Episode 9

Telling uncomfortable stories about complicated people and with Huma Qureshi

Huma Qureshi is an award-winning author and journalist. Her memoir How We Met: A Memoir of Love and Other Misadventures was shortlisted for the Books Are My Bag Indie Readers Award. Her short story collection, Things We Do Not Tell the People We Love was longlisted for several awards. She has also worked and written for The Guardian and The Observer, among other publications. Today we’re discussing her debut novel, Playing Games. 

Our interview begins at  24.00

We've got a Substack publication now! On the last day of the month, we share recommendations for two things we reckon you should read/watch/listen to. The beauty of Substack is you can revisit all our old editions and comment on our episode updates to share your thoughts. Come say hi!

Caitlin recommends: Directed by James Burrows: Five Decades of Stories from the Legendary Director of Taxi, Cheers, Frasier, Friends, Will & Grace, and More

A fascinating look behind the scenes of some of the most iconic TV sitcoms including Cheers, Frasier and Friends.

Michelle recommends: Brooklyn by Colm Tobain

An emotional journey as a young Irish woman chooses between two lives in the 1950s. One of Michelle's all-time favourites – what did she think of it six years on from first reading it?

*Note: Michelle says it was published in 2019, but she meant 2009.

In this interview, we chat about:

  • Our obsession as readers with knowing whether a novel is inspired by real-life
  • Where is the line between stealing a story and being inspired by it?
  • Huma's focus on creating a nuanced portrayal of sisters and their complicated relationship
  • How to represent the creative process on the page
  • The beauty of short stories and how it started Huma's journey to publication
  • Huma's creative writing courses and how it enhances her craft

Books and other things mentioned:

  • Long Island by Colm Tobain
  • Cat Person (short story)
  • Bad Art Friend (short story)
  • Holly Bourne on Emma Gannon's Ctrl Alt Delete
  • Yellowface by Rebecca F Kuang
  • Between Us by Mhairi McFarlane
  • Alice Munro (author)

Follow Huma @humaqureshiwriter

Playing Games is available now. Thank you to Sceptre for providing us with copies of the book in preparation for the interview.

Connect with us on Instagram: @betterwordspod

About the Podcast

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Better Words

About your hosts

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Caitlin Toohey

Hi, I'm Caitlin! I've been on bookstagram since 2016, a podcaster since 2017, and worked in publishing since 2019. So books and reading are my entire life. When I'm not reading, I like listening to Taylor Swift, watching sitcoms, and generally being a theatre kid.
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Michelle Gately

Hi, I'm Michelle! I'm an Aussie living in the UK, working as a bookseller at Waterstones. I'm obsessed with storytelling in all its forms – I spend as much time watching TV or listening to podcasts as I do reading. Other hobbies include bouldering, hiking and generally obsessing about my pug Percy.