Charlie - - Mike Hancock

Excerpt: Charlie is a wire-haired fox terrier and in his prime was a rambunctious, feisty, lovable little dog. Only Charlie was born crippled, his hind leg deformed. Dad and Maw Maw doubted he would live. There wasn’t just the botched-up leg. He was a runt, one of those undersized puppies which tend to get kicked out of the feeding frenzy and are left to die. So Dad supplemented his mother’s milk with formula from a baby bottle. Did that for the few weeks it took for Charlie to get some density in those fragile bones, and soon he was running around with the rest of them, albeit with a funny little gait. Dad was like that, taking over when others don’t.

Amazing story. It's going to be a helluva book. Mike Hancock is going to be a name we remember.

An Interview with John Baker

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by Kathleen

This interview is part of John Baker’s Virtual Tour for his wonderful new novel, “Winged With Death.” To get a better feel for the tour, check out his blog.

John Baker’s previous books include “Shooting in the Dark,” “The Meanest Flood,” and “The Chinese Girl.” His first novels were a popular six book-series starring Sam Turner as detective. “Winged With Death,” he has said, is a departure for him. While the novel involves countless crimes, it’s not a traditional crime novel but a riveting story combining Uruguay in the 1970s and York, England in the approximate present.

John, how did you research this book and how did it fit into the process of writing the novel?

The research with regard to Montevideo took a long time. I read every book I could find on the subject. Academic works, political works, biographies, histories. All in all I suppose it took me the best part of a year. And at the end of it I was still unsatisfied. I then began to make contacts in Montevideo and people who had lived through that time and were now widespread, many of them no longer living in Uruguay at all.

It is quite difficult to assess how the research about a time and a place fits into the process of writing a novel. But, for example, it is impossible to write character convincingly without hearing time and place behind the voice of that character. Take the Yorkshire moors away from Heathcliffe and you end up with a different man.

I was committed to Montevideo a long time before I knew who would people “Winged with Death, ” but the characters who eventually form the core of the story would never have been born without my own particular knowledge of the city during that period of time.

You’ve mentioned it’s your first novel written in the first person. Did you and Ramon form a bond that’s different from when you write in the third person?

The main difference between first and third person narration is that the former method dictates that everything must be filtered through the perception of the narrator. In third person point-of-view the writer has more freedom, and is not even tied to a single narrator. I’m not sure about the ‘bond’; because for much of the time I felt I could be quite objective about Ramon. I never suspected he was me. On the other hand, of course, he could never be completely free of me.

I am reminded of Nabokov’s: “My characters are galley slaves. And, simultaneously, Flaubert's reply when he was asked who was his model for Emma Bovary: “Emma, c’est moi.” (Emma, that’s me.)

Perhaps the writer is not best qualified to answer this question?

Ramon’s story came to me piecemeal. It was fed to me one word at a time as I wrote the novel. In the very beginning I was concerned only to achieve an authentic voice, a beguiling voice. I was interested in discovering where he came from and what was his destiny, but I never let that get ahead of the writing. I was aware of his influences and I was aware of the changes that his life had brought to him. I liked him and he always had the ability to invoke compassion in me.
In a recent review he is compared to Camus’ “Meursault in L’Étranger,” someone who drifts, almost free of personal will. And while I can see this in his character now, it has only come clear to me with distance. At the time of writing, when my involvement with him was close, I saw his passion and his will up close.

Perhaps he is a paradox like the rest of us?

I found the descriptions of the tango so sensual and yet as Candide says, almost a kind of “esoteric religion.” Do you tango? Is it a real-life passion of yours or did you imagine it as specific to Ramon?

I have always danced. I always think it is a pity that we all dance as children, and then as adulthood gobbles us up many of us decide to stop dancing altogether. I can’t help it; when I hear music I begin immediately to move differently.

I’ve danced tango for about ten years. I’m not a great dancer; what I do is called social dance. It’s about connecting with a partner and moving together. It’s exciting, exhilarating when it works.

The religious thing is what religious people do with it, or with anything. By religious people I mean those who can’t believe in god and instead latch onto some social programme or a dance or a sport or start collecting stamps with a vengeance. You know who I mean.

For a long time I have wanted to use dance as a metaphor, but the possibility only arose in this book. I suppose the setting made it possible; once I had Montevideo as a subject the tango could take to the floor.

The balance between ideas and plot, or action, in the book is exquisite. It impressed me especially because many novels I read that attempt to show a character’s intellectual life offer a choppy or lopsided story. Why do you think others have so much trouble integrating the two?

You don’t ask an easy question, Kathleen. My first reaction is to state that I am interested in ideas. All of my novels have been about ideas.

I wasn’t aware that others have trouble integrating plot and idea. But if they do I can only imagine that it is because of a basic misunderstanding of the idea of tension in a novel. Or perhaps a disregard for tension altogether?

Tension comes about when the reader identifies with the position of a character in jeopardy. But in a novel it is quite important to fuse ideas with an element of tension.

I can’t find the reference to this story, but if some aspect of it is wrong, I hope one of your readers puts me right. Graham Greene was asked by a writing student if he could write a scene on a train where two men discuss the Christianity of Kierkegaard.

Greene said yes, it was possible to write about anything, but the key was in finding the way to do it. In this case the discussion of ideas would work fine as long as there was a bomb planted under the seat of the railway carriage.

Other than the all-time greats, which writers do you enjoy, especially contemporary writers whose “greatness” is yet to be determined?

I read critically these days. I enjoy the all-time greats best and would always go for these over a contemporary writer. Sorry, but that's how it is. However I do read contemporary writers.

These are the last dozen novels I read:

Borderliners by Peter Høeg
Runaway by Alice Munro
Netherland by Joseph O’Neill
A Lost Lady by Willa Cather
Dancing for the Hangman by Martin Edwards
The Mortgaged Heart by Carson McCullers
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
The View from Castle Rock by Alice Munro
The Fifth Woman by Henning Mankell
My Name Is Red by Orhan Pamuk
Crow Lake by Mary Lawson

Thanks for your time, John, and good luck with the tour.

Interview with Gayle Forman Part 2 of 2

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by Mike

The View From Here Interview:
Gayle Forman

Gayle Forman is an award-winning journalist and regularly writes for Cosmopolitan, The New York Times and leading American teen magazine, Seventeen. IF I STAY is Gayle's third novel and it has just hit The New York Times Bestseller list. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her husband and daughter.

For part 1 of this interview click here.

The film rights for If I Stay have been acquired by the same company that produced Twilight and a number of people have compared your book to Twilight. What are your thoughts on that, given that the two books are very different?

Summit, the company that acquired the rights and produced Twilight, didn't buy If I Stay because they thought it would be another Twilight. There are plenty of paranormal books out there if that is what they were looking for. I think the similarity that they saw and noted was a love story that touched readers and maybe a book—and movie—that had potential to appeal to teenagers and adults, as well. I think Summit did such a great job with Twilight so I was delighted to have them acquire If I Stay. They seem to get the teenager sensibility so well. And now that Catherine Hardwicke is attached to direct I am ecstatic. I think she is incredible. She has this innate sense of teenagers and a genius visual style, so I could not be happier about that.

Would you want to do a cameo if the film is made and how closely would you like to be involved in bringing it to the screen?

Yeah, I'd love to be an extra, along with my husband, in one of the club scenes when the bands are playing. I'd like to be somewhat involved in an advisory capacity, but at the end of the day, making movies is an entirely different animal to making books so I have to let go and trust that Summit and Catherine Hardwicke know what they are doing. And I have to get busy working on new books.

What is it like to have to wait so long between finishing writing the book and seeing it published?

In publishing time, it was actually incredibly fast! I sold the novel to TransworldRHCB last April. To Penguin last May. It came out less than a year later. My other two books had waits of closer to two years. This has been less than a year and there has been a constant build of momentum, which has been terribly exciting. It also explains why I have been waking up at 4 in the morning.

What are your feelings and experiences of book launch parties?

I don't do book launch parties. I have been to too many of them and as a guest I find them depressing. As an author, let's be honest, if the book's a hit, you're jealous and if it's not, the party kind of sucks and I fancy myself a gracious hostess so I don't want to put my guests through that. This year, I threw a little book party but it wasn't for me. I know that sounds like a lame excuse but I threw a book party for my publisher and my agent. I had a cake made in the shape of the book and brought it to the offices. I wanted to say thank you because they have gone above and beyond in getting the word out on this book. I should probably do the same for Random House when I get to England this spring. Anyone know of a good custom cake bakery in London?

Can you tell me about the YA blogger scene where If I Stay has been well received?

The YA bloggers, along with YA librarians and booksellers have taken this book into their hearts and me along with it. The bloggers blow me away because so many of them actually are young adults themselves. Meaning they are teens running their own review web sites, with interviews and features and giveaways. I cannot even get that together on my web site. I've become friends with some of the bloggers but mostly I just lurk because I enjoy seeing the community they have built among themselves. It's been incredible. This goes back to what I was saying before about writing for Seventeen and how great it was writing for teenagers because they are so engaged. The YA bloggers, when they believe in you, they get the word out. You could not ask for a better readership. It is one reason I am so glad to be a teen author.

Do you have any tips for authors to feel less isolated?

Get out from behind your desk. Some days I'll be feeling really melancholy and then I'll get up and go out and talk to humans when I pick my kid up from school and I'll go "oh, that's right. I've been alone all day. I'm just lonely." Also, start your own blog. It feels like a little lifeline into the abyss and I've made friends that way. Put email on your website and correspond to people. And Facebook. I spend far, far too much time on Facebook but it does make me feel more connected.

Do you read reviews of your own books and how effected by them are you?

Yes I read them and I'm more affected that I care to admit. And not just by a professional review but by just reader reviews. Yesterday I read a review on Amazon that made me cry (in a good way). I've had bad reviews for my other books that gave me pits in my stomach for days. I know I should toughen up or not read them, but I can't. But the reviews for If I Stay have mostly made me feel incredible good and incredibly grateful and often make me feel like they must be talking about someone else.

Do you think we are in a time of growth in quality in YA literature or decline?

This is the golden age of YA literature. Both in quality—when Sherman Alexie is now predominantly a YA writer, when Nick Hornby is doing YA, you know the quality is top shelf—and in terms of sales. Other sectors of publishing are really taking a hit. YA is flourishing. Readers seem to know that. Booksellers are seeming to get that. It seems like the literary establishment might be the ones slow to catch on. But they're getting there.

Have you started your next book yet and can you tell us something about it?

I have in fact finished my next book. And, no, it's not a sequel to If I Stay, though I am getting some requests for that. I am not ready to say goodbye to Mia and Adam yet but I am also not ready to revisit them right away. So this next book is about the ultimate, beautiful, popular indulged bitch—and the transformation that sends her to the bottom of the social ladder and leads to her own sort of spiritual awakening. It's a Jane-Austen-esqe comedy, social commentary, and a romance. And my attempt to turn that whole genre of Mean-Girl lit (Gossip Girls et al) on its ear. So, quite different as you can see. See what I mean about the Gemini opposites thing?

The book's tag line is "What would you do if you had to choose?" Are you any good at making decisions yourself and can you share a time when you've had to make a tough decision?

I tend to waffle over things like what to order at a restaurant but when it comes to the big decisions in life—drop everything to take a year off to travel? adopt a child?—I'm decisive and luckily my husband and I tend to agree on the big issues. But I have never had to make anything like the kind of decision Mia makes and I pray that I never will—or indeed, that anyone reading this ever will.

Thanks for a great interview Gayle and good luck with the book.

To visit Gayle's website click here.

Interview with Gayle Forman Part 1 of 2

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by Mike

The View From Here Interview:
Gayle Forman

Gayle Forman is an award-winning journalist and regularly writes for Cosmopolitan, The New York Times and leading American teen magazine, Seventeen. IF I STAY is Gayle's third novel and it has just hit The New York Times Bestseller list. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her husband and daughter.

Can you tell me something about yourself?

Hmm, let's see. I'm a Gemini to the core, hot or cold, love or hate. I have red hair (or ginger hair as you'd say) but I'm not a true redhead. I have both the complexion and temperament of a redhead so I have been correcting nature's mistake every six weeks since I was 13 years old. I'm married to Nick, a former punk rock boy now a librarian at ABC News. We have one daughter, Willa and are about to adopt a second child. Oh, also, I lived in England for a year when I was 16 as an exchange student, living with a family outside of Leicester and doing O-levels at a school in Countesthorpe. It was one of the best years of my life.

What's your ideal night?

I love to host parties at my apartment for my friends and their families. I always say it's just going to be a small little thing, but then—I blame those computer e-vites—the next thing I know, it's 30 people, adults and small kids here. It both stresses me out and makes me deliriously happy to see the members of my community in my house, eating food I've prepared, mingling, being a big family together. And of course, there must be a dance party, where we all take turns picking songs, including the kids, and we dance around like maniacs. It's very chic, as you can see.

What's it like to live in Brooklyn and is there much of a writers' community there?

I think the above question answers the Brooklyn community question. There are tons of writers in Brooklyn. It's almost a joke. I tell people that publishers stipulate that you MUST live in Brooklyn before you can get a contract. It's nice to know I'm part of this literary community, although truthfully, I'm not terribly tight with that many local writers. I just haven't met them. I know them sort of peripherally. Most of my writer friends go back to my magazine days (I was a journalist before I became a novelist) and none of them live in Brooklyn and the ones that live in Manhattan are still very bad about coming to Brooklyn. Maybe they haven't gotten the memo about Brooklyn being the heart of the literary scene.

Can you tell us something about your career as a journalist?

I began my career working at Seventeen magazine, a publication for teens. The editor-in-chief at the time was very dedicated to doing serious journalism for and about teens so I became the magazine's senior writer and I covered the most amazing stories, much of them having to do with social justice and young people. Seventeen sent me everywhere from Sierra Leone to write about child soldiers to Northern Ireland to write the about The Troubles and all over the United States. I met some incredible young people who inspired me to no end. People outside of the magazine were constantly shocked and amazed at the stories we did, and dubious that teenagers cared about such things, but of course teenagers did. They were passionate about these stories. When they heard about some young person being mistreated, it didn't matter where this person lived, the reader was incensed, wanted to do something about it. I was constantly grateful to write for a readership that was so engaged. I feel that way now that I write teen novels.

How did you get your first publishing contract?

My first publishing contract was for a travel book that I wrote and the process was a bit of a rollercoaster. My husband and I had travelled around the world for a year and I'd written two chapters of the book and the proposal and my agent sent it out to about 12 editors and four days later 10 of them said they were going to bid, and I was so excited. Then, one by one, they dropped out, saying that the book didn't fit into any one niche—it wasn't a straight travelogue, it wasn't a straight reported book—so it would be hard to market. In the end, though there were two publishers left so I still wound up publishing it with a house I was happy with, but it was definitely a learning experience. Now I know to keep Zen about the whole thing. And just be glad that I get to publish a book.

How do you feel now IF I Stay has been published?

In the weeks leading up to IF I STAY's US release, I had a hard time sleeping. I kept waking up at 4 in the morning and then being unable to fall back asleep. There has been quite a bit of buzz and hype around this book, and that's an incredibly privileged position to be in, and, having had two books come out with not a lot of buzz and hype, I'm beyond grateful. But it's a little crazy-making. Now that the book's out, I feel calmer. It's out in the world. I've done what I've done. It's in the readers' hands now. I like the idea of it wending its way now. I have to let go. So now I'm sleeping until at least 6.

It's a very emotional book, was it an emotional process writing it?

Incredibly. Chances are, the parts where people cry reading, I was crying while writing.

What influences and experiences did you bring into the book?

The thing about novels is that they're like a culmination of your whole life. Bits fly in from here and there. So the influences were from all over the place. The years I lived in Oregon were hugely influential, in part because that was a time and a place when music was very influential (this was the Pacific Northwest in the early to mid 1990s when the music scene was just exploding). I think with the love story with Adam I brought a lot of my feelings for my husband, Nick (and indeed, in the early drafts, Adam was named Nick; it helped me access the lovey-dovey feelings to call him that, but Nick was weirded out by the name so I changed it after I finished). One experience I didn't bring was cello. I knew nothing of the cello. Mia arrived in my head fully formed as a cellist and then I had to go out and learn about the cello to do her justice.

Do you have a set place to write and do you write in silence or with music in the background?

I write at my desk, which is in my family's living room. I listen to music sometimes, and for this book a lot more than usual. I always listened to the Once movie soundtrack before writing. The song "Falling Slowly" was like my Pavlovian writing trick. It made me cry. Got me in the mood to write, and then I was ready to go.

For Part 2 of this interview click here.

To visit Gayle's website click here.

Lovely Weekend Reading

Beautiful pieces from Kara Weiss and David Moran this week. Each story offering a slice of life that will reveal a gritty reality from that particular point of view we applaud at The Front View.

From "Something Familiar" by Kara Weiss:

He wondered if he would ever get used to the neighborhood. He'd borrowed the only jacket his father would let him take, a Carhartt work jacket with a tear at the elbow, and walked out onto the street. The winter Boston air cut cleanly through the canvas and the pockets did nothing to warm his hands. He should have borrowed a pair of kicks too, he now thought. Had his father been willing to lend a pair. His were the same Timbs he'd had on his last admit to Juvenile Detention sixteen months ago, and his toes and heels were destroyed, pressed and rubbing against the hard leather. They were at least two sizes too small. His desire to get out of the apartment had been spurred at least as much by his interest in checking out the 'hood as to get out of the apartment, his father's insolence as thick as the building's stench.
An excerpt from "Two Lovers Against A Wall" by David Moran:
Sly faces came and went from buildings, the odd one exposed by the sole streetlamp yet to have its bulb shattered and spread across the pavement. Cars slowly crawled up and down, rarely stopping outside a building for any longer than it took for a figure to lurch from a doorway. Their surroundings were not modest or kind. In the sun light the street lay dormant, resentful to the new day which stopped old habits from roaming freely.
Read on. Enjoy ...

The London Book Fair - Part 5 of 5 - It's not over till...

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by Jen

Yesterday was the third and last day of the 2009 London Book Fair. Typically, a quieter day than the hectic of Monday and Tuesday, it wraps up earlier at 5pm, but there was still business to be done and a wide range of seminars and other events before the close. Here's a brief wrap up of some of the highlights so far this year. Overall the consensus was that even in the current economic climate, there is cautious optimism about the future, and business is being done as usual. There may have been fewer people, but more focus.

Reported news highlights
The Orange Prize for Fiction shortlist was announced. This year’s shortlist honours both new and well-established writers. Only one author, Deirdre Madden, has previously been shortlisted (1997) and she is included this year for her 7th book.The Orange Prize for Fiction Awards Ceremony at Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre: 3 June 2009.

Digital news: Book And Beyond
Random House launched the first list of 'enhanced' ebooks to be released by a major UK publisher. Enhanced features include audio, video and games from such top authors as Lee Child, Jacqueline Wilson and Danny Wallace. Visit the new Book and Beyond website for details.

Penguin Group
has announced a large deal with the Apabi Group in China to make over 2,000 of its titles avaialble electronically.
It is the first international publisher to sign an English electronic book distribution deal in China.

Rights and Acquisitions

HarperCollins Publishers announced the acquisition of world rights to
Harmony, a book by His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales. The book, to be edited by Matt Harper and Myles Archibald in the US and UK respectively, is tentatively scheduled for publication in 2010. In the UK, the book will be published by Patrick Janson-Smith of Blue Door, an imprint of HarperCollins’ Press Books division. Katherine Tegen, at HarperCollins Children’s Books plans to publish a picture book version of the book in 2011. "Harmony presents an original and compelling analysis of how we view the world today. It argues that in our relentless pursuit of economic growth and technological progress we have become dangerously disconnected from Nature. "

Canongate, the Edinburgh based small publisher has bought Obama's back catalogue, his writings from before he was famous.

New releases
The new Dan Brown novel 'The Lost Symbol ' was announced by Random House for realese on September 15th. The publisher's stand was reportedly swamped after the announcement went out on Monday afternoon. ‘This novel has been a strange and wonderful journey,’ said Brown. ‘Weaving five years of research into the story's 12-hour timeframe was an exhilarating challenge. Robert Langdon's life clearly moves a lot faster than mine.’
It will have a first print run of 6.5 million copies, the largest ever first print in the history of the publishers, Random House.

HarperCollins announced a major global initiative, making available the ebook editions of the entire Tolkien library. For those readers in the UK, people will be able to download the books from, and . The books are in the epub format in the UK (most compatible with the Sony Reader) and in various other formats in the US, available through a range of retailers for reading on Kindle, Sony, iPhone, Blackberrry and other devices.

Featured Market Focus
The India focus created a strong presence in the events schedule and in the exhibition halls. The floor space included Bollywood style dancers and the flavours of India conjured up in the kitchen of the Deli corner. Behind the scenes, sponsors of the India focus said India is a booming publishing market and they hope for greater book commerce between India and Britain. They said the Indian book market is worth 625 million pounds and is growing at 10 percent per year. "India is the world's third-largest producer of English language titles, with over 15,000 titles in English published each year. Indian publishers are at the fair to discover opportunities for publishing outsourcing, reportedly worth 1.46 billion dollars by 2010."

However there is
disquiet among some Indian publishers that foreign publishers are given Indian state support to move to India. Add to that the piracy issues of the developing nations and it may be that the 'hope for greater book commerce between India and Britain' remains a challenge beyond that of the current economic slump.

Amongst the Author news...
The many author interview events were successful as ever.
Danuta Kean interviewed Meg Rosoff and said, "Another brilliant writer who made her debut to critical and commercial success in her 40s. Hope for all."

For a complete summary of the news from last day take a look at the Bookseller which was released daily at the Fair.

So, overall, it seems that the London Book Fair not only held its own in a difficult period, but provided a forum for the world's publishing industry to come together, to do business as usual and plan for the future.

Let's hope the same will be said of Book Expo America, 28-31 May 2009.


Links to recorded live events:
The London Book Fair podcasts are free to download and include a mix of both audio and video interviews with authors and members of the publishing industry. They include Sam Hussain, Foyles CEO, who gives his views on the future for independent bookselling, an interview with Sebastian Faulks where he talks about his latest title and how he felt being asked to write the next James Bond adventure. You can also listen to key industry members such as Viv Bird, Director, Booktrust talking about reaching out to a younger audience and Francis Bennett, Chair Ehaus and co-founder of Nielsen BookData giving his views on digitisation.

This part five concludes the series on the London Book Fair.

Part four - What's The Big Deal? LBF and rights' negotiation.
Part three - What do People do All Day?
Part two - LBF - should Unpublished Authors attend?
Part one - Last Chance for a Discount - Introduction.

The Insanity Test

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by Stella

Today I was going to do an elaborate post on the fine line between insanity and perseverance in pursuing a writing career. My punchline was going to be: you're only insane if you stop enjoying it; or if you think you won't need a day job; or if you start referring to yourself in the third person; or if you start hearing voices. Since the punchline is already spoiled and since I'm not a certified psychology practitioner, let's scrap that deadly serious post and do something much more fun. Like invent a questionnaire for evaluating your sanity.

Yes! It's short! It's fun! (It's probably inaccurate!)

It's… The View from Here Insanity Test!*

It goes like this: ten questions, each with a choice of three answers. Pick the answer that best suits you. a = 1 point; b = 2 points; c = 3 points; d = 4 points. Tally your points at the end to see which Sanity Profile is yours.

One: Do you carry a notebook and pen everywhere so you can always be sure to have a place to write down your thoughts and ideas?

a) Meh. I'll probably remember.
b) I try to, but it's not a problem if I don't.
c) That's just good planning.
d) Of course. Doesn't everybody?

Two: Who do you let read your work?

a) Nobody. Who cares?
b) One or two carefully selected individuals.
c) It really depends on my mood, but I usually try to get a number of different perspectives.
d) Anyone!

Three: How often do you write?

a) Whenever. If I feel like it.
b) I try to write as often as possible, but there isn't always time.
c) I make time to write even when I'm very busy with other things.
d) Every day for two hours at least. No matter what.

Four: Do you need a quiet writing environment?

a) It doesn't matter.
b) I prefer it to be quiet, but I can handle some background noise.
c) Sometimes I enjoy writing with music playing, or even a movie or a TV show.
d) Though I do a special kind of writing exercise to music, I need dead silence or I can't concentrate. No distractions please!

Five: Have you read any writing manuals/manifestos/advice books?

a) I don't care what anyone else does.
b) I don't mind reading about other writers' methods, but I try not to let it influence me. I like my own style.
c) Yes, I've read some and found a number of interesting things.
d) I read as many as I can.

Six: Do you have a picture of your favorite writer hanging on a wall in your house (possibly close to where you do your writing)?

a) I'm not into that kind of thing.
b) I used to, but I took it down.
c) Yes, but it's not right where I can see it.
d) More than one, actually. Don't look at me like that! It's inspirational.

Seven: Do you keep a diary? Have you considered that it could be used later to analyze your work?

a) Right. Like I even keep a diary.
b) I doubt it'll be of use to anyone. I don't write much in it.
c) I have thought of that. I'll leave instructions with someone I trust to destroy it after I die.
d) No! (Yes.)

Eight: Do you know a lot of other aspiring writers?

a) No.
b) A couple. One of them is a good friend.
c) A lot. I'm very friendly with most.
d) Countless. I run a mailing list and organize workshops.

Nine: If given a choice, would you rather be commercially successful or critically acclaimed?

a) These questions are stupid.
b) Critically acclaimed. I think.
c) Can I be a little bit of both?
d) I don't see why those two should be mutually exclusive. If I'm critically acclaimed, then lots of people will read my work.

Ten: Do you wonder whether your work will stand the test of time?

a) I should have stopped reading after the first question.
b) It's not that important to me.
c) I can't say that I don't.
d) But of course. Who wants to be forgotten?

Sanity Profiles

Slightly Insane (10-19 points)
And probably more than a little antisocial. We admire your "I'm only writing for me" attitude (confession: we're a bit envious), but you might enjoy sharing your work with others just a little more and getting some feedback. Also, if you're ever looking to get published, you'll need to adjust to the idea that eventually other people have to get involved in the process. And, if you'll excuse the cheap psychology, our guess is that your loner bravado is a cover for hypersensitivity.

Casually Insane (20-30 points)
You're calm, you're cool – you've got the passion, but you don't let it run your life. If you scored closer to 20, you might want to get a little more active. Don't be afraid to get a bit crazier. If you scored closer to 30, then you should be careful you don't end up in the Noticeably Insane category. It's likely they're not enjoying themselves as much as you are.

Noticeably Insane (31-40 points)
And probably more than a little stressed-out. First we suggest that you calm down. You're probably very entertaining company and very good at getting things done, but don't forget that you're not running a marathon and don't let ambition poison the creative process. Also, don't be so quick to turn to others for their opinions or guidance. You have eyes and ears everywhere – and that's a good thing – but it's also important to listen to yourself. Or, it might be the opposite: you ask for everyone's opinion but then don't bother listening. Listen to an opinion before you decide to ignore it.

* Monsieur French & co. have not authorized me to use the magazine's name. I'm just being presumptuous.

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Book Reviews at The View From Here



Amis , Martin : The Second Plane

Ashworth, Jenn : Cold Light


Banks , Iain : The Steep Approach to Garbadale

Banks, Iain M. : Surface Detail

Barnes , Julian : Nothing to be Frightened Of

Barry, Brunonia : The Map of True Places

Benson, Peter : Two Cows and a Vanful of Smoke

Benson, Peter : Isabel's Skin

Blackman, Andrew : On The Holloway Road

Bourazopoulou , Ioanna : What Lot's Wife Saw

Birch, Carol : Jamrach’s Menagerie

Brown, Paul : Global Warning: The Last Chance for Change

Burman , Paul : The Snowing and Greening of Thomas Passmore

Byrne , Trevor : Ghosts & Lightning


Colon, David : The Lost Men


Darley , Judy : Remember Me To The Bees

Davison , Gary : Fat Tuesday

De la Mer, Nina : 4A.M.

De Souza Leao , Rodrigo : All Dogs Are Blue

Dickinson, John : WE

Dowd , Siobhan : solace of the road

Downham , Jenny : Before I Die

Downham , Jenny : You Against Me

Duffy, Sophie : The Generation Game

Duncan, Glen : The Last Werewolf



Farndale , Nigel : Blasphemer

Faulks , Sebastian : A Week in December

Fforde , Jasper : One of Our Thursdays is Missing

Fforde , Katie : Love Letters

Finch , Dawn: Brotherhood of Shades

Fischer , Tibor : Good to be God

Forbes , Elizabeth : Who Are You?


Gaiman, Neil : Coraline

Giordano, Paolo : The Solitude of Prime Numbers

Grahame-Smith, Seth : Pride and Prejudice and Zombies


Haddon, M : A Spot of Bother

Hamid, Mohsin : The Reluctant Fundamentalist

Haylett , Jon : Cry of the Justice Bird

Hislop , Victoria : The Island

Holder , Nancy & Viguie, Debbie :
Unleashed: Wolf Spring Chronicles

Hosseini , Khaled : A Thousand Splendid Suns



Joseph, Anjali : Saraswati Park

Josipovici, Gabriel : Only Joking


Kate, Lauren : The Betrayal Of Natalie Hargrove

Killen , Chris : the bird room

Kimball , Michael : Dear Everybody


Lalami,Laila : Secret Son

Lanyon,Anna : Fire & Song, The Story of Luis de Carvajal

Lewycka, Marina : We Are All Made of Glue

Liu , Peter Tieryas : Watering Heaven


Mankowski , Guy : The Intimates

McCarthy , Tom : Men in Space

McCarthy , Tom : C

Meek , James : We Are Now Beginning Our Descent

Menasse , Robert: Don Juan de la Mancha

Meyer , Stephenie : Twilight

Mitchel , David: Cloud Atlas & The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet

Moore , Antony : The Swap

Morais , Richard C. : The Hundred Foot Journey

Morais , Richard C. : Buddhaland Brooklyn

Morris , Keith Lee: Call it What You Want

Morris , R.N : A Vengeful Longing


Niffenegger, Audrey : Her Fearful Symmetry

Niven , John : The Second Coming


Oppell , Kenneth : Half Brother

Otsuka, Julie : The Buddha in the Attic

Ozumba, Kachi A. : The Shadow of a Smile


Perring , Nik : Beautiful Words

Piggott , Mark : Fire Horses

Prete , David : August And Then Some



Rash , Ron: Serena

Rhodes , Dan: Little Hands Clapping

Robertson, James : Republics of the Mind

Rodriguez, Tony : When I Followed the Elephant


Sanchez , Clara : The Scent of Lemon Leaves

Schryer , J.H : Goodnight Vienna

Seabold , Alice : The Lovely Bones

Selbourne , Raphael: Beauty

Smith , Willie : Nothing Doing

Sobel , Eliezer : Minyan

Stevens , Tyler : Street

Stokes , Mike : White Man Falling

Strachan , Mari : The Earth Hums in B Flat

Strachan , Mari : Blow on a Dead Man’s Embers

Sweeney , Nick : The Laikonik Express


Taylor , Jonathan : Entertaining Strangers

Thomas , Scarlett : Our Tragic Universe

Thomas , Scarlett : Monkeys with Typewriters

Thornton , Rosy : Hearts & Minds

Toltz , Steve : A Fraction of the Whole

Torday , Paul : Salmon Fishing in The Yemen

Torday , Paul : The Irresistible Inheritance of Wilberforce

Torday , Paul : The Girl on the Landing

Tsutsui , Yasutaka : Paprika



Vernon, Roland : The Maestro’s Voice

Villalobos , Juan Pablo : Down the Rabbit Hole

Villalobos , Juan Pablo : Quesadillas

Vonnegut , Kurt : Slaughter House 5


Wagner , James : All Her Father’s Guns

Walker, Jonathan : Five Wounds

Willams , Alan : The Blackheath Séance Parlour

Wood, Patricia : Lottery

Worman , Jeremy : Fragmented



Young , William : The Shack


Zaionchkovsky , Oleg : Happiness is Possible

Zusak , Markus : The Book Thief

Zusak , Markus : Fighting Ruben Wolfe