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Comment from the book world in September 2004

September 2004

Sting like a bee

27 September 2004

'Falling for a subject is more gradual than falling in love, though it soon gains something of the same irrational and fascinated compulsion. I did not imagine summers of pondering the sex lives of flowers, and I certainly didn't expect to be on the roof of an Upper West Side brownstone in Manhattan investigating illegal apiary. But that's what happens with a book. You think you're in charge, then suddenly the subject gallops off where it will.'

Hattie Ellison on writing her book Sweetness and Light: the Mysterious History of the Honey Bee

Publishing for teenagers

20 September 2004

'You have to keep up with the times. There are always 14-year-old girls, but every three or four years, they are going to be completely different. When I look back on some of our output in the early Nineties, it seems naive. There's much more sophistication now. We've got to move with the times. People often say to me that you'll run out of topics and ideas for that age group, but it isn't the case, just as it isn't the case for adult novels. The great themes of life are always there - love, death, illness, loneliness - but the world changes with increasing rapidity and what we publish reflects these changes.'

Brenda Gardner, founder of Piccadilly Press in Publishing News.

‘A damned-up desire to write’

13 September 2004

'If you are a writer, you are aware that out there there is a dammed-up desire to write. Everyone wants to do it (everyone in London N1 anyway). Sometimes this urge to self-expression is confused with the desire for a change of lifestyle or the need for therapy. But the myth endures that writing novels is going to make you rich, successful and fulfilled. In fact what makes good writing, I have come to believe, is a compulsion to try to reach the essence of things, what Banville calls pure ideas and unmediated expression. It's a doomed task, but the closer to the essence of things the writer gets, the closer he edges towards literature.'

Justin Cartwright, author of The Promise of Happiness, in the Independent on Sunday.

'The crime cull'

6 September 2004

'In the past 10 years an axe has been taken to the crime lists of all the biggest publishers. Shorn of medium to low sellers, star names and future hopes have been repackaged and marketed with greater gusto than ever before... The crime cull cannot be blamed totally on changes in distribution and marketing. Readers' tastes have changed too. Demand for dusty detectives has been replaced by demand for darker, more psychological stories, with strong characterisation. At the same time crime writing has achieved greater credibility among the lit crit brigade, thanks to a new generation of gifted writers working within the genre...'

Danuta Kean on current trends in British crime writing in the Bookseller