"I am animal-mad... There does seem to be a counter-movement now towards recognising they are sentient beings, which is soothing and hopefully signals a better future for all animals at our hand." Lisa Harding
Contexts
A chance to tell his story

A chance to tell his story

A boy grows in rural northern Italy, in the midst of pastoral peace and bloody internecine war; little is known about his parents or his childhood, for all the many stories that would be told about him once he became a novus homo, poet, imperial confidant, the voice of a people and an empire –...
Liminal inspiration for Unsettled Ground

Liminal inspiration for Unsettled Ground

A bookseller who was interviewing me for an event once commented that the one thing that he could see which linked all my novels was that the main characters live in buildings which shouldn’t really be habitable. Unsettled Ground, my fourth novel, is no exception. I have always been fascinated by buildings that humans once...
Nasim's story

Nasim’s story

I moved to New York in January 2014 to start reporting New Yorkers. I had spent the previous decade researching, reporting and writing two books about other places. They were based on my experiences interviewing a wide array of people to get a feel for their lives, their work and the places they made. For...
My struggles with cultural appropriation

My struggles with cultural appropriation

My debut novel Common Ground tells the story of a friendship between two boys from very different backgrounds. Stan is a child of suburbia, struggling with bullies as the new scholarship kid at a private school. Charlie is Romany, and lives on the Traveller site on the outskirts of town. My aim for Common Ground was...
Beowulf and me

Beowulf and me

My love affair with Beowulf began with Grendel’s mother, the moment I encountered her in an illustrated compendium of monsters, a slithery greenish entity standing naked in a swamp, knife in hand. I was about eight, and on the hunt for any sort of woman-warrior. Wonder Woman and She-Ra were fine, but Grendel’s mother was better. She had...
Fiction and climate change

Fiction and climate change

Our dog used to have minor health issues, and so we often had to come up with inventive ways of giving her pills. Many a morning I had a soggy pill spat out in my face, Lumina the dog with her beady eye daring me to try that again. It was not tasty, it was...
A symphony of life

A symphony of life

The daughter of a biologist, the wife of a biologist, and the mother of a biologist, it’s safe to say that Kathleen Dean Moore has an affinity for biology, environmentalism specifically, and comes across as a staunch activist concerning the deleterious effects of climate change in her most recent collection of essays Earth’s Wild Music:...
The women who save you

The women who save you

The success of a journey depends on your fellow travellers. The poems in Night Feeds and Morning Songs remind me that we are not alone. Women walked and will walk this way, with their babies cocooned in their buggies or bound to their chests, hundreds of years ago, and yesterday, and tomorrow. They have wiped...
Bearing witness

Bearing witness

Before discussing the far-reaching scope of Kim Echlin’s Speak, Silence, and the enormity of the issues it illuminates, let’s zoom in close: amid a tryst in a hotel room at The Hague one evening, a female reporter covering the trial of a Bosnian war criminal prods her companion, the Dutch guard assigned to watch over...
The vulgar, not the Vulgate

The vulgar, not the Vulgate

A brief note on the word, ‘sex’. I find myself avoiding it often. It is an ugly word. Not because it is boorish, but because it is too refined. ‘Sex’ is clinical: sterile, precise, institutional. It comes from the Norman French, originally Latin – what philologists Reneé and Henry Kahane called ‘the status symbol of...