49 | A Chat With Nell Stevens
Listen to Episode 49: A Chat With Nell Stevens
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In today's Tea & Tattle episode, I'm joined by the writer Nell Stevens to discuss Nell's debut book, Bleaker House. Nell lives in London and has a PhD in Victorian literature from King's College London, and an MFA in Fiction from Boston University.
In her book, Nell describes her journey to the Falkland Islands, in search of the distraction-free, solitary existence she believed would help her to write a novel. Both funny and poignant, Bleaker House is one of the best books I've read about the writing process and what it means to be a writer.
It was a real joy to get to chat to Nell on the podcast and find out more about her day-to-day routine on Bleaker Island, as well as what her experience taught her about herself and her writing. Nell also explained how she came to structure the book in an unusual way, assembling it into a kind of collage to include her account of life on Bleaker Island, as well as extracts from her fiction writing and anecdotes about her past.
I also questioned Nell about the title of her novel and the significance that Dickens's Bleak House held for her writing process. Nell also makes an exciting announcement at the end of the episode about her next book, so be sure to listen out for that!
Listen to learn more about Nell's experience of Bleaker Island and of writing a book.
- 00:25 - Miranda introduces Nell Stevens.
- 02:05 - How Nell's ambitions to be a writer first began.
- 04:22 - Why and how Nell made the decision to go to the Falkland Islands to write a novel.
- 08:11 - Nell reads an extract from her book.
- 13:50 - Nell explains why she was so determined to experience complete solitude.
- 15:15 - The difference between being alone and feeling lonely.
- 18:36 - Is suffering essential to a writer?
- 21:15 - Nell's day-to-day routine on the island, and why a potato came to hold such importance!
- 27:43- How Nell dealt with the realisation that the novel she'd written wasn't very good, and how she came to write Bleaker House instead.
- 32:30 - The influence of Bleak House.
- 39:20 - What's next for Nell.
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Digging into the unknown is the most interesting and fruitful way to approach writing.
Thank you so much for listening and being a part of Tea & Tattle podcast. As always, I love to hear your thoughts, so please let me know:
What did you enjoy most about this episode? Have you read Bleaker House, or are you tempted to do so now?
Sophie is back on the podcast, and we're chatting about the much loved independent publishing company, Persephone Books, and which of their books we most recommend.