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Comment from the book world in September 2018

September 2018

Writer's block

24 September 2018

'I am never completely cold. I don't have writer's block, really. I do have times when I can't get the lead and that is the only part of the story that I have serious trouble with. I don't write a word of the article until I have the lead. It just sets the whole tone-the whole point of view. I know exactly where I am going as soon as I have the lead. That can take me three or four days and sometimes a week. But as for being cold-as a newspaper reporter you learn that no one tolerates you if you are cold; it's one thing you are not allowed to be. It's not professional. You have to turn the story in. There is no room for the artist.

And so trouble with the lead is as close as I get to being cold, and yes, I do go away from it for a while and go buy a pair of shoes or have dinner. And I know that maybe if I can talk to someone at dinner I'll find the thing I am looking for...'

Nora Ephron, journalist, film director and author of screenplays such as When Harry Met Sally and Sleepless in Seattle in an interview with Michael S. Lasky

'The richness of the novel'

17 September 2018

‘The mature, serious novel is the best art form for explaining our complicated lives. It gets all the little shades of meaning and the nuance of the human condition. D H Lawrence called the novel the ‘bright book of life', and it's the art form that has evolved to explain this bizarre adventure we are all on. The richness of the novel and its vast generosity as a form seems to me to be explaining our lives to us.'

William Boyd, author of 15 novels, including Love is Blind, A Good Man in Africa, An Ice Cream War and Any Human Heart, in the Sunday Times magazine. http://www.williamboyd.co.uk/

Waterstones acquires Foyles

10 September 2018

‘Given that some very big and powerful companies dominate the UK books business, it is logical for other businesses to join together to shore up their profitability and influence in the market. I hope that these two well-loved booksellers find renewed strength and creative energy together. When big companies get bigger, it also leaves the door open for independent businesses to prove the potential benefits of risk-taking and difference and I hope that all independent booksellers see opportunities in offering the market something individualised and original...

As an agent, my concern in a books industry dominated by big companies is that - as well as needing a healthy and profitable bookselling and publishing business - we also need to ensure that authors' economic needs are met. Authors can't club together into bigger more powerful entities to protect their profitability in the way other parts of the business are. It clarifies the reality that one of our roles as agents is to continue to use the strength of our client lists to protect and promote every individual author's income in a market shaped by more powerful entities.'

Lizzy Kremer of David Higham AssociatesAgents for the negotiation of all rights in fiction, general non-fiction, children's fiction and picture books, plays, film and TV scripts (home 15%, USA/translation 20%, scripts 10%). Represented in all foreign markets. Preliminary letter and return postage. All adult submissions should be typed with double line spacing on one side only of A4 paper and pages should be numbered. Be sure to include a covering letter; a full plot synopsis of the proposed book; the first two or three chapters of the book; a CV and a stamped addressed envelope. Founded 1935, currently president of the Association of Authors Agents, commenting on the Waterstones acquisition of long-established bookseller Foyles in the Bookseller

'Writing today is a funny business'

3 September 2018

‘The only way I can work is to keep a proper schedule. I try to be at my desk by 6am and work for two hours before breakfast and then I work again till 4pm. I spend half the day thinking and half the day writing. I don't know how writers who don't have a routine get anything done...

When I wrote A Woman of Substance I didn't sit down and think, I'm going to write about a woman warrior who conquers the world and smashes the glass ceiling, but I did want to write about women in a positive way. At the time there were a lot of very sexy books out there but the women didn't come out of them very well...

Writing today is a funny business. You do wonder how long we're going to have books. I still tell young people with the imagination to go for it. Just be sure that if it doesn't work out, you have something else you can try.'

Barbara Taylor Bradford, author of A Woman of Substance, Secrets of Cavendon and 33 other titles, in the Observer magazine.