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Comment from the book world in February 2007

February 2007

'A new medium altogether'

26 February 2007

'As electronic publishing gains traction, which it clearly somehow must, I can see a sort of parallel emergence. I think we might witness the emergence of a new kind of writing along with this new kind of "book" - an abbreviated book-writing that is suited to electronic consumption (a hybrid between text-speak and story-telling?). I have a sneaking feeling that we're not just talking about the digital future of books - and certainly not the demise of the book as we know it - but a sort of new medium altogether.'

Natasha Randall in her New York Notes in Publishing News

Genesis of a cookery writer

19 February 2007

'Early in 1990, and quite out of the blue, I received a letter from Louise Haines, then commissioning editor at the publishers Michael Joseph, asking me if I had ever thought of writing a book. She had read a few pieces I had written for a food magazine and seemed to think I 'had a book in me'...

Seven books later, Louise Haines is still my editor, though we long ago jumped publishers to Fourth Estate. It now takes me five years to put a cookbook together rather than one, and it seems to take us as long to decide on the typeface as it took to write the whole of Real Fast Puddings.

'Dear Louise, thank you for refusing to take no for an answer. For ignoring my in-built hesitance and for giving me the confidence to put pen to paper. And thank you for getting that first little book into people's kitchens.'

Nigel Slater, author of Real Fast Food and seven other bestsellers, in the Observer Food Magazine

On the nature of fame

13 February 2007

'I never wanted it and I never expected it and certainly didn't work for it and see it as something that I have to get through, really... I didn't think they'd rake through my bins; I didn't expect to be photographed on the beach through long lenses. I never dreamt it would impact on my daughter's life negatively, which at times it has...

'My realistic side had allowed me to think I might get one good review in a national newspaper. That was my idea of a peak.'

J K Rowling in the Observer

Writers in front of readers

12 February 2007

'Whoever originally came up with the idea of putting writers in front of readers must've been taking a real punt. We spend most of our time by ourselves, along in a room with all these characters in our head, talking to them as they talk to us. Not really an ideal training ground for making public appearances. But more often than not it must work, as it's still happening.

We have now, somehow, become a part of the entertainment industry, and I don't just mean the schools, the shops and the library visits, and all the panels and events at the increasing number of literary festivals there are to do... Is this then the future? Will writers now be judged not only on their literary merit, but also - like politicians - on their looks and performance abilities? And which will be deemed the most important? Will writing courses have to start offering speech and drama modules, stand-up comedy training and hair and beauty advice? You never know.

Graham Marks, Publishing News Children's Editor and author of Zoo

Writing a book

5 February 2007

'The first challenge, of course, is finding something that interests you and that you feel passionate about - and you'd better be sure, because you are going to be living with this idea, like a combination of wife, lover, concubine, schoolteacher and prison warder, for months to come...

The actual writing is no big deal - you simply start with a blank screen, fill it with writing, and then repeat the process two or three hundred times.

Then you look for an agent and a publisher - again, simple enough in theory. You just write a hundred letters, look at the two or three you get back, and then start walking round from office to office, trying to look cheerful each time they tell you to go away. It is incredible how many ways there are to say "no thanks"'.

Andrew Taylor, author of Aftershock in the Sunday Times