Seeing the future

The journo’s have started up the smoke machines, donned their best towels (on their heads, don’t be rude) and polished up their crystal balls to have a look at what is coming up over the next few months in television and books.

TV this Autumn is covered on the - one of my highlights has to be Merlin on BBC One:

No Robin Hood this autumn (that’s back in the new year); Saturday teatimes will instead get a magical, Arthurian makeover. Colin Morgan will star as the fledgling wizard, opposite Richard Wilson, Anthony Head, Michelle Ryan and a dragon sounding suspiciously like John Hurt.

And in books Suzi Feay over in the Indepenent UK has a look at what will be the next big thing -

And the next big children’s book is… about a bunch of kids in a boarding school! Andy Mulligan’s Ribblestrop (Simon & Schuster, April 2009) is a hilarious and morally questionable tale about a disastrous school whose pupils can be counted on the fingers of one hand. The building was falling down even before a disaffected pupil set fire to it. Health and safety is non-existent, rebuilding and DIY forms a major part of the curriculum, and a donkey sanctuary occupies the playing fields. The book’s hapless hero, Sam, is concussed, scalded and stripped of most of his clothes in the very first chapter. Ribblestrop has the “crazy school” appeal of Hogwarts and the grim humour of Lemony Snicket, and looks like a winner.

It’ll be interesting to see how the predictions fair once the smoke clears… In the mean time I’m off to find a beginners guide to tarot cards.

Written by david. in: Televsion, books | Tags: ,

China reacts to ‘Bunny suicide’ book

The bestselling Book of Bunny Suicides: Little Fluffy Rabbits Who Just Don’t Want to Live Anymore has come under fire in China after a number of children made serious suicide attempts and one twelve year old jumped from a sixth floor apartment.

Newspapers there are blaming the exam-oriented educational system for excessive pressure on students while the China Mental Health Association has reported that suicide in China is triple the world average for 15 - 34 year olds.

As a reaction to the rising fears bookshops have begun to remove the book from their shelves. (Irish Times)

*September 10 was World Suicide Prevention Day. While I don’t see the need, or the effect, of candle vigils there is a need for people to be more open and willing to talk about suicide. It effects thousands of people each year - in 2005 431 Irish people took their own lives. Banning books that might initiate discussion isn’t helping. Books, like Keith Gray’s Ostrich Boys approach suicide with humour and reality and could, at least in theory, help begin discussion.

Written by david. in: Censorship, books, mental health | Tags: , ,

Free books? | Neverwhere

Fancy a free read? Harper Collins are offering Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere as a free PDF download. There is a catch though - the PDF will last 30 days before disintegrating back into the ether.

Still, as he says himself, free is free.


Written by david. in: Free Stuff, books | Tags: ,

World Book Day releases

Following on from the success of this year news of the World Book Day Quick Reads 2009 has been popping up around the interweb. John Boyne - I was going to make a ‘John Balde, see-what-I-did-there’ joke, but my heart wouldn’t have been in it - the Bookseller and the Guardian cover it. Apparently, according to Kate Mosse, the guidelines for writing one of the Quick Reads are quite demanding: ” very short sentences and no words longer than two syllables”.

John Balde, see-what-I-did-there*, features alongside Ian Rankin, Kate Mosse and Sherrie Hewson (the lady from Coronation Street).

The full list for 2009:

Ian Rankin - A Cool Head
Kate Mosse - The Cave
Catrin Collier - Black-Eyed Devils
John Boyne - The Dare
Jacqueline Rayner - Dr Who: The Sontaran Games
Sherrie Hewson - The Tannery
Gervase Phinn - All These Lonely People
Patience Thomson - 101 Ways To Get Your Child To Read
Lola Jaye - Reaching For The Stars
Evan Davis - Dragons’ Den

* No John’s were hurt in the making of this post. (I hope)

Written by david. in: Publising, Reading, books | Tags: ,

what are bloggers reading this summer?

The annual summer deluge of ‘What to read on the beach’ feature articles have started cropping up (such as - here, here and here). Now it’s the bloggers’ turn to name their books of the summer:

Sinéad C got the ball rolling with Wordpress for Dummies, Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink and Jeff Lindsay’s Dexter in the Dark. Monscooch followed up with Sebastian Faulks’ Devil May Care and a copy of Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink and a Jeff Lindsay book too - are these two the blogger favourites?

Rick has his nose in JRR Tolkein’s Lord Of The Rings Trilogy and Flann O’Brien’s The Third Policeman (nice choice!), as well as some great others. Kevin, the smartest man in blogging, is reading the inexplicable Thom Gunn and Fyodor Dostoevsky. Meanwhile RP has Ray (Carver?), Johnny (Irving?), David (Eggers?) and Chuck (Palahniuk?) all on the back burner…

>> Is there a blogger beach recommendation for the summer?

Meanwhile over my side of the bed is a spring/summer reading collection that amasses to a total of 65 books (not including advance review copies for magazines and newspapers). I couldn’t quite fit all of the leaning tower in one picture so I had to get up on a chair to take the second shot…

Here goes:

Aidan Higgins - Langrishe go Down, Axel Munthe - The story of San Michele Brendan Behan - The Hostage, Brian Dillon - In the Dark Room, Chimnamanda Ngozci Adiche - Half of a yellow Sun, Chuck Palahniuk – Diary, Colin Thubron - Shadow of the Silk Road, Conor Kostick – Saga, David Almond - Heaven Eyes, David McWilliams - Pope’s Children, DH Lawrence - Love among the haystacks (and other stories), DH Lawrence - The Rainbow, Emile Zola - For a night of love, Eoin Colfer - Benny and Omar, Frank Cotrell Boyce – Cosmic, Gabriel Garcia Marquez - One Hundred Yers of Solitude, GW Dahlquist - The Glass books of the Dream Eaters, Herodotus - The Histories, Irvine Welsh – Glue, Jack Kerouac - The Town and the City, Jean-Paul Sartre - What is Literature?, John Irving - Until I Find You, Kate Moss – Labyrinth, Kazuo Ishiguro - Never Let me Go, Kazuo Ishiguro - The Unconsoled, Keith Gray – Ostrich Boys, Kingsley Amis - Jake’s Thing, Kurt Vonnegut - Cats Cradle, Thomas Mann - The Magic Mountain, Marcel Proust - Pleasures and Days, Marcus Zusack - The Book Thief, Marjane Satrapi – Persepolis, Mark Bennett - Joe Rat, Martin Amis – Money, Meg Rosoff – Just in Case, Meg Rosoff - What I Was, Michael Ondaatje - Anil’s Ghost, Michael Ondaatje - The English Patient, Michel Houellebecq - The possibility of an island, Oscar Wilde - Plays, Prose Writings and Poems, Pat McCabe - The Asylum, Roddy Doyle - Paula Spencer, Philip Reeve - Here Lies Arthur, Philip Reeve – Larklight, Richard Adams - Watership Down, Robert Muchamore - Mad Dogs, Robert Muchamore - The Fall, Robert Muchamore - The Sleepwalker, Ross O’Carroll Kelly - The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nightdress, Thomas Pynchon - Slow Learner, Thomas Pynchon - The crying of Lot 49, Thomas Pynchon – V, Tim Bowler - River Boy, Tim Bowler – Starseeker, Toni Morrison - Song of Solomon, Trudi Canavan - High Lord, Trudi Canavan - Magicians Guild, Trudi Canavan – Novice, Truman Capote - In Cold Blood, Umberto Eco - On Literature, Vladimir Nabokov - Pale Fire, Yann Martel - Life of Pi and Zadie Smith - On Beauty

Lucky it’s raining a lot this summer.

Written by david. in: Reading, books, linkage | Tags: , ,

Not this time

Writers talk about submitting manuscripts and waiting for replies a lot. You hear encouraging stories of manuscripts being accepted by the first publisher who reads it. You hear ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ stories, most famously from JK Rowling, who was accepted by a publisher at the eleventh hour and has gone on to be massively successful. But less often you hear about writers who are plagued by rejection letters, who spend years trying to get off the starting block.

I got my first rejection three weeks ago. It’s taken me this long to write about it - mostly because I wanted to wait it out and see how it affected things (mostly my own outlook). Three weeks on, here is where I’m at:

A rejection comes from a subjective reading. Each publishing house has a different ethos and each reading editor is different. (Just as every potential reader is different.) If one editor, or ten, rejects a manuscript you should take on board their suggestions, maybe redraft, before trying again with a different reader. But not stop trying.

This is all easier said than done. One (now highly accredited) writer I spoke to recently said he has one wall of his office covered completely by rejection letters and prides himself on the collection he acquired when he was starting out. This was meant to encourage me - I think - to keep going.

Yvonne, looking forward to reading that book, posted last week about panicking before she sent out a synopsis. I’m panicking about getting the responses. (That said the letter I did receive was friendly, honest and encouraging.)

So, back on the horse. Anyone have Penguin’s number?

Image © (the brilliant) Andre Jordan
>> click for larger version <<

Written by david. in: Publising, Writing, books | Tags: , ,

Moore on a Monday morning

Alan Moore was on RTE last thursday (the Dave Fanning drivetime show - presented by Eoin Sweeney)

Discussing Lost Girls, his other graphic work, magic and his new novel. Genius (and the only person I know, or well, don’t know really but have seen pictures of, with more beard than Eli Mordino)

Click to listen.

Written by david. in: Comics, Reading, books | Tags: , ,

Terry Pratchett talks to Neil Gaiman

Spotted via Bookslut. An incredibly honest interview/conversation with Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett.

I ask him how much happens on the page and how much happens in the planning.

‘Planning, planning, planning,’ he deadpans…

…I don’t know how much is planned and how much isn’t, really, and nor do you and this isn’t the sort of question that one writer should ask another writer because we both know it doesn’t work like that. I can’t explain why one invents a character who is quite interesting but not particularly important, or writes in a little event that, towards the end of the book, turns out to be exactly the right thing, exactly the right person required yet at first you didn’t know why you’d invented them.

I was concerned that I’d find myself talking to a Terry who was less sharp, less smart, than the friend I’d known for quarter of a century, and was relieved to find him as bright as ever. I asked about the Alzheimer’s.

I type badly, worse than I ever did, and that’s a big drawback, as you and many journalists will appreciate, because the process of typing is the process of thinking: one activity drives the other, so I find myself hunting and pecking and that makes the thinking and the flow jerky.

More on the Waterstones website. Terry has a standalone book for children, Nation, due out in September.

Written by david. in: Reading, books | Tags: ,

Kate Thompson | Creature of the Night

Creature of the Night landed on my doorstep on Friday and the only question I can think of is… ‘Is there is no stopping Kate Thompson?’

Following on from last years success with The Last of the High Kings she is back with her fourteenth book for teenagers. This time, with Creature of the Night Thompson recreates a vision of Dublin that is laden with urban grit but at once recognisable.

Bobby’s Ma is moving him and his half-brother out of Dublin to Clare. Moving him away from his mates, Fluke, Beetle and Psycho Mick, and away from trouble. On the bus down he doesn’t waste any time in planning his escape back to Dublin. But he discovers that life in the country is worse than he had imagined - especially when his new neighbours, the Dooley’s, warn him to leave milk out for the faeries.

If I had to fault the book it would be Bobby’s well spoken manner on the page - his narration as an inner-city fourteen year old doesn’t always ring true. (Not that inner-city fourteen year olds won’t understand the language/vocabulary, I’m just not convinced that they would use it.) Like Bookwitch, I had a problem with the epilogue too and personally wish I’d stopped reading at the end of the last chapter.

All that said, the ensuing culture shock ensnares Bobby, his family and the Dooley’s in a gripping story of debt, drugs and murder mystery. There is nothing gracious or whimsical about Creature of the Night and the bleak, austere world that Bobby and his family are trying to leave behind is exposed with brilliant, vivid, reality.

Having already won most major Children’s Books awards, Creature of the Night will likely ensure that Kate Thompson’s name features on most shortlists next year. A mix of stark realities and folklore, Creature of the Night is a compelling book that you won’t be able to put down.

Written by david. in: Reading, books, childrens books | Tags: , , ,

last bus launch

From the pages of Scamp comes the news that Patrick Lynch’s comic Last Bus is being launched tonight at half seven in the Stags Head. According to Senor Lynch himself it deals with ’such weighty themes as public transport, street violence, dream logic and absent friends.’

I’m kicking myself that I can’t make it.

Although, rumour has it that the Stags Head is downright creepy these days anyway. Looking forward to seeing the comic though.

Written by david. in: Comics, books, illustrations | Tags: , ,

2D Comics Festival 2008 | as a cheesy radio ad

Have you heard about the 2D Comics Festival yet?*

The what festival?
It’s a two day (Friday - Saturday) comic festival hosted by the Verbal Arts Centre in Derry.

Uh-huh. Comics.
Yeah, seriously. Comics. Who doesn’t love superheroes at some stage? And it is proving a great way to get younger male readers interested in books. In fact, Verbal Arts are running a special day of workshops as part of the festival just for schools.

Okay. So when is it again?
It runs from Friday June 6th till Saturday 7th. In the Verbal Arts Centre.

And is there anyone famous lined up?
Well. Now that you mention it. Alan Martin is going to be there. I think Rufus Dayglo, David Hine, Simon Furman and Mark Stafford are all going to be there too.

Right. I don’t recognize any of these names. Should I?
Too right you should. Head over to the 2D website and have a read. Then book your train ticket.

I think I will.
Good. You do that.


More about the 2D Comics Festival here. And in issue 14 of Verbal Magazine.

*Conversation may never have happened.

Written by david. in: Comics, books, illustrations, linkage | Tags: , ,

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