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Comment from the book world in March 2015

March 2015

'The smart way to build a literary career'

22 March 2015

‘I have many feelings about literary awards and they are all tangled together. In general, I like them. I am often pleased, but occasionally outraged, by a particular choice. It's a thoroughly pleasurable kind of outrage though, because the conversation is all about books and takes place among people to whom books matter. Of course, the whole enterprise of declaring one book better than all the others is instantly untenable. But I'm glad that people try. Glad and grateful...

The smart way to build a literary career is you create an identifiable product then reliably produce that product so that people know what they are going to get. That's the smart way to build a career, but not the fun way. Maybe you can think about being less successful and happier. That's an option too.'

Karen Jay Fowler, author of We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, which was shortlisted for the 2014 Man Booker Prize, in the Independent on Sunday


'The world is a less fantastic place' after Terry Pratchett's death

16 March 2015

‘Speaking as a writer of genre fiction, there are few sentences that cause more irritation than "these books transcend genre", but if it has any meaning at all, it is this: because of that obvious interconnectedness between the world we inhabit and the world Pratchett invented, the Discworld novels found a readership that stretches well beyond people who would consider themselves fans of fantasy fiction. I always read - and sometimes reread - Pratchett on book tours. They are the perfect antidote to being alone and far from home.

I love the Discworld novels for so many reasons. They satirise our world and its institutions with an unsparing savagery - everything from the coming of the railways to the internet via religious intolerance and radicalisation - but they don't make us despair because there are always glorious characters with their hearts in the right place who bring us comfort: Sam Vimes, Tiffany Aching, Death, Captain Carrot, Moist von Lipwig, Rincewind and of course, the Patriarch himself, Lord Vetinari...

His Alzheimer's was the cruellest possible blow to a mind so inventive, so rich and so funny. With his passing, the world is a less fantastic place.'

Val McDermid on Terry Pratchett, in the Guardian


Roald Dahl's approach to writing

9 March 2015

‘He tended to make light of his work. He didn't like to talk about it and there was nothing of the pained artist about him. The archive shows that in fact he was absolutely painstaking. The archive shows the honing process, the hard graft of writing. He worked very hard at getting it right.'

Amanda Conquy, director of the Dahl estate, on Roald Dahl's approach to writing


'It doesn't mean you have to publish it'

2 March 2015

‘Just because you write a poem, it doesn't mean you have to publish it. If I'm just writing because I happen to have had an idea, I'm completely free to write it, fiddle around with it, take as long as I like, and then I can decide quite a long time afterwards what I want to do with it. There's a freedom in that.'

Wendy Cope, author of Family Values and Life, Love and the Archers, in the Observer magazine



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