In last year’s episode on magical realism, we talked about this genre’s ability to take a recognisable setting and tilt it a few degrees, creating something familiar and yet not quite what we’re used to.

Alternate history can do this too – by revisiting a moment in time and fitting a different lens to the camera, we can see and hear the people whose stories, for whatever reason, might not have been recorded or recorded only in a single convenient context.

Add a speculative element to this – magic, for instance – and the possibilities for exploration seem endless. But what challenges do we face in re-creating our own history? What truths does it force us to confront?

We welcome our first guest of 2021, author Nicole Glover, whose debut novel, The Conductors, combines murder, mystery and magic to re-examine a period of American history.

We ask: is magic an extension of privilege? Can it be inherently prejudiced? And in a society where everyone has it, who are the ones in power?

Mentioned in this episode:

  • Nora Neale Hurston
  • Virginia Hamilton
  • Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
  • Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie
  • Knives Out
  • Columbo

NICOLE GLOVER works as a UX researcher in Virginia. She believes libraries are magical places and problems seem smaller with a cup of tea in hand.

Her life outside of books include bicycles, video games, and baking the perfect banana bread. The Conductors is her debut novel. She can be found at