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Christopher Fowler
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Reading & Writing
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Most writers can't work consistently enough to fulfil a publisher's needs. If you've ever wondered why some writers can't get published and others can't work fast enough, read on. Readers often tell writers how lucky they are, as if they accidentally become JK Rowling one day. There's a generally circulated idea that writers waft about as lonely outsiders observing life from the other side of a…
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Christopher Fowler
Posted in
Reading & Writing
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Me: Writing is like sex: Everyone has a different method. Raymond Carver: Get in. Get out. Don't linger. Me: Writers are guarded and private. 'Sharing' is not a word I use around them. They don't much engage in Socratic dialogue unless you count the testing-out of anecdotes. This is because the novel is always running in the backs of their heads. Orwell simply thought writers more vain and self…
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Christopher Fowler
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Reading & Writing
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It was not a time to be sexually frivolous. Let's get the blog a little bit back on track this week by looking at writers and writing. In Offenbach's 'Orpheus in the Underworld' the scene is set by the character of Public Opinion, and sometimes it seems as if this figure haunts all who dare to venture into the public arena. Authors are prone to accidental notoriety. Any printed display of opinion…
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Christopher Fowler
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Reading & Writing
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Two entries ago I posted a photo of my 1783 dictionary (now sadly falling to bits through over-thumbage) and you asked me to expand the page-view for a better nose-around. At least I think you did before jumping off into a heated discussion about Arabic jinns, Hodnidods & Pegotty Wing-Wings on the same comments page (I love the comments and read them all). So here are three close-ups I took from…
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Christopher Fowler
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Reading & Writing
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I found this old book at the back of a cupboard. I'm pretty sure that I didn't pick it up in 1787, which is the date inside the cover. It's an English dictionary published by Northfleet, but like all books of the period it's scant on publishing information inside. This is where I get all '1066 And All That', history being all one can remember, but I know that George III was on the throne and the…
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Christopher Fowler
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Reading & Writing
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Nobody seems to remember this most unusual author anymore. Van Greenaway was a lawyer-turned-novelist who wrote topical, political, satirical thrillers. At his best he combined popular fiction with a rare passion and erudition. This kind of thought-provoking action novel was a genre all its own that now appears to have vanished entirely. Van Greenaway started in the style he very much developed as…
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Christopher Fowler
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Reading & Writing
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Phyllis Dorothy James was, everyone will tell you, the grande-dame of crime writing, and once issued her top ten tips for writing novels. It's heresy to contravene the rules, but what worked for PD James was clearly not what works for every aspiring or professional author. Let's have a look at them and see if they need updating... You must be born to write James says 'You can't teach someone to…
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Christopher Fowler
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Reading & Writing
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And so to our most recent batch of readers' comments on where to send Bryant & May next. (This still makes me think of my mother saying 'I think you've mined out that particular seam, dear,' after volume 5). Monuments; When the British build a monument, they first have dinner inside it, cf. Crystal Palace, the Marble Arch etc. I worry about creating global conspiracies and drifting into the…
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Christopher Fowler
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Reading & Writing
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Into this fan frenzy steps muggins... Yesterday I was on a panel at London's literary crime festival in the Grand Connaught Hotel (as featured in Sherlock Holmes stories), discussing her with four aficionados; her being Dame Agatha Mary Clarissa Christie, Lady Mallowan, DBE, 1890-1976, known for 66 detective novels and 14 short story collections. The panel, which had real Christie experts on it…
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Christopher Fowler
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Reading & Writing
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Some authors treat public events as pyramid-selling sessions In yesterday's Comments section, Ian Luck possibly overestimates the 'incestuous circles' in which writers move. In my experience very few of us even speak to each other. It's true that there are a small handful of writers who make up for their woefully inadequate books by glad-handing 'the right people' and chasing awards, but all…
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