Latest Blogs

  • 'The Sunday Times Literary Editor Andrew Holgate joins the author to discuss The Day That Went Missing, a heart-rending memoir about a life unspoken after the sudden death of Richard’s younger brother and how he is beginning to make sense of it all.' I'm at Cheltenham for the fantastically titled Sunday Times Must Read event on the afternoon of 12 October 2017. All the details, venue and tickets, are here.

  • At the age of fifteen, in 1980, at St Mary’s RC Grammar School in Blackburn, Graham Caveney was sexually abused by his headmaster, Father Kevin O’Neill. Caveney’s subtitled Memoir of an Adolescence starts with this fact, as how could it not? The trauma is ‘something that the survivor, the sufferer, carries within them; the wreckage that is part of their self.’ What Caveney brilliantly achieves in this powerful, distinctive memoir is the positioning of his repeated sexual abuse in the landscape of an early 80’s adolescence. Before the abuse, Caveney is a clever, bookish boy born into the ‘Respectable Working Class’ of Accrington, his dad a groundsman at the local comprehensive and his mum a factory worker. He is not

  • At the age of 60, when he sets out to write this memoir, Allan Jenkins is older than his mother and his brother when they died, ‘time near my end to unravel my beginning.’ At first, the omens aren’t good: all he sees are memories that ‘stir like crocodiles.’ In this particular family, the past needs to be approached with caution, but fortunately for Jenkins he has a place of safety from which to start: his London allotment, the Plot 29 of the title. His memoir of a disrupted childhood is structured to alternate with a gardening diary that takes in eighteen months of sowing and reaping from June to the following December. Throughout, the green refuge of the allotment

  • I have two events, both on Sunday 27 August, and the online festival programme is the place to go for an idea of what to expect: From 11.00 to 12.30 I'm doing a reading workshop: 'Novelist and non-fiction writer Richard Beard discusses W, Or the Memory of Childhood by Georges Perec. This semi-autobiographical work alternates between memoir and fiction, illustrated with photographs from Perec's childhood. It is a commentary on memories remembered, borrowed and interpreted later in life. Expect an open discussion from the start: you can either read the book ahead of the event or be inspired to pick it up afterwards.' There are, in fact, no photographs in Perec's book, but he describes his memory of photographs with

  • The Arvon Foundation is one of the great, perhaps the greatest, of UK Creative Writing institutions. I first went to Sheepwash to read in about 1997, and then taught my first course a year later with Andrew Cowan. If you don't know the set-up, about 15 writers get a residential week in a beautiful house and setting (there are two other centres in Shropshire and Yorkshire) while over the week a pair of more established writers offer up their insights about the craft and experience of writing. Half-way through, another writer visits to read, and this is what I'll be doing at Totleigh Barton on the 9th August. Our course is called Life Writing: Writing Family History, with Marina Benjamin

  • The Manchester Deansgate Waterstones is always a fantastic place to read, and many years ago I was half of a double-bill with the great Robert Stone. His novel Damascus Gate was published in the UK at about the same time, in 1998, as my novel Damascus. His book is set in Jerusalem and mine has nothing to do with the Middle East. He was a revered American novelist and I ... I was not. It seems fairly certain that someone in the shop had mixed up one Damascus with another, and we ended up in the same shop in Manchester on the same midweek night. Everyone was very polite and pretended it wasn't a mistake, including Robert Stone, who drank the Deansgate whiskey and grumbled wise sayings