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Leigh Turner

Leigh Turner

By Leigh Turner
Writer and former British ambassador Leigh Turner reads his stories, explores the art of writing and analyses what makes books great.

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10. Books: Sex, Turnips and the Meaning of Life: W Somerset Maugham

Leigh Turner

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15. Russia-Ukraine ceasefire: why not?
Any sane person wants to end wars. Many people have argued that a ceasefire in the Russia-Ukraine war might help reduce suffering. Others say that supplying arms to Ukraine simply prolongs the war. Here's why they are wrong. The situation is grim: but both a ceasefire or reducing arms supplies would be counterproductive - including for those who seek peace and want to end the suffering.  Links and further background at this blog.
19:40
August 24, 2022
14. John Savage in therapy: an interview
"John Savage, formerly First Secretary, British Embassy Moscow: Transcript of trauma counselling, session 12".  Why is John Savage, the hero of my Istanbul thriller, "Palladium", such a damaged character? Have a listen to this interview between him and his psychotherapist, Dr Bergbaum, about events in Moscow some 15 years earlier, and how he was thrown out of the Secret Intelligence Service as a result. You can find the blog on which this podcast is based at the link.
14:27
August 13, 2022
13. Writing Resources
Resources to help writers. We look at how to write articles and blogs; how to write a novel; dealing with rejections; a selection of writing courses - and much more. Have a listen to some friendly advice. For all the links, see my blog here: Resources for Writers.
08:59
July 30, 2022
12. Russia-Ukraine War explainer July 2022
A summer 2022 update on what is happening in Russia's war on Ukraine. Why it matters - and why what we must do next won't be easy. The picture shows Sverdlovsk, in eastern Ukraine, when I visited in 2010. It has been occupied by Russia since 2014.  Links and further background at this blog. 
17:00
July 15, 2022
11. Dr Wortle's School - a study in taboos
Were the people of 19th Century England obnoxious moralists? What if they were no worse than we are today? Also available as a blog post.
18:03
May 10, 2022
10. Does the "Palladium" exist? An interview with an archaeology professor
Top journalist Misty Anderson interviews Turkish archaeology professor Elif Mutlu about the mysterious Palladium. Why, Misty asks, do many people believe it protects Istanbul, while others argue it does not exist?  What do you think? Also available as a blog.  
08:28
May 08, 2022
9. Russia/Ukraine: When deception is official policy
What three things must you always bear in mind when you hear Russian official statements about Ukraine? Also available as a blog.
12:55
April 29, 2022
8. Goldfinger - is this vile book worth reading?
Ian Fleming's "Goldfinger", written in 1959, is full of vile sexism, homophobia and prejudice. Is it still worth reading? Also available as a blog.
11:03
April 22, 2022
7. How you can help Ukraine - long term - by drinking vodka
Why is Ukrainian vodka the best in the world? What else makes it unique? You may be surprised to learn how "Horilka" could become as famous as Scotch or Champagne. Also available as a blog.
07:26
March 27, 2022
6. Reverse Conspiracy theories and Ukraine
Whose fault is the President Putin's invasion of Ukraine? What about the Soviet invasion of Hungary, or the building of the Berlin Wall? Think twice before you ascribe blame or you may be a victim of "reverse conspiracy theories". Also available as a blog.
07:43
March 20, 2022
5. Russia-Ukraine war - why is it happening?
Who is really responsible for the devastating Russia-Ukraine war?  It may not be who you think. Why did President Putin do a U-turn? Listen to find out what really brought about a catastrophic war at the heart of Europe.
36:25
March 01, 2022
4. The inside story: publishing a thriller - the cover art
My Istanbul thriller "Palladium" has been eleven years in the making. This podcast introduces the cover art: how it came to be designed, what input I made, and how the results came out. Find out how an author gets involved in the cover of the book - or not! You can read the blog post on which this podcast is based, and see the cover, on my rleighturner.com blog. 
07:01
February 18, 2022
3. Why "Ulysses" matters - and you can read it
"Ulysses" matters: 100 years after Joyce's great masterpiece first appeared, you can read and enjoy it on many levels. A quotation shows why you have nothing to be afraid of. "Of course, Mr B proceeded to stipulate, you must look at both sides of the question." A discussion of James Joyce and "Ulysses", illustrated by a few quotes. My main messages: a) Ulysses matters, and b) it's not necessarily hard to read. Read the blog post on which this podcast is based on my rleighturner.com blog.
17:53
February 05, 2022
2. A study in stubbornness and relationships: "He Knew He Was Right"
In "He Knew He Was Right", Anthony Trollope shows he is an outstanding writer on relationships between the sexes.  Lessons on gender from 1869 are 100% relevant today. How men think, how women think and whether there is a difference is one of the abiding puzzles of life.  We all want to understand other people.  Many of us want to understand the opposite sex. How to understand women, or men?  You can do worse than start with Trollope’s "He Knew He Was Right". The novel also contains one of the great studies of stubbornness in literature. Ask yourself: are you sure you're right? Read the blog post on which this podcast is based on my rleighturner.com blog.
42:46
February 01, 2022
1. Diplomacy and the media
How diplomats should work with the media and build their media skills. Subscribe for regular podcasts from Leigh Turner. Read the blog on which this podcast is based here. 
18:35
January 02, 2022
23. Why Tuchman's law could change your life
American historian Barbara Tuchman came up with an elegant formula relevant to keeping things in perspective in today's bad news saturated internet age. You may even find her law helps you. You can read the post on which this short podcast is based at my rleighturner.com blog. Happy listening. 
05:52
December 22, 2021
22. A Horror Story for Christmas
"The Second Phial" is a complete short story set in the Moscow of 1993. It is a horror story - I hope.  This podcast is not suitable for children. Friends sometimes ask me: 'where do your ideas come from?' When they read, or listen to, "The Second Phial", they tend to ask 'I don't want to know where you get your ideas from'. Don't read it if you are easily disturbed. But please do subscribe to my podcasts either way! I lived in Moscow from 1992 to 1995, heading up the Economic Section of the British Embassy. I met a lot of scientists, and witnessed how they struggled to survive in the chaos that followed the collapse of the Soviet Union. But "The Second Phial" springs entirely from my imagination. You can read the blog on which this episode is based, including the full story, on my rleighturner.com blog. Happy listening.
34:43
December 10, 2021
21. Dealing with rejection and writer's block: 7 tips
Rejection and writer's block are constant companions for many writers. I've been there. But don't despair - you can do lots of things to regain your mojo and your motivation. Here are seven tips on how to cope - and maybe turn challenges into opportunities. You can read the post on which this podcast is based at my rleighturner.com blog.  Thanks for listening. Episode photo © Stefan Arnswald.
11:51
November 05, 2021
20. Writing tips: how to use Scenes and Sequels
Scenes and sequels are a great way to ensure your story is strong, packed with tension, and flows well. They can also help to structure - and speed up - your writing. This podcast, based on this blog post, includes some practical examples from my Berlin thriller "Blood Summit" - you can read those examples on the blog. You can read more than fifty other blog posts of writing tips at my rleighturner.com blog. Thanks for listening! Episode photo © Stefan Arnswald.
11:57
October 30, 2021
19. Christmas book gifts? The wonderful Heywood Hill
Sick and tired of Amazon? The UK firm Heywood Hill offers a suspiciously brilliant book service I've enjoyed immensely this year. It may be worth a look if you're searching for Christmas gifts for book lovers. You can read the post on which this podcast is based at my rleighturner.com blog.  Thanks for listening.
07:49
October 23, 2021
18. Mr Smith Sees Red
Introducing my 11th "Hotel Story". How will top hotelier Ms N and her beautiful but naive ally Tatiana overcome the trouble-making Mr Smith? Listen to an excerpt as Mr Smith confronts Ms Gentle, a visitor to the hotel. "Charming, fun and fast-paced, The Hotel Stories bring Pimm's wit and vigour to that most difficult of literary forms, the short story" - Matthew Parris. Thanks for listening.
17:15
October 14, 2021
17. Stopping work: how it feels
Thoughts on stopping work to write full time, after 42 years working for Her Majesty's Government. Humiliation - or liberation? - at a reception. What I'm doing next.  And what you can do to help me.  You can read the post on which this podcast is based at my robertpimm.com blog.  Thanks for listening.
10:06
September 21, 2021
16. Books: The Zhivago Affair
How censorship worked in Soviet Russia. The tragic story of the destruction of Boris Pasternak, author of "Doctor Zhivago".  You can read the post on which this podcast is based at my robertpimm.com writing, books and stories blog.  Thanks for listening!
17:46
June 19, 2021
15. Writing: How to get published
I recently signed a contract with US full-service publishing house Immortal Works for my Istanbul thriller PALLADIUM.  How did that contract come about?  How did I write the book, and market it?  And what can you learn from this?  This is the first of several podcasts describing my author journey, which I shall produce over the coming months.  You can also read the blog post on which this podcast is based.
11:51
May 03, 2021
14. Stories: Blood Summit: Chapters 2 and 3
Following on from the Prologue and Chapter 1 of my Berlin thriller Blood Summit in the previous episode, this podcast presents Chapters 2 and 3.  I hope you enjoy it.  You can read more about Blood Summit on my blog.
16:50
April 24, 2021
13. Stories: Blood Summit: Prologue and Chapter 1
Counter-terrorism expert Helen Gale has one job: to protect world leaders at a summit at the Berlin Reichstag.  But terrorists take hostage presidents, prime ministers, one hundred innocent children – and Helen’s husband. Then the executions start. Listen to the Prologue and Chapter 1 of my Berlin thriller "Blood Summit" on this podcast.  You can read more about the book on my blog.  Listen to Chapters 2 and 3 next week!
17:39
April 17, 2021
12. Books: Anthony Trollope: 11 reasons to read him
Anthony Trollope is one of the most brilliant and rewarding authors you have never read.  He invented the letter box and his novels boil with strong women. You can read the blog post on which this podcast is based at my robertpimm.com writing blog.  Thanks for listening!
11:15
April 11, 2021
11. Books: Why read W Somerset Maugham?
Why read W Somerset Maugham?  Not only for the wisdom set out in my podcast "Books 3: Sex, Turnips and the Meaning of Life: W Somerset Maugham", but because his classic tales will electrify you.  You can read the blog post on which this podcast is based at my robertpimm.com writing blog.  Thanks for listening!
09:49
April 03, 2021
10. Books: Sex, Turnips and the Meaning of Life: W Somerset Maugham
The writer W Somerset Maugham compares turnips and sex.  Is he wise, or daft?  Can we use his wisdom - if any - to make ourselves happier?  You can read the blog post on which this podcast is based at my robertpimm.com writing blog.  Thank you for listening!
08:47
March 27, 2021
9. Writing: The perfect article or blog (part 3): worked examples
This is the third of three podcast on how to write the perfect article or blog.  It is based on my article "The perfect article or blog part 3: worked examples".  You can listen to the previous episodes on this podcast.  Comments, feedback and requests for future podcasts welcome.
22:12
March 20, 2021
8. Writing: The perfect article or blog (part 2): nut-grafs and cosmic kickers
This is the second of three podcasts on how to write the perfect article or blog.  It is based on my article "Nut-grafs and cosmic kickers: writing the perfect article or blog (Part 2 of 3)".  More writing tips to follow!  Comments, feedback and ideas gratefully received.
18:08
March 13, 2021
7. Writing: The perfect article or blog (part 1)
The rules professionals use for writing the perfect article or blog.  This is the first of three linked podcasts on this subject: see the next two at Podcast 7 and Podcast 8.  This podcast is based on the article on my robertpimm.com blog "Writing the perfect article or blog: 7 tips to speed things up (Part 1 of 3)".  Thanks for listening.  
08:06
March 06, 2021
6. Stories: "Fixing It"
"Fixing It" is a complete short story I wrote as flash fiction on a writing course in Loutro, on the beautiful Greek island of Crete.  You can read the whole story - and much other stuff - on my robertpimm.com website.  On the same website you can read a review of the Loutro writing course.
12:01
March 01, 2021
5. Books: "Aunts aren't Gentlemen" by PG Wodehouse
Is "Aunts aren't Gentlemen" the funniest Wodehouse?  It certainly is one of my favourites.  Here are ten exquisite quotations for you to relish.  You can read the blog post on which this episode is based at my robertpimm.com writing blog.  Thank you for listening!
07:13
February 27, 2021
4. Writing: Stephen King on writing
In his book "On Writing", Stephen King explains how he never plans his books, but just gets started.  Should you plan a novel in advance, or not?  A few tips.   You can read more tips about writing on my robertpimm.com writing blog.  More writing tips to follow!  Thank you for listening.  Comments and feedback humbly accepted.
11:07
February 20, 2021
3. Stories: "The Two Rooms"
"The Two Rooms" is a complete short story taken from the book "Seven Hotel Stories", available on Amazon.  I started writing these curious tales when fate brought me into contact with the type of luxurious hotels most of us can only dream of - some of them in countries where hotels are a regular meeting place for the top people in society.  All the stories feature glamorous, petite Ms N - the world's best, and deadliest, hotel manager - and are narrated by her ally, the beautiful but naive Tatiana.   I write a fresh "Hotel Story" each year as a birthday present to my partner, who is a senior hotel manager. "The Two Rooms" was a gift in 2011.  So far I have written ten of them. For more about writing, books and stories, see my robertpimm.com website.  
41:03
February 14, 2021
2. Books: "50 Shades of Grey": 5 reasons it's a masterpiece, 5 reasons it's awful
Is "50 Shades of Grey", by E L James, brilliant, entertaining erotic literature, or a misogynistic horror-show?  You can read the blog post on which this podcast is based at my robertpimm.com writing blog.  More books and writers to follow!  Thank you for listening.  Comments and feedback humbly accepted.
20:36
February 06, 2021
1. Writing: Tips for writing novels - and enjoying it
How does an ambassador combine writing with the day job? Can anyone find time for writing a book - or two, or eight?  Do writing targets help?  You can read more tips about writing on my robertpimm.com writing blog.  Thanks for listening.  Comments welcome.
15:29
February 02, 2021