If you have been following us for some time, you will know all about our love for books; we carry them inside our satchels and close to our hearts. Well, our current read is one that is relevant to all: You Are Not Alone by Cariad Lloyd.
Cariad Lloyd, photographed by Matt Crocket.
We had the opportunity to talk to the comedian and podcast host about her first venture into writing, and specifically about writing about grief. Read on to hear all about the process behind You Are Not Alone, and if you're based in the UK, find out how to win a copy along with a Small Portrait Backpack in Vintage.
The Cambridge Satchel Co.
Hi Cariad! Please can you introduce yourself?
I am Cariad Lloyd. I am a writer/performer but more specifically a writer/actor/podcaster/improviser. I started out in comedy and then in 2016 I created my podcast, the Griefcast, where I talk to people about their experiences of grief and death. My dad died when I was 15, which is what inspired me to start the show, and after doing it for six years and interviewing nearly 200 people, I've now written a book based on everything I've learned, You Are Not Alone.
Lloyd at work, recording the Griefcast.
What led you to starting the podcast?
In 2016, a lot of comedians were starting podcasts. I had a strange thought that if I did a podcast it would just be me talking to people about death. I laughed and honestly thought, well no one would listen to that. But the idea pulled up a chair in my brain and wouldn’t go away, so I decided to record four episodes and see what happened. Six years on, ten seasons and nearly 200 episodes later, I realised people didn’t just want to listen, they needed a space for their grief too.
Lloyd with one of her most recent Griefcast guests, author and journalist Poorna Bell.
You Are Not Alone is your first book - what drew you to writing, and why did you choose to talk about grief in a written format, too?
After talking to so many guests, and also to so many listeners, I realised there were some singular truths about grief that not everyone was aware of. I wanted to collate all the knowledge of these conversations and put them into a book, so if someone was just joining ‘the club’ (a term we use on the Griefcast to describe how it feels when you experience significant capital G Grief), they could find their way through the initial fog. I am drawn to anything that makes grief feel more useful and writing it down felt like a way of making that possible.
What makes your book unique, and what do you hope that readers will take away from it?
I think it’s a grief book that isn’t maudlin, or drenched in sadness; but a book about death that wants to talk to you very simply and practically about how to cope with this mess called grief. At its best, it’s a rough map from a friend, not offering you an ending or perfection but a way to navigate through what feels impossible. I hope readers will find it helps their grief, even in a small way, to feel less isolated, to reassure that they are not the only ones going through this epic human process.
Kate Holland, Simon Mayo, Cariad Lloyd and Mark Kermode at the British Podcast Awards (from left to right).
What challenges did you face in writing this book?
I did the proposal for this book in 2019, and then found out I was pregnant with my second child. I put lots of childcare and support in place, so I could continue writing once he was born…. And then the global pandemic took place. I wrote most of it with a 3 year-old and a newborn at home, with no childcare other than myself and my husband.
Writing about grief while it feels the world is grieving was very hard but also at times strangely comforting. It felt like we were all suddenly having the conversations I had been having for some time.
On the topic of books, what are you currently reading?
Vagabonds by Eloghsoa Osunde and 10 minutes 38 seconds in This Strange World by Elif Shafak.
Cariad Lloyd, photographed by Matt Crocket.
Every month, we update our CSC Spotify Playlist with songs that are meaningful to our team or which we are enjoying listening to at the moment. Would you have a song that you’d like to add?
Yes! I have become obsessed with listening to Jessie Buckley and Bernard Butler’s album, For All Our Days That Tear The Heart, so any track from there would be wonderful. But if you want to start with one, The Eagle and the Dove.
Cariad Lloyd’s book, You Are Not Alone, is available now and can be bought via the Bloomsbury website here.If you're based in the UK, be in with the chance of winning a copy of the book and a Small Portrait Backpack in Vintage by entering our Instagram competition here!