In no particular order.
Lemony Snicket interview
The Book Standard has an interview with Daniel Handler, who is evidently responsible for the series of books by 'Lemony Snicket', with the overall title A Series of Unfortunate Events. I have never read any of the books, but I have seen the movie, which was absolutely wonderful.
If you care, the Booker shortlist has been announced, and Sarah Waters is on it. The Night Watch is easily the weakest of her books, but the Booker being the silly affair it is, Sarah might well win. At 5/1 she was not a bad bet, but the odds have now shortened to 2/1.
Carl Hiaasen has a new book out. I think I've read all the others, and I look forward to this one.
French author slams Brits
A French author has written a book describing the British as a nation of 'vulgar, aggressive, unprincipled, consumerist zombies'. Yup, sounds about right. We don't like the Frogs much either. (Link from booktrade.info.)
Two more for the optimists
British publishing seems to be going through another of its periodic fits of throwing money at authors, and these two examples will appeal to those of you who believe that you are about to win the lottery. (Excuse me while I snigger.)
Diane Setterfield was paid (allegedly) £800,000 by Orion and over $1 million from a US firm.
And this morning's Times has the story of William Petre, who survived 50 rejections (only 50?) and ended up with a contract for (allegedly) £165,000.
Romantic fiction on the box
Starting tonight (Monday 18 September), Daisy Goodwin is presenting a series of four TV documentaries which constitute a defence of romantic fiction. Showing on BBC 4, the series is rightly generating some advance publicity. Last week's Telegraph had a lively discussion of whether men can write convincingly about women (and anybody who thinks that Anna Karenina and Madame Bovary prove that they can is on very weak ground indeed). And then Daisy Goodwin herself had a good few column inches in the Sunday Times.
How to sell 20 million books
You want to sell 20 million books or so? It's really quite easy. Janet Evanovich tells you how: you just spend ten years collecting a crate full of rejection slips and then you get the hang of it.
Hmm... I don't think so
Publishers Lunch last week mentioned the Sobol Award, which offers (reportedly) a prize of $100,000 for an unpublished novel, plus nine other prizes. One snag: an $85 entry fee, which apparently means (I haven't used a calculator myself) that only 1,700 entries will cover the prizes and they are expecting 50,000 entries. The organiser of the Sobol Award is Sobol Literary Enterprises, an agency (apparently) which will represent the winners.
Lunch points out that 'the likes of blogging agent Miss Snark and the Preditors & Editors web site have raised warning flags. Aside from the fees, objections include the requirement that contestants agree to have their entries represented by the Sobol Agency in order to be considered as a finalist. Miss Snark notes: "This literary agency as far as I can tell has no sales."'
And she, I think, would know.
Gloom and doom
A few months ago I commented on the fact that the UK non-fiction bestseller list contained a large proportion of books about children being abused or mistreated in some way. Well, the trend for gloom and doom continues.
The current paperback non-fiction bestseller list features the following:
Rock Me Gently/Judith Kelly: controversial memoir of a miserable upbringing in a Catholic orphanage.
Call Me Elizabeth/Dawn Annandale: How a woman was forced to turn to prostitution to make ends meet.
Don't Ever Tell/Kathy O'Beirne: The horrors of a childhood spent in the infamous Magdalen laundries.
Little Girl Lost/Barbie Probert-Wright with Jean Ritchie: Tale of sisters fleeing war-torn Germany.
God's Callgirl/Carla van Raay: Story of a nun who escaped the convent only to fall into a life of prostitution.
Was is always like this, or have I only just noticed?
Gerald Sibleyras is, it would appear, a successful French playwright, in the boulevard comedy tradition, and he is currently having a little bit of a flurry in the UK. His play An Hour and a Half Late is currently touring, starring Mel Smith, and Heroes has recently won the 2006 Olivier award for best new comedy.
Mrs GOB and I saw An Hour and a Half Late at the Theatre Royal, Bath, last Saturday. It's a modestly entertaining piece, aimed firmly at the 50-plus audience. A middle-aged couple sit and discuss, for 90 minutes, where their marriage has been and where it's going. More entertaining, perhaps, than it sounds, but not a world-beater by any means.
Tao Lin returns
Tao Lin's sixth book is now available at the Bear Parade. Entitled Today the Sky is Blue and White, it is certainly a bit different from the average run of things.
Void magazine is apparently interested in literary postmodernism, and it's not without a sense of humour.
I'd forgotten Tonto Press, though I have, I'm sure, mentioned it before. Anyway, Tonto is a UK-based small press which has been running a competition for new novelists. Some 400 submissions have been reduced to eight.
Song poems for the 21st century
Martin Rundkvist did some research into the musical equivalent of the 'get your book published now' market and came up with some stuff about a blind man's penis. (Always remember: I don't make this stuff up; I just report it.)
You think you have a hard time?
James Paul Long sent me this link to a story about a bookseller cum publisher whose warehouse was bombed in Iraq.
The authors of Institutionalized have set up a new web site to plug the book. Rather to my surprise, since the book is a bit of a spoof in general, and ditto the web site, some of the readers' recommendations are from real people. Or, let's put it this way: there is a real David Weinberger, and there is a real Uncle Phil.
If you're thinking of writing a novel, Lynne Scanlon has some advice on how to hook the reader, and the importance of same.
The Kenyon Review (literary, of course, as its name suggests) is open for submissions again. The editor points out that last year, two out of a total of twenty short stories that received the prestigious O. Henry Prize were first published in KR. Both came from the slush pile.
An anonymous commenter points out that twin brothers, Jyoti and Suresh Guptara (currently 17 years old) are publishing Conspiracy of Calaspia, which is part 1 of their epic fantasy series Insanity.
These two might just be worth keeping an eye on. They already have some impressive endorsements, e.g. from Richard Adams (Watership Down) and other published writers. Publication is to be in Switzerland (where they live), India, and the UK. The UK publisher is, er, Aultbea. Well, we all have to start somewhere.