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Comment from the book world in November 2018

November 2018

'A quarter of a century of collaborating'

26 November 2018

‘Sean and I have written psychological thrillers together under the name of Nicci French for nearly 25 years now - a quarter of a century of collaborating, of entering the other's imagination and exploring the world together. Writing is hard: writing with another person is really, really hard. The argument with oneself becomes also the argument with the other, in a way that's intimate and vulnerable and unexpected but also messy and complicated...

Indeed there's something scarily self-exposing, wounding, even humiliating about passing a pulpy, half-formed text over to another person to edit, to change, to erase. To write with your partner is to find things out about their subconscious - possibly unwelcome things.'

Nicci Gerrard, who with her husband Sean French has written Day of the Dead and an astonishing 21 other highly successful novels under the pseudonym Nicci French, in the Observer


Don’t worry about the bad drafts

19 November 2018

'I was a lot dumber when I was writing the novel. I felt like a worse writer ... would come home every day from my office and say, ‘Well, I still really like the story, I just wish it was better written.' At that point, I didn't realise I was writing a first draft. And the first draft was the hardest part. From there, it was comparatively easy. It was like I had some Play-Doh to work with and could just keep working with it - doing a million drafts and things changing radically and characters appearing and disappearing and solving mysteries: Why is this thing here? Should I just take that away? And then realising, no, that is there, in fact, because that is the key to this. I love that sort of detective work, keeping the faith alive until all the questions have been sleuthed out.'

Miranda July, film director and author of The First Bad Man and three other books

Publisher/poet wins Goldsmith’s Prize

12 November 2018

‘I work in a pressure-cooker system where I hope that I can store up all the thoughts and lines and phrases and when I do finally get away to some retreat somewhere I can uncork the bottle in a satisfying way, to release tension, and something will be there. It's easier with poetry because you can approach it that way, novels are much longer-haul and you need a longer trajectory.

I've worked there for nearly half a lifetime, I'm afraid. But you don't leave a place like Cape because there's nowhere better to be as a publisher.

On the importance of literary prizes, ‘It's an external validation, we all like to have our work approved of in some way. The money is very welcome of course but it's more the judgement of your peers and fellow writers, it's very satisfying... rather peculiar to me that I understand it to be a long narrative poem and it's been on two fiction awards' shortlists, and now to win a prize for experimental fiction when you've written a long poem is slightly confusing - but I'll take that confusion.'

Robin Robertson, who has published four poetry collections and is associate publisher working across Cape's fiction and poetry lists with authors such as Irvine Welsh, James Wood, Anne Enright and Ocean Vuong, in the Bookseller.

Commercial fiction writers

5 November 2018

‘They are authors who are unique, they are brilliant at what they do. For every company, there are must-haves. Lesley is a must-have. (Commercial) authors are, in fact better off than ever because people can see how good their books are now, they can read reviews on Amazon, and the way we can spread the word - using newsletters and Facebook pages - is fantastic. It used to be that you could package a not particularly good author and pay for promotion, get it out there, and it would sell. You can't get away with that anymore...

The word "commercial"... I never know what I mean by that. I think it's an every-blurring line but it's that book where the narrative drives you through. You can find that with very literary authors as well - David Mitchell, Ian McEwan or Donna Tarrt, for instance - but you have to keep reading. We're not in it just for the love of the language, let's put it that way.'

Louise Moore, MD of Michael Joseph, in a joint interview with her author Lesley Pearse (who has achieved 10 million sales worldwide) in the Bookseller.