Lost in the Lanes

Listen Again to my story "Calling" on Radio 4 Extra

I'm delighted that the story I wrote for Radio 4 has been repeated on Radio 4 Extra. Click here to Listen Again for the next four weeks.* Twelve-year-old Tom and his sister first came to Brighton after they lost their father in the great storm of 1883. They left their mother at her new job in the big house and walked to their lodgings in the Lanes. But in the middle of the night Tom hears their mother calling for them. And in trying to find her, he finds his own future. But, of course, that's only how the story... Read more →

A very Itchy birthday

Today's the third birthday of This Itch of Writing, and a good moment to thank everyone who's joined in over the years. I really didn't know, when I started this blog, whether I would find I had anything to say, or anything I wanted to say, let alone whether anyone would want to listen or respond. So it's been a delight to find that I have, and people do. Indeed, it hasn't just been fun: I've thrashed out ideas on here which ended up in my PhD, and your comments have enlarged not just my ideas about writing, but my... Read more →

Writing for radio 8: a streak of evening sun

So now the dust has settled, and my story 'Calling', broadcast on Radio 4, has vanished into the ether (except for me, since I've got a lovely CD of all three Lost in the Lanes stories), and my writing brain's moved on to other projects. But there's no denying that even if I'm commissioned again, it's definitely one of the landmarks that will be visible for a long time, when I look back over my shoulder. So what does the landmark consist of? Some of these are my perceptions, some I gathered from friends who listened. My work read by... Read more →

Writing for radio 7: how I wrote 'Calling'

Now that 'Calling' has been broadcast, and the flurry of flattering Facebook comments and tweets and emails had died down, I meant to do one last post in this Writing for Radio series: how it feels to have your story read on the radio. But then a friend who writes magazine fiction for a living started a discussion of where stories come from, and I realised that actually I haven't been able to talk properly about where 'Calling' came from, because it would have given away the story. So this post is one big plot spoiler, and if you'd like... Read more →

My radio story and other - er - stories...

I was foolish enough to think that when I'd got my new novel off to my agent for her opinion, life would get a bit simpler. In fact, of course, it's got more complicated, as there's a huge swathe of stuff that I put aside to get the novel done, from doing my tax return to booking a holiday, by way of returning my London Library books and even reading a book or six purely for fun. The tax return, in particular, is not only tedious to do, it also gives me a weird sensation that last year is passing... Read more →

Writing for radio part 6: recording

A few days before I was due in Brighton for the recording of my radio story, Cecilia the producer rang to say that the story did, after all, feel a bit short: could I make it a bit longer? When it comes to revisions I'm basically an adder, not a cutter, so it's not an inherently unnatural process, although you always worry that you're adding fat rather than muscle to the bones of the story. I didn't so much add, as develop latent moments in it, and I was pleased with the result. I read it for time - slowing... Read more →

Writing for radio part 5: editing

The first pass revisions of my story for Radio 4 were the usual ones. First, once I had the story down on the page, it was about adjustments to the structure and spacing of the piers of the bridge: this is where being able to spread the pages of a short story out is wonderful. In such a short story, and one to be read aloud, there isn't space for anything structurally complex, but it's an oldish man remembering his youth: was the frame the right width (length?); did the sense of the speaker's 'now' fade in and out at... Read more →

Writing for radio part 4: writing

It sounds a bit obvious, but I realised that knowing my radio story would be spoken aloud and heard, not written and read, did change things. I write in first person most of the time, because it's so much easier to find the right, particular, different voice and the plotting problems it leads to are usually surmountable. If I want more than one viewpoint I'll have more than one first-person narrator. But I'd been flirting with the idea of writing this story in third person with a shifting or even omniscient point of view, since it's a while since I... Read more →

Writing for radio 3: meeting

I walked down the hill in the sunshine to meet the producer of my story for Radio 4 - let's call her Rosamund - trying to assemble my thoughts about what and how I write, in the hope that I'd be ready to hitch that onto what she wanted. With any new piece of work, but particularly one which is being written to contract, there's always a finely-balanced decision about how much to play to your strengths, knowing that it's a safe(ish) bet that you'll get an okay story, and how much to challenge yourself in the hope of getting... Read more →

Writing for radio part 2: thinking

So, halfway back up the A23 to London from my research trip to Brighton, I had what I was fairly sure was a viable idea for my first ever story for radio. Pier Productions' brief for this trio of stories, 'Lost in the Lanes', gave me my central problem, and I had 2000 words to solve it in. Next had to come Who? and Why? And in beginning to think those out (dream them up? But it felt more like 'discover them'...) I realised I absolutely knew where the story ended both physically and emotionally, because it's bedded in the... Read more →

Writing for radio part 1: the call

A couple of weeks ago I got an email from a radio producer who I'd sent some work to - the same producer who commissioned Kellie Jackson's story last year, which Kellie guest-blogged about here. This producer is commissioning a series of three stories from writers new to radio, and would I be interested in writing one of them? As so often, the timing was quite tight, with the recording due at the end of June, for transmission in early August. And as it's part of a set of three the location and theme were set. We talked on the... Read more →