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Writers' News

'If you start the nitpicking, you never stop': Author Sir Michael Morpurgo warns publishers against rewriting classics to suit modern sensibilities following row sparked by edits to Roald Dahl's books

dailymail.co.uk – Monday April 24, 2023

Sir Michael Morpurgo has warned publishers against rewriting classic books to suit modern sensibilities following a row over 'woke' edits to works of fictions by authors including Roald Dahl.

The award-winning children's novelist, whose works include War Horse, Private Peaceful and Friend or Foe, argued that if publishers 'start nitpicking' language now deemed controversial they will 'never stop'.

In an interview with Times Radio today, Sir Michael said the focus should be to 'tell the same story' in a new way.

[Read the full article]

New Publisher Listing: Fighting High

firstwriter.com – Monday April 24, 2023

We specialise in non-fiction books that focus on human endeavour, particularly in a historical military setting. We also consider other stories of human enterprise and adventure.

[See the full listing]

Never too late: over-50s urged to write fiction with prize for debut novel

theguardian.com – Sunday April 23, 2023

London book fair, which concluded earlier this month, always brings with it a flurry of headlines about debut authors signing six-figure publishing deals. Most of these have at least one thing in common – their youth.

As a result, anyone with an ambition to be a novelist might think that the ship has sailed once they leave their 30s. But fear not: there’s an increasing drive to encourage those who come to writing past the first flush of youth that it’s never too late.

At this year’s fair, literary agency Jenny Brown Associates launched an award for debut novelists in the UK aged 50 and above..

“The bestseller lists are full of debut novelists who are older, but the perception is that you have to be young when your first book comes out,” says literary agent Lisa Highton of Jenny Brown Associates.

“But being a debut is not just about being a shiny, sparkly, young person. The reason we launched the award was to say to people over 50 yes, you too can be a shiny, sparkly, new writer– just older.”

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Margaret Atwood and Mona Awad on Writing Outside the Lines

nytimes.com – Saturday April 22, 2023

Margaret Atwood: I’ve been an admirer of Mona’s novel “Bunny” (2019) for some time. It’s a form of Gothic satire, and she sets it at a writing school. It’s very funny, kind of horrifying and quite far outside the lines. You think, “She’s not going to go there … yes, she is.”

Ideas about writers were so thin on the ground when I decided to be one. I was talking to somebody else about this recently and said, “People like you and me went into it out of ignorance.” And she said, “Had I only known, I never would have!” It was kind of like walking across Niagara Falls blindfolded without knowing it. And then people would say, as they did in my presence, “Well, of course women can’t write.” This was the mid-60s. Luckily, I was in Canada, and Canadian writers were so bottom of the heap they were willing to become friends with anybody, even if they were female. So writers of my generation in Canada were making it up as we went. We made up small publishing companies. We made up little magazines. We made up writers’ organizations. Because few of those things existed. Creativity moves in to fill a vacuum.

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New Publisher Listing: Lightning Books

firstwriter.com – Thursday April 20, 2023

Query by email with the word SUBMISSION in capitals at the beginning of the subject field, followed by your name and book title. Attach a single Word file containing a pitch of up to 250 words, a synopsis of up to 500 words, and the first three chapters, up to 10,000 words.

[See the full listing]

New Publisher Listing: Icehouse

firstwriter.com – Wednesday April 19, 2023

Publishes full-length poetry collections of roughly 48-100 pages, by new and established writers. Consider submissions by Canadian citizens or permanent residents only. Accepts submissions annually between April 1 and June 30.

[See the full listing]

What the death of a literary magazine says about our cultural decay

washingtonpost.com – Tuesday April 18, 2023

hristian Lorentzen, the former book critic for New York Magazine, is a longtime contributor to Bookforum, the London Review of Books and Harper’s Magazine.

I was the boy who loved magazines. At home, my parents would confiscate the copies of MadRay Gun and Spin that came in the mail, forbidding me from so much as looking at them until I finished my homework. My appetite for glossy pictures, for clever cartoons, for punning prose — for all the intelligence I couldn’t find in my small town or on television — had to be suppressed, lest I fail out of school. (So thought my mother.) Even now, the arrival of the latest issue of the Baffler or New Left Review feels like an event: a new vision of the world as seen by many minds, wedged between two covers.

But the American magazine is in a state of decay. Now known mostly as brands, once sumptuous print publications exist primarily as websites or YouTube channels, hosts for generic scribblings, the ever-ubiquitous “take.” Meanwhile, a thousand Substacks bloom, some of them very good, with writers in the emancipated state of being paid directly by their readers. Yet even in this atomized, editorless landscape, perverse incentives apply. Are you thirsty for another post about cancel culture or wokeness? Me neither. Yet culture war still largely rules the day.

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O’Grady and de Pass promoted to agents at The Soho Agency

thebookseller.com – Tuesday April 18, 2023

Niamh O’Grady and Marina de Pass have both been promoted to agents at The Soho Agency.

De Pass represents commercial, book-club and literary fiction and has just concluded a 12-way auction for her first non-fiction project One Pot, One Portion by Eleanor Wilkinson (Ebury).

Other highlights include Carole Hailey’s BBC Radio 2 Book Club Pick The Silence Project (Corvus) and Joanna Miller’s debut The Bee Orchids, pre-empted by Fig Tree just ahead of the book fair and already sold in a number of international territories. 

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New Publisher Listing: F1000

firstwriter.com – Tuesday April 18, 2023

Online open research scientific publisher.

[See the full listing]

Staróg Prize launched for Irish writers of children’s fiction

thebookseller.com – Monday April 17, 2023

Walker Books, PaperCuts Literary Consultancy Ltd and the Sunday Independent have teamed up to create a new writing prize, open to writers of Irish nationality and those resident in Ireland and Northern Ireland.  

The Staróg Prize will award an international publishing contract with Walker Books, representation with PaperCuts, and coverage in the Sunday Independent to a new voice in children’s fiction. Two runners-up will also receive a one-year mentorship from Gráinne Clear, senior commissioning editor at Walker Books, and Polly Nolan, founder and m.d. of PaperCuts Literary Consultancy, to further develop their work.  

The award will be open to submissions from 1st May 2023 via an online form, and will close on Sunday 16th July 2023, with the longlist, shortlist and winner announced in October 2023. Submissions must be completed works of fiction in English aimed at readers between seven and 13 years of age.   

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