Skip to Content

Comment from the book world in February 2018

February 2018

Writing 'because you have to'

26 February 2018

'The best books come from someplace deep inside. You don't write because you want to, but because you have to. Become emotionally involved. If you don't care about your characters, your readers won't either.

Those of us who write do it because there are stories inside us burning to get out. Writing is essential to our well-being. If you're that kind of writer, never give up! If you start a story and it isn't going well, put it aside. (We're not talking about school assignments here.) You can start as many as you like because you're writing for yourself. With each story you'll learn more. One day it will all come together for you.'

Judy Blume, author of Are You there, God? It's Me, Margaret, Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great, Forever, Wifey and 25 other books, which have sold over 85 million copies worldwide, but often been banned.



Crime fiction today from a Waterstones buyer and crime writer

19 February 2018

‘It's in rude health. I would never try to predict a trend, I think it's a false game. The public appetite leads you one way then another, and recently we've rocked from the Scandinavian craze to psychological thrillers. Some people say the crime novel is not a social novel - that it's just entertainment. I would totally dispute that: it's exactly where society is at the moment. Psychological thrillers are usually written by women, with a female protagonist and male villain, often in a domestic setting. For many men, the experience of women is being illuminated for the first time via #MeToo, and that it's not a problem that exists just at the top of Hollywood but everywhere. Crime fiction is reflecting that...

On the new Staunch Prize, a new literary award for thrillers that don't feature violence against women. ‘My inclination is if Val McDermid says something listen to her. In response to this prize, she said that in pretending that the problems of sexual violence don't exist, are we really helping, or is it better to expose it? At the same time, I think there's room for different prizes. Undoubtedly someone has and will write a great crime novel where a woman isn't killed. I know my books wouldn't be welcome, but there's space for everyone.'

Joseph Knobbs, crime fiction buyer at Waterstones, whose crime novels Sirens and The Smiling Man (published in March) have been published under the name Joseph Knox, in Bookbrunch


Finding a publisher

5 February 2018

'What you have to remember about the publishing business is that a young editor or small publisher makes a fortune by finding an unknown writer and making the book into a best seller. That is how you get on in the publishing business. And so if you do write something good, they will be crazy about it and they'll publish it with great enthusiasm. They will also spend money advertising it.

So although people say, "it's terribly difficult for a first novelist to get published," in fact, if you are good it is not that difficult.

My first novel was not very good but it still got published. It wasn't good enough to be a bestseller, but it had something and a publisher read it and thought, "this guy could be going somewhere". He published it because he thought I might write something better one day.

Your job is to show them what you can do. To start with, you will need an outline because the publisher will want to know what the story is about and how it develops. They will also want to know whether you can write and if you have got the power of words.

For that, you will have to write at least some of it...'

Ken Follett, author of The Kingsbridge Series and The Century Trilogy from the Masterclass on his website