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Comment from the book world in November 2014

November 2014

'Wrenching to write but satisfying'

17 November 2014

‘I'm very conscious that as I get older, I think less nimbly and feel more keenly than I used to. Fingersmith, with its very complicated plot and its big twist, had an energy to it. I don't think I could write a book like that any more. Not that I'd especially want to. What I enjoyed about The Paying Guests was the depth of emotion in it. It was very heartfelt, wrenching to write but satisfying...

The Paying Guests is a sad book and that might be because, in your 40s, sadness enters your life. Before 40, you say hello to things; after 40 you say goodbye to them. But I'm hoping this will just be a phase because I don't want to write sad books forever.'

Sarah Waters, author of Fingersmith and The Paying Guests, in the Observer


‘This one better be good. Otherwise you're toast.'

8 November 2014

‘Midway through writing the fucker (his first novel, The Sportswriter)' his literary agent advised him: ‘This one better be good. Otherwise you're toast.' I guess I kinda knew that but (I thought) thanks for putting it so clearly for me.'

‘My audience is someone similar to who I was when I got started with serious reading: a young person - I was 19 - who can simply read... My students at Columbia I teach to read. If you can be a good reader and can think that reading and literature are great pursuits, you can perhaps teach yourself to write. For every ‘lesson' one would try to propound there's a wonderful story or novel that violated any rule. But that's about all.

Most books don't last in the public consciousness beyond the author's lifetime. If mine don't, I still take immense pleasure from the use they were put to in my lifetime - by readers.'

Richard Ford, author of Let Me Be Frank With You in the Observer


You have to be solitary

3 November 2014

‘That thing of treating the writer like a famous boxer or a rock star has harmed writers, because one of the ingredients most essential for writing is that you have to be solitary. You can't be gregarious. You can't do both. The brain won't take it. That is why poor Mrs Woolf went off her rocker. Too many people, too much outside life.

If I see too many people, I lose myself. I lose my truth. And my dedication to what I have done for 55 years and want to do for whatever time is left. I also become secretly impatient, because of all the gifts in the world that I value, after good health, imagination is the thing I value most. Well, you don't get a glass of imagination out there at parties.'

I am lucky that I have not yet been in a lunatic asylum. I would not call myself stable. Maybe some writers are. Maybe they are not the writers I want to be.'

Edna O'Brien, author of The Country Girls and Country Girl (an autobiography) in the Independent on Sunday


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