The Writers’ Gym Podcast

Take your word-count for a workout and build creative confidence at the Writers’ Gym. Fiction and non-fiction author, lecturer and writing coach Dr Rachel Knightley joins authors from across the genres. Each episode explores an author’s unique mix of memory, imagination, observations and questions about the world, and how that translates into their unique stories. There may be only seven basic plots but there are infinite original voices: develop your creative curiosity, build your focus and explore the goals, exercises, tools and techniques to discover what you really want from your writing — and what your writing really needs from you.

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Monday Aug 14, 2023

Ahead of the launch of Twisted Branches (coming Oct 2023 from Black Shuck Books), Rachel Knightley talks to Trevor Kennedy of Big Hits Radio UK for his horror spot on the Sunday Service. In return, Trevor come to the Writers' Gym to talk about his freelance writing life and how confidence in our voices is only ever half the story of what it feels like to be a professional writer.
Big thanks to Big Hits Radio UK for the interview material. Sadly we cannot attach the songs of choice: You Want It Darker is the title track of Leonard Cohen's 2016 album. We trust you to go and play it after the interviews!
For the full Writers' Gym workout, subscribe via Substack or email
Born in 1976, Trevor Kennedy is a writer and editor based in Belfast, Northern Ireland and has been working in the genre literary field for around ten years now, although he has been a fan of all things weird and fantastical for as long as he can remember. He edits Phantasmagoria Magazine and its spin-off Special Edition Series, along with other related books under his TK Pulp imprint. Trevor is also a radio presenter for Big Hits Radio UK and co-host of Citizen Frame film review podcast. His day job is a complaints handler for Channel 4 (UK). Previous employment includes as a lithographic colour proofer, composite operator for Bombardier Shorts aircraft manufacturers, the BBC Complaints department, call centre operative and brief stints as a security guard and industrial cleaner. He can be contacted by email at and his brand new collection, Bad Dreams and Reflections, is published by Dark Owl Publishing and available worldwide from Amazon and other bookstores.

Monday Jul 03, 2023

What does full-time writing look like? It depends on the writer – and what we create in our lives off the page depends directly on what we imagine.
Today's Personal Training at the Writers' Gym takes in the spaces between what goes on the page, and how to work with our feelings about ourselves and the world to create the work lives as well as the art we want.
Rachel Knightley's guest is Maura McHugh. Maura was born in the USA, but raised in Ireland, where she developed a love of mythology, horror fiction, art, and writing. She has lived in New York, Dublin, and Galway, and worked in IT before succumbing to her love of storytelling.
She co-wrote the comic book Witchfinder: The Mysteries of Unland with Kim Newman, and is working on a variety of comic book stories in the 2000 AD universe. She's the author of the fairy tale collection, Twisted Fairy Tales, and the collection of world myths, Twisted Myths. Her collection of original short stories, The Boughs Withered (When I Told Them My Dreams), is published by NewCon Press and was nominated for a British Fantasy Award for Best Collection. Her non-fiction exploration of Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me was nominated for a British Fantasy Award for Best Non-Fiction. She's also a published poet, a produced playwright, and a screenwriter, and often appears on Irish radio discussing pop culture. She loves exploring the woods: the darker, the wilder, the better.
Download your Writing Workout here – and why not bring it along to the Writing Room? (If you're not already signed up, visit to join the mailing list or, for exclusive events and coaching sessions, become a paid Subscriber on Substack.)

Connection Through Imperfection

Saturday Jun 03, 2023

Saturday Jun 03, 2023

Internationally best-selling author, artist, journalist and speaker John-Paul Flintoff trained in improvisation with Keith Johnstone. He designs today's word-count workout alongside Rachel Knightley as they discuss the benefits of stagecraft on communication, and how performance provides 'factory conditions' for understanding your own character motivation offstage as much as on it.
John-Paul's books include the internationally bestselling How to Change the World, and A Modest Book on How to Make an Adequate Speech.  John-Paul will also be joining the Writer's Gym's Green Ink Sponsored Write for Macmillan Cancer Support on 14 October 2023. To receive your world-exclusive anthology of new writing 48 hours after the event ends, click here.
Download your hard copy of today's Word-count Workout (along with a bonus extras) from 5 June by subscribing here. 

Sunday May 07, 2023

"What writing advice really pisses you off?" was one of my favourite questions to ask award-winning author and editor Dan Coxon.
At the time (an interview for the Business of Writing module I convene at Roehampton University), his answer was one of the most prolific – and apparently innocuous – answers out there. Maybe you've heard it. Dan's the first to say if it works for you, great. But what are the potential issues behind it...?
In this episode of the Writers' Gym, all exercises and discussion are on the aspect of writing that unites all writing genres and all (successful) writing careers: the Business of Writing.
Dan's non-fiction anthology Writing the Uncanny (co-edited with Richard V. Hirst) won the British Fantasy Award for Best Non-Fiction 2022; his short story collection Only the Broken Remain (Black Shuck Books) was shortlisted for two British Fantasy Awards in 2021 (Best Collection, Best Newcomer). In 2018 his anthology of British folk-horror, This Dreaming Isle (Unsung Stories), was shortlisted for a British Fantasy Award and a Shirley Jackson Award. His short stories have appeared in various anthologies and his latest anthology - Isolation - was published by Titan Books in September 2022. His first published book was:

Friday Mar 31, 2023

One thing that becomes clear the more accomplished we get in any area of writing (or of anything else): the kind of writing somebody else is doing still looks to us more like "real" writing...
Dr Mike Jones is a rock lyricist (notably for Latin Quarter, including their Top 20 hit Radio Africa), reader and lecturer in music at Liverpool University. His work includes an MA programmes in partnership with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic and another in the Beatles: Music Industry and Heritage. He wrote, directed and produced 'Where Light Falls', an exploration of the career of Joni Mitchell, performed in Sheffield and Liverpool; he also wrote, directed and produced 'George Harrison and Indian Music', performed at Liverpool Philharmonic.
Mike talks to Rachel Knightley about the relationship of political and personal influences on his lyrics and career in writing, and how his journey through the music industry and academia are moving him towards a deeper interest in another kind of writing...

Sunday Feb 26, 2023

A painter doesn't need permission to mix any colours they like. Yet, as writers, our memories, imagination, observations and questions about the world and ourselves come with "not supposed to go there" stamped all over them. How can we give ourselves permission to beat those blocks?
Multi-award-winning author Jennifer Steil joins Rachel Knightley to talk about about what kept her writing through kidnap, cancer treatment and everyday life in the three countries she calls home.


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