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Comment from the book world in March 2008

March 2008

An overnight success

31 March 2008

'I never planned to be a children's writer. I wrote short stories for obscure and wonderful magazines. Then one day a new story flared into life. I knew that it was the culmination of years of hard work and, amazingly, that it was a children's novel. Skellig was taken by the first publisher to read it, won a string of prizes, and has been published in 30 languages. I was an overnight success after almost 20 years.'

David Almond in The Times

Working as a Poet in the Community

24 March 2008

'Interestingly (to me, anyway) it's meant that I've had to become three types of poet. There's the Slim Volume Poet: the poet who writes what most people think of as Contemporary Poetry, (but which is often not very linguistically adventurous, and just sounds like gentle stand-up comedy chopped about a bit, and which I try to move away from when I can); there's the Out Loud Poet who is called upon to perform at events where they need a performer who can be a bit of a battering-ram, who can enthuse a crowd who weren't expecting to like poetry, in the upstairs room of a pub, or in a draughty public hall at the edge of a windy estate, or on a train full of sweaty commuters, and there's the Occasional Poet, the poet who can be called on to write something light and rhyming to liven up a public event, to introduce someone or open a new building, and then (in my case, with the aid of my trusty flipchart and a couple of felt-tip pens) create an Instant Poem with the audience to send them away happy.

My aim, as a poet in the community, is always the same: to make people go away thinking 'Is that what poetry is? I can do that!' If you're a poet in the community you can't believe that poetry is a tiny precious vase that will break if you drop it; you have to believe that it's a robust jug, the strongest of all the arts because it begins with the sounds we make with our bodies, and it belongs to everyone.'

Ian McMillan in his article onThe Poet in the Community: A little adventure on 57 Productions' website, along with other interesting articles on poetry.

'Readers want to read more'

17 March 2008

'Despite resistance from all sectors of our industry, the book market is changing. Readers want to read more and if they are going to increase the amount of books they buy they are almost certainly going to do that in the cheaper paperback formats. Consumers will read literary fiction if we present it to them in a way they find attractive and enticing. Once an author has built a sufficient following then they probably can justify the move to hardback, but not before. Why pay £16.99 ($35) for a novel by someone you've never heard of when you could buy three or four paperbacks for the same price?'

Scott Pack of the Friday Project in the Bookseller

Authors on the road

10 March 2008

'We whine a lot, but it's not so hard. You stay in fancy hotels, and go to signings where people buy your books and want your autograph and tell you lots of nice things... I remember with my first book, no-one would show up at my signings. So where I am now, I have a greater appreciation of it all... (but) I have to remember that what got me here was writing books, and I want each one to be better than the last.'

Harlan Coben, author of The Woods, in Publishing News

On teaching creative writing

3 March 2008

'I tell them to forget about the business. That's nothing to do with me... They'll figure it out in the end. If they haven't got talent, you're not going to give it to them, but they will have it because you've chosen them.

But they might turn out to not have will; which you can't always judge very easily at the beginning. If they don't have will, they're screwed. But you can't make them write every day or get up early in the morning; you can give them an example, or tell them what they should be doing, and they might listen.'

Peter Carey, talking to Erica Wagner in The Times