Episode 10

Liminal spaces, burnout and female friendship with Abigail Bergstrom

Abigail Bergstrom has written for national publications and worked in the publishing industry for a decade. She has edited and represented countless bestsellers, building some of today’s biggest book brands and working with some of the industry’s most prominent voices. She was nominated for Literary Agent of the Year 2020 at the British Book Awards and is an intersectional feminist campaigner who co-founded the campaign ‘This Doesn’t Mean Yes’ which was covered in the media internationally. She lives in London with her boyfriend and her Italian Greyhound, Luca. Today we’re discussing her debut novel, What A Shame.

Our interview begins at  00:18:00

Caitlin recommends: Now That I See You by Emma Batchelor

In intriguing and heartfelt autofiction that explores changes in a relationship when one person comes out as trans.

Michelle recommends: Everyone in My Family Has Killed Someone by Benjamin Stevenson

Perfect for fans of Agatha Christie and Knives Out, a delicious family murder mystery that really plays into the tropes of the genre.

In this interview, we chat about:

  • Writing about 'under the surface' shame women experience
  • To what extent are we showing the truth online (and are we comfortable with that projection?)
  • Abigail's experience with severe burnout and how this has influenced her life, writing life and ambitions
  • The liminal spaces in our lives
  • Explore different portrayals of female friendships
  • How Abigail got her book deal and her experience as an agent (with tips for those who want to be published)

Books and other things mentioned:

  • Australia's Got Talent
  • Moulin Rouge (musical)
  • Mary Poppins (musical)
  • Rick & Morty (TV series - One Crew over the Crewcoo's Morty)
  • Thursday Murder Club by Richard Oseman
  • Abigail's piece on liminal spaces
  • Notes to Self by Emilie Pine
  • Sheila Heti
  • Acts of Desperation by Megan Nolan
  • Ottessa Moshfegh
  • Fix the System, Not the Women by Laura Bates
  • Girl Crush by Florence Given

Follow Abigail on Instagram @abigailbergstrom and check out her Substack Something to Say.

What a Shame is available now in the UK and Australia. Thank you to Hachette Australia for sending us copies 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 going to aerial classes.
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Michelle Gately

Hi, I'm Michelle! I write words and tell stories for a living as a journalist and marketer. So it makes sense that I'm devouring more words and talking about books in my spare time, right? I'm also an Aussie living in the UK. When I'm not thinking about words, I can be found cuddling my pug Percy, climbing or going on walks in the English countryside.