Skip to Content

Comment from the book world in September 2012

September 2012

'An extra ear'

24 September 2012

'Never will a writer be read more closely than by his or her translator. The best translators seem to have an extra ear, indeed, have to have an extra ear, for the literary dimensions and possibilities of their own language. Translation can draw the poet out of someone who may not have realised the poet in himself. The response to poetry is in us all but it takes an extra talent to turn response to invention, to hear and speak echo in a fresh voice.

There will always remain the question of the faithful translation. The difficulty is deciding what it is that one should be faithful to. A poem is a complex whole made up of many elements, not one of which has an exact equivalent in another language. Yet we hope for recognition, for some ideal combination of surface and depth fidelities. The ideal does not exist. But living translations do: echo on echo on echo.'

George Szirtes, author of The Burning of the Books and Other Poems, and many other poetry collections, in The Times. His blog.

'What moves you'

17 September 2012

'What moves you is usually what is going to move a reader - a reader who is interested in your work of course. I'm not a market research king, what I have to do is look to myself and write something that moves me and that I believe in. If it write something that is supposed to be sad; I literally need to be in tears. If I write something that I think is funny, I need to find it humorous; I need to be laughing. Really, I just pour my heart and soul into each of my stories and try to make the characters real.

So that's my thing, to look to myself, always look inside at what's moving me, what I am going through in my life at the moment. I might not realise until after I've written the book that such a huge part of myself has been invested in it, but they usually represent a place that I am at in my life.'

Cecelia Ahern, author of PS I Love You and four other novels, in the Bookseller

'Ten grand a year, which is not too bad'

10 September 2012

'I've never worked out what the actual rate of pay is for writing - I think it would be too depressing. It took me three and a half years to write the first book, which worked out at ten grand a year, which is not too bad. That was just the advance. I've been able to live off that (supplemented by various other jobs) for four years now. I can't imagine how I would fund my life if I were to have kids. If I have to I'll go back to office temping, but there's nothing that I can do to a satisfactory level apart from writing.

My agent and other writers have told me that if I'd sold my book two years earlier, I might have made a lot of money, but everything is slowly sinking into the gutter. Still, I'm existing. And you get to do a lot of stuff that counts as holiday, such as going to different countries.'

Evie Wyld, author of After the Fire, a Still Small Voice