Thursday, 30 September 2010

Celebration day!

It can be too easy to forget to celebrate the successes, but today is UK publication day for the new book. Cheers!

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Sloppy language, innit!

Emma Thompson is unhappy about the way language is used, particularly by young people. Read about it here.

I think it's only fair to take a balanced view. Personally, I adapt not only my language but my accent depending upon who it is I am speaking to. My reasoning here is simple: I communicate in order to be understood. Consequently, I do whatever I feel is necessary and within my powers to achieve that. So, if I'm speaking to friends from the north east of England, my accent is likely to be more pronounced than if I am speaking to people from elsewhere, and if I am chatting to friends, the language I use will be far less formal than if I am chatting to someone in a business context. It's the same with texts and emails. I think probably the majority of people do the same, but do it instinctively. It's all about getting it across, irrespective of whether the words are written or spoken.

Saturday, 18 September 2010

On Writers

I read this recently and liked it a lot, although some of these are a little too close for comfort!

Friday, 10 September 2010

The green-eyed monster

Envy. One of the seven deadly sins, if you believe in such things. We all suffer from it now and then, and yet it is provoked by many different things: shoes, wealth, job promotions, lovers... and words. Yes, words. More to the point, the ability of another person to use words in such a way as to make us think, 'I wish I had written that!'

I recently read, for the second time and after a gap of many years, THE TOOTH FAIRY by Graham Joyce. It is something I originally picked up in a bookshop 'just because'. I wasn't familiar with the author and hadn't read a favourable review, it simply appealed to me in some way and so I bought it. That copy has gone the way of all things, but I have often thought of the story - the characters, events and the feelings it and they provoked - and so I recently bought the book again. Second time around, I was surprised both by how much I remembered of the story and also how much I had forgotten. I was not surprised to find that it evoked a strong reaction, just as it had the first time I read it.

THE TOOTH FAIRY is a wonderful read, a tale of growing up, rites of passage, friendship, love and loss - and the supernatural. The threads are drawn together so skillfully throughout that the pattern woven is both familiar, as we can identify with the characters in the story, and foreign, as the journey they - and we - take covers new and different territory. And at the end of it, as well as feeling that the story had fulfilled its promise to entertain, challenge and provoke, there was just a twinge of envy. Had I written that story, I would be very proud of it indeed.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

More on the PLR

The campaign for the maintenance of the PLR at its current rate continues, as reported in
The Bookseller

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Public libraries and the Public Lending Right

When I was a kid, not many weeks went by without me beating a path to Southwick Branch Library, my arm stretched and aching from carrying a pile of books. Southwick was a beautiful library, Victorian, high celings, tall windows, heavy wooden shelves and a walk around desk where you presented your books for return or stamping out. Sometimes I spent time just wandering around the shelves, taking in the atmosphere and revelling in being surrounded by so many wonderful books.

That was after I got my tickets for the senior library, mind you. I had spent what seemed like an age beforehand stood at the door of the poky wee room that housed the junior library, gazing longingly at the high, dark shelves stuffed with treasures I was not yet allowed to enjoy. I had outgrown the junior library in every way. The shelves were stupidly low, the books were for babies. Oh, sure, they'd served me well enough when I was smaller myself, but I was bored with them. I'd read everything I wanted to read. There wasn't an Enid Blyton left untouched and frankly I couldn't have cared less what Katy did first, never mind what she did next. When I finally got my tickets (six, hence the aching arm, as opposed to the measly two the junior library offered) I swear I shed a tear. It was like receiving the keys to the kingdom.

I read all sorts of stuff, some of it gold, some of it less so, all of it wonderful at the time. I discovered Kurt Vonnegut, Colin Wilson, Robert A. Heinlein, Roger Zelazny, J. R. R. Tolkein... then there was Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys, and the Three Investigators. I followed those with Sherlock Holmes, Edgar Allan Poe and the plays of Noel Coward. And so much more. The place was a treasure trove and there wasn't much that couldn't be put right with a visit to the library.

Without the library I wouldn't have had access to even a fraction of the books I read. There is no way my family would ever have been able to afford them. Even now, I use the public library system extensively for research. One of the things I like most about the library system in the UK is that authors are rewarded with a few pence every time one of their books is borrowed. This is the Public Lending Right, or PLR. Whilst it represents a tiny fraction of the cover price of a book, for many authors this extra income is what enables them to keep on writing. Also, the amount an author may earn through PLR is capped, meaning that the main benefit is felt by authors who earn comparatively little from their writing, rather than the bestsellers.

The government is currently scouring public spending with an eagle eye, looking for areas where cuts can be made. One area where spending has fallen drastically in recent years, and that is bound to attract scrutiny at this time, is PLR. The results of the Spending Review are due to be announced on 20th October. In the meantime, there is the opportunity for writers to show support for the safeguard of PLR by signing here: www.alcs.co.uk/petition