International Research II: ‘As long as I don’t die, this will be a great story.’

Long ago, when I returned from a year of working and backpacking overseas, I lived in a shared house. A few months into my tenancy, my birthday came up and I was chuffed that my five other housemates cooked me a simple meal to celebrate. In the chilly winter air we talked over candlelight and […]

A journal that makes sense

On my first morning in Paris, I awoke to the sounds of suitcase zippers and rustling plastic bags. A couple of girls whispered to each other as they brushed their hair and sprayed their too-sweet deodorant about. My mouth tasted of yesterday’s airplane. At first I was disoriented. So I lay for a while, wrapped […]

International research: it’s enough to give you a nosebleed

When I was in Japan earlier this year I tried to interview a local friend of mine. I’d hoped to capture her story on audio for later use in some kind of podcast or radio documentary. She’d already spoken about her experience in English (her second language) with great depth and lucidity. When I asked […]

Mini-magazines and long form distribution

There’s a session at the NonfictioNow conference that couldn’t be more appropriate for this blog: ‘Longform Nonfiction and Online Distribution’. Four emerging practitioners of the non-fiction form will, ‘explore the role that reading and writing online have [in influencing their] work, while engaging in a form of cultural activism, in which writers are found fighting […]

Picturing the essay

When I speak to Leila Philip, multi award winning non-fiction writer and Associate Professor of Literature and Creative Writing at the College of the Holy Cross in the USA, our conversation lilts over the work of many others. She talks about Wallace Stevens, Walker Evans and James Agee. I hear of Errol Morris, Merce Cunningham […]

Non-fiction and the now

I was in a state of absent-mindedness, sipping tea at a café on the edge of a writerly event. There was a din that echoed around the high-ceilinged space. People passed through the beam of my vision, noticed yet somehow unnoticed. My stare occasionally attached to bright things: a balloon on a string, a pair […]