Wednesday 1 January 2014

Well, that's 2013 over - 94 books read and an astonishing array of authors interviewed and hosted at events in Woodbridge. That sums up the year really. (There has also been a couple of short breaks to Germany and Spain, a 10k race run, coxing and sculling continued, and much enjoyed exploring the Suffolk countryside and social circles). It's been an exciting and challenging year, but how do I top it in the forthcoming 12 months?

The highlight had to be presenting Katherine Grainger to an audience of 250 in October. It had taken some eight months to set up the event to promote her autobiography and it proved nerve-wracking right to the last few minutes: I was due to be taking Katherine out on stage but she was still battling her way to the venue through traffic and terrible weather. Just a few minutes late, though, and it all went incredibly well. It was a huge privilege to meet her. What an amazing person she is! Completely unfazed by anything put before her; intelligent, funny, generous, committed and hugely inspiring.

It is difficult to see, for the moment, how I will be able to match that in the coming year. My programme of author events has also included Margaret Drabble, Kate Mosse, Deborah Moggach and Meg Rosoff, and I've met and interviewed Susan Hill and Simon Mayo. And I doubt I want to exceed my tally of 94 books read either - will I be able to remember plots or characters if I'm steaming through them at a faster rate?!

So what do I want to achieve in this coming year? Well, instead of reading so much, I think I need to up my game in writing this year. That means more blogs, more letters, more reviews, more articles, and more stories. Let's see how well I've done when I come back on 1 January 2015!



Tuesday 1 October 2013

Short stories have a high profile currently with prizes, festivals and new collections. Does this mean they now have a larger audience? It has long been anticipated that the much talked about limited attention span of today's society might mean a resurgence to this form. For myself, I know I prefer the commitment of a good novel, so I asked the Browsers Book Group for their opinion.

'A short story is rather like poetry,' said one lady. 'I'm worried when I've finished it whether I've missed the point.'

'I don't want to have to sit and think about what I've just read,' said another, 'with a novel I enjoy it while I'm reading it and when I put it down, I move on.'

Despite its brevity, then, a short story may be considered more taxing than a 600-page bestseller.

Friday 20 September 2013

I've read a number of books recently which have not been well written. This is disappointing for so many reasons.

Yet in acknowledging the inadequacies of a work, I am reminded of one factor with which I cannot pick fault: at least the author produced a sufficient number of words with a coherent enough theme to create a book. This is more than I have done.

A couple of years ago I realised that the reason I didn't start writing my masterpiece was that if I didn't start, I wouldn't fail. But of course, this isn't true. American author Seth Godin wrote in his blog recently: 'If you don't start, you will fail. Not starting and failing lead to precisely the same outcome, with different names.'

Sunday 28 July 2013

Children who do most of their reading on screen enjoy the stories less and have a poorer reading ability than those who use printed materials, according to a recent survey by the National Literary Trust.

With the number of children using e-books, tablets and computers having doubled in the last two years, and rising, the NLT is calling for a healthier balance in reading using both books and technology.

Its findings from a survey of almost 35,000 children aged 8-16 are worrying but also reveal another interesting statistic: girls are more likely to read in print than boys, and are also more likely to read from a range of on-screen devices.

Wednesday 3 July 2013

Had the rare treat of being able to listen to Libby Purves on Midweek this morning but was shocked when she urged listeners to seek out her guest's novels by going to Amazon. I am sure she must have kicked herself as soon as she said it: I do hope so. And this in Independent Booksellers Week too!!