve been posting a series of writing prompts inspired by some of the places associated with Clayton Hall. I started with the Hall itself, then went to Crumpsall Park, and then Bailey’s Wood. This week, I went to Boggart Hole Clough.

In last week’s post, I included a little bit of history to explain the connection between Clayton Hall and Bailey’s Wood. Boggart Hole Clough shares this history, and here’s a brief recap for you: Boggart Hole Clough, like Bailey’s Wood, is a remnant of the medieval Blackley Deer Park. In the late Middle Ages, the Byron family were the subinfeudatory lords of Manchester. Their house was at Clayton Hall, and the Blackley park was one of their hunting grounds, stretching from the edge of Harpurhey into Alkrington. When the Byrons lost the last of their money and power in the seventeenth century, Humphrey Chetham bought Clayton Hall, and Humphrey Booth bought a portion of the Blackley park, where he built Booth Hall. In 1894, a large part of the Booth Hall estate was sold to Manchester Corporation, who turned it into Boggart Hole Clough, which remains as a municipal park.

Each day this week, my Clough-inspired writing prompts have been shared on the Lakeside Cafe social media, but here they all are in one place for you.

March 26, 2021

North Manchester FM: Hannah’s Bookshelf (Not Quite) Live Poetry Special, Saturday 3 April, 2-4pm

Join me on Saturday 3rd April, 2-4pm, for my annual Hannah’s Bookshelf Live Poetry Special on North Manchester FM. Except, of course, that once again we’ll be Not Quite Live! I’ve got 12 brilliant poets lined up to perform their work for you (they just obviously won’t all in the same room, and none of us will be within 2 metres of each other). Check out who’s going to be on the show…

Chris Campbell
Chris Campbell is a former national and regional journalist, who has published two collections of poetry. His latest, White Eye of the Needle, explores love, life and lockdown, and was published through The Choir Press in March. He currently lives in Nottingham with his wife, where several of the poems were written.

 

Sunita Thind
Sunita Thind has a multicultural first collection of poetry called The Barging Buddhi and Other Poems by Black Pear Press, and a second collection published by Wild Pressed Books called The Coconut Girl. As a British Punjabi poet with two published collections of multicultural poetry, she has been featured in the national media recently. Sunita is a performance poet, as well as a school teacher and workshop facilitator.

Elisabeth Horan
Elisabeth Horan is a poet, mother, and small press publisher living in the wilds of Vermont. She is the author of numerous poetry chapbooks and collections, and the Editor-In-Chief of Animal Heart Press. Elisabeth is passionate about discovering new voices and mentoring emerging poets.

 

Tony Harrison
Tony Harrison is a teacher and writer who lives in Whitefield, Bury, with his wife and three dogs. He writes poetry, short stories and has recently completed a novel, Some Kind of a Man, for which he’s seeking publication.

 

 

Hadley-James Hoyles
Hadley-James Hoyles is a poet, writer, musician and educator from Skipton, North Yorkshire, who is currently based in Edinburgh. He primarily writes about the relationship between the human psyche and the earth, the effect of landscape on the mental health and outlook of humanity, and the echoes of the ancient North which haunts the land he grew up in. He is the founder and organiser of The Alcove poetry outfit in Edinburgh and a member of performance group The Heretics.

Martin Elder
Martin Elder is a writer, poet and spoken word performer based in Stockport. He is part of a writing group in Stockport and has made a number of appearances at open mics in and around the North West, but he has also appeared in Eastbourne, Brighton and as a guest performer in Swansea. Martin has written two of a trilogy of books and countless short stories.

Chris Neilson
Chris Neilson started writing poetry and spoken word material after leaving full time work in 2012. His work is mainly rhythmic and lyrical, covering a wide range of subjects emanating from deep within his soul.

 

 


Dorinda MacDowell

Dorinda MacDowell is a wife, mother, grandmother, lover of life and words. Two of her greatest pleasures are reading and writing.

 

 

Christopher Monk
Christopher Monk is a consultant specialising in medieval culture. He is currently writing a book about 14th-century cookery, and he writes poetry exploring trauma, aging, and the odd bit of sunshine.

 

 

Bridie Breen
Bridie Breen is an Irish-born, Manchester-matured poet. She loves the human condition, the good, the bad and the ugly. She writes it as it is, for the joy of getting it down.

 

 

Kate Wilson
Recently, Kate Wilson’s work has appeared in Eye Flash Poetry Journal, 14 Magazine, The Pandemic Poetry Anthology, and Mookychick. Her debut pamphlet, One Night in January was published by Wild Pressed Books in January 2021. When not writing, she is usually found curled up with her dog Huxley.

 

 

Katherine Horrex
Katherine Horrex’s first collection Growlery is published by Carcanet. Her poems have featured in the Forward Prize’s 2021 anthology, the Times Literary Supplement, Poetry London and others. She works as a tutor and teaching assistant in Manchester.

 

 

These fantastic writers and performers will all be appearing on this week’s Hannah’s Bookshelf on Saturday from 2pm. You can catch the show on 106.6FM (if you’re in the North Manchester area) or listen online (if you’re further afield).

Missed the show? You can catch it again here:

March 23, 2021

North Manchester FM: Hannah’s Bookshelf, Saturday 27 March, 2-4pm

Join me on Saturday at 2pm on North Manchester FM for more News, Reviews and Short Interviews on Hannah’s Bookshelf. Here’s what’s coming up on this week’s show…

A review of a book by Catherine Lundoff I’ll be reviewing Blood Moon, a new novel by Catherine Lundoff (published by Queen of Swords Press).

A review of a short film from HOME I’ll be talking about Dear People of No Colour by Esosa Ighodaro, part of the Homemakers at HOME series.

An interview with Jeanette Greaves I first interviewed Jeanette back in November 2015. Jeanette writes dark fiction short stories and has been published in four Hic Dragones anthologies and the Revolutions 2 Manchester-based genre anthology. She lives near Preston, and has just published her first novel, Fight for the Future, which is about, inevitably, werewolves. And in case you were wondering, Jeanette’s Apocalypse Books choices were The Snow Queen by Joan D. Vinge, Bold as Love by Gwyneth Jones, and Women on the Edge of Time by Marge Piercy.

And What Are You Reading?… the section of the show where I ask writers about the books they’re reading at the moment. This week I’ve got another selection of reviews and recommendations. And if you’re a writer who’d like to take part, check out this post with details on how to join in!

Plus… you can hear my round-up of news from the World of Words. If you’ve got a news story you’d like to share, please use the News Form to submit it to the show. For review requests, please get in touch via the Contact Form.

Catch Hannah’s Bookshelf on Saturday at 2pm on 106.6FM (if you’re in the North Manchester area) or listen online (if you’re further afield).

Missed the show? You can catch it again here:

March 19, 2021

Clayton Hall: More Writing Prompts (Week 3)

Over the last three weeks, I’ve been posting a second series of writing prompts inspired by some of the places associated with Clayton Hall. I started with the Hall itself, then went to Crumpsall Park. This week, I moved to Bailey’s Wood.

When I posted my previous series of writing prompts last year, I included a little bit of history to explain the connection between the Hall and the Woods. Here’s a recap for you: Bailey’s Wood (in North Manchester) is a remnant of the medieval Blackley Deer Park. In the late Middle Ages, the Byron family were the subinfeudatory lords of Manchester. Their house was at Clayton Hall, and the Blackley park was one of their hunting grounds, stretching from the edge of Harpurhey into Alkrington. When the Byrons lost the last of their money and power in the seventeenth century, Humphrey Chetham bought Clayton Hall, and Humphrey Booth bought a portion of the Blackley park, where he built Booth Hall. In 1894, part of the Booth Hall estate was sold to Manchester Corporation, who turned it into Boggart Hole Clough. The other part, with the hall and Bailey’s Wood, was sold to the Prestwich Guardians, who tore down the hall and built Booth Hall Hospital. The hospital is now gone – there’s a new housing development in its place – but Bailey’s Wood remains as an ancient woodland and former farmland, nestled between the Booth Hall and Crosslee estates.

Each day this week, my woods-inspired writing prompts have been shared on the Friends of Bailey’s Wood social media, but here they all are in one place for you.

March 17, 2021

North Manchester FM: Hannah’s Bookshelf, Saturday 20 March, 2-4pm

Tune in this Saturday at 2pm for another episode of Hannah’s Bookshelf on North Manchester FM. This week, I’ll be talking to the fab Allison Symes, who you may recall was a contributor to 3 Minute Santas last year.

Allison Symes is a multi-published flash fiction and short story writer. Her short stories have been in many anthologies over several years. Allison is also one of the fifteen winners of the Waterloo Arts Festival Writing Competition for three years in a row. Allison’s debut flash fiction collection, From Light to Dark and Back Again, was published in 2017 by Chapeltown Books, who are a small independent press based around the Manchester area and who do so much to give authors a voice. Allison’s follow-up book, Tripping the Flash Fantastic, was published by Chapeltown Books in 2020.

Allison’s flash fiction and short stories often appear on online magazine, CafeLit, and she is also a blogger. She writes a weekly column for online community magazine, Chandler’s Ford Today, where she often writes on topics of interest for writers. Allison also blogs for the Association of Christian Writers’ blog spot, More than Writers, once a month and she does likewise for Authors Electric.

I’ll be talking to Allison about her collections, and about flash fiction and writing in general. And, of course, she’ll be sharing her selections for this week’s Apocalypse Books.

Catch the show on Saturday at 2pm on 106.6FM (if you’re in the North Manchester area) or listen online (if you’re further afield).

Missed the show? You can catch it again here: