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Comment from the book world in April 2018

April 2018

'My subconscious would find ways to tie it together'

30 April 2018

'I discovered that if I trusted my subconscious, or imagination, whatever you want to call it, and if I made the characters as real and honest as I could, then no matter how complex the pattern being woven, my subconscious would find ways to tie it together - often doing things far more complicated and sophisticated than I could with brute conscious effort. I would have ideas for 'nodes', as I think of them - story or character details that have lots of potential connections to other such nodes - and even though I didn't quite understand, I would plunk them in. Two hundred pages later, everything would back-fit, and I'd say, "Ah, that's why I wrote that."'

Tad Williams, author of 20 novels, including the Witchwood, Bobby Dollar and Shadowmarch series, and three short story collections


From crime editor to crime writer

23 April 2018

‘I think one of the reasons I was attracted to Highsmith is that most crime fiction is morally educative: morals will be upheld, justice will be doled out, wrongdoers will be caught and punished. But that did not happen with Tom Ripley and it fascinated me to see this character get away with stuff. It fascinated me more to find myself rooting for him. I still think this is a pretty nifty trick...

For a long time, probably since 1988 when The Silence of the Lambs was published, the crime market was dominated by books about serial killers. I like a good serial-killer thriller, but, probably happily, I do not have one in me. Then Gone Girl changed the game. Psychological suspense is what I had studied and what I thought I would be able to write...

The publishing process is reactive. Whereas writing is almost wholly creative. I needed to keep the two apart...

Writing a book, for me, was a lot like assembling a puzzle. That satisfying click when the last pieces fall into place.'

Daniel Mallory, who under the pseudonym A J Finn, published his much-heralded debut crime novel The Woman in the Window after a career in crime publishing.

'The good guys mostly win'

16 April 2018

‘When times are stressful and it looks like the bad is winning out over the good, along comes the genre of crime novels to put the balance back in life. People inherently don't like folks who do bad to get away with it. In real life they do all the time, because of a variety of factors. But in novels, evil is punished, and the good guys mostly win, after solving the puzzle...

People don't want to watch the news every day. I'm a news freak, but I get burnt out too.'

David Baldacci, author of Absolute Power, Memory Man and The Fallen, in The Times


'Words shrink things'

9 April 2018

'The most important things are the hardest to say. They are the things you get ashamed of, because words diminish them -- words shrink things that seemed limitless when they were in your head to no more than living size when they're brought out. But it's more than that, isn't it? The most important things lie too close to wherever your secret heart is buried, like landmarks to a treasure your enemies would love to steal away. And you may make revelations that cost you dearly only to have people look at you in a funny way, not understanding what you've said at all, or why you thought it was so important that you almost cried while you were saying it. That's the worst, I think. When the secret stays locked within not for want of a teller but for want of an understanding ear.'

Stephen King, author of a large number of novels, including Carrie and The Dark Tower

From dyspraxia to publication

2 April 2018

‘I was given the audio versions of some Harry Potters, read by Stephen Fry, and realised I could match the sound of the words to their shape on the page... Once I heard those Harry Potter books, I could then memorise them. To this day, I know the first three pretty well perfectly...

I submitted three chapters online to her (his agent Felicity Blunt at Curtis BrownSee Curtis Brown listing), and got an email back saying that she loved it and wanted more. We then worked on some rewriting before the book deal.'

Leo Carew, whose much-heralded fantasy first novel The Wolf has just been published by Headline and whose website features wild places he's visited, with fabulous photos.