Hannah Kate

poet, short story writer and editor based in Manchester

August 20, 2018

North Manchester FM: Hannah’s Bookshelf, Saturday 25 August, 2-4pm

Join me on Saturday at 2pm on North Manchester FM for more from Hannah’s Bookshelf. This week, I’ll be doing something I’ve been promising to do on my trailer for ages… I’ll be reviewing my most recent reads.

Throughout 2018, I’ve been keeping track of the novels I’ve read for pleasure, writing short reviews each month. I thought I’d run down the novels read last month on the show (since I’ve been promising!) to give you an idea of the sort of things I’ve been reading. Unlike my themed reading list shows, I won’t be posting a list of the featured books on this site – because I’ve already posted a list on my other blog!

Tune in to find out more about the books I enjoyed in July (and a couple that I didn’t!). And sorry it took so long for me to keep my promise!

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 listen again here:

August 20, 2018

North Manchester FM: A Helping of History, Tuesday 21 August, 12-2pm

Tune in to North Manchester FM on Tuesday at 12 for another Helping of History. This week, I present a North Manchester Miscellany.

So often on the show, I talk about the ‘big’ stories – the well-known families, companies and buildings that helped to shape the place we live. On Tuesday’s show, I’m going to be looking at some of the ‘little’ stories – the odd events, tragedies and surprises that had an impact on people’s everyday lives, and the people who don’t normally get a mention in the history books. There’ll be illegal steam whistles, rabies, and disappearing children (I’ll try to keep it light – I promise!), and stories from Blackley, Crumpsall and Moston.

As well as this, I’ll be taking my usual look through Yesterday’s Papers. And you can pit your wits against the Who Am I? quiz – just how well do you know North Manchester’s landmark buildings?

Catch the show on Tuesday at 12 on 106.6FM (if you’re in the North Manchester area) or listen online (if you’re further afield).

Missed the show? You can listen again here:

August 12, 2018

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

Tune in on Saturday 2pm for another Hannah’s Bookshelf on North Manchester FM. This week, I’m going to be sharing a series of interviews I recorded at the International Gothic Association Conference and Gothic Manchester Festival at the beginning of the month.

The IGA promotes the study and dissemination of information on Gothic culture from the mid-eighteenth century to the present day, bringing together scholars, students, artists, writers and performers from around the world who are interested in any aspect of Gothic culture. The IGA holds an international conference every two years – and 2018 saw the conference hosted by Manchester Metropolitan University’s Centre for Gothic Studies (from 31st July to 3rd August). To coincide with this, MMU also hosted a (slightly earlier than usual) Gothic Manchester Festival (from 1st to 5th August), featuring art, music, literature and performance events – all with a rather dark flavour.

During the course of the conference and festival, I caught up with organizers, delegates, performers and writers to talk about the events (including a couple of previous Hannah’s Bookshelf guests!), and to find out a little bit more about what makes Manchester so dark.

You can hear all about this year’s IGA conference and Gothic Manchester Festival 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 11, 2018

North Manchester FM: A Helping of History, Tuesday 14 August, 12-2pm

Join me on Tuesday at 12 for another Helping of History on North Manchester FM. This week, I’m going to be talking about Newton Heath firm Heenan & Froude – and about their most famous (very iconic) creation.

Heenan & Froude was an engineering company, founded by Richard Froude and Hammerley Heenan. Using patents inherited from William Froude, the company was involved in many late-Victorian engineering projects, from bridge girders to steerable torpedos. But there’s one project in particular that stands out – and which most people don’t know was created in Newton Heath. Find out all about it on Tuesday’s show!

As well as this, I’ll be taking my regular look through Yesterday’s Papers. And you can pit your wits against the Who Am I? quiz – just how well do you know North Manchester’s iconic buildings?

Catch the show on Tuesday at 12 on 106.6FM (if you’re in the North Manchester area) or listen online (if you’re further afield).

Missed the show? You can listen again here:

August 8, 2018

North Manchester FM: Hannah’s Bookshelf, Saturday 11 August, 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 wonderful Melvin Burgess.

Writer of acclaimed and often controversial children’s fiction, Melvin was born in Middlesex and grew up in Sussex, before moving to Berkshire at the age of twelve. After leaving school with two A-Levels in Biology and English, he enrolled on a six-month journalism course. He moved to Bristol at the age of 21, and began writing, between periods of work and unemployment. He continued writing after he moved to London in 1983, experimenting with short stories, radio plays and children’s fiction. His first published book, The Cry of the Wolf (1990), was shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal. It was for his controversial teenage novel, Junk (1996), that he gained wider recognition. Winner of the Carnegie Medal and the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize, it is an honest and disturbing account of teenage homelessness and heroin addiction on the streets of Bristol, and has been adapted for television. In 2007, it was shortlisted for the Carnegie of Carnegies. Bloodtide (1999) was joint winner of the Lancashire County Library Children’s Book of the Year Award. His comedy Lady: My Life as a Bitch (2001), also received a great deal of publicity for its frank exploration of the sexual behaviour of a teenage girl. Also in 2001, his novelisation of the film Billy Elliot was published, based on Lee Hall’s screenplay.

His controversial teenage novel, Doing It, was published in 2003 and won the LA Times Book Prize for Young Adult Literature in 2004, and Sara’s Face in 2006. His latest books are The Hit (2013), e-book Krispy Whispers (2013), Hunger (2014) and The Lost Witch (2018).

It’s a real pleasure to be welcoming Melvin to Hannah’s Bookshelf. We’ll be chatting about The Lost Witch, and about his writing career in general (as much as we can fit in on a two-hour show!). And, of course, Melvin will 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:

August 7, 2018

North Manchester FM: Lion Club, Wednesday 8 August, 2-4pm

A bit of exciting bonus radio content from me this week…

As there are a few presenters on North Manchester FM with birthdays coming up (including yours truly!), we’re have a special Leo-themed on air birthday party! Expect a bit of music, a bit of chat, and a bit of talk about our favourite celebrity Leos. Tune in and join in our birthday celebrations!

You can catch the North Manchester FM Lion Club Special on Wednesday 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 6, 2018

North Manchester FM: A Helping of History, Tuesday 7 August, 12-2pm

Join me on Tuesday at 12 for another Helping of History on North Manchester FM. This week, I’ll be welcoming Ann Siburuth to the studio to talk about her research into the Polish Resettlement Camps in North Manchester.

At the end of World War II, many thousands of members of the Polish armed forces found themselves unable to return to Poland. Having fought with the allies in the West, many soldiers faced persecution (and possible arrest) by the Soviet communist government ruling their homeland. Many of these men and women were loyal to the exiled Polish government, or were opposed to communism. The British government set up military holding units for these personnel, designed to ease transition from military to civilian life (whether than be settlement in Britain, as many people did, or a return to Poland). There were camps across the UK, including in Manchester.

While researching her family history, Ann came across mention of camps in Moston and Crumpsall. She has been researching these bases, shedding light on an interesting chapter in North Manchester history. I’ll be hearing all about what she has uncovered so far on the show.

If you have any information or photographs of the Resettlement Camps, Ann would love to hear from you. You can get in touch with her through her website, or via me.

As well as this, I’ll be taking my usual look through Yesterday’s Papers. And you can pit your wits against the Who Am I? quiz – just how well do you know North Manchester’s iconic buildings.

Catch the show on Tuesday at 12 on 106.6FM (if you’re in the North Manchester area) or listen online (if you’re further afield).

Missed the show? You can listen again here:

August 4, 2018

Literary Nostalgia: Back to 1973!

So this week’s Hannah’s Bookshelf on North Manchester FM was dedicated to books published in 1973. I picked this week’s theme as it’s the year my husband was born. You can listen to the show on the player at the end of this post, but here, as promised, are the details of some of the other things born in 1973…

Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut

Breakfast of Champions was Vonnegut’s seventh novel, and the next to be published after Slaughterhouse Five. The book is set in the fictional town of Midland City, Indiana, and its main characters are Dwayne Hoover, a successful Pontiac dealer, and Kilgore Trout, a science fiction writer. The book alternates between focus on these two characters, though sections also bring other characters into the spotlight (for instance, Hoover’s son and Wayne Hoobler, a black resident of Midland City). Hoover is growing increasingly unstable, and when Trout travels to Midland City for an arts festival, the car dealer demands that the writer sends him a message.

Breakfast of Champions is written in Vonnegut’s characteristic style, with simple syntax and sentence structure. It’s achronological, switching back and forth between both times and perspectives, and it’s both metafictional and intertextual. Like much of Vonnegut’s writing, it deals with themes of free will and mental illness, as well as critiques of economic and racial inequality. The novel was adapted into a film in 1999, which starred Bruce Willis (as Dwayne Hoover), Albert Finney (as Kilgore Trout) and Omar Epps (as Wayne Hoobler).

Postern of Fate by Agatha Christie

Postern of Fate was the last novel written by Agatha Christie – though not the last of her novels to be published, as it was followed by two titles written in the 1940s but held back until the 70s – and it is the final outing for her intrepid investigative duo Tommy and Tuppence.

Tommy and Tuppence are unusual amongst Agatha Christie’s recurring characters, as they age at a ‘real world’ rate as their story progresses over five novels (unlike Hercule Poirot, who by rights should be about 128 by his final outing). By Postern of Fate, Tommy and Tuppence are pensioners, drawn back into one last mystery when they discover a cryptic note hidden in a book left in their new house. It’s quite hard to describe any more of the plot of Postern of Fate, as it’s quite an unusual book (and not one of Christie’s most popular). It’s more of an experience than a story, and it’s not surprising that it remains one of the few Christie novels to be unadapted.

Tommy and Tuppence’s adventures see them chasing various rumours about the mysterious ‘Mary Jordan’ (who was, according to the note, murdered at some point in the past), using Tommy’s old government contacts and Tuppence’s wilful ability to launch into full-on detection. Postern of Fate wasn’t edited before publication, so it meanders through a series of vignettes that are sometimes disconnected or contradictory, and its chronology is somewhat wonky. The book is also peppered with echoes, mentions and repetitions of details from other Christie novels and from her autobiography. It’s sort of like a dream you might have if you fell asleep after binge-reading Agatha Christie, and for that reason I’m really rather fond of Postern of Fate.

Carrie’s War by Nina Bawden

Bawden’s classic children’s novel tells the story of Carrie and Nick Willow, two children evacuated to a Welsh mining town during WWII. The siblings are sent to stay with a grumpy and bullying shopkeeper called Mr Evans, and his kindly sister who the name ‘Auntie Lou’. They befriend another evacuee – Albert Sandwich – who is staying at a house called Druid’s Bottom with Mr Evans’s sister Dilys Gotobed, her cousin Johnny and her housekeeper Hepzibah Green. Hepzibah tells the children stories about a curse that lies of Druid’s Bottom, and Carrie attempts to get to know Mr Evans better (believing that there is more to him than his intimidating exterior). The novel is framed by a ‘present day’ narrative, in which an older Carrie, now a widow, returns to the village and tells her children about her wartime experiences.

Bawden’s novel has remained popular since its publication, winning the Phoenix Award in 1993. It has been adapted for the BBC twice. The 1974 adaptation had Juliet Waley as Carrie and Rosalie Crutchley as Hepzibah. The 2004 version had Keeley Fawcett as Carrie, Alun Armstrong as Mr Evans and Pauline Quirke as Hepzibah.

Rubyfruit Jungle by Rita Mae Brown

Brown’s lesbian coming-of-age novel is pretty iconic. However, I must confess to first hearing about it through Willy Russell’s play Educating Rita (in which the protagonist ‘Rita’ – real name Susan – names herself after Brown due to a love of Rubyfruit Jungle).

Rubyfruit Jungle is the story of Molly Bolt, the adopted daughter of a poor family, and her various sexual adventures. Considered ‘shocking’ by some for its explicit content, and ‘disappointing’ by other because of its somewhat flawed protagonist, the book is groundbreaking for precisely these reasons. Molly is a brash, egotistic young woman who actually enjoys her sexuality and takes pride in her sexual conquests. She becomes aware of her lesbianism at a young age, and has a number of sexual encounters with friends at high school (including the head cheerleader). Molly is remarkably beautiful, academically talented, and irresistible to women (and, as we discover, some men). However, her adventurous life is clouded by a poor relationship with her mother – and some rather dubious interpretations of other mother/daughter relationships.

While Rubyfruit Jungle is rather dated now – and there are elements that are at odds with modern ideas of gender and sexuality – Brown’s novel is still a very significant book, with an important place in the history of lesbian fiction.

I Know What You Did Last Summer by Lois Duncan

And now a book that many people don’t know exists… did you know the 1997 slasher pic I Know What You Did Last Summer was an adaptation of a YA novel from 1973? Well… now you do!

Duncan’s novel is a suspense thriller (not a horror novel, as you may have been expecting). When high school senior Julie James receives an anonymous note reading ‘I know what you did last summer’, she is forced to revisit a secret she and her friends had hoped was buried for good. The previous year, Julie, her boyfriend Ray, Ray’s best friend Barry and Barry’s girlfriend Helen ran over and killed a young boy called David Gregg. They made a pact never to tell anyone what happened. But someone obviously knows…

As the tension mounts – Helen finds a picture of a boy riding a bike stuck to her door, Ray gets a newspaper clipping about David Gregg through the post – it’s clear that someone wants the foursome to pay for their crime. But who knows their secret?

Duncan’s novel was adapted for the big screen in 1997, when it was transformed into a gory slasher film starring Jennifer Love Hewitt, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Ryan Phillippe and Freddie Prinze Jr. The original novel was more of a creepy thriller (with fewer hook-handed psychos and more slow-burn paranoia), but personally I love both versions.

Let Sleeping Vets Lie by James Herriot

The final book featured on today’s show was the third of James Herriot’s semi-autobiographical novels based on his experiences as a vet at a rural practice in Yorkshire.

Herriot – real name James Alfred Wight – spent most of his working life as a vet in Thirsk, but he is best known for his series of comic and heart-warming novels about animals and their owners, which were (sometimes loosely) based on the cases he encountered in his practice. Herriot’s first novel, If Only They Could Talk, was published in 1970, and introduced the fictional village of Darrowby, Herriot’s narrator persona, Siegfried Farnon (his boss) and Tristan (Siegfried’s charming younger brother). In Let Sleeping Vets Lie, Herriot continued with the template set by the first two novels, mixing animal tales with stories of the unpredictable Siegfried and James’s burgeoning relationship with Helen (a fictionalized version of Herriot’s wife Joan).

Herriot’s novels were considered too short for standalone publication in the US, and so they were published as omnibuses (beginning with All Creatures Great and Small and All Things Bright and Beautiful). A film adaptation of Herriot’s first two novels, named All Creatures Great and Small, was made in 1975, and starred Simon Ward and Anthony Hopkins. But the stories are probably best known from the BBC TV adaptation of 1978-80 and 1988-90 (also called All Creatures Great and Small), which starred Christopher Timothy as James, Robert Hardy as Siegfried and Peter Davison as Tristan.

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

July 29, 2018

North Manchester FM: A Helping of History, Tuesday 31 July, 12-2pm

Tune in to North Manchester FM on Tuesday at 12 for another Helping of History. This week, I’ll be getting all the ‘buzz’ from Clayton Hall.

As part of the Bee in the City public art installation across Manchester, the historic Clayton Hall is welcoming Polly-do-you-remember, a bee sculpture designed by Caroline Greyling and sponsored by Age Friendly Manchester. I will be talking to Kay Symcox about Polly’s design and significance to the hall, and she’ll be giving me a tour of some of the local history and nostalgia displays on show at the Clayton Hall Living History Museum.

As always, I’ll also be taking a look through Yesterday’s Papers. And you can pit your wits against the Who Am I? quiz – just how well do you know North Manchester’s landmark buildings?

Catch the show on Tuesday at 12 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:

July 29, 2018

My Seven Deadly Sins Reading List

On Saturday’s Hannah’s Bookshelf on North Manchester FM, I took a little literary trip through the Seven Deadly Sins. I chose one book for each sin – something that gives a good example for each one (though, it should be said, not all these ‘sins’ are condemned in the books I chose – far from it!). You can catch the show again on the player below, but – as promised – here are the details of all the titles featured on my Seven Deadly Sins Special.

The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett (1930)

Hammett’s 1930 hardboiled detective novel about Sam Spade, Brigid O’Shaughnessy and the hunt for the eponymous black bird is now probably better known through the 1941 film adaptation starring Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor, Sydney Greenstreet and Peter Lorre. But it seemed like a pretty good example of book about avarice (given that most of the characters are purely and simply motivated by a desire for material possessions).

Sam Spade is a cynical detective, who works with his partner Miles Archer. When a woman calling herself ‘Mrs Wonderly’ comes in to the office and asks for help tracking down the man who has run off with her sister, Spade (and Archer, for a short time) are drawn into the duplicitous web of the Maltese Falcon, a valuable gold and jewel artefact worth an unspecified, but very high, amount. Spade has to keep his head in a world of lying, cheating – and sometimes seductive – bad guys and gals, and he has to try to resist the lure of wealth over law and order.

While the 1941 film is the best known adaptation, Hammett’s novel was made into two earlier films. A 1931 pre-Code adaptation starred Ricardo Cortez and Bebe Daniels, and the 1936 comedic adaptation (entitled Satan Met a Lady) starred Bette Davis and Warren William.

Billy Bunter of Greyfriars School by Frank Richards (1947)

What better example of literary gluttony than a character who is near synonymous with greediness? Billy Bunter is a fictional schoolboy created by Frank Richards (a pseudonym of Charles Hamilton) for his Greyfriars School series, which ran in The Magnet from 1908-1940. Originally created as a minor comic character, Billy Bunter soon became the central character (and is undoubtedly the best remembered), and he appeared in 1670 of Hamilton’s 1683 Greyfriars stories.

Bunter is a greedy character – that’s probably his most famous characteristic – but he’s also lazy, self-important, conceited and deceitful. Throughout the series, he’s frequently seen on the cadge (promising his peers that’s he’s due a postal order from a relative… which never appears), and he’s particularly fond of cakes and sweets (often pilfered from his classmates). After the short stories came to an end, Hamilton (after a bit of a copyright battle) gained the rights to collect the stories into a series of novels, beginning with Billy Bunter of Greyfriars School, which were published between 1947-1965. The stories have been adapted several times, most notably in a BBC TV series starring Gerald Campion, which ran from 1952-1961.

The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway (1952)

Hemingway’s short novel features Spanish-born Cuban fisherman Santiago, and his proud fight to defend his reputation, affirm his identity, and reel in a giant marlin. The book won the Pulitzer Prize in 1953, and contibuted to Hemingway being awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1954.

I’ve chosen this book as a classic example of the sin of pride, as it presents a man who embodies both the positive and negative aspects of the emotion. At the beginning of the novel, Santiago has failed to catch a fish for 84 days. He has gained a reputation as unlucky (salao), and his young assistant Manolin has been banned from working with him. On the one hand, Santiago’s pride refuses to allow him to accept these slurs, and his story can be read as a man’s courageous battle to reaffirm his identity (and his masculinity). On the other, Santiago’s refusal to accept the reality of his situation leads him to undertake a dangerous fool’s mission. Is he valiant? or is his hubris blinding him to folly? Critical readings of the book differ on their interpretation of Santiago’s battle with his ‘brother’ marlin. But perhaps the two meaning of pride aren’t as antithetical as they at first seem.

Sad Cypress by Agatha Christie (1940)

Of course, there would be a bit of Golden Age detective fiction on my list, wouldn’t there? Sad Cypress is a Hercule Poirot novel, and it features jealousy and its effects so prominently that I thought it was a good example to include for this sin.

The novel is a bit unusual for a Poirot story, as it’s (at least in part) a courtroom drama. It also eschews Christie’s standard meticulous clues and ingenious puzzles for a really strong focus on characterization and the effects of envy. The novel introduces us to Elinor Carlisle, who is engaged to Roddy Welman, and who is warned that ‘someone’ is sucking up to her aunt Laura Welman in the hope of gaining an inheritance. Elinor quickly discovers that young Mary Gerrard, the lodgekeeper’s daughter, is the subject of the warning – and then, in quick succession, Laura Welman dies, Roddy leaves Elinor for Mary, and Mary herself is poisoned. Elinor is arrested for the murder, and Dr Lord (a family friend) calls in Hercule Poirot to try and clear her name. But Elinor’s jealousy of Mary is palpable throughout – was it strong enough to lead to murder? Just how dangerous is the green-eyed monster?

Like all Christie’s Poirot novels, Sad Cypress was adapted as part of the ITV series starring David Suchet. The adaptation had Elisabeth Dermot-Walsh as Elinor and Rupert Penry-Jones as Roddy.

Bartleby, the Scrivener by Herman Melville (1853)

The next choice is a short story, and it’s perhaps debatable how much it contains an example of sloth. But it’s certainly a story about someone who chooses to do nothing rather than something – so I think it counts.

Melville’s story was originally published (anonymously) in Putnam’s Magazine. It’s narrated by an unnamed lawyer in Manhattan, who employs the eponymous Bartleby as a scrivener in his firm – joining his other two scriveners, Nippers and Turkey. While Bartleby begins as a hard worker, he one day simply refuses to proofread a document, saying only ‘I prefer not to’. As time goes on, Bartleby does less and less – eventually spending most of his days staring out of a window at a brick wall. The narrator dispairs of his formerly industrious scrivener, and determines to find a way to break him out of his inertia or jettison his forlorn employee. Without giving too many spoilers, it doesn’t end well for poor Bartleby. But is his condition caused by sloth and idleness? or rebellion against a system that has crushed him? or is it both? One of the reasons why I’ve chosen this story is because it so clearly illustrates how difficult true slothfulness can be. It takes an incredible effort of will to do nothing.

Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters (1998)

Okay, so lust was a difficult one to choose. I hovered between choosing an example of contemporary erotic fiction, and choosing a classic literary fiction exploring sexuality and sexual relations. The first was tricky – how would I choose just one example from so many genre publications? But the second was also tricky – so many of the ‘classics’ are written by men, objectifying (even dehumanizing) female sexuality as a plot device for exploring male identities. And, of course, I was very aware that punishments for the ‘sin’ of lust are always meted out more brutally on female characters. In the end, I chose Tipping the Velvet, because it’s a great example of how these concerns can be addressed and subverted. At once erotic and literary, Waters’ debut novel foregrounds female sexuality, but without using it simply as a plot device or ending with the punishment of lustful women (though there’s plenty of indications of how society might do this).

Waters’ novel follows the adventures of Nancy ‘Nan’ Astley, as she develops from a sheltered 18-year-old to a young woman who knows what (and who) she wants. Nan sees a male impersonator, Kitty Butler, perform at a local theatre and becomes instantly infatuated. Eventually, Kitty reluctantly admits she feels the same way, and the two become both lovers and performance partners. Thus begins Nan’s escapades across London – disguising herself as a man, having her heart broken, working as a male prostitute, being hired by wealthy widow Diana. The story has been described as ‘a high-octane narrative’, which is part picaresque novel and part fairy tale. It’s also very erotically charged and unabashed in its representation of lesbianism and sexual behaviour – an aspect of the book that was surprisingly (and memorably) retained in the 2002 BBC adaptation, which starred Rachael Stirling, Keeley Hawes and Anna Chancellor.

And Tipping the Velvet brings us to the end of my list.

Wait… does that mean that I promised you seven deadly sins, but only talked about six? So I was lying about the seventh book? Grrrr… doesn’t that make you feel…

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