The Influence of a Feature Writer


Donald Sutherland

featured in The Observer by Carole Cadwalladr

I saw Donald Sutherland interviewed on Jonathan Ross on Friday night. It was midly entertaining, in an end-of-week kind of way. This interview in The Observer was much more effective, however, in communicating the personality of the man. One of the reasons why children's authors and illustrators remain low profile is that they are so rarely afforded the luxury of a feature interview. And when they are the subject of a feature in one of those highly laudable publications such as Books for Keeps it tends to be, by comparison with Cadwalldr's skillfully vivid rendition, earnestly bland. There are some exceptions. Which makes the loss of Dina Rabinovitch all the more tragic. Her profiles in The Guardian were exceptional in that they approached children's writers just as if they were any other part of the entertainment industry - in other words, as if they were actors or musicians. She was as good a profile writer as Cadwalldr (whose work I don't really know, but who certainly did a good job here). It is easy to be dismissive of the effect a good feature or profile can have. The writers, after all, are not reviewers, or critics, but mere journalists or hacks - so the argument goes.
To my mind, it's not more review space that children's books need, it's more interview and profile columns.

[Posted to provoke comment!]


Then I'll cite Michael Rosen in this context: 'We get too hung up about authorship.' Though I don't agree with him that writing is essentially a communal effort, why do we need our writers to be performers? superstars? What does this say about reading, which I view as a private undertaking and counter to youtubeism.

Link to the Rosen statement:

I agree, it is a higher profile generally that artists and writers for children need and that would hopefully encourage wider community awareness, debate and interest..which in turn would lead to more demand for review space from interested parents and professionals.

While I'm at it, world peace would be good too.

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This page contains a single entry by achuka published on March 30, 2008 11:52 PM.

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Children's Book Reviews - 3/31/2008 - Publishers Weekly is the next entry in this blog.

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