Sunday Salon – Reading and Writing

Writing Tips: I liked this – yesterday’s articles in the Guardian – a survey of established authors’ tips for successful authorship.  Part one tips from Elmore Leonard, Diana Athill, Margaret Atwood, Roddy Doyle, Helen Dunmore, Geoff Dyer, Anne Enright, Richard Ford, Jonathan Franzen, Esther Freud, Neil Gaiman, David Hare, PD James, AL Kennedy


Part Two: Hilary Mantel, Michael Moorcock, Michael Morpurgo, Andrew Motion, Joyce Carol Oates, Annie Proulx, Philip Pullman, Ian Rankin, Will Self, Helen Simpson, Zadie Smith, Colm Tóibín, Rose Tremain, Sarah Waters, Jeanette Winterson

Choice tips: mostly along the lines of

  •  Write
  • Read
  • Get on with it/be persistent

I think this from Will Self goes for everyone not just successful authors:

You know that sickening feeling of inadequacy and over-exposure you feel when you look upon your own empurpled prose? Relax into the awareness that this ghastly sensation will never, ever leave you, no matter how successful and publicly lauded you become. It is intrinsic to the real business of writing and should be cherished.

Reading – Today I’ve been trying to decide which book to get as my free book from newbooks magazine. As usual I’m spoilt for choice and have to ask myself – do I really want yet another book to add to the to-be-read mountain?

These are the books (soon to be published in paperback):

  • The Crimson Rooms by Katherine McMahon (pub date 1 April). Six years after the end of the First World War Evelyn is still haunted by the death of her younger brother. I enjoyed her earlier novel The Rose of Sebastopol, so maybe this would be a good choice.
  • The Glass Room by Simon Mawer (pub date 11 March) Set in 1930, the storm clouds of World War Two are gathering in Czechoslovakia. Landauer House built of glass, steel and onyx is passed from hand to hand. I’ve only read The Gospel of Judas by Mawer – enjoyed that, perhaps this would be good too.
  • Relics of the Dead by Ariana Franklin (pub date 18 March). More about Adelia, a 12th century ‘readerof bones’ for Henry II. In this latest book she has to identify and authenticate the bones of Arthur and Guinevere. I loved the first book Mistress of the Art of Death and the second The Death Maze, although I haven’t read it yet. It would be good to have this third book to complete the set.
  • Balthazar Jones and the Tower of London Zoo by Julia Stuart (pub date 4 March). Balthazar is a Beefeater and his new job is to look after the exotic animals that are to be moved from London Zoo to the Tower’s grounds. This is a debut novel. It does sound different from my usual choice of reading.
  • Instruments of Darkness by Imogen Robertson (pub date 1 April). A murder mystery set in West Sussex in the 18th century. A man’s body is found in the grounds of Thornleigh Hall. His throat has been cut. On the same day Alexander Adams is murdered in London. This is a debut novel too. I do like historical crime fiction, but I’m not sure about this one.

6 thoughts on “Sunday Salon – Reading and Writing”

  1. Another piece of advice: don´t read too many (contradictory) pieces of advice in one go!
    I laughed at Margaret Atwood´s, but I think Elmore Leonard sounds a bit smug.


  2. Margaret, the books you have to choose from sound lovely. I’ve heard of some of them. I love the Ariana Franklin series, but the last one, which I hadn’t heard of, sounds intriguing.


  3. I’ve been reading the Mawer book (had to set it aside temporarily but am looking forward to getting back to it) and really enjoying it. I’ve also preordered The Crimson Rooms and am looking forward to that one as well. At least you have a good selection to choose from!


  4. Those Guardian articles are brilliant!!! (Note overuse of exclamation marks and adverbs, she said tongue-in-cheekily!!!)

    I used to get New Books magazine, but stopped it. I found I didn’t agree with many of the reviews.


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