The Biblio File Hosted by Nigel Beale
Twenty - forty minute interviews with accomplished authors, publishers, biblio people, conducted by an excitable bibliophile.

Writer, comedian A. L. Kennedy lives and works in Glasgow and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. In 2003 she was nominated by Granta magazine as one of 20 'Best of Young British Novelists'. Her novel Day (2007), won the Costa Book of the Year Award. She reviews and contributes to most of the major British newspapers, and has been a judge for both the Booker Prize for Fiction (1996) and The Guardian First Book Award (2001).


Her first book, Night Geometry and the Garscadden Trains (1990), a bleak collection of short stories, won several awards including the Mail on Sunday/John Llewellyn Rhys Prize, a Scottish Arts Council Book Award and the Saltire Society Scottish First Book of the Year Award. Other short story collections include Now That You're Back (1994) and Original Bliss (1997), and her novels include: Looking for the Possible Dance (1993); So I Am Glad (1995), winner of the Encore Award, which focuses on child sexual abuse and its consequences in adulthood; and Everything You Need (1999), the story of a middle-aged writer living on a remote island and his attempt to build a relationship with his estranged daughter. We met recently at the International Festival of Authors in Toronto to talk about humour, the buzz of post-Suicide attempts, living as if you are going to die, self esteem, making other worlds, changing reality, fictional rehearsals, Buster Keaton hats, the physicality of great comic actors, storytelling and investing in lies, Lolita, Nicola Six, Shakespeare, Hamlet, Yann Kott, Benny Hill, Blazing Saddles, freedom and child molestation. 

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 Copyright © 2010 by Nigel Beale.
Direct download: A.L._Kennedy_1.mp3
Category:Author Interview -- posted at: 9:12pm EDT

In 1841 Thomas Babington Macaulay observed that “it is good that authors should be remunerated; and the least exceptionable way of remunerating them is by a monopoly. Yet monopoly is an evil. For the sake of the good we must submit to the evil; but the evil ought not to last a day longer than is necessary for the purpose of securing the good.”

In his new book Moral Panics and the Copyright Wars, highly regarded copyright lawyer Bill Patry concurs with Macaulay, arguing that ‘copyright should last only as long as is necessary to ensure that works that would not have been created but for the incentive of copyright are created.’

The book at once demonstrates how copyright is a utilitarian government program–not a property or moral right, and deplores the manner in which debate has deteriorated into a battle between oversimplified metaphors; language which demonizes everyone involved – pirates and orphans alike. This has led to bad business and bad policy decisions. "Unless we recognize that the debates over copyright are debates over business models, says Patry, we will never be able to make the correct business and policy decisions

A former copyright counsel to the U.S. House of Representatives, policy adviser to the Register of Copyright, law professor and author of the definitive Patry on Copyright, the man, currently copyright counsel to Google, is a centrist and advocate of balanced copyright laws, and, perhaps most significantly, the owner of a kickin’ pair of running shoes

Moral Panic concludes with a call not for strong or weak copyright laws but more effective ones, designed to maximize the creation of new works and learning, and minimize obstacles which prevent others from accessing and building upon them.

Listen here as Patry, speaking as a concerned, informed citizen, not as a Google employee, works his way out from Macaulay’s lucidity, a sampling of which I cite to start off our conversation:

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Direct download: Patry_1_110307-155123.mp3
Category:Author Interview -- posted at: 8:46pm EDT

Copyright activist, speaker, teacher (how about ’speacher’…or ’spreacher’), columnist, science fiction novelist, short story writer, co-editor of  Boing Boingand the very manifestation of articulate dynamism, Cory Doctorow was in town recently to promote his novel Little Brother (free download here), a fast paced, current-day 1984-like polemic calling for teens to subvert security measures, especially those used by governments that claim to "defend my freedom by tearing up the Bill of Rights.”

As Austin Grossman puts it in the New York Times:

MY favorite thing about “Little Brother” is that every page is charged with an authentic sense of the personal and ethical need for a better relationship to information technology, a visceral sense that one’s continued dignity and independence depend on it: “My technology was working for me, serving me, protecting me. It wasn’t spying on me. This is why I loved technology: if you used it right, it could give you power and privacy…Little Brother argues that unless you’re passably technically literate, you’re not fully in command of those constitutionally guaranteed freedoms — that in fact it’s your patriotic duty as an American to be a little more nerdy."

I’m clearly not nerdy enough… incarcerated I am in fact by technological illiteracy…incapacitated too…neither machine I used to record my conversation with Cory worked for the full duration of our encounter…they did however capture enough, thankfully, to provide his engaging take on the future of the book, the seeds of its destruction…and mention of a guy with a lemon up his nose. Please listen here:

(For discussion of copyright, please watch this space over the coming days for my interview with the acknowledged giant in the field, Bill Patry).

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Direct download: Cory_Doctorow.mp3
Category:Author Interview -- posted at: 10:45pm EDT

(last night at Art Matters)

Kate Pullinger is a novelist who also writes for film and various digital platforms. Born in Cranbrook British Columbia she went to high school on Vancouver Island, dropped out of McGill University, worked for a year in a copper mine in the Yukon, traveled, and eventually settled in London. Pullinger has written two short story collections; her  novels include When the Monster Dies (1989), Where Does Kissing End? (1992), A Little Stranger and most recently The Mistress of Nothing which has just won Canada’s GG Literary Award for best English Fiction (to be awarded this evening).

She has lectured and taught at, among other institutions: the Battersea Arts Centre, the University of Reading, and Cambridge University, as well as in various prisons. She currently teaches Creative Writing and New Media at De Montfort University, Leicester.

The Mistress of Nothing (2009), takes its inspiration from the life of Lucie, Lady Duff Gordon, and is set in nineteenth-century Egypt. I met with Kate yesterday afternoon. Among other things we talk about what it’s like to win the GG, class structures, and the future of the book (check out her website here). Please listen here:


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Direct download: kate_Pullinger_GG121607-170335.mp3
Category:Author Interview -- posted at: 11:26am EDT

Block head?

Listen here as  famed author of Life of Pi and self proclaimed political gadfly Yann Martel 1) Absorbs a barrage of punishing jabs I throw at him over his latest book What is Stephen Harper Reading? and 2) Punches back at a Canadian Prime Minister whom he considers to be a visionless, ‘fact’-mired, fiction-eschewing ideologue.

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Direct download: Yann_Martel_810301_01.mp3
Category:Author Interview -- posted at: 10:47am EDT

Yousuf Karsh (1908-2002) was born in Armenia in 1908. His photographer uncle, George Nakash, brought him to Canada in 1924. After apprenticing in Boston with John H. Garo, Karsh settled in Ottawa in 1932, where he began his professional career. By 1936 he was photographing visiting statesmen and dignitaries, among them President Franklin Roosevelt.

His December, 1941 portrait of a bulldoggish Winston Churchill, symbolizing Britain’s wartime resolve, brought Karsh international attention.  Among the most widely reproduced portraits in the history of photography, ‘Churchill’ was also one of the first to carry the famous "Karsh of Ottawa" copyright.

I met recently with Jerry Fielder, Curator and Director of the Estate of Yousuf Karsh to talk about Karsh and the books that contain his works.

Please listen here:

Direct download: Jerry_Fielder_KARSH.mp3
Category:Author Interview -- posted at: 1:55pm EDT

Born in South­port in 1969, David Mitchell grew up in Mal­vern, Worcester­shire, study­ing for a degree in Eng­lish and Amer­ican Lit­er­at­ure fol­lowed by an MAin Com­par­at­ive Lit­er­at­ure, at the Uni­ver­sity of Kent. He lived for a year in Sicily before mov­ing to Hiroshima, Japan, where he taught Eng­lish to tech­nical stu­dents for eight years, before return­ing to England.

In his first novel, Ghostwrit­ten (1999), nine nar­rat­ors in nine loc­a­tions across the globe tell inter­lock­ing stor­ies. This novel won the Mail on Sunday/John Llewellyn Rhys Prize and was short­l­is­ted for the Guard­ian First Book Award.

His second novel, number9dream (2001), was short­l­is­ted for the 2002 Man Booker Prize for fic­tion. It is set in mod­ern day Tokyo and tells the story of Eiji Miyake’s search for his father.

In 2003 David Mitchell was named by Granta magazine as one of twenty ‘Best of Young Brit­ish Nov­el­ists’. In his third novel, Cloud Atlas (2004), a young Pacific islander wit­nesses the night­fall of sci­ence and civil­isa­tion, while ques­tions of his­tory are explored in a series of seem­ingly dis­con­nec­ted nar­rat­ives. Cloud Atlas was short­l­is­ted for the 2004 Man Booker Prize for Fiction.
David Mitchell lives in Ire­land. His latest novel is Black Swan Green (2006)
We met recently in Toronto to talk about exper­i­ment­a­tion and real­ism, plot, char­ac­ter and all that good stuff, but also about the great­ness of John Cheever, high brow and pulp fic­tion, good pot boil­ers, the cos­mos, cosmi, con­nec­tions, meld­ing verbs, plat­it­ud­in­ous pro­fundit­ies, crit­ics as platy­pus taxi­derm­ists, poetry in prose, the ori­gin­al­it­ies of happy blun­ders and cul­tural jux­ta­pos­i­tions, Perec’s W, mon­key­ing with struc­ture, plan­ning your funeral, eval­u­at­ive cri­ti­cism and the delight­ful exper­i­ence of read­ing Chekhov’s short stor­ies.

Please listen here:

Direct download: David_Mitchell.mp3
Category:Author Interview -- posted at: 6:17pm EDT

Crime novelist Denise Mina is the author of a trilogy of novels set in Glasgow: Garnethill (1998), which won the Crime Writers’ Association John Creasey Memorial Dagger; Exile (2000); and Resolution (2001).  
Sanctum (2002), is the story of a forensic psychiatrist, convicted of killing a serial killer. The Field of Blood (2005) is the first in a new series, the second in the series, The Dead Hour, was published in 2006, and the third, Slip of the Knife, in 2007.
Mina also writes short stories, one of which, ‘Helena and the Babies’ from Fresh Blood 3 (1999), won the Crime Writers’ Association Macallan Short Story Dagger. Two short stories and a play, Hurtle (2003), have been broadcast on BBC Radio 4. Her latest play is Ida Tamson. Her lastest novel is Still Midnight (2009).

We met recently in Ottawa where Mina was the international guest of honour at Bloody Words, Canada’s national mystery conference. Our conversation cuts a wide swath across the socio-political  (alcoholism, the accurate depiction of mental illness, the courage of the mentally ill) the psychoanalytic (detective stories as re-enactments of the primal act) and the technical (cozy endings, realistic puzzles); please listen here:

Direct download: Denise_Mina.mp3
Category:Author Interview -- posted at: 1:01pm EDT

Terry Griggs is the author of a collection of short stories, Quickening, which was nominated for a Governor General’s Award, and two novels, The Lusty Man, and Rogues’ Wedding, shortlisted for the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Award. She has also written two books for children, Cat’s Eye Corner, shortlisted for a Mr. Christie’s Book Award and a Red Cedar Award, and most recently a sequel, The Silver Door. In 2003 she received the Marian Engel Award. Born on Manitoulin Island in Lake Huron, she currently lives in Stratford, Ontario.

We met recently in Ottawa to talk about her latest ‘farce noir’ comic mystery novel, Thought you were Dead,  and, as a result about: cartoons, dead flies, Nabokov, Pnin’s zany, self-mocking speech and ways, fending off intimacy, how comedy sharpens your judgment, wordplay, names and book titles, the male-female divide, ambiguity, contained chapters, Philip Larkin, naked women on book covers, and The Monkeys’ Michael Nesmith’s mother who invented liquid paper.

Please listen here:

Direct download: Terry_Griggs.mp3
Category:Author Interview -- posted at: 1:53pm EDT

Ha Jin was born in China in 1956. After Tiananmen Square, he emigrated to the United States. Unlike most exiled writers Ha Jin was not established in his native language; he had no audience in Chinese, and so chose to write in English.
He has published three collections of poetry, including Between Silences and Facing Shadows, and three collections of short fiction, Ocean of Words, received the PEN/Hemingway Award, and Under the Red Flag, won the Flannery O’Connor Award. His novel Waiting won the National Book Award for fiction as well as the PEN/Faulkner Award in 1999. In 2004, he published War Trash, which also won the PEN/Faulkner Award.  He lives in the Boston area and is a professor of English at Boston University.

We met recently in Ottawa to talk about his first book of non-fiction The Writer as Migrant (University of Chicago Press). Adapted from The Rice University Campbell Lecture he delivered in 2006, the book consists of  three interconnected essays exploring the experience of migrant,  ‘exiled’ writers in relation to their ‘home’ countries and languages.  Alexander Solzhenitsyn,  Lin Yutang, Homer, Joseph Conrad , Vladimir Nabokov and others all contribute to the conversation. Please listen here:

Direct download: Ha_Jin.mp3
Category:Author Interview -- posted at: 2:28pm EDT