Always Take Notes-logo

Always Take Notes

Media & Entertainment Podcasts >

More Information


United Kingdom




#38: Rory Stewart, author

Kassia and Simon speak to Rory Stewart, the MP for Penrith and the Border and the author of Occupational Hazards and The Places in Between, a New York Times bestseller. We spoke to him about his influences and how his feelings about walking memoirs and travel literature have evolved. He also spoke in greater depth about how he came to write The Places in Between and how his relationship with his father was pivotal to his most recent book, The Marches. You can find us online at...


#37: Clare Conville, literary agent, C+W

Simon speaks to to Clare Conville, the co-founder of literary agency C+W (formerly Conville and Walsh). Listed by the Observer as one of “Our top 50 players in the world of books”, Clare previously worked as an editor at Random House, before co-founding Conville & Walsh in 2000. Between them Clare’s clients have won or been nominated for nearly every major literary prize in the UK, including the Man Booker Prize, the Orwell Prize, the Somerset Maugham Award and the Orange Prize for...


#36: Lionel Barber, editor of the Financial Times

Kassia and Simon chat to Lionel Barber, editor of the Financial Times since 2005. We discussed his early career in journalism, which included stints at The Scotsman and a fellowship at the Washington Post, before his move to the Financial Times. He also spoke about his plans for the newspaper, both when he first took over as editor in 2005 and how these may have changed more recently as the idea of globalism has become more fraught. We also discussed some recent pieces he's been involved...


#35: Joanne Harris, novelist

Simon and Kassia speak to Joanne Harris, author of the 1999 novel Chocolat, which was filmed a year later starring Juliette Binoche, Judi Dench and Johnny Depp, as well as numerous other best sellers including Gentleman and Players, Runelight and Peaches For Monsieur le Curé. Joanne talked about her early career as a teacher, dealing with unhelpful advice, the experience of writing a huge best-seller and subsequent movie adaptation, and her prolific, and occasionally acerbic, presence on...


#28: Peter Moffat, BAFTA-winning screenwriter

Kassia and Simon interview screenwriter and playwright Peter Moffat, whose work includes the series Cambridge Spies, Criminal Justice - later the basis of HBO's The Night of - and Silk, as well as the TV films Hawking and Einstein & Eddington. Peter spoke about moving from his early career as a lawyer into writing, the distinctions between British and American approaches to producing TV drama, and the role of both intensive research and muzak-free coffee shops in his writing routine....


#27: Helen Lewis, deputy editor, the New Statesman

Kassia and Simon interview Helen Lewis, deputy editor of the New Statesman. She spoke to us about what her current role entails, the training she received as a sub-editor at the Daily Mail (and what it was like to work there). Helen candidly discussed the importance of networking, feminism, sub-editing and longform journalism. She also revealed a brilliant tip for powering through writers' block.


#25: Hannah Westland, publisher, Serpent's Tail

Kassia and Simon speak to Hannah Westland, the publisher at Serpent's Tail, an independent imprint that published Lionel Shriver's We Need to Talk About Kevin and Sarah Perry's The Essex Serpent. She spoke to us about her early career — she started out as a literary agent — some of the projects she's currently working on and the role of independent firms in the publishing marketplace. You can find us online at...


#24: Laura Palmer, publishing director, Head of Zeus

Simon speaks to Laura Palmer, publishing director for fiction at Head of Zeus, an independent publishing house in London. Laura co-founded Head of Zeus in 2012, having started her career at Quercus Books, and she also worked at Corvus, the commercial fiction imprint of Atlantic Books. We spoke about what 'commercial fiction' precisely means, whether 'women's fiction' is still a useful label, best practice for aspirant writers and editors, and whether the Kindle has boosted public appetite...


#22: Patrick Kingsley, New York Times correspondent

In this episode Kassia and Simon interview Patrick Kingsley, a correspondent with the New York Times. Patrick previously covered migration and the Middle East for The Guardian, based in Cairo and Istanbul. His first book, How To Be Danish (2012), was an exploration of contemporary Danish society. His second book, The New Odyssey (2016), chronicled the European refugee crisis, and was one of NPR's books of the year. Now based in London, Patrick is also a past winner of the annual foreign...


#21: Nikesh Shukla, author

In this episode Kassia interviews Nikesh Shukla, a TV and fiction writer. We spoke about his novels Coconut Unlimited and Meatspace, and how he came to edit The Good Immigrant, the collection of essays about race and immigration and what it means to be a model "good immigrant" in the UK. You can find us online at, on Twitter @takenotesalways, and on Facebook at Always Take Notes is presented by Kassia St Clair and Simon Akam, and produced...


#20: Antony Beevor, military historian

Kassia and Simon interview Antony Beevor, the celebrated military historian. Best known as author of Stalingrad, the runaway success which on publication in 1998 transformed military history as a genre, Antony has also written on the Spanish Civil War, the battles of Crete and Berlin, and D-Day. His latest book Arnhem – The Last German Victory, will be published in May 2018. Antony, who is also a former chairman of the Society of Authors, has sold more than seven million books in 32...


#19: Sam Knight, magazine writer

Simon interviews Sam Knight, a British writer who works mainly for the Guardian and the New Yorker and specialises in longform pieces on unusual topics, such as the UK sandwich industry and the psychology of a stalker. They discuss his entry into journalism, his love of classic American nonfiction and how he puts features together.


#17: Candice Carty-Williams, senior marketing executive, Vintage Books

Kassia and Simon interview Candice Carty-Williams, senior marketing executive at Vintage Books. She spoke to us about the nuts and bolts of marketing a book and the role data play. She also discussed how she wrote her debut novel "Queenie", which was acquired by Orion earlier this year for a six-figure sum and will be published in 2019. You can find us online at, on Twitter @takenotesalways, and on Facebook at Always Take Notes is presented...


#16: Nick Summers, features editor, Bloomberg Businessweek

Kassia and Simon spoke to Nick Summers, a features editor for Bloomberg Businessweek who at time of recording was based in London but is now in New York. Nick talked us through his commissioning and editing process and spoke about some fascinating pieces he's worked on recently including one on an Wall Street informant who double-crossed the FBI and another that looked into exactly what it is that IBM does (and whether it's any good at it). Stories discussed:...


#15: Oliver Franklin-Wallis, commissioning editor, British Wired

Simon interviews Oliver Franklin-Wallis, commissioning editor at British Wired. Oliver edits — and writes — longform features for the magazine. He discusses his background and entry to journalism, dos and don'ts of the pitching process and stories about the future of death, the Ebola crisis and the 'Hyperloop.' Stories discussed:


#14: Kiran Millwood Hargrave, winner, Waterstones Children's Book Prize 2017

Kassia and Simon interview Kiran Millwood Hargrave, an award-winning children's novelist as well as a poet and playwright. She revealed what motivates her to write, her previous struggles with her mental health, and how she manages her finances.


#13: Tom Standage, deputy editor, The Economist

Kassia and Simon interview Tom Standage, deputy editor of The Economist. They spoke about Tom's long career at the publication, why there is a no-bylines policy and some of The Economist's newer projects, such as a virtual-reality reconstruction of the Mosul Museum in Iraq, containing artefacts destroyed by Islamic State in 2015. More information on this project can be found below:


#12: Patrick Walsh, literary agent, PEW Literary

Simon and Kassia interview literary agent Patrick Walsh, who runs PEW Literary in London and formerly co-founded Conville & Walsh. They discuss the complexities journalists can face moving into book writing, the art of the nonfiction proposal, the expansion of the Chinese market and the thrill of the deal. You can find us online at, on Twitter @takenotesalways, and on Facebook at Always Take Notes is presented by...


#11: Tom Jennings, director, Logan Nonfiction Programme

Simon interviews Tom Jennings, director of the Logan Nonfiction Programme at the Carey Institute for Global Good in upstate New York in the US, where Simon stayed earlier this year. They spoke about Tom's career and the importance for writers of grants and fellowships like the one organised by the Carey Institute. If you're fascinated — or slightly intimidated — by residencies and grants, this episode is for you. More information on the Logan Programme and the Carey Institute is available...


#10: Alice Fishburn, editor, FT Weekend Magazine

Kassia and Simon interview Alice Fishburn, editor of the Financial Times Weekend Magazine. They discuss how she got her start in journalism, where the magazine sits within the rest of the FT’s offerings, and why longform journalism seems to be valued less in the UK than the US. Some of the FT Weekend Magazine pieces mentioned in the interview are: ‘Has science cracked the peanut allergy?’: ‘Out of road: driverless vehicles and...