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Journalism taught me about facts but writing a novel helped me understand truth

theguardian.com – Thursday May 17, 2018

I thought being a reporter could teach me everything there is to know about the difference between fact and fiction. I was wrong.

I always thought I had a handle on truth. Truth lives in facts, in what we know and can measure and prove. But there is truth beyond that, too – truth that lives in the stories we tell each other.

I learned this from Augustine. He was a friend of mine from Nagaland, a forgotten teardrop of unyielding land wedged between Bangladesh and Burma, high in the foothills of the Himalaya.

It is a part of India often neglected by the rest of the country: rent by a decades-old separatist insurgency that has yielded little appreciable liberty, scarred by drug dependency and high rates of HIV, suffering the dislocation and disconnection so many minorities endure in the face of an indifferent majority.

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Writing for the improbable bookshelf

thebookseller.com – Monday May 14, 2018

I make stories for improbable bookshelves. I once came across this term in an Italo Calvino essay and I’ve held on to it ever since, as it so closely describes the way I work.

I recently wrote a new version of the Persephone myth, but it can’t be found in a bookshop or online. Persephone’s Footsteps is an altitude-responsive story and map that has to be carried on a journey through a city. As Persephone climbs higher – first to escape the Underworld and then to escape the polluted city streets – the listener must climb higher to reveal more of her story. At the moment, there is only one version of this work in existence. Is it scalable? Perhaps, but my real hope is that it’s my approach to writing that’s scalable – that writers might be inspired to explore new ways of writing, bringing enlivened approaches to literary forms.

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How to write a book: 11 tips on creating a bestseller from published authors

cosmopolitan.com – Monday May 14, 2018

While it's easy to romanticise writing a novel on the side, knowing how to actually write a book and where the F to start can be a little daunting. Here, 11 published authors, who will be at Hay Festival between 24 May - 3 June, share their tips and tricks for starting your next masterpiece. And who knows? It might end up being a bestseller.

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Elena Ferrante: ‘If you feel the urge to write, there’s no good reason to put it off’

theguardian.com – Saturday May 12, 2018

If you feel the need to write, you absolutely should write. Don’t trust those who say: I’m telling you for your own good, don’t waste time on that. The art of discouraging with kind words is among the most widely practised. Nor should you believe those who say: you’re young, you lack experience, wait. We shouldn’t put off writing until we’ve lived enough, read sufficiently, have a desk of our own in a room of our own with a garden overlooking the sea, have been through intense experiences, live in a stimulating city, retreat to a mountain hut, have had children, have travelled extensively.

Publishing, yes: that can certainly be put off; in fact, one can decide not to publish at all. But writing should in no case be postponed to an “after”. When writing is our way of being in the world, it continuously asserts itself over the countless other aspects of life: love, study, a job. It insists even when there’s no paper and pen or anything, because we’re worshippers of the written word and our minds dictate sentences even in the absence of tools with which to set them down. Writing, in short, is always there, urgent, and distances even the people we love, even our children who ask us to play.

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Use a Placeholder in Your Writing to Keep From Getting Stuck

lifehacker.com – Friday May 4, 2018

Sometimes the hardest part about writing isn’t finding ideas or knowing how to begin, it’s maintaining a flow so you actually finish what you started. It’s not quite total writer’s block since you’re already on the move, but a writer’s road block, if you will. This trick that Star Trek: The Next Generation staff writers used can help you keep on truckin’.

The writers of TNG were great at coming up with interesting plot lines for the crew of the Enterprise, but they weren’t actual scientists or experts in space travel. So, when that kind of stuff came up in the script, they often used a placeholder word for the science-y things and worried about fixing it later. Writer Ron Moore explains the process to Syfy:

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If Shakespeare were alive today, would he be writing crime novels?

telegraph.co.uk – Sunday April 29, 2018

There is no surer way to make yourself sound like a fatuous idiot than to speculate on what famous writers of the past would be doing if they were alive today – to suggest that Dickens would be scripting soap operas, Jane Austen would write chick lit, Blake would be penning hip-hop lyrics, Oscar Wilde would be a preening vlogger, and so on. And yet there is a part of me – the fatuously idiotic part, presumably – that nods along in agreement when people say that if Shakespeare were around today, he would be writing not plays but crime fiction, and we’d find him on the bestseller lists up with Ian Rankin, Lee Child and Val McDermid. The crime novelist Peter James made this point repeatedly as chairman...

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Vetting for stereotypes: meet publishing's 'sensitivity readers'

theguardian.com – Saturday April 28, 2018

When reviewers first saw Keira Drake’s The Continent, this story of a teenager trapped by a war between two “native” tribes quickly found attention on social media – though not much of it was good. This young adult novel was attacked for its “white saviour narrative” and its stereotypical portrayal of people with “reddish-brown skin” or “almond-shaped eyes”. The author Justina Ireland called it a “racist garbage fire”.

Drake apologised, said she would “address concerns about the novel”, and delayed the release. Her publisher, Harlequin Teen, sent the book out to two “sensitivity readers”, who vetted the manuscript for stereotypes, biases and problematic language. Armed with a list of potential problems and possible solutions, Drake went back to the drawing board.

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Book clinic: do editors often have to cut authors down to size?

theguardian.com – Sunday April 22, 2018

Nabokov called editors “pompous avuncular brutes”. Thanks, Vlad! Working with novelists, editors both try and help writers sharpen and structure the story they want to tell and use their experience to provide a sounding board as to how readers might react to it. I say “the story the writer wants to tell” because ultimately it is the writer’s creation.

When I read reviewers’ snarky comments about the fall in editing standards at publishers, I sometimes wonder how much – or how little – they know about the conversations that would have taken place between writer and editor. Ultimately, as an editor, you just have to stand back and say: “OK, it’s your book.”

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How did I get here? My Writer’s Journey from Reluctant Author to Movie Option

By Geri Spieler
Author

firstwriter.com – Sunday April 15, 2018

I have numerous requests asking me to write about my journey from a reluctant author to having a movie option for my book. It all startyed with a Tweet.

Here is how it goes:

I had no intention of writing a book. As I’ve said to many friends and strangers, I had no aspirations of being an author. Books take too long and are too difficult to write.

Well, we know that changed. It was a circumstance that turned me into an author. It began as a curiosity when I was approached by a would-be presidential assassin, Sara Jane Moore, the 45-year-old mother and doctor’s wife who pulled a gun from her purse, took aim and fired a bullet at the head of President Gerald Ford and missed his head by a mere six inches.

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Adam Kay: 'We're all obsessed about peeking under the hood of interesting lives'

list.co.uk – Monday April 9, 2018

Ahead of his appearance at the London Book Fair, the doctor-turned-comedian talks about why memoirs matter

The London Book Fair 2018 kicks off this week with 25,000 publishing professionals about to descend on London's Olympia for a jam-packed three days of everything literary. As expected the festival has secured a plethora of big-name authors to take part and discuss their work and issues in the industry. Ahead of the festival we spoke to Adam Kay: ex-doctor, comedian and best-selling author of This is Going to Hurt: Memoirs of a Junior Doctor. He'll be leading a session alongside publishers Pan Macmillan about the recent surge in popularity of memoirs by normal people.

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