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Writer's Corner - Philippa Holloway

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Writer's Corner - Philippa Holloway

Dr Philippa Holloway is writer and senior lecturer at Staffordshire University. The Half-Life of Snails #THLOS, is her debut novel and follows the narratives of two sisters Helen and Jennifer. A bond that has been intertwined and tested by the looming Wylfa Power Station that marked their childhood in Ynys y Mon. 
During research for her PhD which examined nuclear psychogeography,  Philippa visited the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone. This extensive research shaped the writing in #THLOS and grounded her work in exploring the relationship between the land around us and our sense of belonging. 

What are you reading right now?

The Scrapbook, by Carly Holmes, and the Rivers of London Series by Ben Aaronovitch. My TBR pile is eclectic and towering, and then there’s all the books I am dipping into for work…too many to list!

Tea or coffee?


Favourite reading spot?

I love reading outside but get distracted by ladybirds and clouds. In bed with my dog beside me is the best place.

Describe your writing in three words.

Knotty, emplaced, questioning.

What was the first book you remember loving as a child?

Dogger by Shirley Hughes, and Babette Cole’s wonderful picture books. These are the books I learned to read with.  

Any pets?

My beautiful girl, Mortimer! Named for a fictional raven.

A black spaniel called Mortimer

What inspires you to write?

Places – the features of a place at first, and then wondering how all these imaginary people I carry with me might respond to them. I need to be moving to generate ideas – walking or driving or swimming, and looking. Then I can work out the story.

What TV show are you bingeing right now?

Yellowstone – it’s a story about a community and place I’d never be able to visit myself, and it’s fascinating to see landscape and family so entwined and the resulting complexities played out on screen, while also enjoying the escapism its otherness provides.  

 Can we peek at your favourite bookshelf? 

This is the bookshelf beside my desk, and the one I look at most often. The tarot card I found on a walk one day, it’ll end up in a story one day, I’m sure!

A bookshelf

Any words of wisdom for writing.

Writing is re-writing - Keep at it, it takes time and patience and determination. And go for a walk, it’ll help!

What are your guilty pleasures?

TV and crisps

Morning bird or night owl?

Morning bird, not by choice.

What skill or talent would you love to have?

To be fluent in multiple languages.

Do you have a favourite literary quote?

As the climate crisis continues, I’m repeatedly drawn back to the lines from Martin Amis’s Time’s Arrow describing the industrial revolution moving backwards: ‘People all have jobs now, at the steel mill and the auto plant. They wash the wind. Just as they clean up all the trash and litter, they also clean up the earth and the sky, transmogrifying cars, turning tools, parts, weapons, bolts into carbon and iron.’

It's a stunning novel, shocking the reader into seeing the Holocaust and the progress of industrial life afresh in a narrative where time moves backwards and these events are undone. The defamiliarization this creates highlights the horrific injuries to both humanity and the earth.




 The Half-Life of Snails is now available with Parthian as a hardback. Order your copy now! 

You can keep up to date with Philippa Holloway by following her on twitter @thejackdawspen