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Comment from the book world in May 2015

May 2015

'It's like a new shoot'

25 May 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, sold in 18 countries, is The Versions of Us, in the Bookseller

"The difficult second novel"

18 May 2015

‘Yet a writer's life is not limited to the dramatic moment of first exposure or the excitement that greets the new work of the well-established. In particular, as suggested by the phrase "the difficult second novel", things can get tough after first publication. If your first book has gone like the clappers, you'll probably be feeling pressure, both self-generated and from expectant publishers; at the same time, especially in these times of burgeoning literary festivals, your schedule may seem to conspire against you ever writing another word. And if your first book has not gone well, as is the fate of many excellent novels in a crowded marketplace, then life is even more tricky.'

Alex Clark in the Observer


'What I love about fantasy is that it is all about the world'

11 May 2015

‘I'm a massive fan of fantasy. I used to read a lot of it and I took different elements of fantasy from different books that I loved, but I took the idea of summoning demons from video games. In video games there is almost always a summoning character that you can play but there are very few books about it. I love that "gamification" side of it: how a particular magic system works and exists, the structure behind the magic, the rules, the boundaries and the ramifications of breaking those rules...

What I love about fantasy is that it is all about the world, and that world can be showcased in so many different ways, be it film, games, books or artwork. That's part of the reason fans feel so passionately about fantasy. There are already 35 fan fictions about the Summoner trilogy on Wattpad, for example.'

Taran Mathan, author of just-published Summoner, Book One: The Novice, which has already attracted more than six million reads on Wattpad, in the Bookseller

'We can't choose to be poets'

2 May 2015

‘For the perennial breed of poets, to be neglected is an occupational hazard. Most of us deserve it. Nobody says most plumbers deserve it, but plumbers have to deliver. It doesn't really matter whether a poet delivers or not. If poets don't come through with the goods, nobody will be affected except them. It won't be a case of the ruptured boiler flooding the parlour. It will just be a case of nothing much at all.

But that's the very attraction that has drawn so many men - and, increasingly, otherwise sensible women - into a crazy game of hazard with almost nothing at stake. Because they have all guessed the truth: that the thing must be its own reward...

The sad and glorious truth is that we can't choose to be poets. Poetry must choose us. A poem has a will of its own, and wants to get into us and grow, like a germ.'

Clive James, whose latest poetry collection is Sentenced to Life, in the Observer

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