Month: March 2010

43. In praise of Germany

Simon Winder: GermaniaIn this week’s podcast, I talk to Simon Winder about the challenges of making a book on German history entertaining. It’s a challenge he rose to magnificently in his quirky new book, Germania: A Personal History of Germans Ancient and Modern.

He takes the reader along the highways and down many of the byways of German history to reveal aspects of the country’s past which are rarely encountered. It would be a flinty soul who read this book and didn’t at least feel the first stirrings of a desire to holiday in Germany for the first time.

Click on the link above to listen to the podcast and hear Simon’s views on German cuisine and his tips for where to discover the delights of the “real” Germany.

42. The Return of Captain John Emmett

Speller: Return of Captain John EmmettTo record this week’s podcast, I travelled to the Cotswolds to visit my guest (and friend), Elizabeth Speller. Elizabeth has recently bought a splendid shepherd’s hut on wheels which she is using as a retreat to write in. Although this book wasn’t written there, its sequel, currently a work in progress, will be.

You can see the hut – which is enough to arouse the envy of anyone with writerly ambitions – in the video we recorded, which will be on this site shortly.

In the mean time, click on the link above to listen to our audio podcast in which we talk about making the transition from non-fiction to fiction, the challenges of setting a novel in the past, and the ways in which the reverberations of the First World War continued to be felt in the years that followed armistice.

The novel has been getting terrific reviews: The Times, for example, said:

“Speller’s writing is gorgeous, her research immaculate and very lightly worn. Sheer bliss.”

And the Independent said:

“Covering death, poetry, a bitter regimental feud and a hidden love affair, it’s set to be the new Birdsong – only better.”

Click on the book cover above to find out more about it.

41. It’s only a movie (and a book)

Mark Kermode It's Only a MovieLast Monday I met film critic Mark Kermode at the Watershed in Bristol before his event there which formed part of his countrywide tour to present his new book, It’s Only a Movie. He was remarkably bright and engaged, considering he had been at the BAFTAs the night before and had already done 37 interviews (sic) that morning.

Later, he would delight his audience with nearly two hours of anecdotes from his career and opinions on the films he loves and loathes. But before he took to the stage, I talked to him about his career – what his earliest film memories are, why The Exorcist is his favourite film, and what overlooked gems he thinks we should all be seeking out.