EP. 28 | ROB M FRANCIS ON the rejection limbo

The thing that bothers me most about rejection are the publishers and editors that don’t bother with replying to the writers that have put their heart and soul into something and sent it off… the other thing that is quite frustrating about the experience is that of time. It can take as long as six months or even longer in some occasions to get a rejection. You’re in this kind of weird limbo.

rob m francis

One of the most frustrating parts about sending your writing out is waiting (often many months) before knowing if publishers want to give the work a chance or not. Yes, the publishing industry moves at a glacial pace (since writing the book is the first in a series of long and complex steps to get it on bookshops, especially if you are going the traditional route). But waiting months to hear a rejection (or getting silence as the only answer) is actually a very common experience for all sorts of writers. Welcome to (in Rob’s words) the writing limbo.

Listen to this extract to find advice on:

  • Facing rejection at the start of your writing career (hint: you’ll have to get used to it!)
  • Good practice as an editor handling rejections.

Connect with Rob:

Website / Twitter

The Wandering Bard podcast is also available on Spotify. You can also find us on Twitter at @TheWBmag.

EP. 27 | lisa blower on rejection and class

What I have realised is that publishing is a class issue and a lot of the people reading me are of a different class to what I’m reflecting and certainly the voice I often write in… and so when the rejection comes it really frustrates me because is not the writing they’re rejecting, it’s the class I’m reflecting.

lisa blower

In this episode, Lisa discusses her experience with rejection. By taking a glance at her incredible career (an ample list of prestigious awards, two novels out with prestigious publishers…) one may think she’s not one used to dealing with rejection. But truth is, Lisa’s publishing journey has been a complex one (as it tends to happen to many of us!) with a fair share of rejections.

What is more, Lisa suggests that sometimes, when you write from a perspective that is not mainstream, your writing may get automatically rejected because the gatekeepers can’t see themselves reflected in your stories.

This is an issue that affects many authors in all sorts of genres – read here this sharp article by J K Nemisin. The publishing industry needs to change, so let’s persevere and keep knocking at the doors no matter how many rejections we may face!

Connect with Lisa:

WebsiteTwitter / Instagram

The Wandering Bard podcast is also available on Spotify. You can also find us on Twitter at @TheWBmag.

Ep. 24 | Inés G. Labarta on Waking Up at 5am to Write

I really try to write first thing in the morning, before I do anything else, at least anything else that’s mental… because my brain is just too tired after a day of work.


CEOs and productivity gurus may have been talking about the wonders of starting your day early for years now. But the reality is that for many of us, it is the only way of dedicating some focused time to what we care about the most – before the day starts and other responsibilities kick in.

In this episode, writer Inés G. Labarta discusses how she trained herself to wake up at 5am to get some writing time done whilst completing her full-time Creative Writing PhD and having several part-time jobs to support herself. This was no fashionable routine but, rather, something she had to resort to keep a regular writing practice. Luckily, she soon discovered some advantages in writing at such early hours, and now she has implemented this habit in her writing life.

Listen to this extract to find advice on:

  • Writing before you start working at 9am
  • Managing several part-time jobs, a PhD and a writing routine

Connect with Inés:

Twitter Instagram

The Wandering Bard podcast is also available on Spotify. You can also find us on Twitter at @TheWBmag.

Ep. 20 | Lisa Blower on fitting your writing around your day job

I swim in the morning and i try to get back to the house by quarter to nine, i make a big pot of coffee, i read what i wrote yesterday and then i’ll write as much as i can before i have to be zoom-ready for a meeting or whatever is coming up that day.

lisa blower

Only a few authors have the luxury to dedicate all their time to their craft. For most of us, writing is something we do around other jobs. In this episode, Lisa talks about how she fits her writing around her academic career. You don’t need to have a very strict writing routine to be successful!

Listen to this extract to find advice on:

  • Writing around a day-time job
  • Tips on having a writing routine that’s flexible around other commitments.

I’d love to say i have a writing routine, but i don’t, i write very sporadically.

lisa blower

Connect with Lisa:

Website / Twitter / Instagram

Ep. 11 | Ellie Moore

I paint a lot of the landscapes that I see as I’m hiking … sometimes it’s the view I get from the summit but other times it’s little tiny details, small landscapes that are kind of hidden. It always strikes me that as you climb the mountain, there are various different stages to it and the landscape changes really dramatically as you’re going up and it doesn’t feel like a straight uphill.

I met Ellie Moore on the misty peaks of the Lake District while we fought against the rain and the wind to keep a conversation about our common interests: writing, painting, Scotland, the 18th century and the Jacobites…

Ellie Moore, based in Yorkshire, has been painting and exhibiting her work since an early age. She went to study art in Florence before studying Fine Arts and Creative Writing at Lancaster University. She has organised exhibitions with another podcast guest, Jessica Elleray. Through her intricate miniatures and vibrant landscapes, Ellie shows her love for hiking and nature. Her large-scale paintings, such as The Aurelians – a recreation of an 18th-century room that, thanks to the magic of perspective, invites the viewer to step inside – serve as a link between her art and the stories she wants to tell through writing.

In this interview Ellie and I discuss the connections between writing and painting. We also talk about how travelling and, more specifically, walking, influences the creative process.

The Aurelians, by Ellie Moore

Connect with Ellie:

Website / Facebook Page

Ep. 10 | Gary Budden

Whatever the mainstream narrative is, there may be some truth to that narrative but … there are always many other stories running alongside it, or going in opposition to it, and it would be foolish to assume that the national mood is what the TV news is saying it is … so I was interested in bringing out the stories of the people whose stories are less represented, specially in literature.

Come and join us with Gary Budden, while we visit the eerie misty islands on the frozen seas of Finland…

Some time in 2018 I read an article that comforted my soul and my artistic self more than I can explain. It was Awake Awake Sweet England: Why We Need Landscape Punk written by Gary Budden and published by The Quietus. Since then, I’ve become obsessed with this writer who doesn’t shy away from reclaiming the role of art and literature as tools to undo this dehumanisation that seems to permeate society, politics and even the media.

His first book, Hollow Shores, is an exploration of landscape and the humans who inhabit it that goes beyond nations – Gary sets his stories in England but also Wales and even Finland – and beyond genres – the book engages with landscape writing, weird fiction and horror, among others. Gary is also the co-founder of Influx Press, ‘an independent publisher based in London, committed to publishing innovative and challenging fiction, poetry and creative non-fiction from across the UK and beyond’. Influx Press can be supported via Patreon.

In this interview Gary talks about how his passion for Punk influenced his literature, the travels he has done to share his writing – and that took him to places such as an ex-Yugoslavian naval barracks in a literary festival in Croatia – and about the importance of believing in hibridity in order to free ourselves.

Connect with Gary:


Influx Press patreon page

Ep. 8 | Kirsty Logan

I do use made-up words in my fiction, peppered in amongst the English … for example, ‘gracekeeper’ is not a word … I just thought it sounded nice and had good connections with what I wanted … I’ve also discovered that even though I keep saying that I speak English, I always forget that, of course, I understand Scots … I went for lunch with a publisher … and they would circle all these words [in the manuscript] and say: ‘I thought this was a word that you made up.’ And I would be like: ‘No, that’s an English word.’ But it was Scots, and because I use it as part of my daily language I hadn’t realised that it wasn’t an English word … A lot of these Scots words don’t even have an English equivalent … In the end, I always keep them [in the book] because I think people can understand the context … or like the word so much that they look it up or think that I’ve made it up.

Shall we take a walk around the mysterious back alleys of Granada?

Kirsty Logan, a Glasgow-based author, is well-known for her beautiful, unusual fiction. During a talk at Lancaster in 2017 – which I had the pleasure of attending – she encouraged writers not to shy away from the weird and uniquely distinctive aspects of their writing, but rather to embrace them to make their storytelling original. She confessed she hadn’t been the ‘ideal’ Creative Writing MA student. She was the only one in her workshop writing about queer mermaids. Fast forward a few years, and now she’s successful, cult – I adore her prose, and I know I am not alone in this. And she writes about many distinctive things, including girls who are friends with bears, a circus on boats, and keepers of sea-graveyards.

In this interview, Kirsty talks to me about how she has travelled around the world thanks to writing residencies, and discusses her fascinating experiences in places such as Iceland and Granada. We also speak about Scottish English, women writing horror, queerness, and gender-fluid characters – she has many, and reading about them in books such as The Gracekeepers was empowering. In this interview, she also reads us an extract of her new novel The Gloaming and a horror short story that will be published in a forthcoming collection, Things We Say in the Dark.

Connect with Kirsty Logan:

Website / Twitter / Instagram

Ep. 7 | Jamila Gavin

I feel so depressed when I hear: ‘We have to go back to being English.’ What’s that, for heaven’s sake? Those are just words, they don’t give any meaning … Whatever our political agenda, there is still a huge amount of people coming to Europe, because there is so much conflict, drought, global warming … we can’t just be a little fortress. We got to change our mindset and not feel threatened by new cultures coming in … I don’t believe in suppressive cultures.

Do you want to come with us to the Hymalayan mountains?

Jamila Gavin is a writer who was born to an Indian father and an English mother, but she has lived most of her life in the UK. Jamila was one of the first authors to start writing multicultural literature, and she decided to focus on children. Her most recent publications include the Surya Trilogy and Coram Boy. In this interview, we discuss the importance of offering children stories and books in which they can see themselves, no matter where they come from or what their culture is. We also talk about the UK as a multicultural place, the importance of travelling as an inspiration, nationalism and those cases when you feel you belong to more than one culture. I think that this is something that happens a lot, but it’s not talked about enough. So I am very grateful I could chat with someone like Jamila, who has such an established career in writing. I think her experiences and her advice are incredibly valuable and I can’t thank her enough for sharing them with us.

Connect with Jamila Gavin:


Ep. 6 | Jenn Ashworth and Richard V. Hirst

I think this idea of cultural appropriation makes white writers like me be very nervous about representing anyone in their fiction that doesn’t look like them or doesn’t come from the place they live in … but taking that too far can result in everyone only writing about these versions of themselves and you lose your literary freedom and your curiosity, and confidence.

Jenn Ashworth

The things I write about tend to have their origins in holidays I’ve been on … I like writing about stories set on holidays, because you have characters set in unfamiliar surroundings, so they are quite isolated and their personalities can be brought out: they can have conflicts and interact quickly. It kind of creates the perfect conditions for a story.

Richard V. Hirst


Come with us and visit mysterious, liminal places where strange things may happen, such as Preston train station in the northwest of England…

In this interview, I bring you not just one guest but two: writers Jenn Ashworth and Richard V. Hirst. Jenn has published several novels, A Kind of Intimacy, Cold Light, The Friday Gospels and  Fell; she’s also a senior lecturer in Creative Writing at Lancaster University. Richard has won the 2009 Manchester Fiction Prize and, with Jenn and other artists, co-founded the publishing collective Curious Tales. Now, the most interesting thing about these two writers is that they love working together. Their most recent project is the novella The Night Visitors that I read and totally recommend. It’s written in the form of emails and contains horror, cannibalism and very spooky train stations. Richard and Jenn are both from Preston, in the north of England, and have been friends from a very young age, which I think you can tell by listening to them. We discuss many things, such as why Jenn always sets her fiction in Lancashire, eventhough she has travelled around the world and lived in different places. We also talk about why holidays are important for Richard (he actually gets much of his inspiration from travelling outside of the UK). We also discuss the importance of diverse literature and we get a bit serious when reflecting on the role of artists after Brexit and how this has changed the way we create. We tried to be hopeful, but I must confess, we ended up talking about the zombie apocalypse …

Connect with Jenn:

Website / Twitter / Instagram

Connect with Richard:

Website / Twitter

Ep. 5 | Jessica Elleray

Travelling has given me such a respect for how places and contexts shape communities and vice versa … I think it has given me understanding and it is an influence on my work.


Let’s go to Yuanming Yuan, the Old  Summer Palace, in China … a tragic place looted by the English and French armies, that inspired one of Jessica’s latest pieces.

In this episode I talk to multidisciplinary artist and writer Jessica Elleray and we go deep into some sensitive topics such as  cultural appropriation. On the fun side, we discovered that we are very similar: Jessica’s obession with Italy – a place that feels like home to her but that, weirdly enough, she has no connection with – is very similar to my own obession with Ireland. And now I have to ask, are we both alone in this or is there anyone else who has found his or her spiritual home in some faraway land?

Yuanming Yuan 1
Yuanming Yuan collection of sculptures by Jessica Elleray. (Source: Jessica Elleray).

Yuanming Yuan 2_ Horse
Yuanming Yuan collection (horse) by Jessica Elleray. (Source: Jessica Elleray).

Yuanming Yuan 3_rat
Yuanming Yuan collection (rat) by Jessical Elleray. (Source: Jessica Elleray).

Connect with Jessica:

Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Pinterest