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Mark Billingham: why research comes last, and other crime-writing tricks

irishtimes.com – Monday May 9, 2016

Research can get you into trouble. It’s important, of course, but there are pitfalls. An obvious one – especially when writing dark crime novels – is that you can occasionally find yourself dealing with someone who doesn’t see the world in quite the way you do and certainly shouldn’t be left alone with sharp objects. Once, after posting on a forensic anthropology website for information on the speed at which a body might decompose under a particular set of circumstances, I received the following email.

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Writing crime with Donna Leon, Duncan Campbell and Barry Forshaw – books podcast

theguardian.com – Friday May 6, 2016

In this week’s podcast, we investigate the enduring appeal of crime in literature. Duncan Campbell, for decades one of the UK’s most distinguished crime correspondents, looks back through a murky history that began with reports of hangings in the 17th century, assisted in the birth of the novel with Daniel Defoe’s Moll Flanders and has been conflating fact and fiction ever since. 
He’s joined by Barry Forshaw, a walking encyclopedia of noir, who explains why the British tradition of crime writing walks to a different beat than the rest of the world.

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Guest post by TR Ragan: Writing in different genres

hypable.com – Wednesday May 4, 2016

TR Ragan joins us to talk about her experiences in writing across different genres, including both romance and thrillers.

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How To Write A Novel (And Actually Get It Published)

elleuk.com – Wednesday May 4, 2016

Google ‘how to write a novel’ and there are 237 million results to choose from: factual ‘how to’ manuals; rose-tinted listicles from authors who did it; self-styled experts with formulas for writing a bestseller in 100 days... I read them all. But the best advice was five words from Tom Clancy - how do you write a book? 'Just tell the damn story.'

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My writing day: Jacqueline Wilson

theguardian.com – Friday April 29, 2016

I once wrote in a Lett’s School-Girl’s Diary “It would be so wonderful to be a proper writer when I’m grown up. Imagine what bliss it would be to stay at home all day and just write!” Well, I’m a writer now, proper or improper, but sadly I don’t often get to stay at home all day and write. I meet journalists, I go to endless meetings, I do charity work, I talk at festivals, I take part in conferences, I lecture at universities, I visit ill children, I open libraries, I talk on panels, I give interviews on radio and television, and I judge all kinds of competitions. It’s all very interesting and enjoyable, if a bit nerve-racking at times, but it’s ultra time-consuming. It’s difficult managing to produce two full-length books each year. I cope by writing early every morning – even Christmas morning.

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Are most romance novels badly written?

theguardian.com – Monday April 18, 2016

Isabel Allende more than annoyed crime fiction writers a couple of years ago when, after writing her first mystery Ripper, she said that “I’m not a fan of mysteries” because they are “too gruesome, too violent, too dark; there’s no redemption there”. Instead, Allende said, she decided to “take the genre, write a mystery that is faithful to the formula and to what the readers expect, but it is a joke”.

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Can creative writing be taught? Irish authors give their answers

irishtimes.com – Monday April 18, 2016

“Why are you here? Why aren’t you sitting at home writing?” John Steinbeck once asked a group of students he was tutoring in the art of fiction. As with other crafts, his point was that writers learn to write by writing. You don’t become a good cook by reading recipes, you don’t learn to drive by watching Top Gear, and you don’t sit in a classroom and emerge a few semesters later with the formula to the next Booker.

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My writing day: Hilary Mantel

theguardian.com – Saturday April 16, 2016

Some writers claim to extrude a book at an even rate like toothpaste from a tube, or to build a story like a wall, so many feet per day. They sit at their desk and knock off their word quota, then frisk into their leisured evening, preening themselves.

This is so alien to me that it might be another trade entirely. Writing lectures or reviews – any kind of non-fiction – seems to me a job like any job: allocate your time, marshall your resources, just get on with it. But fiction makes me the servant of a process that has no clear beginning and end or method of measuring achievement. I don’t write in sequence. I may have a dozen versions of a single scene. I might spend a week threading an image through a story, but moving the narrative not an inch. A book grows according to a subtle and deep-laid plan. At the end, I see what the plan was.

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Why writing diverse children's books is tough

theguardian.com – Tuesday April 12, 2016

What’s the point of having another shoddily-realised feisty girl or two-dimensional token wheelchair sidekick to add to the massive pile of rubbish attempts at diversity? Author Ross Montgomery on why it’s hard to write diverse – but that’s no excuse not to.

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Breda Wall Ryan on writing In a Hare’s Eye

irishtimes.com – Wednesday April 6, 2016

When judge Kevin Barry announced my debut poetry collection, In a Hare’s Eye (Doire Press 2015), as the winner of this year’s Shine/Strong Poetry Award at Mountains to Sea dlr Book Festival, it marked a new milestone on my poetry journey, a journey begun in childhood. Poetry came to me first at the ear. My mother used to recite narrative poems to us as bedtime stories and I was captivated by their rhymes and rhythms. I can still recite swathes of poetry I learned on the cusp of sleep, that tipping point between the conscious and the unconscious. The marvellous imagery and skewed logic of dreams is one of the places my poems are born. If I held a sure key to that otherworld of the unconscious, I’d go there more often, to bring back embryonic poems. One strand of my poetry explores the borders between the real and surreal, between acquired and personal mythologies. A second strand concerns nature, the environment, and our human mistreatment of the earth.

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