I’ve had another really great year presenting Hannah’s Bookshelf. I’ve welcomed some brill guests to the studio, as well as recording interviews with writers from further afield. I’ve also played some great original fiction and poetry, and had a bit of fun putting together reading lists for my Special Editions. This year, I’ve also tried out some new formats for the show and recorded interviews at a variety of events and venues. Below is a round-up of everything that happened this year on the show, but I’d like to say a big thanks to North Manchester FM for continuing to let me haunt their airwaves and to Rob Shedwick (aka Digital Front) for being my unofficial producer on the show.
I kicked off the new year with a Special Edition. As January 2018 marked the 200th anniversary of the publication of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, I thought it would be cool to look at some of the other books that share its birthday. My first show of the year, then, was an 1818 special, looking at a selection of the titles published that year. You can see the books I featured on the show here. And then I followed that with another – quite different – Special Edition. Inspired by a binge-watch of old Friends episodes on Netflix, I devoted a show to some of my favourite literary BFFs. There’s a list of the books featured on that show here. I finished off January with a Clips Show, and another chance to hear about some of the titles featured on my 2017 Special Editions.
Also in January, North Manchester FM were invited back to the Manchester Beer and Cider Festival, and the station broadcast live from the festival on Friday 26th January. I was one of the presenters who took part in the show, and you can hear my highlights from the festival here.
In February, I alternated between guest interviews and Special Editions. My first guest of the year – in my first transatlantic interview of 2018 – was the lovely Catherine Lundoff. Later in the month, I welcomed Art Vanguard’s Ruta Skudraite to the studio to talk about (amongst other things) the 2018 Free For Arts festival. I also did a Special Edition featuring some of my favourite books about books – and you can see the titles that made my list here – and one about my favourite literary chickens (seriously!), which was inspired by a news story about KFC running out of meat. You can see the books that made my ‘chick lit’ list here.
March began with an interview with Emma Newman, and later in the month I also spoke to the Folklore Podcast’s Mark Norman. This month, I also had a very exciting Live Poetry Special – I invited twelve (twelve!) fab poets to the studio to perform their work live. You can see the list of poets, and a little bit about their work, here.
Also in March, I did a Short Stories Special, featuring readings of ‘The Monkey’s Paw’ by W.W. Jacobs and ‘The Doll’s Ghost’ by F. Marion Crawford. And there was another chance to hear some of the titles selected for 2017’s Special Editions in my second Clips Show.
I had three excellent guests in April. I began the month with another transatlantic interview – this time with the brilliant Cat Rambo. Next up, I welcomed poet Debz Butler to the studio to talk about, amongst other things, Testify Poetry, her spoken word night in Chester. My next interview was with playwright, actress and director Tracey Norman.
I had one Special Edition show to round off the month. This time, I talked about my favourite ‘Mysterious Strangers’ in literature (you know, those enigmatic characters who turn up, usually offering a deal that seems too good to be true…). You can see which books made my list in this blog post.
May’s schedule on Hannah’s Bookshelf was Poetry! Poetry! Poetry! I welcomed back three of the poets who performed on this year’s Live Poetry Special as guests on the regular show. First up, it was John Wilmington, then I had an interview with Randall L. Horton, and then the brill Gordon Zola. As well as talking about their work, influences and performances, all my guests also read and performed poems on air. I completed this poetry-flavoured month with an interview with Sharena Lee Satti, who also read from her work on the show.
More exciting guests in June! First up, I had professional Joan Collins lookalike Barbara Angela Kealy, who came up from London to talk about her debut novel, a crime thriller set in the world of celebrity lookalikes. Next, I welcomed back Caroline England to the show (Caroline made her first Hannah’s Bookshelf appearance back in October 2017. There was some extra bonus content in this show as well, as I played interviews with the amazing Yrsa Daley-Ward and with Salford Arts Theatre, who talked about their upcoming production of Hobson’s Choice. My next guest in June was the lovely Ruth Estevez, who came along to talk about her new novel Jiddy Vardy, and then I welcomed debut novelist Catherine Burns to talk about her novel The Visitors.
My final show in June was perhaps one of my most ambitious of the year. I interviewed the writers, directors, actors, composers and producers of twelve (twelve!) shows being staged as part of the 2018 Greater Manchester Fringe. I had a brilliant time meeting such a variety of creative types involved with this year’s festival, and you can see details of the shows I featured on the show in this blog post.
And so, to July, and as I’d done so many interesting interviews for Hannah’s Bookshelf and A Helping of History (my other show on North Manchester FM), I thought it would be good to have an Interview Catch-Up show to give them a second airing. I followed this up with an awesome transatlantic interview with Wilnona and Jade, the And I Thought Ladies.
Next up was another multi-guest show, as I reported on this year’s Portico Sadie Massey Prize for Young Readers and Writers. I was joined in the studio by Paul Morris, one of the judges this year, and I also played interviews with judges, organizers, guests and (most importantly) prize-winners, which I recorded at the awards evening. As a bit of bonus content, this show also featured an interview with the lovely Gill Sims, recorded during the launch tour for her latest book, Why Mummy Swears. Finally, I wrapped up July with a Special Edition – this time it was my literary Seven Deadly Sins, and you can see a list of the books featured on the show here.
A Special Edition kicked off August’s schedule. This time, it was a literary nostalgia show, as I ran through my top picks of books published in 1973. You can see the books I chose in this blog post. Later in the month, I had another Special Edition, and for the first time (ever!) I actually did one of things I promise in the show’s trailer… I reviewed my Recent Reads!
Also in August, I welcomed the wonderful Melvin Burgess and talked to him about his latest book, The Lost Witch. And I reported on this year’s International Gothic Association Conference and Gothic Manchester Festival, which were held at Manchester Metropolitan University this month. This show featured interviews with speakers, organizers, artists, performers and authors involved in both the academic conference and the Gothic festival.
My birthday is in August, and it turns out I share a birthday month with a few other presenters at the station. This year, I decided all us Leos should get together and take over the station for a couple of hours – and we called our little show Lion Club. I really enjoyed this, as it was great fun doing a show with presenters that I don’t normally work with. Plus, we had a cake.
Two Special Editions and three great guests in September. I began the month with a show about my favourite literary robots – you can see the titles that made my list in this blog post. Later in the month, I got all seasonal with a show dedicated to my favourite books set in autumn. The list of books featured on that show can be found here.
September also saw me welcome the brilliant Marc Nash to the studio, not long after his book Three Dreams in the Key of G was nominated for this year’s Not the Booker Prize. I also interviewed local author N.J. Cartner (though how he found time to speak to me with the incredible schedule of readings and events he’s done this year is beyond me!), and I welcomed back another of the poets from my Live Poetry Special, Hilary Walker.
October began with an interview with poets Helen Darby and Emily Oldfield, who perform together as Give ’Em Hell. Continuing the poetry theme, I then welcomed Paul Robert Mullen to the studio to talk about his latest collection. My next guest was one of the artists I interviewed back in June for my GM Fringe Special – Rosa Wright, and it was great to have chance to talk to her in more detail about her work.
The month ended – as is now tradition – with my Halloween Special. As well as telling a few creepy stories of my own (including a bizarre little ad-libbed tale about bingo), I played the shortlist of this year’s 3 Minute Scares competition and announced the winner: the title of Greater Manchester’s Spookiest Wordsmith was awarded to Keri Moriarty this year. As usual, I presented the show in fancy dress.
And if you would like to hear my own attempt at a bit of spooky flash fiction, here’s ‘Corporation Pop’, the story I wrote for this year’s Halloween Special.
Another artist from my GM Fringe Special returned to the show in November. This time it was Bury-based writer, actor and director Lewis Charlesworth. It was really fun talking to Lewis about his work, and hearing about the new work that’s in the pipeline. Next up, I had a couple of horror writers… I spoke to Colin Robertson (aka MKN Spiers), and then I welcome Rachel Halsall (one of the runners-up in this year’s 3 Minute Scares competition) to the studio.
December started off with an interview with 1 coolpoet (aka Rebecca Riley), who talked about her work and also performed a couple of pieces (including a recording of ‘Why?’, recently set to music by musicians Morrisey and Marshall. My final interview of the year was with Daniel James, who talked to me about his debut novel The Unauthorised Biography of Ezra Maas.
And then it was the festive season… My Pre-Christmas Christmas Special this year featured a classic Christmas ghost story, followed by this year’s 3 Minute Santas festive flash fiction submissions. And then it was time for my (slightly earlier than usual) Christmas Special – I talked about the six books that have made my festive reading list this year. You can see the books that made this year’s list here.
There’s just one show left this year, and I hope you’ll tune in…
Coming up at 2pm on Saturday 29th December, I’m doing my end-of-year show. Tune in for some of my personal highlights, including a selection of the books saved in The Library at the End of Days. As always, you can listen on 106.6FM (if you’re in the North Manchester area) or listen online (if you’re further afield).
Happy New Year!