Monthly Archives: September 2012

The Republic of Reading

Peter Stothard, chair of the 2012 Booker prize judging panel, says book bloggers are harming literature. Should I rise to the bait? Consider the history of this kind of article. Am I supposed to believe that The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal invited A.S. Byatt and Harold Bloom to comment on the Harry Potter series purely out

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On writing

There’s an excellent article in the Guardian about writing as a craft. The theme is literary non-fiction, but the authors interviewed go beyond that. I particularly like Robert Macfarlane’s comments about reading good and bad writers to learn the skills, as well as Francis Spufford on visiting the bookshop when your own writing’s not going well.

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Distractions, distractions

I’m hyperactive and unfocused at the moment. I have a deadline to meet so I won’t post again until the story is done. I’ve even bribed/blackmailed myself with the pledge that I can’t read Alan Bennett’s The Uncommon Reader, which I bought the other day, until I’ve submitted the story. Current distractions (outside earning a living): Very funny tweets by @50ShedsofGrey (Sorry, 50Sheds,

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Murphy’s laws of writing

Good ideas will come when you are in the shower and the pen and paper are well out of reach. Creativity likes to play hide-and-seek. When you’re free to write, you’ll stare at the blank page and every start you make will be a bad one. When you’re hemmed in by your day job and in the middle of a

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Fifty Shades of Hay

Each month, Literary Review publishes a cartoon called ‘Illustrations to Unwritten Books’ (I think these hilarious spoofs are the work of cover illustrator Chris Riddell). Literary Review has inspired me to create my own send-up of E.L. James’s best-seller, Fifty Shades of Grey. I don’t have the artistic skill of Chris Riddell, but I hope this novel for horses makes you chuckle:

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What you know vs what you care about

“Write what you know.” Some days, that advice is a hindrance. I have—at least for now—no interest in writing a novel about what it’s like to be  living in Sydney, Australia, in 2012. It might be what I “know” but I have no passion for it. My ambitions exceed my ability, and perhaps I’ll never complete the project, but I’m

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A self-publishing success story

A bestseller in Melbourne, then Europe. A stage adaptation that ran for 500 nights in London. Not one, but three, film adaptations, with a new telemovie version currently in production. No, it’s not the publishing success story of 2012, but of 1886. Self-publishing is nothing new. Fergus Hume published his bestseller The Mystery of a Hansom Cab in 1886, a

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Coleridge meets Mondays

Her face was closed Her mind it seethed Her dreams had all been sold The Nightmare Working Drone was she Commuting through the cold. My apologies to Samuel Taylor Coleridge and his Rime of the Ancient Mariner. (I tweeted this pastiche on 19 June 2011 but I don’t think that matters.) Can you imagine Mr Laudanum (Coleridge) with a day job,

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