So you know that teenage girl you need to buy a present for will already have Zoe Sugg’s novel Girl Online – what else can you consider?
She may very well have this book as well, but then again she might not. It came out in the Spring, and received a fair bit of media attention, but nothing like the amount of attention and hype that Girl Online has had. Steven Spielberg has apparently snapped up the movie rights, so he sees cinematic potential in the story told in Popular’s pages.
It is not a novel, rather a diary-style account of an American teenager’s rather clever plan of trying to lead her life according to advice set out in Betty Cornell’s Teenage Popularity Guide from the 1950s.
Betty Cornell herself writes, in a short Introduction, to the teenager’s memoir:
Maya Van Wagenen told me that I had changed her life. She had used my book for tops and hints on how to deal with the challenges she was facing in school. Remarkably she used advice I wrote decades ago and applied it in today’s world. I was so delighted that my book had withstood the test of time and was still providing help to teenagers.
When I finished reading Maya’s book… I felt a cascade of feelings: pride, love, satisfaction, and happy memories. It amazed me to see Maya tell her tale with such knowledge,m poise and grace.
It looks diverting and thought-provoking at the very least.
Mal Peet shares his top tips on writing football fiction
1. Don’t. It’s too hard. Write about wizards or zombies or bad-ass girls or something easy like that.
Agnes Chambre interviews Michael Morpurgo for York Vision:
Michael’s advice for budding writers is therefore unsurprising given his philosophy for writing based on living and experiencing. In a similar vein to all his words, these reflect a beautiful simplicity.
“Don’t be in a hurry. Read, read, read; listen; keep your ears open, your eyes open, and above all your heart open, so that your antennae are out the whole time. Go places; meet people; listen to people, and then I think write a few lines every day, not a diary, not a journal, but just two or three lines every day to remind you why that day was different. It can be some little quip you heard on a bus, or some desperately sad thing that’s going on in your life, or somebody else’s life. I was looking across the river this morning and I saw the cows lying down and the mist around them. You can paint those moments in words; it’s what you’ve got.”
After all these books and all these experiences, I asked the author what his proudest moment is. “Its funny, pride is such a strange word, it’s not really what I…” Michael paused. “I have an enormous satisfaction in the smallest thing, the smallest thing being communicating stories that I love to other people and feeling at the end that they love it too. We have an intimacy of communication, which is emotional, it’s intellectual, it’s the best thing that human beings can do with and for each other. If I’m ever really proud, it’s when I believe that has worked. It may not happen, but when it does…” And his voice trailed off again; and it seemed as though that that magic of connection was entirely possible.
Rebecca Davies summarises (in 25 points) some of the advice/information conveyed during last weekend’s Nosy Crow conference… I’ve picked out points #23 and #24, but it’s worth reading them all:
23. To get into the top 5,000 best-selling children’s books in the UK, you need to sell around 100 copies of you book a week. That said, booksellers like to champion good books, and will be happy if a book sells 1,200 in total if it’s an author they’re really passionate about – another good reason to do events in bookshops and get the booksellers on your side.
24. Only 2 per cent of UK e-book sales this year were of books for children, so if you’re considering e-publishing a children’s book, it might be worth waiting until the market picks up (which hopefully it will!)
Why do the media care so much about the novelist – what pen she uses, what time she gets up in the morning – when they should be concentrating on the novel?
Good piece, this, by Anakana Schofield, author of Malarky
There seems to have been a shift from a reading culture to a writing culture, a diminishment of critical space for the contemplation of literature. Writing needs to be discussed and interrogated through reading. If you wish to write well, you need to read well, or at least widely. You certainly need to contemplate reading a book in translation, unlikely to be widely reviewed in newspapers, many of which are too busy wasting space on “how to write” tips and asking about an author’s personal fripperies. It’s a great deal more fulfilling to read and think about a fine book than to attempt to write one.
There is something wrong with how much of the media approaches authors and books. They seem to believe we no longer appear to value the labour that it takes to read. That we value most of all the status we imagine will come from publishing a book. Are they right? The only really useful status comes from reading and thinking.