"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
March 2021
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...
Karla Neblett: Angry love

Karla Neblett: Angry love

Karla Neblett’s hugely impressive debut novel King of Rabbits is a vividly realised story about a resourceful, sensitive and imaginative boy from a mixed-race, blended family on a Somerset council estate. Kai’s mum is transitioning from heavy drinking to addiction to crack cocaine, which she is led into by his father, who feeds his own...
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...
Shakespeare's advice to writers? Use the pandemic (sometimes)

Shakespeare’s advice to writers? Use the pandemic (sometimes)

Shakespeare’s life was defined by the bubonic plague. What can we learn from the OG of pandemic writers? Make it count Today’s writers should deploy our pandemic’s memento mori – face masks, hand sanitiser, refrigerated morgue trucks – sparingly. Overuse lessens impact. Shakespeare knew this: he reserves images of miasmas (plague-spreading pockets of corrupted air)...
Love and madness

Love and madness

In writer-director Lili Horvát’s second feature, Preparations to Be Together for an Unknown Period of Time, 40-year-old neurosurgeon Márta (Natasa Stork) has made an instant connection with fellow Hungarian surgeon János (Viktor Bodó), who she met at a medical conference in New Jersey. Leaving behind her burgeoning career in the US, she returns to Budapest...
Emma Stonex: Illuminating the dark

Emma Stonex: Illuminating the dark

In 1900, three lighthouse keepers on a Hebridean island disappeared without a trace. The theories surrounding the bizarre and enduring mystery inspired Emma Stonex to reimagine their story with a fictional spin. The Lamplighters is a story of three lighthousemen and the women in their lives, told from the differing perspectives of each character. Arthur,...
Lisa Harding: Lost lives found

Lisa Harding: Lost lives found

Sonya, Tommy, Herbie and Marmie. These four characters have embedded themselves into my psyche. The last time I cared so deeply about the fate of fictional creations was with Hanya Yanagihara’s A Little Life. Where Yanagihara’s doorstopper spanned decades in the lives of four men, Lisa Harding’s blisteringly brilliant novel Bright Burning Things takes place within...
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...
Settlers and shenanigans

Settlers and shenanigans

The nineteenth century was the century of cities. Across the planet, their number and size mushroomed in the biggest urban expansion in history. London’s population grew between 1800 and 1900 from one million to seven million, making it far and away the largest city in the world. Even so, it was in the USA where...