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Comment from the book world in August 2019

August 2019

'An overactive imagination'

19 August 2019

‘I was often accused of having an overactive imagination as a child and I was an avid reader. I used to fib to my mum, saying I was going out to play with the other kids and actually having a book in my pocket. I'd built a den on the waste ground at the far end of the housing estate where I grew up and I would hide there and read. I wrote a novel when I was 11; I even cut out cardboard covers because I wanted it to be a hardback. And I spent a lot of time in the local library. It made me into a writer...

I was into fantasy and science fiction. I loved the Ursula K Le Guin Wizard of Earthsea books. Fantasy at that age is about pure imagination, and what those books showed me is that the whole world is at your fingertips if you write. And before that, the Narnia books: I remember spending a fair amount of time in wardrobes hoping to get through and see a talking fawn.'

Louise Doughty, author of just-published Platform Seven, Whatever You Love, Apple Tree Yard and six other novels in the Observer https://www.louisedoughty.com/

 

'It wasn't really writing.'

12 August 2019

‘It wasn't really writing. It was sort of doing something at night, rather than cultivating friendships. I found myself very good company, so I never needed a party or a dinner in order to make me wonder on Saturday night, what are you going to do? And besides I had these little children, so I wrote at night, sporadically, trying to build on a story I had written years before. I liked the authority of being in a place where I was doing it, and I liked how hard it was. And I liked the privacy, the interior world that was all mine, the freedom to explore that in a systematic way...

Piercing knots in language and in ideas, assisting in the discovery of clarity, connections, illustrations, tone are what editing requires. I thrive on the urgency that doing more than one thing provides - on the sense of pressure that I either need or am accustomed to...

People used to say how come you do so many things? It never appeared to me that I was doing very much of anything; really everything I did was always about one thing, which is books. I was either editing them or writing them or reading them or teaching them, so it was very coherent.'

Toni Morrison, author of Beloved, Song of Solomon, Sula, Jazz and 7 other novels, in a 1987 interview with Publishers WeeklyInternational news website of book publishing and bookselling including business news, reviews, bestseller lists, commentaries http://www.publishersweekly.com/

 

'Write great parts for actors.'

5 August 2019

‘The best advice on writing drama was given to me by Barrie Keefe, wondrous playwright and screenwriter of The Long Good Friday. His guidance was simple: "Write great parts for actors." A brilliant actor is a dramatist's strongest weapon. And remember, as you stay at home writing, actors have to be in make-up at 5am, in the pouring rain, miles from home, standing around for twelve hours to shoot three minutes of screen time. Make it worth their while.'

Chris Chibnall, television writer and producer, whose credits include Torchwood, Broadchurch and Doctor Who.