Hannah Kate

poet, short story writer and editor based in Manchester

November 25, 2020

What Are You Reading?

Writers! I’m trying out a new bit on Hannah’s Bookshelf, my weekly literature show on North Manchester FM, and I’d love it if you’d take part.

I want to know what you’re reading at the moment! Anything good? Anything to recommend to our listeners? Click the button below to submit a short message about your current reading material (or something you’ve read recently and would like to recommend), and I’ll play it on the show.

Make sure you say hi and introduce yourself at the beginning of your message as well, so we know who we’re listening to! But then take it away and feel free to talk about whatever book, poem or play has caught your interest lately. I’ll drop you a line to confirm when I’ve received your recording, and to let you know when it will be played out on Hannah’s Bookshelf.

It would be absolutely lovely to hear from you, so please do consider joining in and showing a bit of love for the books you enjoy!

November 22, 2020

3 Minute Santas – Festive Flash Fiction Wanted!

A call for seasonal submissions to be broadcast on the radio!

Can you tells a festive story in just 3 minutes? Hannah’s Bookshelf presents 3 Minute Santas – back for its fourth fabulous year on North Manchester FM!

I’m looking for recordings of festive (not necessarily Christmas) stories for inclusion on my radio show on Saturday 19th December – but they can only be 3 minutes long! Stories are welcome from anywhere in the world, and in any genre. A selection of 3 Minute Santas will be broadcast on the show on 106.6FM (in the North Manchester area) and on digital (for the rest of the world) – and don’t worry, there’s always ‘listen again’ feature if you’re in a different time zone!

3 Minute Santas isn’t a competition, but a call for submissions. It’s open to anyone, and the more the merrier! For details of how to submit a story, just click here. The deadline is midnight on Monday 7th December.

And please do share this info with anyone you think might be interested!

November 12, 2020

North Manchester FM: Hannah’s Bookshelf, Saturday 14 November, 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 video podcast by Dante or Die I’ll be reviewing User Not Found, an immersive video podcast currently available to view via the HOME Manchester website and the Dante or Die YouTube channel.

A review of an anthology from Fly on the Wall Press I’ll be talking about Mancunian Ways, a new anthology of poetry, art and photography, edited by Isabelle Kenyon.

Reviews of two radio plays from JustOut Theatre I’m going to be talking about the two final plays in the JustOut Stays In radio play series: Black Dark by Aimee Shields and Broken Wings by Alison Scurfield.

And a review of a novel by Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi I’ll be reviewing The First Woman, a new novel by award-winning Manchester-based author Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi (published by Oneworld Publications).

Plus… you can hear my weekly 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:

November 7, 2020

Please Release Me: A Selection of Locked Up Fiction

This Saturday’s episode of Hannah’s Bookshelf on North Manchester FM was one of my occasional themed shows. I’m not sure what news story or event inspired this (haha), but this week’s show was all about fiction featuring characters who get locked up, locked in or trapped somehow. I didn’t want the show to be too grim (though a couple of the titles on my list are rather dark), so I featured a selection of ‘locked in’ scenarios and traps.

You can listen to the show again on the player at the end of the post. But, as promised on the show, here are the details of the books I talked about. Did I miss your favourite? Or do you massively disagree with any of my choices? Let me know in the comments!

The Cask of Amontillado by Edgar Allan Poe (1846)

I started off with a short story, rather than a novel, but one by a writer who specialized in ‘locked in’ fiction. A number of Poe’s stories feature characters getting (permanently) sealed into very unpleasant places. For this show, I decided to go with ‘The Cask of Amontillado’ (though are several others I could have chosen on this theme!).

‘The Cask of Amontillado’ is set in an unnamed Italian city at Carnival. The narrator – a man called Montresor – is telling a listener all about the revenge he has taken on a rival called Fortunato. It’s an old grudge, and Montresor lists numerous slights and one unspecified insult that was the final straw. He decided to take revenge during Carnival, while Fortunato is drunk, and the titular cask of rare Amontillado was the bait. The story is told from the murderer’s perspective (as in Poe’s ‘The Black Cat’ and ‘The Tell-Tale Heart’) – but what I really like about this story is that Montresor never really explains his motive. Is he insane? Or jealous? Or did Fortunato really deserve his fate? The story leaves the explanation for Montresor’s crime tantalizing unexplained.

Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption by Stephen King (1982)

Given the theme, I had to feature one book set in a prison. And there was really no contest for which one it was. Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption (subtitled ‘Hope Springs Eternal’) is a novella that was originally included in King’s Different Seasons collection. It is told by a narrator, Red, who spent nearly forty years incarcerated in Shawshank State Penitentiary. Red’s story is about a prisoner named Andy Dufresne, who arrived in Shawshank in 1948 after being found guilty of the murders of his wife and her lover. Shawshank is a brutal and violent place, and Red describes the assaults Andy suffers, but also the strategies the other man uses to survive this. Red and Andy become friends, and Red (who has a reputation for being able to get things) supplies Andy with the little luxuries he requests, including a little rock hammer to make sculptures and a poster of Rita Hayworth.

King’s novella is probably better known now from the film adaptation, which is renamed The Shawshank Redemption and stars Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman. I definitely think the book deserves its place on this list though – doubly so, in fact, as not only is it set in a prison, but it has a significant episode of solitary confinement. You could say that Andy is doubly locked in, which makes it difficult (at least for a time) to believe that hope really does spring eternal.

Room by Emma Donoghue (2010)

This next one is a bit grim – though it’s a really well-written book, and it has a little touch of hope springing eternal as well. The reason why I call it grim is that Donoghue’s book was inspired by the real-life case of Josef Fritzl, who imprisoned and repeatedly raped his own daughter in the basement of his house for over twenty years. I was cautious about reading Room, as I wasn’t sure this was the sort of case that should inspire a fictional story. However, Donoghue’s novel is sympathetic and carefully written in a way that shows respect and sensitivity to its source inspiration.

Room is told from the perspective of a young boy called Jack, who lives in a room. The room is the only thing he knows, and Ma is the only person he knows (except the man they call Old Nick, who visits at night to hurt Ma). Ma has created a life of sorts for herself and Jack, fixing a routine and trying to keep the boy healthy. She tells him that the rest of the world exists only on the television they watch sometimes. The truth – which Jack doesn’t (can’t) understand – is that Old Nick kidnapped Ma when she was nineteen, and has held her prisoner in an outbuilding behind his house ever since. Jack is the product of rape, and as much a prisoner as his mother. The book begins with a moving and unsettling description of the daily routine Jack and Ma follow, and the story remains focused on the boy and his mother throughout. It’s an intelligent and compelling read, which avoids lurid and gratuitous description by using a child narrator and keeping us fixed on his perspective throughout.

Room was adapted into a film starring Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay in 2015.

The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley (2018)

I felt like my list needed a locked room mystery, but since I’ve already done an entire show devoted to classic locked room mysteries, I needed to bring it a bit more up-to-date. Foley’s book is more ‘trapped’ than ‘locked in’, but I think it definitely fits on today’s list.

The Hunting Party is set at New Year. A group of friends from university (Oxford University, no less) meet to celebrate New Year – a tradition they began ten years earlier, and which they’ve kept up even though their lives have gone in different directions. This year, they’ve booked an exclusive hunting lodge in a remote part of Scotland, but wouldn’t you know it? the day they arrive a blizzard descends, cutting the group off from the rest of the world. With tensions simmering – as well as two members of staff on site that maybe can’t be trusted – it’s clear that this break is not going to end well. Foley’s story unfolds in a non-linear, multiple POV way, so that the reader is kept guessing, not only about the identity of the killer, but about the identity of the victim. It’s atmospheric, claustrophobic and truly seasonal (though the clues to the mystery itself are, perhaps, a little too easy to spot). It’s a great read for the winter months, especially the Christmas period.

The Magician’s Study: A Guided Tour of the Life, Times and Memorabilia of Robert ‘The Great’ Rouncival by Tobias Seamon (2000)

This next title is a new discovery for me. As I was thinking about the sort of stories and characters that might get ‘locked in’ somewhere, my thoughts turned to escapology and escape artists. I thought it would be a good idea to include a book about a magician on this list.

Seamon’s novel is a biography of a fictional Jazz-Age magician named Robert the Great. The biography is presented as a tour of Robert’s study – the narrator is our tour guide – with each object leading into a story about Robert’s life and exploits. We learn that Robert Rouncival was born in 1896 in Kingston, New York. He was injured as a boy, resulting in a limp (and a chip on his shoulder), and then joined the circus (the ‘Travelling Extravaganza’ of Barnabas Welt). From this seedy and rundown entry to the world of showmanship, Robert will go on to rub shoulders with Harry Houdini and become one of the foremost illusionists of his time. As well as Houdini, Seamon’s fictional magician bumps into other famous figures – including Dutch Schultz, Frida Kahlo, H.G. Wells – and there are lots of mentions and descriptions of real places. But it’s not just about the (admittedly good fun) cameos from famous historical fiction, Seamon creates an original character, constantly at the mercy of his own self-destructive excesses, and reliant on his close relationships (with his assistant, Sherpa the Silent, and heiress Margaret Tillinghast) to save him from himself.

The Fall by Bethany Griffin (2014)

The final book on today’s list is a YA Gothic thriller. Griffin’s novel opens with an pretty dramatic first chapter, in which the 18-year-old protagonist, Madeline, wakes up in a coffin and realizes that she’s been buried alive. She knows almost immediately that she is in a coffin underneath her family home, and – most strangely – she’s not entirely surprised to find herself there. Madeline’s life is cursed. Her house is cursed. And her family (which now simply consists of her twin brother) is cursed…

Does this sound a little bit familiar? Well, maybe it should, because we’ve come full circle and return to Edgar Allan Poe (the undoubted master of ‘locked in’ fiction)! The Fall is, in fact, a retelling of Poe’s ‘The Fall of the House of Usher’, but told from the perspective of Roderick Usher’s twin sister Madeline, who mostly appears just to creep out the narrator in Poe’s story. Like a couple of the books on today’s list, The Fall is told in a non-linear way, with lots of short chapters jumping between fragmentary memories of Madeline’s life prior to the moment she wakes up in the coffin. Griffin preserves much of the story from Poe’s tale (including the icky pseudo-incestuous relationship between the doomed twins), but with some slight alterations, expansions and developments. Griffin does slightly change the ending as well, to make it a little more open, so I guess we’re ending with a story that’s slightly less ‘locked in’ than its original source!

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

October 28, 2020

North Manchester FM: Hannah’s Bookshelf, Saturday 31 October, 2-4pm

Join me on Saturday at 2pm on North Manchester FM for the Hannah’s Bookshelf Halloween Special. And it’s going to be a very special show this Halloween, as (fingers crossed) I will be broadcasting live from the actual North Manchester FM studio for the first time this year!

On the show, I’ll be playing the shortlisted entries for this year’s 3 Minute Scares competition – and it’s a bumper batch this year – before revealing the winner of the competition – Greater Manchester’s Spookiest Wordsmith! Huge thanks to this year’s guest judge – horror writer Simon Bestwick – who had the unenviable task of deciding this year’s winner.

And big thanks to Lyall’s Bookshop in Todmorden for supplying a fantastic prize for the 3 Minute Scares competition as well. The author of the winning entry will get a brilliant horror-themed bundle of books from Lyall’s (as well as the kudos that comes with the title, of course)!

As well as this year’s 3 Minute Scares stories, I’ve also got a Halloween book review for you. I’ll be talking about The New Abject, a brand new collection of horror fiction from Comma Press.

All this, a bit of Halloween-themed music, and I may well be doing the show in fancy dress (it’s a tradition, after all)!

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).

Update: I did indeed do this week’s show in fancy dress!

Missed the show? You can catch it again here:

October 21, 2020

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

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

A review of a novel by C.J. Harter I’ll be talking about C.J. Harter’s novel Fitful Head, which was published in 2018 (and which I spoke to C.J. about when I interviewed her).

A review of an audio drama by The Alternative Stories and Fake Realities podcast I’ll be reviewing Hare Spell, a new audio drama written by Fay Hield, Terri Windling, Sarah Hesketh and Sarra Culleno.

Reviews of two radio plays from JustOut Theatre I’ve chosen two more plays from the JustOut Stays In radio play series to talk about on this week’s show: Mother’s Day by Tom Ryder and Monday at the Flat Iron by Kate Ireland.

And a review of a novel by Julian Edge I’m also going to be talking about Blindsided, which came out in April this year.

Plus… you can hear my weekly 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:

October 18, 2020

Literary Nostalgia: Back to 1996!

On Saturday’s Hannah’s Bookshelf on North Manchester FM, I indulged in a bit of literary nostalgia – going back to 1996! 1996 was an interesting year (for good and bad reasons)… football was coming home (for the first time), Manchester suffered a devastating IRA bomb in the city centre, and it looked like The Sun was on the verge of backing the Labour Party for the first time. Oh, and I finished my A-Levels and left college!

For those of us of a certain age, 1996 feels like a bit of a landmark year, so I thought it would be interesting (given, you know, 2020 and stuff) to see how the world of fiction looked in ’96. Rather than picking (necessarily) the best-selling books, I’ve chosen a mixture of iconic titles and stories that capture that specifically mid-90s vibe.

Do you agree with my choices? Have I missed out your favourite? Let me know in the comments!

Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood

Alias Grace is a fictionalized version of the real-life (such as is known) story of the murders of Thomas Kinnear and his housekeeper Nancy Montgomery in Canada in 1843. Two servants, Grace Marks and James McDermott were convicted of the murders (McDermott was hanged and Marks was sentenced to life imprisonment), and Atwood’s novel focuses on the story of Grace Marks and the question mark over her level of involvement in the murders. Atwood was inspired by the historical account in Susanna Moodie’s book Life in the Clearings Versus the Bush, but weaves this into a narrative with a fictional doctor, Simon Jordan, who is researching the case.

The story begins with Grace, the convicted (and notorious) murderess, being hired out from prison as a domestic servant to the Governor of the penitentiary. Members of the Methodist church (including the minister) are hoping to see Grace pardoned and released, believing that she is suffering from hysteria. The minister asks Dr Jordan, a psychiatrist, to interview her, hoping that he will conclude she is mentally ill, rather than a criminal. As Dr Jordan begins his interviews with Grace, she decides to tell him her life story, including things that happened in childhood and on her traumatic passage from Ireland. She also tells him of her friendship with Mary Whitney, of her meeting with James McDermott, and her relationship with Nancy Montgomery (and Nancy’s relationship with Thomas Kinnear). Dr Jordan is somewhat impatient with her story at first, as he wants to focus on the events of the murder, but Grace’s story draws both him and the reader in, revealing that this is a book about a woman’s life, not just a violent crime.

Alias Grace was adapted as a miniseries for TV in 2017, with Sarah Gadon as Grace Marks and Edward Holcroft as Dr Simon Jordan.

The Fourth Estate by Jeffrey Archer

I chose the next book on today’s list because I felt like it captures a particular mid-90s concern. Not that the concern has gone away, of course, but this 90s iteration is like a precursor to the current climate. I’m talking about anxieties around press ownership and impartiality, and the role media empires play in influencing political and social change.

Archer’s novel tells the story of two media barons. One of these is Lubji Hoch, the son of an illiterate Czech Jewish peasant, who escapes the Nazis, changes his name to Richard Armstrong and becomes an officer in the British Army. After WWII, Hoch (now Armstrong) is posted to Berlin and ends up acquiring his first newspaper – and from here he begins to builds a publishing empire. The novel’s other central character is Keith Townsend, the son of an Australian millionaire and newspaper owner. Townsend is groomed as his father’s successor from childhood, being educated at private school and Oxford, and then given a position at a London newspaper – and from there he becomes the leading newspaper publisher in Australia. Armstrong and Townsend become fierce competitors – but will there be tragic consequences?

As the story is based on two real-life media barons – Robert Maxwell and Rupert Murdoch – we, perhaps, might know the answer to that. In reality, Murdoch bought The Sun, News of the World and later Times Newspapers Ltd, and Maxwell bought the Daily Mirror its group. Archer’s novel was written and published after Maxwell’s death, but it reflects back on the period in the 1980s when the two men’s empires dominate newspaper publising. The novel’s title refers to the concept of the ‘fourth estate’: the press is meant to serve as a watch on other three estates (Lords Spiritual, Lords Temporal and Commons). But, as we were beginning to seriously ask in the mid-90s: who will watch the watchmen?

Popcorn by Ben Elton

In a similar way to The Fourth Estate, Elton’s Popcorn reflects a very current anxiety of the mid-90s – which hasn’t really gone away. It’s a book about violence in popular culture, and the worry that representations of violence can encourage people to act in violent (even murderous) ways. It shares this concern with other 90s texts, particularly Oliver Stone’s Natural Born Killers.

Popcorn is set in L.A. (mostly Hollywood), in the unspecified near future. It’s the story of Bruce Delamitri, who makes violent films and is constantly called to defend against the claim that his films make violence look cool. Unfortunately, Delamitri’s defence is weakened when Wayne and Scout, two psychopaths known as the ‘Mall Murderers’, hatch a plan to hold him hostage and make him publicly announce that his films are responsible for their crimes. The novel build to a climactic siege at Delamitri’s house, with Wayne making a bold offer to the watching audience. Arguably, the commentary in Popcorn is even more pointed than in Natural Born Killers, with some direct discussion of personal responsibility and what a ‘blame free society’ might mean. The last line of the book is pretty direct in this respect!

The book wasn’t made into a film, but Elton adapted it into a play in 1998.

Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding

This next book, though, was most definitely made into a film! Fielding’s wildly successful second novel (based on a column she had been writing for The Independent) was published in hardback in 1996 – though, admittedly, the real success came the following year with the release of the paperback edition. It’s credited with kickstarting the boom in chick lit.

Bridget Jones’s Diary is, in essence, an epistolary novel – as the title suggests, it’s written in the form of a diary, and the story is told through twelve chapters (one for each month), beginning with a list of New Year’s resolutions. Bridget lists her intended calories intake, alcohol consumption, weight loss and personal goals, and then each subsequent chapter notes how well she’s done that month. In many ways, this personal critique and impossible ambition to be ‘good’ was the book’s defining feature – but in other ways, it was the romantic storyline that characterized it. Bridget meets a man named Mark Darcy, a wealthy lawyer that her parents like, but she’s not initially enthused. Instead, she ends up dating her boss Daniel Cleaver, who’s charming but unreliable. Will Bridget choose the right man? Or should she focus on her career? Will she finally reach her ideal dress size? (These are the questions that kept readers hooked.

I probably don’t need to say that Bridget Jones’s Diary was adapted into a film in 2001, starring Renee Zellweger, Colin Firth and Hugh Grant. Fielding wrote two sequels to her original novel: Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason (1999) and Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy (2013).

The Runaway Jury by John Grisham

The next book on my list is also well-known from its film adaptation – though note, the book’s title has a sneaky definite article that was dropped for the film. I must admit a slightly unorthodox reason for including this title on the list – I’ve added it because I do really love the film!

Grisham’s novel, as you might expect, is set in the world of the courtroom. Celeste Wood, whose husband has died of lung cancer, has filed a suit against a tobacco company, Pynex. She’s hired lawyer Wendall Rohr and his team, who has decided that the trial should be held in Biloxi, Mississippi, because they believe that state has favourable tort laws and sympathetic juries. But it’s going to take more than that for Rohr to win the case… various parties are acting behind the scenes to influence the outcome. First up, there’s ‘stealth juror’ Nicholas Easter, who’s plotting something with a woman called Marlee. And then there’s Rankin Fitch, some sort of consultant who ‘directs’ trials, and has a good track record of getting the tobacco industry off the hook in similar trials. Fitch’s brand of ‘consultancy’ involves rigging and manipulating the jury through blackmail and bribery. Will he be able to deliver the verdict Pynex wants? And what result do Easter and Marlee want?

The book was adapted (without the ‘the’) into a film in 2003, which starred John Cusack as Nick Easter, Gene Hackman as Rankin Fitch, Dustin Hoffman as Wendell Rohr, and Rachel Weisz as Marlee. In many ways, the adaptation was pretty faithful, but the film switched the tobacco industry for a gun manufacturer.

Speaking of adaptations…

A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

Well, what can I say about the final book on today’s list (except look! another article that was dropped for the adaptation!)? If you’re only familiar with the HBO TV series, you may have been surprised to Martin’s novel on this list, but the first novel in the A Song of Ice and Fire series was indeed first published in 1996 though it only became an NYT bestseller in 2011. The book series so far goes: A Game of Thrones (1996), A Clash of Kings (1999), A Storm of Swords (2000), A Feast for Crows (2005), A Dance with Dragons (2011), The Winds of Winter (forthcoming) and A Dream of Spring (forthcoming).

Although A Game of Thrones didn’t hit all the best-seller lists right away, it did win a number of awards and was very popular in SFF circles. The first book in the series introduced three principal storylines that would run through the series. I doubt there’s anyone who wants to know, but doesn’t, that the book introduces the Seven Kingdoms; Eddard (‘Ned’) Stark, lord of the North; the Lannisters; Ned’s daughter Sansa; King Robert Baratheon (who overthrew the ‘mad king’) and his son Joffrey; Queen Cersei Lannister and her twin brother Jaime Lannister. And also the Wall (an ancient barrier of stone, ice and magic); the Night’s Watch; Jon Snow, the illegitimate son of Eddard Stark; the exiled prince Viserys Targaryen, son of the ‘mad king’ and his 13-year-old sister Daenerys; Khal Drogo and the nomadic Dothraki. Martin’s series earned him the soubriquet of the ‘American Tolkien’, but the series’ focus on political intrigue, machinations and moral grey areas definitely differentiate it from Tolkien’s Middle Earth.

As if you need me to tell you, A Games of Thrones was adapted for TV (without the ‘a’) in an HBO series that was broadcast from 2011-2019.

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

October 6, 2020

North Manchester FM: Hannah’s Bookshelf, Saturday 10 October, 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…

An interview with Simon Bestwick I first interviewed Simon way back in July 2015. Simon was born in Wolverhampton, bred in Manchester, and now lives on the Wirral while pining for Wales. He is the author of six novels, four full-length short story collections and and has been four times shortlisted for the British Fantasy Award. His latest book is the short story collection And Cannot Come Again, and his new novella, Roth-Steyr, will be out in October from Black Shuck Books. In case you’re curious, Simon’s Apocalypse Books choices were Ray Bradbury’s The October Country, Joel Lane’s Where Furnaces Burn, and The Therapy of Avram Blok by Simon Louvish.

A review of a new novel by Ian McGuire I’ll be talking about McGuire’s latest novel, The Abstainer, which was published by Scribner in September.

A review of a new collection of horror stories… I’ll be reviewing The Third BHF Book of Horror Stories, edited by Darrell Buxton, which was published in August with all proceeds being donated to the NHS.

An interview with C.J. Harter I first interviewed C.J. in August last year. C.J. Harter writes dark psychological suspense that belies her sunny nature. In her day job, she helps folk connect with their creativity through writing, and assists authors on their journeys to publication with her editing and proofreading services. She is currently working on a new crime series of novels set in and around Manchester. And in case you were wondering, C.J.’s choices for Apocalypse Books were Van Gogh by Pierre Cabanne, The Geek’s Guide to Having Fun with Morse Code by Dan Romanchik, and The Nation’s Favourite Poems.

Plus… you can hear my weekly 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:

October 6, 2020

3 Minute Scares is back for its fifth fantastic year!

North Manchester FM presenter Hannah Kate wants your scary stories for Halloween! She’s asking people throughout Greater Manchester to submit their 3-minute stories for her annual creative writing competition. Writers keen to be crowned Greater Manchester’s Spookiest Wordsmith can submit a recording of their mini-tale via Hannah’s website, with the best entries being broadcast on the Halloween edition of Hannah’s Bookshelf on Saturday 31st October.

This year’s 3 Minute Scares competition will be judged by horror writer Simon Bestwick, with the writer of the best entry receiving a bundle of books from the wonderful folk at Lyall’s Bookshop, Todmorden. Entries need to be 3 minutes long, meaning a word count of around 350-400 words. The judges will be looking for style and originality, as well as how scary the story is. The deadline for entries is Friday 23rd October, at midnight.

Last year’s competition was won by Bridie Breen, who impressed the judges with her creepy but rather charming tale. North Manchester FM presenter Hannah Kate says: ‘Bridie’s winning story was really impressive – once again, we were so amazed by how much atmosphere and story writers were able to get into such a short space of time, and it was a pleasure to see the crown pass to Bridie. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing what this year’s competition has to offer.’

All writers need to enter the competition is a computer with a microphone… and a good story. Entries can be recorded via Hannah’s website. More information and rules of the competition, including information for people unable to submit a recording, can also be found on the website.

October 1, 2020

North Manchester FM: Hannah’s Bookshelf, Saturday 3 October, 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…

An interview with Elizabeth Ducie I first interviewed Elizabeth in August last year. Elizabeth had been working in the international pharmaceutical industry for more than 30 years when she decided to give it all up and start telling lies for a living. Her first four novels were, unsurprisingly, set in such varied locations as Southern Africa, Latin America and Russia; but now she’s bringing it much closer to home, writing a cosy murder mystery set in a fictional village just up the road from her home in South Devon. She also writes and coaches on business skills for authors. And, in case you’re curious, Elizabeth’s Apocalypse Books selections were The Self-Sufficiency Bible by Simon Dawson, Jostein Gaarder’s The Christmas Mystery, and George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire.

A review of a new novella by Shona Kinsella you heard Shona and I talking about The Flame and the Flood a couple of weeks ago on the show, and so this week I’ll be reviewing it.

A review of a new novel by Jaime Lee Moyer I’ll be reviewing Divine Heretic, a reimagining of the story of Joan of Arc, which was published in August by Jo Fletcher Books.

And a review of another show in the Homemakers at HOME series… I’ll be taking about A Series of Metaphors About a Plague, one of the performances created for the Homemakers series.

Plus… you can hear my weekly 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 there: