ISR Public Event: 11th May 2022

Book Launch:
The Half-life of Snails, by Philippa Holloway

With a reading and Q&A with Prof Jo Crotty, Dr Jen Woodward, and Prof Helen Newall, and a guest appearance by Alex Lockwood, author of The Chernobyl Privileges

Philippa Holloway’s debut novel explores survivalism and the legacy of Chernobyl in a narrative split between North Wales and Ukraine during the Euro Maidan crisis.

“Two sisters, two nuclear power stations, one child caught in the middle…

When Helen, a self-taught prepper and single mother, leaves her young son Jack with her sister for a few days so she can visit Chernobyl’s Exclusion Zone, they both know the situation will be tense. Helen opposes plans for a new power station on the coast of Ynys Môn that will take over the family’s farmland, and Jennifer works for the nuclear industry and welcomes the plans for the good of the economy.

But blood is thicker than heavy water, and both want to reconnect somehow, with Jack perhaps the key to a new understanding of one another. Yet while Helen is forced to face up to childhood traumas, and her worst fears regarding nuclear disaster, during a trip that sees her caught up in political violence and trapped in Ukraine during the 2014 Euro Maidan revolution, Jennifer too must discover that even the smallest decision can have catastrophic and long-lasting effects, both within the nuclear industry, and within the home.

And Jack isn’t like other five-year olds… as they will both discover with devastating consequences.”

This event will explore the themes of the book, including Nuclear Power and communities, the legacy of disaster, borderlands and the use of psychogeography as research for fiction writing.

“Holloway has written a novel that shimmers with compassion, one that crosses borders of both nations and emotions. In telling the story of a mother’s love for her son and an intimate, searing portrayal of survival set amidst the Ukrainian Maidan Revolution of 2014, the author has crafted a tale that will linger longer than the half-life of many other books you will read this year. Holloway’s fascination with the intersection of where history meets everyday life has given us a story told with great skill, weaving together the legacy of Chernobyl and the tragedy of human arrogance. She gives us hope that each of us can act with grace and love even in the face of overwhelming disaster and a precarious world. Sadly for us, it is even more necessary for us to hear these stories today.”  Alex Lockwood, author of The Chernobyl Privileges

This event takes place online.

Date: Wednesday 11th May 2022

4.15pm Online access will open
5.00pm Event start
6.00pm Event close

Venue:  Online (a secure link will be distributed following registration).

Registration: This event is FREE but please register your place.

Dr Philippa Holloway is an internationally published short fiction writer and academic, and a Senior Lecturer in English and Creative Writing at Staffordshire University. Her debut novel is drawn from extensive research in Chernobyl’s Exclusion Zone and North Wales, and is ‘a careful, tender and arresting story that explores how we’re formed by the places we think we own’ (Jenn Ashworth, Author of Notes Made While Falling and Ghosted).



Prof Jo Crotty is both Director Knowledge Exchange and ISR. Combined these are university-wide roles furthering excellence in research and knowledge exchange. Jo’s research interests lie in civil society development, corporate social responsibility, environmental management and state-society-business relations, predominantly in former Soviet Union countries, with particular focus on Russia and Ukraine.



Dr Jennifer Woodward is a senior lecturer in film studies at Edge Hill University, with a specialism in disaster narratives. she is on the editorial committee for Gylphi Press’s SF Story worlds series.




Prof Helen Newall is a professor of Theatre Praxis at Edge Hill University, and a playwright, photographer and installation artist, with a specialism in photographic methods, photographic documentation, and commemoration in performance.




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