Archives for authors

Famous writers, writing… Peter Carey

Peter Carey on re-writing:  “If you ever read one of my books I hope you’ll think it looks so easy. In fact, I wrote those chapters 20 times over, and over, and over, and that if you want to write at a good level, you’ll have to do that too.” It’s good to know that even double-Booker winners don’t get it right first time. So re-draft, re-draft, re-draft… Read my review of Amnesia and the opening paragraphs of Jack Maggs and Illywhacker.   ‘Illywhacker’ by Peter Carey [UK: Faber] Buy now See these other famous people, reading & writing:- Agatha Christie Joseph Conrad Benedict Cumberbatch And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet: Famous writers, writing… #author Peter Carey via @SandraDanby http://wp.me/p5gEM4-yn
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Categories: Book Love and On Writing.

Applying the rules of art to writing: embrace the ‘happy accident’

“All forms of painting, film photography, sculpture, printmaking, and non-mechanical modes of production produce unintended results. When a passage of under-painting looks ravishing, or some studio calamity produces an arresting effect, embrace the accident and incorporate it into the piece. Exploit the unexpected consequences of experimentation and process. If you see it, own it.” Excerpt from ‘101 Things to Learn in Art School’ by Kit White The same, for me, applies to writing. I particularly love the exploratory process when working on an idea. It could be for a novel or a short story, perhaps a character, or a setting. I enjoy teasing the idea, and this is when free-writing works for me. The majority of what I write goes into a folder marked ‘exercises’ and is used as background, but some pieces find their way into the finished novel. When I am re-drafting, I get a kick when I come to one of these early passages: it reminds me where the idea started, and refreshes my delight in words I wrote months/years previously and have read many times over. ‘101 Things to Learn in Art School’ by Kit White [MIT Press] Buy now And if you’d like to tweet
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Categories: On Writing.

Famous writers, writing… John Updike

“A narrative is like a room on whose walls a number of false doors have been painted; while within the narrative, we have many apparent choices of exit, but when the author leads us to one particular door, we know it is the right one because it opens.” I came late to Updike, in the late 70s I read my first, Couples, while at university. After that I got into the Rabbit books. I came across this quote recently though and, as a novelist, liked it.   ‘The Witches of Eastwick’ by John Updike [UK: Penguin Modern Classics] Buy now See these other famous people, reading & writing:- Jerry Lewis Ernest Hemingway Iris Murdoch And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet: Famous writers, writing… #author John Updike via @SandraDanby http://wp.me/p5gEM4-yf
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Categories: Book Love and On Writing.

New books coming soon

Elizabeth Day Paradise City is the new novel from Observer journalist Elizabeth Day, to be published by Bloomsbury in spring 2015. It tells the story of four Londoners “whose lives intersect in a beautifully constructed story of class and ambition, loneliness and belonging, guilt and restitution”. Bloomsbury, which also signed a second un-named novel by Day, also publishes her two previous novels Scissors, Paper, Stone and Home Fires. Rebecca Levine A four-book epic fantasy series, The Hollow Gods by Rebecca Levine, will be published by Hodder starting with the first book, Smiler’s Fair, in July 2014. The books are set in Ashanesland, where the wandering city of Smiler’s Fair is a meeting place for a multitude of unusual characters. Previously, Levene has written tie-in books for the Doctor Who series. Andrew Marr Fourth Estate is to publish Head of State by television journalist and historian Andrew Marr in the autumn of next year. The novel is set among the world of politicians and journalists. Raymond E Feist The new series from Raymond E Feist, The War of the Five Crowns, is to be published by HarperVoyager. The first novel, King of Ashes, will be released in May 2014. The series, which
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Categories: Book Love.

New books coming soon

Philip Teir The Winter War is a debut novel by Finnish writer Philip Teir. Already published in Finland and Sweden as Vinterkriget, it will be published in the UK in spring 2015 by Serpent’s Tail. The Winter War tells the story of a family coming apart at the seams. Max Paul is a Finnish sociologist known as the Sex Professor, his wife Katrina. At Max’s 60th birthday celebrations, their simmering resentments threaten to explode. David Hofmeyr Stone Rider is a coming of age YA tale by David Hofmeyr, set in the dustbowl town of Blackwater. Influenced by Westerns, the rival tribes of teenagers don’t ride horses but semi-sentient mechanical “bykes”. Penguin will publish Stone Rider in 2015. Jessica Cornwell Cornwell, granddaughter of John le Carré, has sold her ‘literary Da Vinci Code’ trilogy to Quercus. The first, The Serpent Papers, will be published in 2015. The trilogy is set in Barcelona and tells the story of three bodies appearing in rapid succession, their skin tattooed with a cryptic alphabet and tongues severed. Investigations into the death lead to an ancient book of witches and writing women and “a whispered secret from the time of Christ”, The Serpent Papers. Mark Haysom
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Categories: Book Love.

I agree with… Michèle Forbes

Michèle Forbes “In retrospect, it was obvious it was something I knew and it had resonance. I was born there, grew up there, and I felt I had to reconnect with the place. I guess there is something of a preoccupation because I left; there is almost a guilt.” [in an interview with ‘The Bookseller’ magazine, September 20, 2013] Forbes was born in Belfast and her debut novel Ghost Moth is set in Northern Ireland. Although she was keen to avoid it being labelled as ‘a book about The Troubles’, she felt compelled to write about the place of her birth. I understand the feeling that draws a writer homeward. One of the two key protagonists in my second novel Connectedness was born in Yorkshire and grew up where I grew up. I didn’t plan it that way, somewhere along the road of character development, writing exercises, putting myself into Justine’s head, I realised she came from East Yorkshire, like me. It was fact. That wild eastern edge of Yorkshire which juts out into the North Sea and is battered by the bleakest of winter weather shaped Justine as it shaped me. It drew me to explore how landscape impacts on
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Categories: Book Love, My Novel: 'Connectedness' and On Writing.

I agree with… Barbara Taylor Bradford

Barbara Taylor Bradford “For me it all starts with a memorable character. Graham Greene, the legendary English novelist once said in a famous interview that “Character is plot.” This is the best advice I ever got as a novelist. When I sit down to write a book, I try to tell a compelling story about one single character. What this person is inside, and how they view the world is your story. That’s how it began for me with Emma Harte in ‘A Woman of Substance’. You begin with a character that your readers can relate to and build the story around them.” [interview at Authonomy] Well Barbara, A Woman of Substance sold more than 30 million copies worldwide and you’re from Yorkshire too, so I believe you. And I read AWoS when I was a teenager [here’s my original copy], and loved Emma Harte. My novel, Connectedness, is about an East Yorkshire artist called Justine Tree. I started out wondering how a young woman who gives her baby up for adoption would feel 20 years later. Justine, complete with her name, hang-ups and motivations seemed to come into existence fully-formed. I originally made her an artist because I’m interested in art,
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Categories: On Writing.

I agree with Jeanette Winterson…

Jeanette Winterson “I never think: ‘I’m not at work now, so I’ll relax.’ For me, there’s no distinction. Work is the most absorbing thing in my life. Why would I want to switch off?” [excerpt ‘A Life in the Day: Sunday Times Magazine’ May 5, 2013] I’m with her there. I have always earned my living by writing, but writing is who I am not what I do. Stories have been the centre of my life since I first was able to read, the magical moment was when I realised I could make-up my own. Now the writing switch is hard-wired in my brain and cannot be turned off.  And I don’t want to turn it off. I stop when I am tired, not because I have run out of ideas. And I have never suffered from writer’s block, though this may be another benefit of my journalism background where there isn’t time for writer’s block to exist. If you agree with Jeanette Winterson, perhaps you will agree with:- SJ Watson – write every day, even if it’s rubbish Celia Brayfield – fiction without its darker side is like a Miss Marple mystery without its murder Chris Cleave – more
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Categories: Book Love and On Writing.