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AGENDA 8 Places of Our Own Gillian Dow treads the literary tourist trail, visiting homes, cities and libraries dedicated to women writers

INTERVIEW 13 Isabel Allende: At home in California, at home in the world

FEATURES 16 Like Riding a Bike Immersed in writing her second novel, Rachel Zadok assesses the trials, tribulations and new joy of book number two

The Insider: Clare Alexander

Reporting for Duty Fancy a career as a journalist? New York Times London correspondent Sarah Lyall on the tricky realities of the trade


‘I write to my mother every day so I have at least the fresh version of what happened that day as I perceived it.’

Isabel Allende, pictured with her mother, Panchita, above. Interview page 13

Contents: issue 39


STARTERS 4 Contributors, Letters, News and Views

INSPIRATIONS 22 Including: Bernardine Evaristo, Chelsea Cain’s first draft, making a poem: Amanda Dalton talks to Colette Bryce, Alexandra Fuller’s bottom drawer, write your self with Roselle Angwin, keep going with Bekki Hill

NEW WRITING 31 Carol Birch introduces her selection of prose and poetry on the theme ‘Bugs’

BOOKS 47 How to write a bestseller: Breaking Dawn Literary landmarks: Bridget Jones’s Diary Independent press profile: Flame Books Writer’s bookshelf by Janette Jenkins

GUIDELINES 57 The lowdown on music journalism The joy of…writing paranormal romance

DIRECTORY 61 Opportunities: competitions, submissions, retreats, grants Out and About: events and workshops

AND FINALLY 74 Julie Walters’ bedside table

Turning another new leaf

Change is always interesting. We were delighted, therefore, to receive your feedback on the redesign of our magazine and website – and you can see a range of readers’ responses on our Letters page. Keep those letters coming: we look forward to hearing your ongoing opinions on our look, feel and content. The next big news on the Mslexia horizon is our inaugural Short Story Competition, judged by the fantastic writer Helen Simpson. Following the successes of our Poetry Competitions, we are inviting prose entries on any topic or theme; visit for

all the details. (And while you are there, participate in our poll and tell us who your favourite short story writer is!). If you’re looking for writing inspiration, look no further than this issue of Mslexia : from Bernardine Evaristo’s column on creative writing to Bekki Hill’s advice on taking proper breaks. We’ve also got Chelsea Cain explaining why detail is all when it comes to crime writing, and novelist Rachel Zadok on rediscovering the delights of writing once your first novel is behind you. Alexandra Fuller ruminates on the fiction languishing in her Bottom Drawer – and the ‘fit’ as a writer that she’s

found with fictional nonfiction, while actress Julie Walters offers up an intriguing reading list from her Bedside Table. All this, plus next year’s Writer’s Diary will be available this month, in time for all your 2009 needs, and chock full of writing information, inspiration and exercises. Finally, a word to the wise: don’t forget, if you have any questions regarding the publishing industry and how to navigate it as a writer, Danuta Kean is standing by to answer your queries. Send your questions via our postal address or via email to Happy writing! Daneet Steffens, Editor

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