When you look, communities are everywhere. They can be the people where you live, the people who share the same interest as you, the people you volunteer with. They can be as small as a household or as big as a city.

Communities, societies, political and religious beliefs all intertwine so that sometimes it’s impossible to see where one starts and the other ends. This is probably why they provide such fertile imaginative ground for writers. From the utopian ideals of Star Trek to the ‘whole ‘nother level of fucked-up-ness’ of Black Spring, they influence the characters that we grow to know and love. A community can transform everyday characters into villains or heroes, can lift them up or suck them down. Do writers shape communities to fit their characters? Or do they build up the community first and then decide what kind of people will populate it?

In this episode, we are joined by Caroline Hardaker and Gabriela Houston.

Texts mentioned in this episode include:

  • Star Trek
  • Hex by Thomas Olde Heuvelt
  • Cinderella is Dead by Kalynn Bayron
  • Raising Steam by Terry Pratchett
  • Going Postal by Terry Pratchett
  • Making Money by Terry Pratchett
  • The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
  • The Time Machine by HG Wells
  • Soylent Green
  • The Matrix
  • Star Wars
  • Lord of the Rings
  • Harry Potter
  • The Phlebotomist by Chris J. Panatier
  • Metropolis
  • Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler
  • The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin
  • Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones
  • The Guardians of the Galaxy

Caroline Hardaker

Caroline Hardaker is a poet and novelist from the northeast of England. She has published two collections of poetry, and her work has appeared worldwide in print and on BBC radio.  She is Writer in Residence for Newcastle Puppetry Festival and is currently collaborating with the Royal Northern College of Music to produce a cycle of songs to be performed throughout the year. She lives and writes in Newcastle.

Her novel, Composite Creatures, is out now from Angry Robot Books.

Gabriela Houston

Gabriela Houston was born and raised in Poland, brought up on a diet of mythologies and fairy tales. She spent her summers exploring the woods, foraging and animal tracking with her family. At 19, Gabriela moved to London to study English Literature and obtained a Masters degree in Literatures of Modernity. She has worked as an assistant editor and as a freelance writer. Gabriela’s short stories have been selected for the Editor’s Choice Review by Bewildering Stories and have been featured on the Ladies of Horror Fiction podcast. She lives in London with her husband and two children.

Her novel, The Second Bell, is out now from Angry Robot Books.