I think this idea of cultural appropriation makes white writers like me be very nervous about representing anyone in their fiction that doesn’t look like them or doesn’t come from the place they live in … but taking that too far can result in everyone only writing about these versions of themselves and you lose your literary freedom and your curiosity, and confidence.
The things I write about tend to have their origins in holidays I’ve been on … I like writing about stories set on holidays, because you have characters set in unfamiliar surroundings, so they are quite isolated and their personalities can be brought out: they can have conflicts and interact quickly. It kind of creates the perfect conditions for a story.
Richard V. Hirst
Come with us and visit mysterious, liminal places where strange things may happen, such as Preston train station in the northwest of England…
In this interview, I bring you not just one guest but two: writers Jenn Ashworth and Richard V. Hirst. Jenn has published several novels, A Kind of Intimacy, Cold Light, The Friday Gospels and Fell; she’s also a senior lecturer in Creative Writing at Lancaster University. Richard has won the 2009 Manchester Fiction Prize and, with Jenn and other artists, co-founded the publishing collective Curious Tales. Now, the most interesting thing about these two writers is that they love working together. Their most recent project is the novella The Night Visitors that I read and totally recommend. It’s written in the form of emails and contains horror, cannibalism and very spooky train stations. Richard and Jenn are both from Preston, in the north of England, and have been friends from a very young age, which I think you can tell by listening to them. We discuss many things, such as why Jenn always sets her fiction in Lancashire, eventhough she has travelled around the world and lived in different places. We also talk about why holidays are important for Richard (he actually gets much of his inspiration from travelling outside of the UK). We also discuss the importance of diverse literature and we get a bit serious when reflecting on the role of artists after Brexit and how this has changed the way we create. We tried to be hopeful, but I must confess, we ended up talking about the zombie apocalypse …
Connect with Jenn:
Connect with Richard: