Hannah Kate

poet, short story writer and editor based in Manchester

September 15, 2021

North Manchester FM: Hannah’s Bookshelf, Saturday 18 September, 2-4pm

Join me on Saturday at 2pm on North Manchester FM for more from Hannah’s Bookshelf. This week, my guest will be the brill Alan Bilton.

Alan is the author of three dream-like novels, The Sleepwalkers’ Ball (2009), The Known and Unknown Sea (2014) and his latest, The End of the Yellow House, published by Watermark Press. He is also the author of a collection of surreal short stories, Anywhere Out of the World (2016) and books on silent film, contemporary fiction, and the 1920s. He teaches Creative Writing, Literature and Film at Swansea University.

I’ll be talking to Alan about The End of the Yellow House, and his writing in general. And, of course, he’ll be sharing his 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).

September 13, 2021

North Manchester FM: Hannah’s Bookshelf GM Fringe Reviews Special, Tuesday 14 September, 12-1pm

Tune in to North Manchester FM this Tuesday at 12noon for a special edition of Hannah’s Bookshelf! Throughout September, I’ll be reviewing a selection of the shows on this year’s Greater Manchester Fringe festival programme. I’ll be sharing my reviews on North Manchester FM in a series of special episodes of Hannah’s Bookshelf this month.

So here’s what I’ve been watching this week…

Subdural Hematoma

There’s a second chance to hear my review of Subdural Hematoma by Eleanor May Blackburn, which I saw at Salford Arts Theatre on Friday 3rd September.

 

 

Your Playground Voice is Gone

I’ll be reviewing Your Playground Voice is Gone by Libby Hall, which I saw at Salford Arts Theatre on Saturday 11th September.

 

 

 

Failure Studies

And I’ll also be talking about Failure Studies by Precarious Theatre, which I saw at the King’s Arms Theatre on Sunday 12th September.

 

 

 

You can hear my reviews of these shows on Tuesday at 12noon 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:

September 5, 2021

North Manchester FM: Hannah’s Bookshelf, Saturday 11 September, 2-4pm

Join me on Saturday at 2pm for more from Hannah’s Bookshelf on North Manchester FM. This week, my guest will be the brill Christopher P. Mooney.

Christopher was born in Glasgow in 1978. At various times in his life, he has been a paperboy, a supermarket cashier, a shelf stacker, a barman, a cinema usher, a carpet-fitter’s labourer, a foreign-language assistant and a teacher. He currently lives and writes in someone else’s small flat near London and his debut collection of short transgressive fiction, Whisky for Breakfast, is available now from Bridge House Publishing.

You may remember that I reviewed Whisky for Breakfast on the show back in May this year. This week, I’ll be talking to Christopher about his inspirations and influences for the book, and about transgressive fiction and his writing in general. And, of course, he’ll be sharing his 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:

September 4, 2021

Hic Dragones: Writing Prompts (Week 2)

Last week, I wrote a second 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.

September 2, 2021

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

Tune in to Hannah’s Bookshelf on North Manchester FM on Saturday 4th September at 2pm for a Greater Manchester Fringe Special!

The Greater Manchester Fringe first took place in 2012 with 6 different venues and a handful of shows in each. Since then the Greater Manchester Fringe has grown each year with more performances, more ticket sales and more venues taking part… that was until the coronavirus shut them down in 2020. But now they’re back for 2021 with a jam-packed programme of performances across Greater Manchester venues… and I’m delighted to say that the annual Hannah’s Bookshelf Greater Manchester Fringe Special is also back! On this week’s show I’ll be hearing from some of the writers, producers, directors and performers who are taking part in the 2021 festival.

The broadcast details (including the link to listen online) are at the bottom of this post, but here’s what’s coming up on the show…

Dirty Old Town

1868. Victorian England is hitting its stride and there’s money to be made in the grim north. ‘Where there’s muck there’s brass.’ And places don’t come any muckier than Manchester. Nor people any brassier. Drawn from historical records and personal memoirs, the play follows Detective Caminada (you may remember him from my review of Angela Buckley’s The Real Sherlock Holmes!) into a Manchester underworld of con-artists, forgers, medical quacks, imposters, pickpockets, and revolutionary anarchists, dispensing single-minded and unwavering justice as he goes. I spoke to Eddie Capli and Ryan Mulvey from Pact Productions to find out more.

C÷M: From Where? to Here

A multimedia journey about two friends emerging as artists after decades of work and within the confines of lockdown. The journey focuses on the last year of their artistic endeavour and how it has enabled years of creativity to come together as a performance. The performance involves self-penned urban folk tunes, experimental improvisations, AI, images and video. There is no escaping the political element and the impact of recent years on feelings about being English. The performance hopes to be postcard for those whose future experience of history will not be that written by the forgone political winners. I caught up with the mysterious C to hear more about the performance.

I Remain

I Remain is a one act drama by Starry Night Theatre Productions and is based on the true story of the writer’s great, great, grandfather, Private Harry Hayes of the Manchester Pals 17th Battalion of the First World War. The play follows the story of Will, Harry’s great-great-grandson, a rebellious teenage boy struggling to come to terms with his demons. Whilst staying at his grandma Ada’s house to escape the troubles he faces at home, he stumbles across a box of old photos. Amongst the photos he finds an old picture of a soldier, Harry Hayes. Along with the photo, Will finds a stack of letters written by Harry whilst in the trenches in France in 1916. Will becomes absorbed into these letters and Harry is once again brought to life through the words of the past. Writer and director Parissa Zamanpour, and cast members Callum Jones, Adam Perrott and Julia Lacey will be talking about the play on today’s show.

Jordan

One woman. One unspeakable crime. It’s 1987 and Shirley Jones is on trial for murder. Based on a true story, Jordan, by Anna Reynolds, is a powerful and profoundly moving play that asks difficult questions about what we can forgive in the name of motherly love. I spoke to Sara from Easy Company to find out more.

 

 

Something Funny with Scott McPherson

After being in exile in Scotland for more than a year, Scott McPherson naturally chose the Greater Manchester Fringe 2021 as his first destination outside of Scotland. Scott has used his time in exile to put together a comedy show, which shows the inner workings of Scott’s mind. In his debut Greater Manchester Fringe 2021 show, Scott interrogates everyday experiences with a comedy twist. Scott McPherson spoke to Hannah’s Bookshelf to tell us more about his Fringe show.

Dressing Up Dietrich

Patricia’s coming out… of Marlene Dietrich’s suitcase! With the all-important wig, the songs and suits, the sequins and suspenders. Comic and poignant solo cabaret. Fast-moving – like Dietrich’s long line of lovers. She brings cross-dressing Marlene to life before your very eyes. Hear about Patricia’s adventures on tour with a legend, and some back stage secrets … And meet the woman who was way ahead of her time, bisexual icon who answered to nobody – not even Adolf Hitler! Award-winning writer and performer brings you ‘glamour, sex – and a penchant for men’s clothing …’ Yes, trailblazing Patricia and Marlene are up-and-running again! I spoke to writer and performer Patricia Harthorne about Dressing Up Dietrich.

Leaving Vietnam

Jimmy Vandenberg works in his garage in downtown Detroit, fixing the ‘old beauties’ from his youth – the Mustangs and the Thunderbirds. But Jimmy is a troubled guy as he prepares to return to Vietnam where he served more than fifty years ago. It’s as if part of him never left; so he’s going back to lay to rest the ghosts of his past. Leaving Vietnam is the new one-man show by Richard Vergette, the award-winning playwright whose previous work in Manchester includes As We Forgive Them and An Englishman’s Home. I talked to Richard to find out more about the play.

Toxic

Suicide is the biggest killer of men under 45. Toxic follows two men and the circumstances which have caused them to spiral. Andy discovers his husband has been having an affair. Stuck in a soul-crushing job, his lifejacket of love was the only thing keeping him afloat. His best friend James is a man’s man, who uses gags to disguise his vulnerability. Will the toxic culture of silence and stoicism swallow them too? Or by opening the conversation, can they escape the clutch of their demons? Their lives are not the only lives at stake. I heard from writer Dan Lovatt and director Connor Goodwin about their sold-out show.

The Palace of Earthly Delights

Following an onstage scandal, James retires from stand-up comedy, only to be offered a surprise comeback gig at a secret London location. Accepting, he finds himself plunged into a wild and sordid gathering of the British political class. It’s the toughest gig of his career and one he may not escape from with his life. Absurd political storytelling from Max Turner Prize finalist James Harris (‘assured stage presence’, TNT Comedy), perfect for those who like their comedy satirical, outrageous and just plain bizarre. An antidote to our ongoing political meltdown. Comedian James Harris talks to Hannah’s Bookshelf today about what we can expect from the show.

Recall

This immersive theatrical experience juxtaposes a party atmosphere with a dark, sombre and, at times, unsettling plot. Sophie has organized a surprise 80s party for her parents and you are invited! The party flashes back and forward in time from 1989 to the present exploring different character’s memories of what happened that night when Alex met Nick. Each flashback gives clues that unleash a terrible secret, a mystery unraveling, a night some would rather forget. If Alex and Nick are to continue their relationship they need to tackle the demons from the past. I spoke to Beccy Durham of Falling Stars Theatre to find out more.

American Wilderness Odyssey

Join three adventurers on an incredible journey, searching for the moonshine, myth and madness of the American Wilderness. An evening of stories and songs. Tales of outlaws, ghost towns, the emigrant, the doomed lover, the extraordinary lives of ordinary people, real and imagined. Written from the nitty-gritty experience of months-long treks and road trips, off the main strip, along the backwoods and byways of the southern states of America, Steve Bonham and The Long Road bring to life the songs and stories from their acclaimed American Wilderness Odyssey album and its companion book. Their music is definitely acoustic but of a powerful and stirring kind. Big melodies and great riffs abound and the stories they wrap round them are intimate and expansive, funny and moving. The Long Road consist of Steve Bonham, the Vagabond Philosopher, Kev, the ‘Big Man’ Moore and Chris ‘the Bishop’ Lydon, all desperados seeking some kind of redemption, and all joining me on Hannah’s Bookshelf to talk about American Wilderness Odyssey!

Three Way

As we move forward into what we hope is a more inclusive and embracing world, the B of LGBTQ+ is still regularly left silent, particularly when it comes to men. Three Way explores some of the many misconceptions about bisexual men, whether they really exist, whether they are as promiscuous as the internet says, and whether they can even be trusted. Three Way is a collection of three monologues, two from the point of view of bisexual men, Michael and Guy, and one from Clara, the daughter of a bisexual father. Collectively these monologues explore topics of identity, regret, shame and love across a spectrum of life experiences and ask the questions ‘is it ever too late to accept who you are’, ‘is there ever room for ethics in a relationship based on physical touch’, and ‘do we ever really forget the ones who hurt us first?’. We’ll be joined by Alexander Millington, Creative Director of Split Infinitive, to learn more.

Sour Milk

In a flat above a chippy, Mark and Ange live a life of cynicism, promiscuity, and monotony. The two queer friends seem to be an inseparable duo, but we see their friendship challenged by new relationships, envy, and miscommunication. Sour Milk is an original, heartfelt, kitchen-sink drama traversing the effects of the AIDS epidemic in 1980s Manchester. I’ll be joined on the show by Oliver Hurst of Red Brick Theatre to hear more about the play.

The Same Rain That Falls on Me

A witty and heartbreaking monologue about Alice, as she returns home on the hottest day of the year to say a difficult and untimely goodbye. One that will leave a hole in her life forever. The Same Rain That Falls on Me is a new piece of writing from new graduate theatre company Autumn Theatre. Alice is in her final year of university and is facing the impending loss of her father to cancer, set against the backdrop of the hottest day of the summer and climate protests, she returns home to be with her family in this difficult time. Same Rain deals with issues of grief, climate change, growing up, and family. I spoke to Katie Marks of Autumn Theatre to find out more.

The Formidable Lizzie Boone / Fruit Salad

Two plays by Selina HelliwellThe Formidable Lizzie Boone will pull you into her world for a night of drama, healing and dark humour. Centred around a therapists office, this one-woman show explores the intricacies of humanity through a woman who loves vodka with lemonade and a cat called Lionel. With lively voice-overs bringing to life an array of characters from soothing therapist Marie to wild child Debz, amongst others, this play is bursting with soul and humanity. And Fruit Salad, one of GMF’s Digital Events for 2021, follows Cherry and Peaches who became friends because of their unusual, fruity names; and went on to form a very close bond over the years. From their late teens until their late twenties, they meet at the same pub to catch up over cheap wine. Over the course of the play, their paths start to spiral away from each other, as they go through the challenges of university, relationship issues and one of them struggles with substance abuse and her mental health, which fractures their friendship. Fruit Salad blends heartbreaking moments with humour to create a love story of sorts about an unlikely but beautiful friendship.

Simon Says

Simon Says is brought to you from the incredible mind of Simon. Religious leader. Saviour. God. Let him show you the joy he can bring to your lives as we follow four ungrateful followers through this parable of hubris, discontent and ingratitude. After growing tired of his less than lavish lifestyle, 458 decides to rebel against Simon. Trying to convince his fellow believers to join him on his journey to liberation. However due to their respective blind loyalty, apathy and stupidity, he struggles to get everyone on the same page. On top of their dysfunction, all the good things Simon has done for them and everything Simon has saved them from, keep popping up. A comedy that blends depth and frivolity, Simon Says will make you laugh, rejoice and exclaim “I love you Simon.” I caught up with All Day Breakfast Theatre Company to find out more.

The Relatives!

Sian Parry-Williams has created her own little world of eccentric, comical and relatable characters based on her very own family members and real life experiences with them. She shares all the funny and ridiculous things her relatives say and do through the world of audio. They just could not be made up. From a little, old, North Welsh lady who has had enough of Bread of Heaven, to an uptight Reverend who must keep up appearances, and to a Mum who just tries so hard to be ‘hip n happening’ but ultimately… fails. Be transported to a world of giggles and lightheartedness that we all need right now. These characters are lovable, hilarious and most of all relatable and real. And Sian is sure they will remind you of your own relatives. Hence the title.

ConeBoy

ConeBoy is a music, spoken-word, and drama show from writer and musician Clive Parker-Sharp – ConeBoy: The Punk Rock Musical. Clive was at the forefront of the British punk movement, with such bands as Spizz Energi, Athletico Spizz 80, The Members, and a founder member of 80s rockers Big Country. He also played with Jesus and Mary Chain spinoff The Expressway, and in collaborations with art rocker Marshall Star. As an author he brings his second book, the semi-autobiographical ConeBoy, alive with collaborator Marshall Star, in a funny, poignant and cutting take on the media from the 70s to now, via the lens of a boy made famous because of his appearance. A book event like no other! We’ll hear from Marshall Star on the show to learn more about ConeBoy.

John Darwin’s Happy Hour

John Darwin’s Happy Hour is a poetic celebration of the journey from childhood to middle age. The people and places that bring happiness in between the drudgery of work, miserable mondays and unwanted obligations. From schoolboy boozing to OAPs battling on mobility scooters, via West Wales, Manchester, Istanbul and all points in between, the show is a search for love and belonging in the dullness and futility of everyday life. I caught up with poet John Darwin to find out more.

and… Subdural Hematoma

The Greater Manchester Fringe runs from 1st-30th September, so the shows will be underway by the time the Hannah’s Bookshelf Special airs. In fact, I’ll already have seen my first show of the year! As in previous years, I’m going to be reviewing GM Fringe shows for North Manchester FM throughout September. On today’s show, you can hear my first review… Eleanor May Blackburn‘s Subdural Hematoma is on at Salford Arts Theatre on Friday 3rd September at 7.30pm. Find out what I thought of it on Saturday’s show!

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:

August 27, 2021

Hic Dragones: Writing Prompts (Week 1)

Following on from my Clayton Hall-inspired writing prompts, this week I’ve been creating another series of slightly weirder 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.

August 25, 2021

North Manchester FM: Hannah’s Bookshelf, Saturday 28 August, 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 new book by Nigel Cawthorne I’ll be talking about Keir Starmer: The Unauthorised Biography by Nigel Cawthorne (out now from Gibson Square Books).

A review of a book by Chris Hall… I’ll be reviewing The Nurse Who Became a Spy: Madge Addy’s War Against Fascism (out now from Pen and Sword Books).

An interview with Jamie Ryder I first interviewed Jamie back in February 2017. He’s the author of the Tales Of The Frontier series, a horror western world of monsters and gunslingers. He also runs a collection of publications that includes The Comic Vault, Yamato Magazine and The Rum Ration. His latest novella At the Dead of Dusk is out on 24th August from Little Demon Books. And in case you’re curious, Jamie’s Apocalypse Books choices were Traitor’s Blade by Sebastien de Castell, American Gods by Neil Gaiman, and The Island of Dr Moreau by H.G. Wells.

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 of 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:

August 20, 2021

Clayton Hall: Summer Writing Prompts (Week 5)

Over the summer, I’ve been posting a series of writing prompts inspired by Clayton Hall and some of the places associated with its story. I went to Chetham’s Library, and then Boggart Hole Clough and Bailey’s Wood. This final set of prompts is inspired by Crumpsall Park.

When I posted my previous two series of writing prompts, I included a little bit of history to explain the connection between the Hall and the Park. In case you missed it, here’s a little reminder: Crumpsall Park (in North Manchester) is a remnant of the Chetham estate. Humphrey Chetham (1580-1653) was born in Crumpsall Old Hall, which stood at the Cheetham Hill end of the estate, but the family’s lands stretched over what is now Crumpsall Park (opened as a municipal park by Manchester Corporation in 1899). As an adult, Humphrey Chetham moved to Clayton Hall, where he lived for the rest of his life.

Each day this week, my park-inspired writing prompts were shared on the Friends of Crumpsall Park social media, but here they all are in one place for you.

August 18, 2021

North Manchester FM: Hannah’s Bookshelf, Saturday 21 August, 2-4pm

Join me on Saturday at 2pm for more from Hannah’s Bookshelf on North Manchester FM. This week, my guest will be the brill Anne Goodwin.

Anne writes entertaining fiction about identity, mental health and social justice. She is the author of three novels and short story collection published by small independent press, Inspired Quill. Her debut novel, Sugar and Snails, was shortlisted for the 2016 Polari First Book Prize. Her new novel, Matilda Windsor Is Coming Home, which has been featured on BBC Radio Cumbria, is inspired by her previous incarnation as a clinical psychologist in a long-stay psychiatric hospital.

I’ll be talking to Anne about Matilda Windsor Is Coming Home, and about her 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:

August 15, 2021

Surprise! A Birthday Reading List

This Saturday’s Hannah’s Bookshelf (my weekly literature show on North Manchester FM) began with a mystery theme. All the books I talked about had something in common, but I didn’t reveal what that was until then end of the show. Did you work out the theme?

As I revealed, all the writers featured on the show (and some of the musicians too) have the same birthday… and it’s my birthday too! So Happy Birthday to all of us! 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.

Television and Me: The Memoirs of John Logie Baird, ed. by Malcolm Baird (2007)

I think it might have been a result of the theme, but today’s list was very memoir-heavy. I do like to keep things eclectic on the show though, so they’re a very varied selection (in terms of both subject and style). The first autobiography I talked about on the show was one that I didn’t even know existed!

John Logie Baird – a man who is sometimes credited as the inventor of television, though also sometimes overlooked entirely – originally wrote down his memoirs in 1941. As his son (and editor) Malcolm Baird has said, these were memoirs ‘in the literal sense’ – memories. Eventually, these writings were collected together into a volume that was published in 2004, before being re-edited with footnotes and introduction and republished in 2007. Television and Me is not what I was expecting, but I mean that in a good way. It’s livelier (and grumpier) than I anticipated, and it is as much about John Logie Baird’s adventures in business as it is about the nuts and bolts (or tubes and screens) of his most successful creation. Come for the TV history, stay for the failed jam factory!

Pies and Prejudice: In Search of the North by Stuart Maconie (2007)

Although the list is quite memoir-heavy, this next one might be better described as a travel book (though it does undoubtedly have some autobiographical reflections in there). Maconie’s book is a journey around the north of England, exploring the history and culture of the various places visited, but also the identity of the people who call themselves northerners.

Pies and Prejudice considers the question of what – exactly – the ‘north’ is through a series of affectionate, humorous, occasionally grumpy, and thought-provoking chapters that travel around the north (though, it has to be said, with a bit of a bias towards the north-west). Maconie writes about the stereotypes of northerness, but also about where those stereotypes come from and the reasons why they persist. It’s an engaging and fun read, but it’s also a deep and detailed exploration of cultural history (including, of course, pop culture) and identity.

Mr Nice by Howard Marks (1996)

Back to the memoirs now… and a pretty well-known one that caused a bit of controversy when it first came out.

Howard Marks’s book is about his dramatic career as a drug dealer. He recounts his success as a smuggler, his underworld associations across multiple countries, the sheer complexity of his operations, and his eventual arrest and incarceration. Nefarious as all this, Marks tells his tale with a sort of swaggering bravado that is occasionally hard to resist. Some people have questioned whether everything in the book is true, but I’m not sure that’s the best way to approach this one. It’s all about the story, and the charisma of the storyteller. As a reader, it’s best to just go along with the ride. Like John Logie Baird’s memoirs, the drama of the events described is often totally overshadowed by the personality of the writer. (It isn’t often I get to compare John Logie Baird and Howard Marks! I guess that’s the fun of these themed shows!)

Climbing the Mango Trees: A Memoir of a Childhood in India by Madhur Jaffrey (2006)

Continuing with the memoirs now, but onto one that might make you a bit peckish! And, again, it wasn’t one that I knew about until I was putting together this show, despite having been familiar with Jaffrey’s better-known cookbooks since I was young.

Renowned food writer Madhur Jaffrey’s memoir describes her childhood in pre-Partition Delhi. In many ways, it’s a privileged and exotic upbringing – exotic both to the (assumed) British readership of the book, but also exotic in Delhi itself, as Jaffrey discusses her family’s Kayastha heritage in ways that are sometimes rather romantic. As Malcolm Baird said of his father’s writings, this is a memoir in the literal sense. Jaffrey is sharing memories of her childhood, and it should come as no surprise that a huge number of these are food memories. The tastes, smells and textures of the foods she remembers are vividly depicted throughout and, if the book really has made you peckish, Jaffrey ends by sharing over thirty of her family’s recipes for you to try yourself.

Alfred Hitchcock Presents: Stories to Be Read With the Lights On (1974)

Something a bit different now (it wasn’t all memoirs today!). Alfred Hitchcock lent his name to countless books over the years, though I’m not sure exactly how much creative input he had with them all. I knew I wanted to include Hitchcock on today’s list, because I’ve known I shared a birthday with him since I first became a fan of his. I decided to choose this particular title, because I acquired (though I can’t remember when or how) a copy of this one when I was a young teenager, shortly after I first fell in love with Psycho.

Stories to Be Read With the Lights On is an anthology of short stories, most of which have been well anthologized elsewhere. It’s not a horror collection as such, but rather ‘chillers’ (some suspense, some ghost stories and some crime). On a personal note, this collection is where, being a little bit too young for Tales of the Unexpected when it was broadcast, that I first encountered Roald Dahl’s short fiction for adults and, specifically, ‘The Landlady’, which remains a big favourite of mine to this day. I loved this collection as a teenager, so I’m intending to reread it as a result of this show to see how it’s held up. (Follow me on Twitter to see how it goes!)

To Reach the Clouds: My High Wire Walk Between the Twin Towers by Philippe Petit (2002)

And finally, another memoir full of swaggering bravado! Philippe Petit is the high-wire performer whose vertigo-inspiring tightrope walk between the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in 1974 was the subject of the 2008 documentary Man on Wire, and the dramatization The Walk (2015).

To Reach the Clouds is Petit’s own account of this unbelievable stunt, and it provided a lot of the source material for Man on Wire. It’s a story of passion, obsession, and a fair amount of self-assurance. Petit’s determination to pull off the impossible high-wire feat required years of planning, a close circle of confidantes and a lot of bottle. At times, the project almost feels like a heist, particularly in the way Petit assembles his crew and scopes out his target. Fortunately (mild spoilers), pride doesn’t come before a fall on this occasion. However, you may well be left with some lingering questions…

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