Tag Archives: Susan Cahill

Are You Storyshaped?

Hey hey! Listen up.

At the end of July, I co-founded a podcast. It’s called Storyshaped, and it’s so much fun.

Art by Paul Coomey

My co-host is the brilliant Susan Cahill, whose debut children’s novel is being published next year. Susan’s book is called The World Between the Rain and as soon as it’s available, I urge you to go and grab a copy. (I’ve had an early peek. It’s brilliant). Every week, we get together to have a natter about books, and stories, and how important they are, and we welcome a new special guest each Thursday to talk about these things with us. Susan and I both firmly believe that the stories we read (or experience) as children have a powerful effect in shaping our lives, and these stories can shape not only our future careers, life-choices, and dreams, but also the work (creative or non-creative) that we go on to do.

I wrote an article about how we decided to put the podcast together, which you’re very welcome to read. Basically, I explain how Susan and I – who’ve been friends for many years now, but who’d never somehow managed to talk about books before – reconnected over our shared love of the same children’s books, which we’d read and loved in childhood. We realised our philosophies about the power of stories were very similar, and from there it was a simple leap of logic to kick off our podcast. It’s been an extremely steep learning curve, but it’s been so rewarding.

If you haven’t checked us out yet, I really recommend you do. The podcast is aimed at everyone, primarily adults who enjoy children’s books, but if you’re a person who’s interested in hearing from writers and other creatives about their work, their process, and the stories that they credit with inspiring and shaping and encouraging them during the course of their life, then Storyshaped is for you. So far, Susan and I have done some ‘deep-dive’ episodes into some of the books we found particularly captivating as children, and our guests have discussed things as varied as throwing the hammer (as a sport, not just flinging tools about), the Challenger disaster, libraries built into the walls of a castle, parents who had tabs in their local bookshop, and so much more. We have loads of wonderful guests lined up, with some fantastic episodes already recorded (we’ll be going hunting for a Sweet Tree! And potholing! And so much more!) and there have been so many people eager to come to speak to us that Susan and I feel we’re only getting started. Get on board, and join in!

Our podcast website is here – Storyshaped Podcast – but we’re available on all the major podcast streaming services, including Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, and Spotify.

So please come and listen in! Search ‘Storyshaped’ on your podcast streaming service of choice, and don’t forget to Like, Subscribe, Share the episodes, and (importantly) Rate and Review the podcast, to help the algorithms to find new listeners who might be interested in what we’re doing. We hope you’ll enjoy STORYSHAPED!

Introducing… Storyshaped!

Logo for Storyshaped Podcast, designed and photographed by Sinéad O’Hart

Last week (even though, as so much has happened since, it feels like last year) my old friend and fellow author, Susan Cahill, sent me a text asking about Alan Garner.

Anyone who knows me, or who has been around these parts for any length of time, will know that Alan Garner is my personal hero. He’s the author whose work has had the most profound effect on my life, and on my career(s) – as he, in a roundabout way, helped me to become a medievalist before he prodded me towards writing books – and so I was thrilled to know that Susan had discovered his work, too, and was interested in talking about it. She’d started reading Garner’s work in the opposite direction to me, beginning with the more challenging books like Red Shift; I began by reading his incredible novel Elidor, published in 1965, and only ‘graduated’ to Red Shift in my twenties, when I felt intellectually capable of appreciating it. This is not to say that Elidor doesn’t require attention and care; it does, and as a ‘children’s’ book it’s unsurpassed in its command of sparse language to evoke massive themes, but Red Shift (and so many other books by Alan Garner) are on another level in terms of the meaning their author can convey in the smallest space. They’re like singularities, in book form.

All of this talk about Alan Garner is coming to a point, I promise! Not only has Garner finally turned up on the longlist for the Booker Prize this year with his most recent book, a masterpiece entitled Treacle Walker which I urge you to read, but our shared appreciation for his work led Susan and I to decide to do something we’d both been considering for a while: start a podcast.

And so, our podcast – Storyshaped – has been born!

It’s a podcast about the stories that shape us, and the stories that we go on to shape – whether those are stories we write, draw, film, or create in some other way, or stories we point others to, or the stories we make from our own lives. We are all living stories, and every one of us is shaped by stories, though I feel many people don’t realise the extent to which this is true. Storyshaped aims to ask the questions: which stories have shaped you? How have they shaped you? And how have they helped to shape the stories you have gone on to tell? Stories are the chain that connects us, past to present to future, and in them we hand down our history, our humanity, our deepest connections. Our podcast will welcome a different guest every week, and Susan and I will aim to discuss these big, and interesting, questions with them – and with one another. I hope you’ll tune in!

Storyshaped is also available on Spotify and it should also be available on most of the major podcast streaming platforms, so do please follow and subscribe wherever you get your podcasts.

I hope, more than anything, that Storyshaped will get you thinking about the stories that have shaped you – and that it’ll help you to revisit those stories, and discover lots of new stories to bring you on journeys of untold possibility…

And, of course, please do get in touch if you have any suggestions or feedback on the podcast! Our Twitter handle is http://www.twitter.com/StoryshapedPod, and our contact email can be found in the shownotes of each episode.

Happy listening!