Scarlett Brade on the Bestseller Experiment | Can You Be Too Young to Write a Novel?

I first heard Scarlett Brade on Nadine Matheson’s excellent podcast The Conversation and immediately got in touch to see if she would come on our podcast. There’s something brilliant about her journey from a six-year-old girl demanding that she’s old enough to read the first Harry Potter, to self-publishing at 23, to having a hit with her thriller The Hive.

I also go on a bit about ‘living a little’ before writing a novel. Apologies if I come across as a crusty old git, but that’s mostly me wincing when I look back at the plays, sketches and half-arsed attempts at novels that I wrote in my youth. I could string a sentence together (just about), but I had nothing to say because I hadn’t really lived yet. It wasn’t till I hit my late 20s/early 30s that I’d experienced love, rejection, grief and existential angst that I felt there was enough gas in the tank to actually write these things convincingly. Of course, your own mileage will vary. I had a perfectly happy childhood with very little trauma, so of course I was a guileless goon (still am to some extent). Anyway, Scarlett is amazing and you’ll definitely be inspired by this week’s episode.

And in the extended version for Academy members and podcast Patrons, me and Mr D discuss if it’s essential to be an author on social media, life pivot moments, the importance of friendship groups and mentors, how to generate hooks and high concepts and much more! You can get all this extra stuff and hundreds of hours of exclusive material by supporting the podcast here.

Jonathan Whitelaw on the Bestseller Experiment

I’m always interested in writers who pivot from one genre to another. I read all across all sorts of genres, so why should writers be expected to write the same stuff for the rest of the their careers? (Answer: to make the marketing department’s life easier, but that’s a conversation for another day) So it was a delight to speak to Jonathan Whitelaw, whose first book was Iain Banks-style contemporary fiction, followed by a couple of satirical thrillers, and now he’s returned with a series of cosy murder mysteries with a unique crime fighting duo — a son-in-law and mother-in-law — in The Bingo Hall Detectives and The Village Hall Vendetta. Jonathan was really good fun. Enjoy!

Oh, and if outtakes are your thing, then hang around to the very end of the recording…

Katy Brent on getting away with murder…

Katy Brent’s debut novel How to Kill Men and Get Away With It is a very funny book that tackles some very serious issues. She tells me how it evolved from an almost flippant idea into a dark satire. We also discuss provocative titles, tone, escaping into writing and moving from journalism to fiction where she finally felt that her writing could make a difference…

Amita Parikh on the Bestseller Experiment

There’s a danger that writers can get stuck in our little worlds. I mean, most of use are stuck on our bums for most of the day. Getting off your backside is not only good for your health, both mental and physical, but you never know what might be around the corner. I really enjoyed chatting with Amita Parikh on the podcast, and loved the idea that had she not been lost in London and asked for directions, then her amazing debut novel The Circus Train might never have existed. She’s good fun, not least when she talks about how she coped with rejection…

David McCloskey on the Bestseller Experiment

When I prepped for my interview with former CIA analyst David McCloskey I was expecting to discuss the kind of things that writers get wrong/right about spy craft, and how to write about the trauma of real life events (which we did), but we also discussed things like letting go of your ego when writing and, erm hot dog vending machines. This is a good one…

Grammar Free in the UK on the Bestseller Experiment

Something very different on the podcast this week. I spoke to Dave Dawson who with his dad, under the guise of Dave and Derek Philpott, has been writing funny letters to pop stars about their lyrics. Their first book, Dear Mr. Kershaw, became a cult hit and the follow-up Dear Mr. Pop Star was released by Unbound Publishing to more acclaim. And now they return with a Punk edition, Grammar Free in the UK, which is raising money for the charity Crisis. A few writing tips on building a community of readers, crowdfunding and such, but mostly this is a good laugh about 80s music and punk…

Mark Edwards on the Bestseller Experiment podcast

Anyone here remember Twinterviews? Or text-based book launches on Facebook? Mark Edwards does! He was pioneering online book launches long before Zoom and Streamyard, and in doing do he’s got an amazing connection with his readers and has sustained a career writing standalone thrillers and sold over 4 million copies of his books. He’s also a delightful bloke and it was a real treat to catch up with him again…

Matt Brown on the Bestseller Experiment podcast

Much talk of farts in this episode of the podcast with Matt Brown, author of the splendid Compton Valance series, the Dreary Inkling School books and The Mab, a retelling of Mabinogi for children.

Matt is a former children’s TV presenter and offers some great insights into writing for children… and yes, we talk a lot about farts, Ben Elton, The Young Ones, David Williams, rejection, writing without fear and more.

Also, in the extended version of the podcast, me and Mr D get into the recent hullaballoo over editing the less progressive bits from Roald Dahl’s books. You can listen to that by popping over to Patreon and becoming a chart topper supporter.

Richard Armitage on the Bestseller Experiment

So much good stuff in this week’s podcast. I got to chat with Richard Armitage about his new Audible original thriller Geneva. I think writers can learn a lot from actors in how they approach a script and develop characters, and Richard was very generous in sharing the methods he uses.

This episode also sees the return of Mr D, and in the extended version of the podcast (for subscribers) we discuss his night in Leicester Square seeing Unwelcome. If you want support and subscribe to the podcast, pop over to Patreon and become a Chart Topper supporter and you’ll get access to over 120 Deep Dives.

Simon Scarrow on the Bestseller Experiment

One of the easiest jobs I had when I was a sales rep was selling Simon Scarrow’s books to booksellers. Of course, the writing is superb, but so much of that first book, Under the Eagle, had everything it needed to become a bestselling series. A great premise, a great package, and Simon knew exactly who his readers were. Lots to absorb in this one! I was joined by guest co-presenter Julian Barr, whose own fantastical historical fiction is definitely worth checking out. Have a look here!