Bookmarked: Crimes, Rhymes, and London Bridge

Travis Elborough, courtesy BBC
Category: Reading

Just in time for World Poetry Day comes the latest episode of Bookmarked, which sees host Ryan Van Winkle sitting down with crime author Sophie Hannah, non-fiction writer Travis Elborough and poet and performer John Hegley at StAnza in St Andrews. Here’s a sneak peek of what’s in store:

Hannah, whose latest title, The Carrier, is now available in hardback, provided some insight into how increasing fame can be both a hindrance and a help to a writer:

‘It actually gets harder, rather than easier, because when I was writing my first novel, there were no other demands on my time. I didn’t have people asking for interviews or anything like that. The public side of being a writer has gotten more and more and more, so it actually gets much harder to find time to write the book... But the stress can be beneficial, because I tend to be a bit of a layabout, so this encourages me to get it done.’

She also talks about the themes that pervade her novels and one aspect that sets her apart from many other crime writers:

‘I really much prefer to write about crimes with what I call non-transferable motives—a motive that would only apply to that particular person in that particular set of circumstances. I won’t write a book unless I have a non-transferable motive that’s very unusual.’

Curious to know who her favourite poets are? You’ll have to listen to find out?

Ryan also pays a visit to StAnza, where he had a chance to catch up with John Hegley. Hegley shares a poem from his latest book and talks about family, the use of myths in his work and the lessons he imparts to schoolchildren before teasing Ryan’s brain with a few rhyming riddles.

London Bridge is...for sale? Travis Elborough, author of London Bridge in America, shares the extraordinary story of how a bridge made legendary by a nursery rhyme wound up in an Arizona desert, and what it taught Londoners about the importance of historical preservation:

‘The bridge was seen by the City of London Corporation as a pile of old stones inhibiting Ford Anglias from getting over the River Thames. They didn’t think of it as one of the last creations of John Rennie, the magnificent Scottish engineer responsible for ball bearings, gantry planes, the London Docks, this huge array of civic projects he produced during his lifetime...There’s a thread throughout the book about preservation.’

And finally, get ready for the Edinburgh International Science Festival with some mind-bending reads that’ll have you looking at the world around you in a very different way.

To listen to the episode, click here.