Hannah Kate

poet, short story writer and editor based in Manchester

June 9, 2021

North Manchester FM: Hannah’s Bookshelf, Saturday 12 June, 2-4pm

Tune in this Saturday at 2pm for more from Hannah’s Bookshelf on North Manchester FM. This week, I’ll be talking to the fab Bonnie Meekums.

Bonnie’s debut novel, A Kind of Family, was published by the USA-based independent publisher Between the Lines Publishing in January 2020, to 5* reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. Her words have also been published online by Reflex Press, the Poetry Health Service, and Open Page Literary Journal. She was longlisted for the Reflex Press summer 2020 flash fiction competition, and shortlisted for the 2020 King Lear Chairman’s Prize. So far in 2021, Bonnie has been nominated by Reflex Press for the Best Short Fictions Anthology.

As a working-class girl in 1950s London, libraries gave Bonnie access to stories when there were few books in the household, but her dad made up bedtime stories for her and her sister, described in her short creative memoir The Story Hunter (Dear Damsels, 2019). Bonnie and her sister have co-authored a book-length memoir about working-class childhood in south-East London, Remnants of War, which was self-published in April. She also writes a blog entitled Ramblings.

I’ll be talking to Bonnie about her novel and her memoirs, and about writing and storytelling 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:

June 2, 2021

North Manchester FM: Hannah’s Bookshelf, Saturday 5 June, 2-4pm

Join me on Saturday at 2pm on North Manchester FM for a Festival of Libraries Special Edition of Hannah’s Bookshelf. I’m going to be finding out more about this exciting (and unique) festival, which is taking place this month.

The Manchester City of Literature inaugural Festival of Libraries takes place across Greater Manchester from Wednesday 9th-Sunday 13th June. The packed programme of events includes in-person, virtual and outdoor events for all ages, as well as talks, interviews, tours, creative projects and activities at both local libraries across GM and Manchester’s heritage libraries. You can see the full programme of events on the Manchester City of Literature website.

On Saturday’s show, I’ll be talking to some of the many (many!) people involved in the festival. I’ll be chatting to Ivan Wadeson, Executive Director of Manchester City of Literature, and taking a trip to Chetham’s Library, the oldest public library in the English-speaking world, to speak with librarian Fergus Wilde. I’ll also be joined by some of the artists and writers who are taking part in various events for the festival, including Mike Garry, Rosie Garland, Charlotte Wetton, Lydia Hounat, Anjum Malik, Ruth Yates, Michelle Collier, Ella Otomewo and James Holt.

It’s going to be a library-tastic show, with lots of info on the history of Manchester’s libraries, but also some thought-provoking ideas about the future.

Tune in 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:

May 26, 2021

North Manchester FM: Hannah’s Bookshelf, Saturday 29 May, 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 Christopher Mooney I’ll be reviewing Whisky for Breakfast, the debut short story collection from Christopher Mooney (out now from Bridge House Publishing).

An interview with Caroline Kelly about the upcoming Festival of Libraries Caroline Kelly is the Creative Producer of Manchester City of Literature‘s Festival of Libraries, taking place across Greater Manchester on 9th-13th June this year. I’ll be talking to Caroline about what’s coming up at the festival and finding out more about this project.

A review of a history book by Stephen Carver I’ll be talking about The Author Who Outsold Dickens: The Life and Work of W.H. Ainsworth (out now from Pen and Sword Press).

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:

May 19, 2021

North Manchester FM: Hannah’s Bookshelf, Saturday 22 May, 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 lovely Ian Taylor to the virtual studio.

Ian dabbled in horror fiction in the early 90s before writing for and editing music fanzines. He later adjudicated theatre productions for the Greater Manchester Drama Federation but enjoys film analysis most. Over the last five years he has become a regular writer and editorial team member of the We Belong Dead magazine and contributed to all of their book releases. This has led to writing from Dez Skinn’s Halls of Horror, Allan Bryce’s Dark Side and Hemlock’s Fantastic Fifties, amongst others. He is now getting back into horror fiction with stories featuring in Volumes 3, 4 and 5 of the BHF Book of Horror Stories.

All Sorts of Things Might Happen: The Films of Jenny Agutter is his first solo book, published by We Belong Dead, and will be followed by a book on Robert Shaw at some point in the not too distant future.

I’ll be talking to Ian about All Sorts of Things Might Happen, and about horror writing more generally. 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:

May 13, 2021

OUT NOW: The Fourth BHF Book of Horror Stories, ed. by Darrell Buxton (BHF Book of Horror Stories, 2021)

A new collection of short stories inspired by British horror films, including ‘Delivery’ by yours truly…

The moon is full… the witching hour approaches… time to devour sacrificial offerings anew!

Drug-induced paranoia brings familiar television figures to sinister life…

Something nasty dwells beneath the floorboards of a country cottage, awaiting the new tenants…

An unexpected postal delivery leads to the uncovering of an ancient vampire’s legacy…

Strange surgical practces are employed to remove a deadly tumour – with post-op consequences…

Over thirty new tales of terror emerge from the tomb! The weird world of British horror cinema inspires this latest collection of distrubing fiction, putting fresh spins on a cornucopia of chilling characters last glimpsed through the haze of late night television or encountered at menacing midnight movie marathons. Dare you venture beyond the silver screen, into a nightmarish new dimension bringing all your frightening favourites to the printed page? Be brave, be bold… or be buried!

Contents:

Night Thoughts by Sam Dawson
Carrion Screaming by Samantha Jayne Crosby
Hard Core by Darrell Buxton
Starr Student by Ken Shinn
The Night Bus by Franklin Marsh
Protein by Tony Earnshaw

The Phoenix for the Flame by Ken Shinn
Vultura is Dead… and Well and Living in London by Simon J. Ballard
Paging Doctor Death by Ian Taylor
Tea with Mrs Hindley by Jez Connolly
Good Boy by Adam J. Marsh
By Dawn’s Early Light by Tony Earnshaw
Delivery by Hannah Kate
Gentry in the Country by Sam Dawson
The Little Red-Haired Girl by Ken Shinn
The Endless Depths Above Us by Paul Newman
The Making of Lord Courtley by Simon J. Ballard
The Making of Johnny Alucard by Simon J. Ballard
Frankenstein’s Tortoise by Wayne Mook
Calhoun Despairs by Martin Parsons
Glad It’s All Over by Ken Shinn
Tansy’s Poppets by Selene Paxton-Brooks
The Interview by Jason D. Brawn
Luxuriate Effervescently by Darrell Buxton
Just a Click and the Agony by James Stanger
A Bloody Nuisance by Ken Shinn
A Voodoo Favour by Ian Taylor
Telling Stories by Lawrence Gordon Clark

Proceeds from the sale of this book will be donated to Angelman UK. For more information, or to buy a copy, please visit the book’s webpage.

May 12, 2021

North Manchester FM: Hannah’s Bookshelf, Saturday 15 May, 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 brill Barrie Condon.

Barrie Condon writes darkly comic thrillers as well as non-fiction. His latest book, The Tethered God, is published by Sparsile Books. Following graduation, and fed up with school in any form, Barrie ran away to sea, his shipping line taking him to some of the choicer trouble spots around the world. This included South Africa at the height of apartheid and Chile just after the violent coup that brought General Pinochet to power. Rich in experience though the seafaring life was, he began to harbour doubts about his long-term prospects after a hurricane in the Atlantic and a major fire on board ship off the coast of Panama. Nursing an ambition to live until the age of forty, he therefore came ashore and eventually became a professor of clinical physics.

Barrie has been a member of the Glasgow Science Fiction Writers Circle for over thirty years and has had novels and short stories published under his pseudonym Fergus Bannon. Now that he’s retired, he doesn’t care what people at work think of a supposedly august scientist writing risqué thrillers, so nowadays he has the courage to publish under his own name. He lives in Glasgow with his wife and two daughters. He travels extensively and, now that he’s had his vaccination, he aspires to return to that and to the pub.

I’ll be talking to Barrie about The Tethered God, his non-fiction works, and about 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:

May 5, 2021

North Manchester FM: Hannah’s Bookshelf, Saturday 8 May, 2-4pm

Join me this Saturday at 2pm for more Hannah’s Bookshelf on North Manchester FM. This week, I’ll be joined in the virtual studio by the fantastic Jo Weston.

Jo is a poet, writer and proofreader. She has read for The Nasiona and been the first Writer-in-Residence at the Maggie’s Centre in Nottingham. Jo’s work has been short and longlisted by the Bridport Prize and Mslexia, and in 2019 she was selected in the erbacce-prize to be one of their Featured Poets. Her work has been published by Left Lion, Fortunate Traveller and erbacce-press; in seven anthologies (2 of which she co-edited); and in a festival guide. Jo’s writing has been broadcast on BBC local radio and streamed as part of the Nottingham Poetry Festival.

Jo’s debut poetry pamphlet – How Not to Multitask – will be published by Wild Pressed Books in May 2021.

I’ll be talking to Jo about her poetry pamphlet, and 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:

April 28, 2021

North Manchester FM: Hannah’s Bookshelf, Saturday 1 May, 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 Kim Bannerman I first interviewed Kim back in November 2016. Kim writes novels, short stories, podcasts and screenplays from her home in Cumberland, BC. Her work has appeared in anthologies like She’s Shameless (Tightrope Books, 2009), Girl at the End of the World (FoxSpirit Press, 2014), In the Company of Animals (Nimbus Press, 2014), and When Birds Are Near (Cornell University Press, 2020). She is also the author of nine novels, including the modern fairytale The Tattooed Wolf (Hic Dragones Press) and The Blackwood Papers (FoxSpirit Press). And in case you’re curious, Kim’s Apocalypse Books selections were Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson, Monkey Beach by Eden Robinson, and A Pattern Language by Christopher Alexander, Sara Ishikawa and Murray Silverstein.

A review of a book by Ian Taylor I’ll be talking about All Sorts of Things Might Happen: The Films of Jenny Agutter, a new book by Ian Taylor (available now from We Belong Dead).

A review of Godzilla vs. Kong I’ll be reviewing the monster movie everyone’s talking about (available to watch now).

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:

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).

Missed this week’s show? You can catch it again here:

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: