The Sunday Times had a paragraph over the weekend about a wannabe in Moscow who got so frustrated by writer's block that he picked up his typewriter and heaved it out of the window. Relieved his feelings, no doubt, but he injured someone outside.
Mike Segretto web site
Mike Segretto has set up a web site which will enable him, he says, 'to promote my Contemporary Press novels (The Bride of Trash, How to Smash Everyone to Pieces, etc.), provide news about releases and readings, and post my latest sick little stories.' Sounds like fun.
I see that one of his thirteen favourite films is the Kubrick version of Lolita. And, in case you're wondering, that is not a film about paedophilia; it's a film about love. Quite different.
Kate Allan's new novel
Kate Allan's Perfidy and Perfection is just out. It's about an early nineteenth-century rector's daughter who has a shameful secret. She's a novelist.
There's also going to be an online launch party, if you're organised enough to think three weeks ahead. Games, chatter, prizes and special guests. Kate is a serious student of book marketing, so it might be worth keeping an eye on what she does to plug this one.
Jonathan Freedland plugs Sam Bourne
In the recent past we have noted here the absence of reviews for Sam Bourne's The Righteous Men, despite the fact that Sam Bourne is the pseudonym of the Guardian's political columnist Jonathan Freedland. Well, now Freedland has started to do his own reviews. Sort of.
What he has done is write a couple of articles which have appeared in the mainstream press, complete with implicit and explicit mentions of his own work. Examples: in his own paper, the Guardian, Freedland explains why people use pseudonyms, mentioning his own, of course (link from Ian Hocking). And then, in yesterday's Sunday Times, he had an article about the development of the modern thriller, of which The Righteous Men is, it would seem, a prime example.
I do wonder, sometimes, if I am not being a bit hard on Freedland by banging on about all this Fleet Street mafia stuff, and the cashing in of markers for favours past. I dare say you and I would do a bit of it if we had the chance. But there is a serious point here. It is one which I set out at great length when Freedland got his contract, namely that writing a good book is far from sufficient on its own. Indeed, if you have the right connections, you don't even need a book to get a contract. And a pretty handsome contract at that.
There is little point in bleating about this situation. But equally, there is little point in a young, naive writer settling down to two or three years' hard work while suffering from the delusion that brilliance alone will be enough.
Million Writers Award
The top ten online short stories of 2005 have now been selected and voting on the top story of the year has begun. To find out what it's all about, go to storySouth.
John Barlow on hardback/paperback