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Comment from the book world in August 2018

August 2018

Television 'hungry for writers' content'

13 August 2018

‘Television is suddenly hungry for writers' content because long-form television is much closer to novels than anything else. A lot of people invested in short stories, things you can read on your phone, all very interesting but putting the technology first. Actually what we've seen is authors like Hanya Yanagihara and Donna Tartt - very long novels (being successful). So something is going on in reading which is much more analogous to long-form television - immersive reading and immersive watching. So there's this hunger for writerly content and story writing skills, which is great for an agency like us who don't do anything but writers...

Personality matters in agenting... I think the personality of the agent informs the way they do the job in a way that can't possibly be true any more in publishing, in the way it was when it was Carmen Callil, Tom Maschler, George Weidenfeld were active - now publishers are part of a corporate entity.'

Clare Alexander of the London literary agency Aitken Alexander AssociatesAccepts fiction and non-fiction. No plays or scripts. in the Bookseller

Switching off the adult editor

6 August 2018

‘I can't stop writing. It's not something I physically enjoy, but I can't switch off the head. There was something else, something I'd lived with all my life - the fear that I wouldn't live to finish a given piece. Having finished Boneland at the age of 77, with no idea in front of me whatever, I thought - that's it. Now, given that it takes me between five and nine years to write a novel, the joke runs a bit sour when you're in your early eighties...

No book of mine has ever had so many drafts. What I had to do was remove myself as an observer and let the voice of me at that age genuinely establish itself. The trouble was that I didn't want to be arch or twee or laced through with dramatic irony. I like technical challenges. I just let it settle and listened, I didn't try to impose anything on that voice as it emerged. It couldn't be infantile, it must be simple. It expresses the complex thought of a child of that age...

There was no research. To a fault, I love the research and it puts off the writing. But with this, I simply had to not interfere. It's not mystical, it was just allowing myself to switch off the adult editor until the words were there.'

Alan Garner, author of just-published Where Shall We Run to? (a wartime childhood memoir), The Weirdstone of Brisingamen, The Stone Book Quartet and many other books for children and adults in the Observer.