That difficult second novel

When I think about the output of some novelists, I’m a bit ashamed of how long it is taking for novel number 2 to take off. It has stalled before it has even pushed back (I know these airport terms; one of my friends is an air traffic controller). Has anyone else had this problem? In truth, I half-expected it. If I were a musician, it would be no surprise at all. The curse of the second album is a hard curse to dodge.

To pre-empt any potential difficulty, I had two strategies Continue reading “That difficult second novel”

Why do we read fiction?

Fiction is a strange beast when you think about it. Made-up people in made-up worlds doing made-up things, and yet they have the power to make us laugh, cry, think, flinch, or just go to bed early to catch the next few chapters of their adventures. My own compulsion to read has puzzled me for a long time. I know I don’t feel right if I haven’t got a good book on the go. It doesn’t have to be fiction. I’m not exclusive (although, I admit, most of the time I am).

Why do we read fiction? Escapism, entertainment, sanctuary? If you are anything like me, you might feel there is something necessary about it, but perhaps like me also, you feel it instinctively though you’d be hard pushed to explain exactly what it is. Research on the psychology of reading fiction suggests that Continue reading “Why do we read fiction?”

The Sprout Questionnaire: A Weird Take on the Proust Questionnaire

You may have seen this post in a different form but, after only a year (I don’t like to brag but I’m sure you can tell that I’m a speedy learner) I’m finally getting the hang of this website lark and I’m pretty sure my menus are now more or less in order. More or less. This should be the first one in the Sprout Questionnaire series but I haven’t worked out how to sort that bit. Professionalism abounds here. Anyhow, just before I corner my next victim for this series, I thought I should get a wee bit of explanation out there. Explanation, yes, but no guarantee it will make sense.

What, you may ask, is a Sprout questionnaire? Good question. It wasn’t always a Sprout questionnaire
Continue reading “The Sprout Questionnaire: A Weird Take on the Proust Questionnaire”

The Sexy Test

‘Do you know what the lady is going to do, Harry?’

‘Yes, mummy. She’s going to do the test to see if I’m sexy.’

‘Almost, sweetie. It’s to see if you are dyslexic.’

True story. Oh how we giggled. But it isn’t a laughing matter for the kids and adults affected.

Even in this world of alternative technologies, the written word is still central to how the world functions (or how the world ends given the current battle of juvenile tweets between power-crazed despots). It has certainly Continue reading “The Sexy Test”

2017: A year of reading and writing

There is no more valuable a gift than a book that makes you laugh, cry or think 

It has been an interesting year of books. For (almost) the first time, I’ve read several novels by people I know. Either in person or virtually (although some of those virtual relationships are as strong as friendships in real life). I find it nerve-racking, those first few moment with the first few pages, sussing out whether it is going to be a book I’ll love or one that will do nothing for me. I feel a responsibility to enjoy the work of the people I like. Which doesn’t always happen. But when it does, it is wonderful.

Like Maria Donovan’s Chicken Soup Murders. Aside from the fabulous title, it was obvious from the opening that it was beautifully written. I read it immediately after Joanna Cannon’s fabulous The Trouble with Goats and Sheep and it compares very well. Or Chris McQueer’s Hings which had me laughing, cringing and spurting my tea out of my nose (often at the same time). Continue reading “2017: A year of reading and writing”