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Comment from the book world in July 2011

July 2011

'An adequate narrative vehicle'

25 July 2011

'That social function of conveying news has been totally obviated by television and the internet. If I had a list of my tasks as a novelist, even category number 35 would not be "bringing interesting unknown information to my readers"... (Asked about category number one:) To find an adequate narrative vehicle for the most difficult stuff at the core of me, in the hope that that might resonate with the reader who otherwise has been feeling alone with those deep, difficult feelings. I don't really have a list, but that's the project.'

Jonathan Franzen in the Sunday Telegraph's Seven

'A bonanza of print'

18 July 2011

'Actually, there's hardly a mainstream genre (fiction, history, children's books, poetry) that's not undergoing significant change, attributable to the liberation of the new technology, from ebook to Kindle: poets developing apps, J K Rowling linking Harry Potter to cyberspace, would-be novelists launching their work as ebooks

As omnivores, contemporary readers have become adept at switching from high to low culture at the click of a mouse, moving from codex to ebook to audio. This is the shape of the future: a bonanza of print on many platforms. All that remains to be settled - the $64,000 question - is: what should be the economic terms of trade? How do we reconcile the gospel of "free" with an obligation to reward the artist?

It's too soon to evaluate the significance of all this. Sailors on the high seas are the last people to give a reliable forecast, even when they have the most intimate experience of the weather. The book world has been through a perfect storm of economic, technological and cultural change. It will be the creative community that enjoys the benefits. How that happens is probably the most fascinating question facing writers, booksellers and publishers today.'

Robert McCrum in the Observer

Writing picture books

11 July 2011

'When I'm writing a picture book, I automatically think "I don't need to say that" because the pictures will say it. Or better still, "I'll say this and the pictures will say that, which contradicts it"...

Usually you can't build a house without an architect doing drawings - there is an intention prior to the existence for the building. But books are made up like sandcastles, you add stuff and knock it down and change it - and, in fact, you didn't even know you were building a castle at first, you thought you were building a garage. Or you were going to have a cave and instead it turned into a garden full of shells...

I'm like a dripping tap. As I get older I drip more slowly, but I still come down here. I'm less impatient to spend hour after hour writing, though I like it as much as ever. I don't mind now if it takes me two years to write a few little poems.'

Allan Ahlberg in the Guardian

"Please edit me."

4 July 2011

'I'm not much of a plotter. I start off with an inciting incident, and in classic crime fiction what happens it that all the action flows from that incident. It's very comfy when it all ties up and feels like a complete universe, but my stuff doesn't always work that way...

I always say "Please edit me", because I don't want to write those big, flabby books where the writer's making loads of money and nobody wants to tell them that it's crap. You know who I'm talking about. You have to take your ego out of it and say, do I want people to be obsequious to me or do I want to write good books? If it's the latter, you have to take criticism. It's annoying, but that's how to do good stuff, listen to other people.'

Denise Mina, author of The End of the Wasp Season, in the Independent on Sunday