Episode 4

Vampires with a twist and genre constructs with Claire Kohda

Claire Kohda is a writer and musician. She reviews books for publications including the Guardian and the TLS, specialising in books from and about East Asia. Her essay, Portraits, about her experiences growing up mixed-race, also features in East Side Voices: Essays celebrating East and Southeast Asian identity in Britain, edited by Helena Lee and published by Sceptre. As a violinist, she has played with Jessie Ware, Pete Tong, the London Contemporary Orchestra, and on various film soundtracks including The Two Popes and The Matrix Resurrections

Our interview begins at  00:12:30

Mini book club: Heartstopper

Gush, gush, gush. Basically that's what you can expect from this chat. This series is perfect. Watch it. That's all we have to say. *PS, YES Stephen Fry IS the Truham headmaster we hear on the speakers.

Listen to our original chat about Heartstopper graphic novels and interview with Alice here.

In this interview, we chat about:

  • Why Claire wanted to explore the complications and tropes of the vampire in a new way
  • The degree to which food helps us bond as humans and the role it plays in racism
  • The way Western culture has such stringent book genres and generations (and why Claire was surprised Woman, Eating has been called a millennial novel)
  • How Claire wrote the book during lockdown after her career as a musician was halted thanks to Covid
  • The complex mother-daughter relationship explored in the book

Books and other things mentioned:

  • Derry Girls (TV show)
  • What We Do In The Shadows (film and TV show)
  • Buffy (TV show)
  • Twilight by Stephanie Meyer
  • Dracula by Bram Stoker
  • The Radleys by Matt Haig
  • Father May Be an Elephant and Mother Only a Small Basket by Gogu Shyamala (short story collection)

Follow Claire @clairekohda

Woman, Eating is available now. Thanks to Hachette Australia for sending us copies of the book in preparation for this 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.