kids' books i've been reading, other writers

Points mean Prizes

Magnificent news: fellow scribbler and dear old mate Sarah Mussi has won the Glen Dimplex New Writers’ Award 2007 for her children’s book, The Door of No Return. I couldn’t be more thrilled, not only because she’s a friend, but because Door really is something special: a book aimed squarely at teens with powerful and sensitive issues at its core (financial reparations for slavery), coupled with a cracking thriller that tears you through the pages so breathlessly that you barely notice you’re being educated. It’s as far from an ‘issues’ book as you can imagine (it’s hilarious, for one thing: hero Zac is a corking example of an ‘unreliable’ narrator) yet doesn’t flinch from telling uncomfortable truths. Stuck for a Christmas present for a teenage boy, anyone?

This is the first time I’ve really known someone else’s book from ‘I’ve got this idea’ to it being an actual object with pages and a cover and an ISBN. It’s quite terrifying to imagine that every single novel you see on a bookshop shelf has gone through all those sticky moments in between: the second-guessing of the plot, the second-guessing of the very premise, all those rewrites, then the merry dance of finding agents and/or publishers, more rewrites, then the whirligig of promotion and whether you’re in a 3-for-2, all observed by friends and family and enthusiastic writing groups, by which time you’re on to the next one anyway because it’s taken 2-3 years to get to this point (assuming if you write quite quickly)… I know all these things already, but for some reason it feels more real when it’s happening to someone else. Watching the unfolding narrative of my own book-gets-published saga is participatory: I’m too much of a character, too closely involved. With someone else’s I get to sit back like Hercules Poirot, observing the scene, my little grey cells all a-fizz with glee as it unfolds exactly as I would have hoped. Cheers to you, Sarah: first of many well-deserved accolades, I don’t doubt.

Aaand the internet crazy just keeps on coming. Old story, newly in the mainstream media, of a 13-year-old girl who committed suicide: Making Light has an excellent round-up of the sequence of events, plus the obvious-yet-apparently-not statement of the week: What happens online is real.

Copyedits a-go-go. Sometimes WTF should be wtf. No, I don’t always know why. Also: Dear Copyeditor, I’m very sorry for writing the prizewinner of Least Possible To CopyEdit 2007.

Trying that thing where you stir-fry sprouts with bacon instead of just boiling them (not half bad); being on trains and buses and feet; locking myself out of my flat bumbumbum; wondering when lazy-bastard Lovefilm are going to send me the next bit of Prison Break; almost being in Paris. This last makes me happy. When I was little I had some knickers with ‘A Weekend In Paris’ written on them. Clearly they were formative. 🙂

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