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Comment from the book world in June 2015

June 2015

'Becoming a writer is like changing your gender.'

29 June 2015

'Becoming a writer is like changing your gender. When I was young, my identity was as a Paki, a mixed-race mongrel boy from nowhere. The idea of having another identity as a writer seemed like a splendid solution to that. My place in the world was different. It created a future for me...

When I was young, my dad told me I should change my name. He said I should give up this idea of being mixed race and see if I could disappear. I said the fact that I was mixed race was the most interesting thing about me. It put me in a position to tell stories about Britain that hadn't been told before.'

Hanif Kureishi in The Times magazine

'At terrible cost to authors'

22 June 2015

'The internet has given us, along with many wonderful things, the ability to steal great quantities of material that used to have to be paid for, to steal it with impunity... That ain't right.

Amazon has done one good thing, which is to make books available to everyone. But they've done it at terrible cost to authors by selling books so cheaply. It gives the impression that books don't cost very much to create.

Author earnings have gone down dramatically in the last five years. It's harder for those on modest earnings to scrape together a living.'

Philip Pulman, author of His Dark Materials and The Ruby in the Smoke

'Most women are amateur psychiatrists'

15 June 2015

‘It's so much more interesting to write a repellent character than a sweet, saintly one. But I also believe that the human mind is such a complex thing that we can be extraordinarily pleasant while the most terrible things are going on in our heads. A good example is the couple who have decided to divorce but haven't told their friends yet. And they have been at each other's throats for a year and can't stand the sight of each other...

I think most women are amateur psychiatrists. We're brought up to be like that. We think much more about the whys than most men do: ‘Why has someone done that?' And that is an advantage in writing crime novels.'

Minette Walters, author of The Cellar, in the Guardian


Publishing a three-pronged first novel

5 June 2015

‘In talking to other writers and getting a bit older and realising how it works, (I discovered) that the gestation period for a new book is very tender - it's like a new shoot, you can't expose it to the light too quickly or it might wither. You'll lose the impetus, you'll lose the belief in it.'

I am not a massively meticulous planner, but I needed to know roughly how the three versions differentiated and also because, at that stage, I was clear that I didn't want them to be wildly different. I didn't want Eva to become a lion tamer in one and a banker in another. Realism is what I prize most in fiction, and I didn't want it to appear outlandishly different.

It's an incredible feeling, it is hard to describe. It is sort of like you have taken a section of your brain apart and handed it to someone you don't even knows... that it is something they can relate to , and that it can speak to them and move them. That is more than I can ever really have hoped for. It feels amazing.'

Laura Barnett, whose three-pronged first novel, The Versions of Us has sold in 18 countries, in the Bookseller


'I don't believe in waiting for inspiration to strike.'

1 June 2015

At some point, I will get down to actually writing. I don't believe in waiting for inspiration to strike. I'm sure inspiration does arrive at some point, but I would never embarrass it by noticing its arrival or departure...

As a writer, there are always shortfalls, disappointments and anxieties. I think there's a kind of mini depression you sink into. You cultivate an unhappiness and the only response to that is to write creatively. There's a connection between creativity and unhappiness: you have to work at it...

After winning the Booker Prize in 2007 for The Gathering, life got very busy, and I was made Irish Laureate last year, which was lovely. It means I have to read a lot of new Irish fiction, which is fine, fulfil a few teaching requirement in Dublin and New York, and give a few lectures.'

Anne Enright, author of The Green Road in the Sunday Times magazine

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