Friday, 26 July 2013

Anakana Schofield asks if there are too many writers and not enough readers?

Ankana Schofield, author of Malarky
Anakana Schofield has published an excellent article at The Guardian, that sparkles with wit and wisdom.
Her points show frustration, not bitterness.  Here are some of my favourite parts, which were borne from Ankana's hard-earned experience:

A debut author's publicist tells her, as every honest publicist should, the bald truth: that newspapers like personal stories. Ideally, confessional stories. Best of all: confessional stories that relate to the fiction she spent years making up. So she spends years using her imagination only to discover that she must dig about in her psychoanalytic compost heap, and retrieve something that reveals that, in fact, she has not made it up at all.

As Malarky is an exploration of grief and sexuality, such a confessional would require, say, the insertion of an anecdote about how I liked to spy on men having sex in bathhouses. This would tidily explain how (or why) I created a novel in which, among a myriad other things, an Irish mother re-enacts her gay son's love acts.

The truth is otherwise: sadly, no splashy bathhouse peeping. Instead, I sat in a library surrounded by medical students and made it up...

These days, an author, especially an unknown author, must – in order to entice any readers to her work who aren't blood relatives – write endless unpaid blogs, articles and responses for newspapers and magazines and random people creating things in basements...

 There is a general decline in the value placed on labour. The situation is comparable to other areas of the workforce, where several jobs are collapsed to one and the pay slashed. The reporter who must now shoot, edit video, audio-record and type all stories while tweeting. The security guard who is not allowed to tweet, but must also do the cleaning...

Why is there so much fuss in the media about how to write a novel – "everyone can become an author" – when the more important thing is how to read one?

 There are no adverts that instruct you to sit down, have a cup of tea and read. This, I suspect, is because there's no economic advertorial kickback from those acts...

 The author engaged in a bookshop reading event (usually unpaid) has been known to become a vessel through which other authorial fantasies can flow or ferment. Unless the moderator steers it otherwise, a Q&A can turn into a session on how that ubiquitous determined man at the back can be published. He has an email from an agent from years ago … I sympathise, but I also want to ask him: whom do you imagine will buy and read your work if you do not buy and read books?

 You can read the full article here.

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Louise Phillips's next transfixing thriller The Dolls' House

Louise Phillips, best-selling author of Red Ribbons, is bringing out her next transfixing thriller,  The Dolls' House on August 1st.

One reason that I began reading Louise Phillips's work is that I am an Agatha Christie fan.  I was ferriting out novels that were as satisfying and where I felt that I was 'inside' the mind of the characters, such as those by both Christie and Phillips. 

I find that Louise Phillips and Agatha Christie have a driving force in common: they stay true to human nature. Their plots are formed inside the characters' heads. 'Human nature never changes' is a proverb that I used hear a lot growing up. Times change, fashions change, the weather changes, but there is only timelessness in literature if the characters are flesh and blood, and if you can see the absolute link between their personality traits and actions. 

Take Phillips' Red Ribbons and Christie's Five Little Pigs. Both novels have mothers who have been the victims of blame-shifting and victims of their own overwhelming and incriminating sense of guilt.

Red Ribbons has a central character, Ellie Brady, a mother who has been institutionalized in a mental home, after being convicted for murdering her daughter.  In Christie's great murder mystery Five Little Pigs, the mother is charged with murdering her husband. Both mothers have assumed the air of a criminal because they feel so guilty that they fit the role, without necessarily having done the crime that would make them culpable.

Agatha Christie fans will really appreciate Louise Phillips' literature that plumb the depths of the darker waters of the human psyche.

The water scene in The Doll's House trailer has me intrigued. The young chap floating face down is no doubt a murder scene, that must be deciphered by Kate Pearson, the criminal psychologist who takes a very forensically detailed approach to her work. Why did the young man die - in the outdoors - without a coat on? Was he dragged from his home? Is the watery burial meant to wash all traces of the killer's hands?

Friday, 5 July 2013

Only read this post if you are Irish

Have I got your attention? Admit it, you might not have been born in the Republic of Ireland, like the vast majority of the population on Planet Internet, but to defy the title of this post, you came here anyway. Good for you!
Here are some details of a poetry-writing-competition open to people born on the island of Ireland, of Irish nationality or long-term resident in Ireland.  You may submit a collection of poems - in English - which has not previously been published and may be considered for the The Patrick Kavanagh Poetry Award. 

This is the 42nd year of the award. And the prize is €1,000.

The *dead*lion is 26th July, 2013, a Friday.   The full list of rulz are here.

Paddy Kavanagh - We Love You.