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Comment from the book world in December 2005

December 2005

'An idea that really excites me'

19 December 2005

'I don't begin a book until I have an idea that really excites me. I open my imagination and wait for it to come. Up till now, it always has. But I never get a new idea when I'm writing. During that time, my whole mind is engaged in that particular book. I live with my characters, and as I write they reveal themselves to me. I plot in great detail before I start. It's interesting, though, because however carefully I've planned, I never get exactly the book I thought I was going to write.'

P D James in the Sunday Times magazine

'The money men will demand a better strike rate'

12 December 2005

'Publishing is a form of gambling. As in any industry with creativity at it score, - advertising, music, fashion, et al - publishers are guessing how public taste can be evolved.

Huge financial investments are staked on the gut feelings of one or two people who sometimes get it right but more often get it wrong. Within publishing, this situation will not last; sooner or later, the money men will demand a better strike rate, which will trigger a rush to understand what consumers really want from their reading.

Attitudinal research will be the new battlefield. The publishers with greatest understanding of their consumers will be the winners with consumers and retailers.'

Damian Horner, a freelance marketing consultant, in the Bookseller

Henry not allowed to be horrid in the US

5 December 2005

'I think they're just considered too subversive. But it's a very conservative climate there now and children's books are invested with great power; there's this idea the child might copy something. I always say to kids: "Henry is horrid, so you don't have to be." It's the same reason adults love murder mysteries, not because they're going to go out and kill someone but because fiction allows you to explore these emotions in a safe way. But maybe they're afraid American kids might discover sibling rivalry.'

Francesca Simon, American author of the Horrid Henry series, on why her books have been published in 20 countries but not in the States, in the Observer.