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Comment from the book world in June 2012

June 2012

One's perception of the public mood

25 June 2012

 ‘While no author's chosen subject matter should be dictated by a ruthless appraisal of what might sell books, it's always nice when a topic springs to mind that, on closer consideration, chimes with one's perception of the public mood. Payback Time focuses on a group of friends taking revenge on a bank they blame for their friend's suicide. I'm hoping that such a concept may be appreciated by a populace that is increasingly enraged by the unrepentant banksters who threw this world into recession. Surely taking revenge on the institutions that just lost you your home or your job could prove a popular concept?
 Well, who knows? The public are a fickle lot, and if it was that easy to predict their sentiments then we'd all be bringing in royalty cheques that would make Stephen King blanch. All I know is that if the anti-banker fantasy central to Payback Time doesn't cut the mustard, then it might be time to dust off that old manuscript from five years back - the one about investment banks... in a post-apocalyptic world... run by vampires!’
 Geraint Anderson, author of Payback Time, published 21 June, in Bookbrunch

'A very beautiful feeling'

18 June 2012

‘The Booker made me a lot of money. I didn't realise that all over the world, people will read a book just because it won the Booker prize. Not something I would do myself... But then one goes into some quite other, private region to produce a book. I think the Booker can drive people quite mad. That's why it's good to be detached from it.

I'm in that rather unfocused phase, which is one of discontent with not writing another book. What I'm missing is sitting at my desk and getting into the large alternative space of a book. I've got quite a few bits and pieces, but I haven't quite had the moment of revelation where I see how they fit together. It's always like this: a blur of different things, and then a story emerges.

But I never think: oh, this will be a smash hit.I have an underlying confidence that I won't suffer writer's block or anything.  I know there are things I can do, but an element of doubt is probably quite important. Perhaps we tend to overplay the agony side of (writing). But then, like any pain, when it's over, you can't remember it. So perhaps I'm wrong to say we exaggerate it. What I will say is that there are times when it's just the best thing: the high of things coming to you. You get a peculiar sense of elation, as if nothing else really matters. It's not a sense of smugness. But you're buoyed up. Your mind is wonderfully perceptive. It's a very beautiful feeling.

Alan Hollinghurst, author of The Stranger's Child in the Guardian

'Paper, with its grain and flexibility

11 June 2012

'After a few years of enjoying and thinking about electronic books, paper still has a very specific place in my world - in fact, it has regained some ground. The depthless grey of my Kindle screen and the gloss brightness of the iPad or iPhone are fine and good, but they are not the hearth-and-home experience. For that I want paper, with its grain and flexibility. I want to be able to manipulate pages in three dimensions, riffle through them, flick back. I want to be an ape with an object for a while, relax into my physical universe while my mind generates the world of the book.'

Nick Harkaway in the Bookseller


'Is this the one that's a disaster?'

4 June 2012

'I worry so much about everything I write, I always think: "Is this the one that's a disaster?" Fortunately I've written enough, and didn't get successful with my first book so I've had experience with not selling very many copies.  I worry every single time, it's an awful experience, but hopefully it makes my writing better... I think you always have to have that doubt. I always say that publishing a book is such a privilege. I feel, perhaps, wrongly, that every time could be the last time, which in itself is a liberation, because then I think: "Well, if no one is going to read it, then I'll do what I want."

Hopefully my joy of writing is in the book so people then read it. I've tried in the past to write for other people and it's been a failure. It might sound disingenuous, but for me each time feels like the last.'

Patrick Ness, author of A Monster Calls and the Chaos Walking trilogy, in the Bookseller