writing & publishing


Ink & Paper

ink&paper from Ben Proudfoot on Vimeo.

This is a sad film about the difficulties that face two increasingly rare businesses. Now, I have little sentimentality, as a writer, about doing things the old-fashioned way, with a fancy notebook and pen in a coffee shop. I’m one of those people who prefers Scrivener, a MacBook Pro and a decent Wi-Fi connection to make a difficult task more bearable. (I do however enjoy seeing the results of such old-fashioned efforts, such as a lovely edition of a book.) It is sad to see such traditional crafts being lost as we make the slow and painful journey into the digital age.


Umberto Eco, Belief, Climate Change

Not the usual headline you’d expect to read, but this was the topic of a brilliant article on the BBC recently, about belief in Umberto Eco’s novels and the fact that people will cling onto any sorts of dubious ‘facts’ to fit their own views of denial of climate change:

If you want to believe something badly enough, Eco’s novels suggest, then by selective listening – by editing out the contrary evidence – you will hear what you want to hear. Nowhere is this more true currently than in the debate about global warming…

Instead the climate sceptics have created an intricate web of their own associations and allusions, to produce their version of an alternative story which runs contrary to that of mainstream science.

What Umberto Eco’s stories tell us is how comforting such quests can be. Faced with an uncertain future and declining prosperity, without religion for reassurance, what could be more comforting than to join a select band searching for the Holy Grail?

Read the rest. From my observations on how climate change deniers work, there is a ‘head in the sand’ mentality about what they say, and I suppose, at heart, they’re just seeking a kind of escapist comfort in constructing a fiction around them.

It doesn’t make me loathe their opinions, or despise the way they try to murk-up scientific facts with their fiction, any less however.

And all of this reminds me to read more Umberto Eco at some point. I absolutely loved The Name of the Rose.


Book Links

Just a few things I’ve spotted online recently. First up, one of the most criminally underrated genre writers, Daniel Abraham, writes a private letter from genre to mainstream literature.

I saw you tonight. You were walking with your cabal from the university to the little bar across the street where the professors and graduate students fraternize. You were in the dark, plain clothes that you think of as elegant. I have always thought they made you look pale. I was at the newsstand. I think that you saw me, but pretended not to. I want to say it didn’t sting.

Looks like the Kindle Fire could hit the UK in January, although it’s probably the usual finger-in-the-wind analysis when it comes to Apple releases. If it’s similar to the Nook, which quite a few places suggest it is, it’s not likely to be much to get excited about. When I tried the Nook in the US I found it a huge disappointment: really slow, clunky, and a terrible interface, especially when compared to the iPad (which, let’s face it, I’m going to).

There’s an interesting Top 10 ‘writings from the edge of language’ in the Guardian:

From The Waste Land to Jabberwocky, the poet picks his favourite writing from the ‘conversation between words and silence’

And for those interested in children’s fiction, there’s a special feature in the Telegraph at the moment. It starts with an interview with Jacqueline Wilson and even gives a bit of review coverage to things like adventure or historical children’s fiction


Cover Art – Nacht über Villjamur

Here’s the rather lovely cover art for the German edition of Nights of Villjamur, Nacht über Villjamur, which is published by Egmont-Lyx in April 2012 – and which you can pre-order here.

The extra good news is that my editor at Lyx, Anja, also enjoys single malt whisky. (I’m not sure that was a requirement of rights contract, but I’m considering making it one for all future deals.)


Libraries of Famous Writers

Norman Mailer’s Brooklyn Heights apartment here wins hands down, in my opinion. Though I love a good library room, I prefer it when books kind of sprawl out into different rooms, as if they’ve become part of the fabric of the house itself. Another 19 over at Flavorwire.

I tend to judge people’s houses on whether or not I can see books within the first two rooms. There’s something slightly disturbing when they’re not to be found in a home.



A new addition to my writing tools. Surely the only way for a writer to carry their laptop is within an antique hardcover book? Yes, I know it’s pretentious – it’s also marvellous, admit it.


Alan Bennet at Occupy LSX & Other Book Links

It’s so nice to see an author unashamedly backing these protests, especially having read the car-crash of appalling bad logic that Frank Miller has recently used.

On this theme, there’s an interesting article in the Guardian about Alan Moore, the man behind the iconic protest mask that first manifested in V for Vendetta:

“I suppose when I was writing V for Vendetta I would in my secret heart of hearts have thought: wouldn’t it be great if these ideas actually made an impact? So when you start to see that idle fantasy intrude on the regular world… It’s peculiar. It feels like a character I created 30 years ago has somehow escaped the realm of fiction.”

While I’m linking elsewhere, there’s also a pretty cool interview with Umberto Eco today that’s worth checking out:

It’s only publishers and some journalists who believe that people want simple things. People are tired of simple things. They want to be challenged.

Couldn’t agree more. As a reader, I loved to be challenged. There’s always room to grow (note: that’s nothing to do with reading fiction aimed at younger or older audiences); there’s always ways to develop your understanding of a book. Maybe reading is a craft or a skill just as much as writing?