Viva Libros!

Reader Logo by Richard Ward-Roden

In this age of digital advance where everything you can think of can be accessed over the internet, immediately available via laptops, mobile phones etc, is the 'old-fashioned' book on its last legs?

Well if you listen to the news regularly, you'd be under the impression that all book shops are failing and closing, no one's interested in reading anymore and books are relegated to boxes in the attic for future generations to look at in awe. Depressing, yes, but in reality far from the truth.


Reader Logo

by Simon Trewin at the International Festival Of Authors in Toronto

I am exhausted - the programme is punishingly good here but VERY demanding! All those parties, all that food, all that great conversation! I was at a big party given by Iris and her team at HarperCollins last night and, looking around the room, I realised almost everyone I had met this week was present and it felt like that scene at the end of Monty Python's The Meaning Of Life where Graham Chapman dies and arrives at heaven to be confronted by every single character we have met in the film. Happily though I was still very much alive. Just.


Reader Logoby Simon Trewin at the International Festival Of Authors in Toronto.

Gosh they are working us hard here in Toronto! Our first day consisted of lots of really engaging one-to-one meetings with Canadian publishers, agents and journalists.

I really enjoyed chatting with the inspiring Daniel Wells from Biblioasis who publishes an eclectic mix of fiction, poetry and non-fiction. He is an ex bookseller who saw the light and crossed over to the bright side of the road and started his own small press. It is difficult to find a book on his list that hasn't either won or been shortlisted one of the many Canadian prizes to promote literature. I especially liked the look of 'The Meagretarmac' by Clark Blaise which Daniel described as 'an Indo-American Canterbury Tales, which explores the places where tradition, innovation, culture, and power meet with explosive force'. With quotes from Margaret Atwood and Joyce Carol Oates on the cover this looks like a smart piece of publishing. On the non-fiction list I was interested in 'The Pigeon Wars Of Damascus' by Marius Kociejowski which is an outisder's view into post 9-11 Islamic society in the years prior to the Arab Spring. Like many Canadian publishers he relies to a certain extent on some of the $20.1 money which the Canada Council for the Arts which last year was invested in writing and publishing throughout Canada. In these straightened times it is great to see a nation take its writers so seriously. Many other countries could learn from that...


Reader Logoby Simon Trewin - live at the International Festival Of Authors at Toronto.

I landed in Toronto after lunch on Monday after a week visiting publishers in Manhattan. On the advice of the brilliant Kristin Cochrane, Publisher of Doubleday, I flew into the tiny little city airport on the island in the harbour. What a joy - my plane had propellers and the view across to city was astonishing - the CN tower soaring high above the skyscrapers. After a few days in New York I was used to tall buildings but this Canadian interpretation of Manhattan felt as if it were done with an English colonial sensitivity and is all the better for it. I travelled from my little plane to the mainland on the Marilyn Bell ferry and the journey took 3 minutes and then fulfilled an ambition of a lifetime to have a man meet me with my name written on a sign!

The Real Thing

Reader Logo by Elizabeth Baines

On being appointed a judge of this year’s (ultimately controversial) Booker prize, novelist Susan Hill told Robert McCrum in an interview for The Guardian, "I don't mind experiment if there's a genius behind it. If you're James Joyce, you can write Ulysses. But I don't want experiment from writers who can't do the real thing."

That’s reasonable, isn’t it? We all know, don’t we, that the rules might be there to be broken (by geniuses), but any genius must know those rules first, which means knowing how to use them, which means practising first (and in the process proving you know how to use them)? And who wants any novels at all, leave alone experimental ones, from writers who can’t really write? And isn’t it true (I think this is one of her implications) that often writers who can’t write hide their lack of ability with a faux-experimentalism which is really obfuscation?

Interview with Editor of The View From Here on the Future of the Magazine

Claire King: Mike French, who are you?

Mike French: Is that a psychological question, because if it is then I’m still working on the answer to that. On a good day I think I’m a writer and editor, don’t ask me about the bad days.

CK: Tell me about the bad days? Why have you only got half a face?

MF: Is this one of those David Frost style interviews? No, no comment.

See the full interview here where Mike talks about the past, present and future of The View From Here as well as his own journey to publication.

Interlinked short stories – do they a novel make?

Reader Logo by Catherine McNamara

Throughout the eighties I read a lot of Raymond Carver and while I greatly enjoyed his stories I was almost as curious about Carver’s background. Son of a saw mill hand who liked his whisky, he’d worked as a janitor, night watchman, petrol attendant and editor while studying and helping to raise two kids. But the comment that has stayed with me for years was this. When asked, Why do you write short stories? Why not a novel? Carver replied that because of the constrictions of his life he could only produce short stories, that with his money problems and family obligations he could never face the long haul of a novel.


Reader Logo by Simon Trewin

I am delighted to tell you that I have been invited to be part of the International Visitors programme at the immense International Festival Of Authors in Toronto which runs from 19th to 26th of October. I am arriving, along with a number of other agents and editors and scouts on the 23rd and staying for a week. In addition to an opportunity to visit a multitude of unique events featuring writers from all over the world those of us on the IV programme will also have some high-level access to all areas of the Canadian publishing scene. I will be blogging the events as they happen exclusively for The View From Here. Link
Simon Trewin is an agent at United Agents in London where he runs the literary division.

TVFH Partnering in The Luton Book Festival

This month and next month is a first for us as we partner up with Luton Library to put on a book festival.

For a full listing go here.

Including workshop on Blogging from Jane Turley, November 10th
Have you ever wanted to get into online blogging, but didn't know how to do it? This workshop will run you through the basics, and get you up and running with your first "blog".

Workshop on getting Published by Mike French, October 17
Mike French, local author and editor of online literary magazine The View From Here, had his first book published recently. He will be discussing the process and pitfalls of getting into print.

Workshop on Editing Your Novel by Shanta Everington & Mike French, October 20
Have you written your novel, but don’t know where to start with editing it for publication? Come and get some hints and tips from published authors Mike French and Shanta Everington.

Banned Books
Every fortnight during the Luton Book Festival we will be inviting you to join the debate by focusing on one book in the Banned Book list. Read about each book, then add your own comments to our “Ban or Fan wall” or join in the discussion on our Facebook page (Luton Libraries). You can also browse our display of the full Banned Books list – reserve a copy or take one home (special Banned Books paper bags provided).

 Also ...

How to Make Awesome Comics , Short Story Workshop and much much more!

Talking About My Generation

The Generation Game
by Sophie Duffy
Publisher: Legend Press
Review: Jane Turley

I am forty six years old. I usually tell people I’m twenty nine and wait for the raised eyebrows but since I was born in the same year as the protagonist of Sophie Duffy’s debut novel The Generation Game I thought I’d come clean.

The novel, which has won both the Yeovil Literary Prize (2006) and Legend Press’ Luke Bitmead Bursary award (2011), follows the life of the Philippa Smith, from her birth in 1965 until shortly after the birth of her own daughter in 2005. It is a novel where the protagonist’s life is inextricably entwined both culturally and historically with the latter half of twentieth century British life. From skinheads to punk rockers, from long hot summers to howling hurricanes, from Blue Peter to University Challenge and from Princess Diana’s extraordinary marriage to even more extraordinary death this is a novel which accurately reflects the culture and sentiments of the period. I know, I lived through it.