The Scribbler

the new writing blog for exciting contemporary writers

Archive for February 2009

Ones to read in 2009

with 2 comments

Richard Milward author of Ten Storey Love Song, one of Waterstones New Voices of 2009

Richard Milward author of Ten Storey Love Song, one of Waterstones' New Voices of 2009

In true eagle-eyed Scribbler enthusiasm, we have sought out – with the help of Waterstones – the writers we all need to look out for and read this year.

The high street booksellers, Waterstone’s this week announced its New Voices for 2009, the books from emerging writers that the chain believes will go on to feature in and possibly win the literary awards of the year.

Incredibly half the choices came from independent publishers, including A Kind of Intimacy, a debut by prison librarian Jenn Ashworth which is being compared to Notes on a Scandal, and Ablutions by Patrick DeWitt.

Waterstone’s fiction category manager, Toby Bourne said: “There are a huge number of novels published every year and it is very difficult to say which will strike awards gold and which will not, but we had a fantastic hit rate last year.”

Included in 2008’s selection were Aravind Adiga’s The White Tiger which went on to win the Man Booker, Sadie JonesThe Outcast, which was awarded the Costa First Novel Award, and other novels that made Richard & Judy’s Book Club (bleurgh!) and other awards shortlists.

“Even more so than last year, debut fiction dominates our list, with only the precociously talented Richard Milward two novels into his career,” said Waterstone’s fiction buyer, Janine Cook, who helped choose the list.”

Ten Torey Love Song by Richard Milward, only his second book, is a novel written in a single, 286-page paragraph by the 24-year-old.

Cook went onto to say: “The writers may be new, but they have huge talent and these books deserve to compete with those from more established writers for both the attention of readers and for the big prizes.

“This is an invaluable opportunity for these authors to reach the widest possible audience. The Outcast and The White Tiger have gone on to sell hundreds of thousands of copies between them since inclusion in New Voices 2008, so the rewards can be very high.”

Waterstones’ New Voices will be featured in Waterstones’ stores and online at Waterstones.com from 5 March.

The titles are:

Watch a Richard Millward talk about his New Voices of 2009 highlighted novel Ten Storey Love Song below:

Discussion:
So then, has anyone read any of these new offerings? Will anyone be looking into any of these books now they have received the titles of New Voices of 2009? It’s gotta be a good thing right?

Words: Dean Samways

Keep coming back to The Scribbler for interviews with the New Voices of 2009 in the coming weeks

The Greenhorn Novelist Blog – Post Two – Writer’s Block & Procrastination

with 9 comments

Philip Pullman, not a believer in writers block

Philip Pullman, not a believer in writer's block

For all the stories that are constantly rattling around and exploding inside my head, all too often actually sitting down at my desk and writing things down is bloody difficult. It’s a bizarre dilemma. Too many ideas; not enough writing.

As you may have guessed, the topic of the week is procrastination and writer’s block. Fittingly, this blog is a week late. Apologies. My book hasn’t been going that well this week, you see. I’m still stuck at the thirty thousand word mark. In fact it’s actually shrunk a bit, when I lopped off a couple of dodgy pages, and murdered a whole character. I’ve been under a lot of pressure in the day job, and then I had a midnight trip to casualty, and there’s been some good telly….

All true, but I know it’s not the main reason for the lack of progress. I suspect I’m adept in the dark art of procrastination.

I’d like to think I’m not entirely to blame. Even if it is not harder to be a writer today than in the past, I think it is easier to be a procrastinator.

I am amazed at the sheer amount of distractions available. Mobiles, email, daytime television, Facebook – so far I have resisted the siren texts of Twitter – all consume vital minutes: often not many, but enough to break into my periods of concentration. As many times as writing feels glorious and effortless, I find it feels like homework or exam revision. During these periods I will do anything to avoid my desk.

Even as technology has granted us time from manual chores, it gives us the choice to do something else. We don’t want this choice. Watching Ice Road Truckers on Discovery, or joining some bizarre collective on Facebook is far easier than actually writing. For a writer, choice of entertainment is a bad. Give us only books, paper and pen, and lock us away.

Perhaps it will be a good thing. Only those committed enough to screen out distraction will complete their books: and thus the dilettantes and chancers will be screened out themselves, never cluttering the publisher’s desk, and leaving the field free for the committed and the good. And the question that wakes me in a cold sweat at night: which one am I?

A writer needs isolation and silence. He needs to delve deep into his own head: set dilemmas, flesh out characters; have the quiet space for his own imagination to whirr and play. Like Homer in the isolation booth, only when you’ve set aside some quality time with just you and your head, will the hallucinations that form the strange stuff of stories flicker into existence.


Not the Homer referred to in the blog post but still a poetic one

But then, perhaps when you’ve actually managed to pluck up the courage to sit in front of the laptop, you feel the weight of expectation pressing down on you. You’ve read a lot of books. You know all about literary theory and the corpus of 19th century Abyssinian poets. Thus, what you write is going to be perfect – isn’t it?

This has been one of my biggest problems. I want it to be perfect. But, almost always, the words on the screen capture just a ghost of my intention. That’s not what I meant. That’s not what I meant at all. I am paralysed and I have to fight to stop myself slipping back into the embrace of impossible expectations.

But there is hope. Few great authors found the writing process easy. In fact many of them spoke of the craft with something approaching revulsion and horror, yet still managed to write, publish and be successful. Philip Pullman, answering a question on writer’s block says:

“I don’t believe in it. All writing is difficult. The most you can hope for is a day when it goes reasonably easily. Plumbers don’t get plumber’s block, and doctors don’t get doctor’s block; why should writers be the only profession that give a special name to the difficulty of working, and then expects sympathy for it?” (www.philip-pullman.com)

In practical terms there is a universe of techniques to jumpstart your writing. The most important for me is letting yourself be bad when you write. Lay down utter drivel. Just keep it private and tell yourself it’s just a rough draft. Rediscover the joy of forming sentences, paragraphs, creating characters. Create a schedule. Get up an hour early, and write in the dawn. Go walking – leave for work a half hour earlier and walk, letting your thoughts riff along the beat of your legs. Knock yourself out of regular thought patterns. Buy the Daily Mail. Get yourself worked up.

To finish on a more philosophical tack, I think that ultimately what keeps you writing is a mixture of love and fear. Love, for the special times, when writing feels like flying; and fear, of the alternative: of not writing. That is a giving-up, a little death. To write is to have a chance to live twice over, at least: firstly, you see, hear, smell and touch more intensely; and, second, when your stories are read, you yourself are multiplied. That’s worth writing for, isn’t it?

Watch Pullman talk about The Golden Compass and his writing technique below:

Discussion:
What are you guilty of when it comes to procrastination? Have you every experienced writer’s block? How did you overcome it?

Words: Richard Walsh

Stephen King denounces Stephanie Meyer & other writers

with 28 comments

Stephen King, the self-confessed greatest writer in the world

Stephen King, the self-confessed greatest writer in the world

Mediocre horror writer Stephen King has made it clear that he is not a fan of Twilight. In a new interview the writer commented on the teen vamp serialist, Stephanie Meyer, by saying she “can’t write worth a darn”, apparently.

In an interview with USA Weekend while promoting his new book, Stephen King Goes to the Movies, the best-selling novelist said Meyer can’t hold a candle to J.K. Rowling.

King said: “The real difference is that Jo Rowling is a terrific writer and Stephenie Meyer can’t write worth a darn. She’s not very good.”

Curbing his attack slightly King explained while he’s no fan of Meyer’s writing, he does appreciate her storytelling for her target audience.

“People are attracted by the stories, by the pace and in the case of Stephenie Meyer, it’s very clear that she’s writing to a whole generation of girls and opening up kind of a safe joining of love and sex in those books.

“A lot of the physical side of it is conveyed in things like the vampire will touch her forearm or run a hand over skin, and she just flushes all hot and cold. And for girls, that’s a shorthand for all the feelings that they’re not ready to deal with yet.”

King is renowned for not mincing his words about fellow authors. He even highlights some in his book, On Writing.

In the same interview, King also called bestseller Dean Koontz “sometimes … just awful” and James Patterson “a terrible writer” who is “very, very successful.”

Have a look at a classic clip from Stephen King’s The Shining below:

Discussion:
So, do you think Meyer’s vampire’s suck or is King being unfair? What novelist to you rate and who is overrated? Comment in the reply box below

Words: Dean Samways

The iPod of the book world is a Amazon hit

leave a comment »

The Amazon Kindle (Amazon)

The Amazon Kindle (Amazon)

Online retailer Amazon.com (UK site) is set to see revenue from its Kindle electronic book reader reach beyond $1.2 billion by 2010.

Amazingly, in a report, Citigroup revealed that’s over 4 percent of Amazon’s total revenue for the same year.

Analyst Mark Mahaney said: “The Kindle has become the iPod of the book world.”

500,000 Kindle units were sold on the Amazon website in 2008. Relatively that’s 32 percent more than the number of Apple iPods sold in its first commercial year.

Mahaney had originally estimated the sale of 380,000 Kindles in ’08.

Amazon topped analyst estimates for the fourth quarter of last year and also forecast first-quarter of 2009 sales above expectations.

The e-retailer is planning to launch the latest version of the Kindle on 9 Feb.

“Kindle’s success highlights the very significant and consistent innovation focus that Amazon has maintained over the past five years and helps hedge the company against the digitisation of media products,” said Mahaney, who labeled the company with a ‘hold’ rating.

In the marketplace Kindle competes with Sony’s e-book reader.

The wireless version of the Kindle can download titles from 17 websites including Amazon (naturally), Project Gutenberg, Free Kindle Books, The World Library and Fictionwise. For a full list of sources click here.

Watch the guide to Kindle below:

Discussion:
Does anyone own a Kindle or a Sony E-Book Reader? What do you make of them? Do they make reading easier? Would you recommend it?

Words: Dean Samways