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‘I’m at my desk by 9am. I even write on Christmas Day’

theguardian.com – Saturday December 24, 2016

I have been writing every day of my life, seven days a week, for almost 50 years. Even Christmas Day. But I still enjoy it. I have lived in the same house for the last 30 years and I have written in the same room ever since. When I first came to London, I went on a canal boat ride in Little Venice and I remember going past the street where I live now, thinking: “This must be a nice place to live.” I never dreamed that I would one day live here.

My writing room is a cosy, book-lined room, with a dark wooden desk and a window overlooking the garden. There is a little Paddington bear watching over my desk. I am happy here, although on some days, there is rather a lot of traffic on the road and the river and it can be quite noisy.

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Kiddie-lit publishers try to bring adult classics down to 6-year-old level

seattletimes.com – Thursday December 22, 2016

Kiddie lit has become a surprisingly lucrative and crowded niche. Anxious parents who played Mozart for their babies in utero and showed them Baby Einstein educational videos have snapped up children’s books that promise to turn their offspring into tiny literature lovers.

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Caimh McDonnell: too funny and too Irish

irishtimes.com – Wednesday December 21, 2016

Publishing used be a lot like a bad country disco. The publishers in this metaphor are the lovely ladies and the authors are the likely lads. I don’t mean that the ladies stand bored on one side of the hall while the lads are on the other skulling pints. No, this is another kind of bad. Imagine a GAA tournament clashed with a young farmer’s convention and the AGM of the Association of People Called Sean. The ladies are so out-numbered, it’s like the film 300 remade as a romcom.

Good news, though, the publishers found a solution. The ladies hired some bouncers to do their rejecting for them – literary agents. As a lonely author looking for love, you’ve now got to convince one of them to dance with you long before any of the girls will consider it.

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My writing day: Maggie O’Farrell

theguardian.com – Saturday December 17, 2016

Most writers’ work happens when they are away from their desks, when they are looking the other way, when they are engaged with some other mundane task. The washing up, the folding of laundry, the school run, the debate with a small child over the merits and demerits of wearing of a coat in December.

This is, at least, what I try to tell myself. The idea that there is a typical “writing day” makes me laugh, with a slight edge of hysteria. Life with children precludes such planning, such routine, such predictability. Last week, for example, my writing mornings were disrupted and erased by, in no particular order: the cat being copiously indisposed on sofa and carpet; my daughter drawing a seascape of swimming lions on top of some notes I had made; one child sent home ill from school; and another requiring lifts to and from concert rehearsals.

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A primer on writing from a gifted novelist

usatoday.com – Friday December 16, 2016

Charles Johnson, one of America’s finest novelists (Middle Passage) and foremost thinkers pondering the cosmos of literature, has published a road map to that cosmos as complex, daunting and rewarding as the destination itself. Titled The Way of the Writer: Reflections on the Art and Craft of Storytelling (Scribner, 256 pp., *** out of four stars), this dense little book could just as cogently be called The Rigors of Writing Seriously.

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Are small publishers doing all the hard work for the big ones?

theguardian.com – Thursday December 8, 2016

Paul McVeigh and Kirsty Logan are authors you may have heard of. Both of their debuts were published by Salt, an independent publisher. Paul McVeigh’s The Good Son was shortlisted for a bunch of awards, and won the Polari first book prize this year. Kirsty Logan’s The Rental Heart and Other Fairytales won three awards — including the Polari in 2015— and Logan had her next book published with Harvill Secker, a division of Penguin Random House. The same trajectory is likely for Paul McVeigh. It’s a familiar story.

Independent publishers have existed since the 19th century; it wasn’t until the 20th and the 21st that we saw the industry dominated by a few corporations. “The Big Four” publishers – Simon & Schuster, Penguin Random House, Hachette and HarperCollins – have grown big by buying up small publishers. Hogarth, for example, was founded by Leonard and Virginia Woolf in 1917; now it is an imprint at the Crown Publishing Group, which is in turn a part of Penguin Random House – which itself used to be Penguin and Random House before their merger in 2013. Phew.

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How I Got Here

mastheadonline.com – Wednesday December 7, 2016

It’s hard really to know where to start, so I guess I’ll start at the beginning. Twenty years ago I was a failed photocopier salesperson who stumbled into the world of publishing strictly by chance. By any stretch of the imagination, I am not supposed to be here. The fact that I am even writing something about magazines for a website is pure fluke.

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Is making a living just from writing books a literary fiction?

irishtimes.com – Monday December 5, 2016

Rumour has it that there are only 12 writers in Ireland who can make a living from their books alone.

Of course, the figure changes with on the telling – dropping to seven, or rising to 20, perhaps even 30 – and while trying to guess the names of those on this privileged list makes for a good game, I’ve yet to uncover the research on which this supposed statistic is based.

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‘Writing a good sex scene is a skill you hone over and over again’

independent.ie – Thursday December 1, 2016

Is there anything worse than a bad sex scene in a book? (Apart, maybe, from a bad sex scene in real life.) There you are, mentally immersed in this fictional universe, lost in an invented world, and suddenly… a clumsy, clunky, cringy sex scene blunders into view, waving its unmentionables about, and breaks the magic.

Badly written sex scenes are jarring. They’re jolting. They just feel wrong, even more so if the book you’re reading is otherwise well-crafted.

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How Reality TV Inspires My Writing

huffingtonpost.com – Wednesday November 30, 2016

Last year, I officially became a cord cutter and canceled my cable subscription. I had enough of spending $100/month wasting time watching mindless television. At first, it was great. I started reading more, going out more and finding new hobbies, but soon enough, I was craving the entertainment of television again.

When I went home to visit my parents, I gorged on Bravo and E! reality TV shows. I could watch an entire season of ‘Real Housewives’ without getting bored for a second; at the end, I actually felt let down that I had to wait months for the next season to come out. And then, I felt guilty for loving this ‘trashy television’ that most of my friends and family - and most of society - considers ‘garbage.’ I realized, though, that it doesn’t only provide entertainment; it also teaches me aspects of storytelling that I try to incorporate into my own writing.

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