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Author, actress and
freelance journalist, Giovanna Fletcher is married to Tom Fletcher from McFly. She grew
up in Essex with her Italian dad Mario, mum Kim, big sister Giorgina and little
brother Mario, and spent most of her childhood talking to herself (it seems no
one wanted to listen) or reading books. Giovanna is a firm believer in the
power of magpies and positive energy. To find out more about Giovanna, view her blog or
follow her on Twitter.
Her debut novel, Billy and Me, is out this Thursday (23rd May 2013).
Anyway, over to Giovanna as she tells us about a day in her life...
Every day varies, but my writing days are a fairly consistent array of
distractions that I struggle to knock on the head before getting on with the
pressing task of writing.
I get up at a respectable eight o'clock (I'm conveniently forgetting the times
I struggle to get out of bed before ten - they’re rare!), and potter around
having breakfast with the hubby, showering, getting into a
fresh pair of PJs or comfies, and then pottering around for an hour or so. I
then like to watch the beginning of This Morning for their
quick round up of the news. Now, this can sometimes work against me as
occasionally there'll be someone being interviewed that I think will be
interesting to watch. But, let's say this is a day I prise myself away
from the telly . . .
I then go
to the office and sit at my desk in front of my laptop. First task? Checking my
Twitter, Facebook and the Mail Online (I like the pictures), and then,
before I know it, it's one o'clock and its time for lunch. Not that I've earned
the break, of course!
After lunch (usually soup in case you're wondering), I start reading what I'd
worked on the previous day to get my mind focused . . . Occasionally I feel
tired and have a nap at this point (let's blame the Italian in me - I love
a siesta), although I've tried to stop myself from doing that - grabbing a
quick cuppa is much more time effective. I'm then ready to write for the
rest of the day and late into the evening, usually getting a solid six hours
distraction-free-writing in the bag.
Yes, reading back over this, my working day is pretty disgusting really. I
promise to rid myself of a few distractions and leap over obstacles with speed
so that I can get to work a little quicker in the future . . . This is
said from my PJs while I nurse yet another cuppa. I guess with writing it's all
about finding a way that works for you and gets the creative juices flowing.
There are approximately 18,000 children under the age of 5 in Howard County, Maryland. And another 50,000 older children in school here. Yet when my family takes advantage of a treasure in the heart of the county, we never see another soul! The Howard County Nature Conservancy is a peaceful and beautiful sanctuary full of rolling hills, safe hiking trails, clear running streams, gorgeous gardens, interesting animals and picnic areas begging to be filled with families looking for a fun, easy, cheap way to spend an evening. Locals say it’s the place to be for bird watching, geocaching or growing your own organic vegetables in the lush community garden.
Part of the reason many don’t know about this area is that from 1692-1992 one family, the Brown’s, was fortunate enough to call The Conservancy their private residence. But in 1992, Howard County schoolteachers Ruth and Frances Brown passed away without an heir. The 232 acre farm has since been held in its natural state and glory. With some additions and improvements, you can come visit and see many buildings that have been a part of the pastoral setting for three centuries.
When I say that we never see another soul on our weekend hikes, that is not to say the spectacular landscape is not put to good use. There are summer camps for the kids, regular nature walks and talks, “Wine in the Garden” for the adults, “School is Out” programs for local students, and too many more exciting events to name. (Check here for a full list: http://www.hcconservancy.org/upcoming-events.html)
These programs, and this place, have helped my boys, (Will age 6, Luke age 4 and Sam age 23 months) to be better little men. I take them there as a part of our unofficial family plan. I want my sons to grow up valuing a day in the dirt with their brothers more than a computer. I want them to seek out places to think and find serenity more than places to blend in with the crowd. I want them to know that it is sometimes better to walk quietly holding my hand than it is to scream in the chaos of an amusement park (although we’ll be heading off to Dutch Wonderland in 10 short days and I can’t wait). I want my boys to have a place to take a date in a decade or two and really get to know her. Somewhere safe where they can walk hand-in-hand (God help me) and find out if they are lucky enough to build what we are lucky enough to have.
I just read the last paragraph aloud my opinionated family. According to my husband and the boys, everything I said is true…but way too girly. They just like to be able to run and play ninjas with sticks. I guess that is a part of our official family plan.
So my real question is this, why aren’t more young families joining us on a beautiful day? No matter what the season? Right now the tadpoles are changing week-to-week and day-to-day! The goats are climbing onto the roof of their habitat and the chickens are laying eggs. Ranger, the owl, is eating his mice and the crayfish and salamanders are hiding from eager little fingers looking to snatch them up. Log bridges with rope sidebars are waiting to be crossed by young explorers and the trees and logs give our young Luke Skywalker lots of convenient hiding places when bounty hunter Boba Fett (aka daddy) comes searching. Maybe you’ll luck out and see a snake while you skip rocks along the creek. If you’re quiet, you’re sure to see some deer and a fox or two. The children’s log garden allows the kids to jump and climb and play in an unusual and safe environment. The indoor playground at the mall is teaming with kids (and germs) every night of the week. Yet we are the only ones at the Conservancy! After seeing the animals, playing or checking out the simple indoor nature room, go for a hike. There is no need to hold hands! Let the kids run on the safe, grassy paths and lead the way as they leave their energy behind to light a trail for you.
Just this weekend I spoke to a young mom who lives within a half mile of the Conservancy. She had never been! What!?!? Why?!?!? Come on! I’ll meet you there on Friday night! We’ll bring sandwiches, juice boxes and kids ready to squeal with delight and satisfy the natural, scientific curiosity that fills their ever-expanding brains….and play ninjas with sticks. Honestly, what could be better?
Erin Schade is a wife, a mother to three fantastic boys, a teacher in Howard County, Maryland, a freelance writer and an aspiring children’s author. Questions or comments? Please contact her directly at email@example.com.
GUIDELINES for It's Story Time and Chapter Book Review
For It's Story Time: To read your children's picture book on,It's Story Time,Saturdays at 10am est, 9AM cst, 8AM mst & 7AM pst, books need to be a storybook/picture book and be at least 8 to 12 minutes long when read aloud or if your book is shorter we will add another author's book of the same duration on one show. We need: . to send a physical copy of the book. The book is needed even though you are reading the book yourself on the show to see the length of the book, scan and display 4 to 5 pictures from it, one being the cover, and have it in case we have technical problems to finish the show. (It does happen! :D )
.OR you can send us a PDF file of your book, plus 4 to 5 JPEGS /pictures from the inside of the book, one being the cover. . We Need you to Call in the show at 10 minutes to show time:10am est, 9AM cst, 8AM mst & 7AM pst. WE will send you an email with the phone number to call and the show's link at Blog Talk Radio. For Chapter Book Previews: Authors who come on can read THEIR favorite passage from their chapter books: about a ten minute reading. The show will need a copy of the book in pdf or rtf to view and the exact passage specified as well as a jpeg of the book's cover.
WE CAN READ YOUR BOOK FOR YOU if you like. If you live outside of the USA or would just like us to read your book for you we can do that. AUTHOR Jan Britland, of the Rodger Dodger Dog series will be reading books for authors in the show. It is a FREE show for everyone to listen to, and the shows are archived and can be listened to at another time listeners want to. Our audience is 20,000 and up!
Books given the us are sent to theChildren's Shriners Hospital in Philadelphia and St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital, Memphis, TN.
Also, if your book is going to be read on the show, PLEASE send me your book trailer or its link on YouTube so it can be added to the YouTube player! THANKS! To contact, email us at: itsstorytimeforkids AT gmail DOT com
J.D. Holiday's Site
Book Garden Publishing, LLC
Information technology and new technological devices are revolutionizing the world of literature, and children’s literature is no different. The ever-increasing numbers of e-books and e-readers in recent years has sparked debate about whether or not e-books are bad for the book industry or reading in general. This argument has been especially critical in the arena of children’s literature. Though children’s e-books have both their improvements and downsides over print books, they achieve the same goal of reaching out to children and telling stories or conveying information in a way that children can understand and enjoy.
One improvement e-books have over print books is the superior picture quality of e-books. This is particularly important for a lot of children’s books. Lots of children’s books, both fiction and nonfiction, contain beautiful color illustrations or photographs. Backlighting on computers or iPads make these pictures brighter and more vivid, enhancing the child’s enjoyment and reading experience. Additionally, pictures which splay across two pages and are split down the middle by a page divide in a print book look better on a screen where there is no page divide.
There are other improvements. Audio books enable young children to hear stories without their parents having to read to them. This way if parents are doing something else the kids can have a book out and have a computer read it to them, and parents can interact from the kitchen or the driver’s seat (“What’s the picture of?” “What kind of sound does that animal make?” etc) without having to take their eyes off the stove or the road to read the book. Additionally the fact that iPads, e-readers, computers, and other electronic devices can hold hundreds of e-books in a tablet that takes up about as much space as one book makes them convenient for traveling and ensures that children always have something new to read.
Parents will like that the e-books are often cheaper and more durable than print books. Our favorite books all suffer from over-use – dog eared pages, worn covers, pages falling out. These happen even to adults’ favorite books, and most kids are far less careful with their things. E-books don’t have pages that can fall out or covers that can get bent in the bottom of a backpack. There are durable tablets available so that kids can drop the e-readers without breaking them.
The most important thing is to get children reading and to get them reading good books. Fiction has to have characters and an interesting plot. Children get this from the story itself, not the media. Harry Potter is still Harry Potter whether you’re reading about him in the familiar-smelling, dog-eared pages of the books you’ve had for years or whether you’re reading about him on a computer screen with the movie soundtrack emitting from the same computer. The same idea goes for nonfiction. Children’s nonfiction has to have information that keeps the child engaged and which the author explains on the child’s level. These qualities are things that both print books and e-books have in common. The goal is still the same – to get kids reading and interacting with language and information. Information is powerful no matter the media through which it is conveyed.
For more information on children’s e-books from Sylvan Dell, go to Amazon. Our e-books are $0.99 through the 18th of May.
Joanna Rossiter is the author of The Sea Change (her first novel). She grew up in Dorset and studied English at Cambridge University before working as a researcher in the House of Commons and as a copy writer. In 2011 she completed an MA in Writing at Warwick University. She lives and writes in London. Last week The Sea Change was announced as one of the Richard and Judy Summer 2013 Book Club titles. Here Joanna expands on some common misconceptions about the wonderful world of writers.
The Sea Change by Joanna Rossiter
1. Being an author is glamorous.
Before I had managed to write a book, I had an
image of what an author should be in my mind that was something akin to Ewan
McGregor in Moulin Rouge; sitting down melancholically in the middle of the
night at his type writer with the Eiffel Tower outside his window and, after a
sip of absinth, typing the words ‘This is a story about love’.
In reality, novels are rarely the results of
flashes of inspiration, although they may often begin this way. I like to think
of them as a long-standing marriage; the writer weds themselves to one
particular idea and then sticks with it through thick and thin, through romance
and conflict – times when they wish they could separate and times when they
feel like they want to do nothing else but spend time together. Sometimes
writing is a lonely business – to finish a book, authors must spend days and evenings
in a room on their own filling their head with made-up people. Often, there’s
little chance for genuine feedback until the book is complete and nobody except
the writer can see the full picture until the book is written. There is a lot of hard graft and very little
glamour, but it’s worth it for the satisfaction of a well-told story.
2. Authors are full of new ideas.
It has been said that all the plots in the world
can be summarized in one of two phrases: ‘A stranger comes to town’ or ‘a hero
leaves home’. Whilst I wouldn’t go this
far, I would argue that modern day culture places a lot of emphasis on
originality when, more often than not, stories are found rather than invented.
Shakespeare wrote most of his plays from stories he had come across elsewhere;
renaissance writers recognised that the talent of a writer lies not as much in
the chosen story but in the way that story is told.
3. Authors don’t read reviews of their own
Given than my first novel only
came out last Thursday, I have had very limited experience of this! However,
already I’m finding that the desire for feedback from readers has overtaken my
fear of reading a bad review. Authors spend long spells alone with their books
in order to get them written and it’s a joy when we finally get to meet people
who have read our books and hear what they have to say about them. Every writer
writes for a reader, whether they admit it or not.
Note from the Editor: You can read Richard and Judy's reviews of The Sea Change here.
4. Authors write word-perfect first drafts.
Novels are born out of an
enduring desire to persevere with an idea until it is fully realized on the
page. I spend far more time editing than
I do writing; for me, it’s the most satisfying part of creating a book. Once
the bones of the story are on paper, it’s a great feeling to be able to start
drawing out a structure and looking for the hidden meanings in each scene. I
often don’t know exactly what a story is trying to say until I have written a
first draft; the imagery and echoes and symbols that I want to build on
only become clear when I start to edit.
5. Authors never plan their books.
Even though a lot of a story’s nuances can’t
be determined until it is written, authors still put large amounts of time and
energy into planning their novels before they put pen to paper. The level of
detail varies from author to author but I would say that it’s almost impossible
to write an engaging novel without a plan to follow. Without a preconceived
plot structure, it is difficult to convince the reader early on in the novel
that you, the author, know where the story is going and have control over its
outcome. It’s like being on a rollercoaster; for the reader it’s great fun not
knowing where the twists and turns lie but the ride can only be enjoyed if the
reader is confident that the author has built a trustworthy track for the story
6. A book can be written in a month.
Initiatives like NaNoWriMo are a wonderful tool
for helping people get started on books and cultivating the commitment required
to finish them. However, they are also misleading in the perception they create
about novels. Contrary to what they suggest, I think it’s impossible to write
anything readable in a month (others may prove me wrong!). Novels, like wine,
need time to mature. They need to be laid to rest and then picked back up again
at a later date in order to be read and edited with a fresh, objective mind.
7. Having a story to tell is the only
ingredient required to write a book.
The most common response I get when I tell
people that I’m an author is not ‘what do you write about?’; it’s actually
something along the lines of ‘I’ve got a great idea for a novel myself; I’d
turn it into a book if I had the time.’
One of the wonderful things about writing is how accessible it is:
unlike paint or a musical instrument, language is a tool that the majority of
us use on a daily basis. As a result, there is an unspoken assumption that any
one of us could write a book if we had the time. I do believe that anyone can learn to craft a
good story, just like anyone can learn a musical instrument. However, there is
a craft involved and this craft takes more than time; it takes practice. You
wouldn’t expect someone who had never played the trumpet before to pick one up
and come out with perfect jazz. Similarly, stories require skill and
perseverance and they are as much a practiced art as music or sculpture.
8. If an author’s book is good enough, it will
There can be a lot of snobbery on
the side of published authors towards unpublished authors. And yet, the fact
that a certain author is published is not just down to the quality of their
writing; as a published author myself, I would be the first to admit that at
some point along the line, there is an element of chance involved. Editors are
inundated with manuscripts on a weekly basis. My own editor is sent ten
manuscripts from new authors via literary agents every week and, out of those
manuscripts, she publishes only three or four a year. There are far more
publishable manuscripts out there than there is scope for publishing them. A whole host of factors outside of a writer’s
hands go into the decision to publish a book: from the extent to which a story
resonates with the culture of the time to its appeal to a particular audience
to whether or not it complements the other books on that publisher’s list. As
much as editors want to nurture new talent, publishing is a profit making
venture and one eye always has to be kept on the ability of a book to generate
sales. Yes, there are plenty of
manuscripts that are turned down because they are poorly written but there are
also thousands that are rejected for reasons outside of an author’s control. A
large part of me does want to believe that a good book will always find a way through
9. Authors are creative types who don’t care
about the bottom line.
We all dream of making a living from the thing
we love to do the most and authors are no different. Whilst we can convince
ourselves that it isn’t about the sales, which writer would turn down the
chance to have a bestseller? With the move into the digital space squeezing the
amount of money a writer makes from each book, it’s not a career that is
entered into for financial security. In most cases, it’s a hand-to-mouth profession
that goes alongside a series of other day jobs.
However, writers, like everybody else, will (albeit sometimes secretly)
welcome the affirmation that good sales figures bring. Popularity is not always
seen as a good thing in the literary world: literature that is valuable and
literature that is popular are often viewed as being in contention with each
other. Yet, deep down, I don’t think any
author would turn their nose up at the prospect of more readers, a higher
profile for their writing and, yes, a royalty statement that doesn’t make you
want to weep into your green tea.
10. Novels are always, in some shape or form,
All authors ‘borrow’ aspects or experiences from
their own lives when they write. In order to create compelling characters,
writers often need to be able to relate to the characters themselves and this
can mean incorporating into them certain traits that we have seen in our own
lives or in others. Whilst stories have their root in the author’s personal
experience, they often grow into something else entirely. I’m a great believer
in readers forming the meaning of a story for themselves; it’s more about the
experiences that they bring to the page than it is about the author’s. In fact,
I as a writer can often only spot the resonances of a particular novel to my
own life once I have written it and become a reader myself. A good author can
present their reader with a carefully chosen set of ingredients that complement
each other; but, more often than not, it’s the reader who decides what to
In Animal Helpers: Sanctuaries you meet Lisa the pig, a 700 pound loveable animal that just got too big to stay with her owners. Sanctuary One’s newest resident pig Jigsaw is just as loveable and very smart. Just watch how well mannered this pig is:
Sanctuary One provides the community with a place to connect with nature and meet animals that children or adults may not have the opportunity to meet otherwise. They are very passionate and we hope you enjoy the video, and meeting them in the book Animal Helpers: Sanctuaries.
The Animal Helpers series by Jennifer Keats Cutis is a great way to introduce children to the challenges and rewards that a career helping animals entails. Each book in the series features work of special organizations and caretakers like Sanctuary One. These organizations are able to use the book as a fundraiser; it is expensive, and requires a lot of work to care for a farm of formerly homeless animals.
We at Sylvan Dell are happy to feature the great work of not only Sanctuary One, but also the other Animal Helpers. If you, or your children are interested in caring for animals there are organizations all across the country that need support and volunteers!
Looking for the best books for your kids and teens? Of course you are! Fortunately, the Canadian Children’s Book Centre (a national not-for-profit organization founded in 1976) publishes just such a list. And we’re thrilled to share that sixteen Orca titles made the list for Spring 2013.
“All of the titles in Best Books for Kids & Teens have been handpicked by expert committees of educators, booksellers, and school and public librarians from across Canada. The reviewed materials include picture books, junior/intermediate fiction, graphic novels, and powerful teen fiction, in addition to a wide array of non-fiction, magazines and audio/video resources.” —Canadian Children’s Book Centre website
The following Orca titles were selected for the list this season. Congratulations to all the authors on their achievement!
In addition to being the author of Sex & Violence, Carrie Mesrobian maintains a very funny Tumblr I’m not supposed to read:
But I do read it. I like the formula:
1. Find a picture of an attractive man. (The Internet haz these.)
2. Add a caption where he says something implausibly sensitive, solicitous, and/or witty about something you’ve done or that’s a source of consternation or whatever.
Even I can do it:
“Really. He made you watch that ugly old movie about freaks in nutcups beating up old men? Again? Forget about him. Tell me about those cowboy boots and Kenny Chesney’s mastery of the pentameter one more time?”
Except, apparently I failed on step one, because when I showed this to Carrie, she wrote, “Is that Kenneth Brannagh? Jesus.” (Maybe Dot Hutchison would have been more sympathetic.)
But maybe you can do better, and to incentivize you, I have five signed copies of Sex & Violence to give away to Carrie’s favorite entries. I’ll also give you a theme to focus your efforts:
Conversations with My Fake Boyfriend About My Real (or Fake) Editor
My example above would work as an entry for Carrie if she acknowledged Mr. Brannagh as fake boyfriend material (which she apparently does not). Submit your entry here. Carrie will pick winners on June 1.
As of this morning, I'm now an agent with Wernick & Pratt Agency LLC. Marcia and Linda were my colleagues, bosses, and mentors at my very first job, and I'm delighted to come full circle and work with them again. Visit me, and the agency, at www.wernickpratt.com.
The always provocative Cory Doctorow has a piece on book marketing that’s been making the rounds.
Much of it is smart. I have a few trivial quibbles that aren’t worth detailing. I’m sure he’s right about many of the things he has direct experience with (blurb-request spam), but I think he’s occasionally on thin ice in generalizing about things he doesn’t have direct experience of (inner workings of multiple publishing houses and how sales data gets reported).
There is one paragraph that I think deserves a close look. At least, it made me think hard (for which I thank him):
[A] few lucky times, I was able to score a few free minutes for a meal or a conversation with friends, and the number-one-champion frequently-asked-question they asked me was, ‘‘How is the book doing?’’
The honest answer to this is, ‘‘We’ll know in two to six months.’’ I mean, yes, Homeland was on the NYT bestseller list for four weeks, on the Indiebound bestseller list for three, and still carries a satisfyingly high Amazon sales rank, but none of this tells you anything particularly useful. Indiebound and BookSense tell publishers a bit about where books are selling, but compared to Internet businesses, publishers are almost entirely in the dark about their books. Even e-book reporting is frustratingly opaque: e-book retailers know which sites refer customers to their purchase pages, know those readers’ demographics and other purchases, understand which search terms direct the most traffic, and which subset of those terms generates the most sales. Publishers get little to none of this data. If I was negotiating with Amazon, Apple, Google, and Kobo, my top request would be realtime access to anonymized aggregate data from these services.
First, let us be thankful that publishers have bungled their negotiations with Amazon, otherwise Corey’s dinner guests would have their small-talk questions met with a stream of “anonymized aggregate data.”
More seriously, though: I don’t begrudge him the right to be frustrated about the relative opacity of sales reporting to authors (he’s wrong about publishers being in the dark—Bookscan?--but I’ll allow that even if he saw what we do know, he might still want more). But let’s consider a world of “realtime access to anonymized aggregate data from these services” for a moment. What would an author do with that data that’s better than what he’s doing now? What should I, a publisher, do with that data that’s better than what I’m doing now?
Can we entertain for a moment the possibility that a world where the best things an author can do after she’s finished a book are
a) go be an interesting, engaging person (note I didn’t write “salesperson”) in real and virtual communities of book lovers and
b) write another damn novel
is actually not a half bad world?
And similarly, let’s consider that a world where the best things an editor can do after he’s published a book are
a) go be an interesting, engaging person (note I didn’t write “salesperson”) in real and virtual communities of book lovers and
b) edit another damn novel
is also a pretty fine place to live.
I think Cory Doctorow is smart person who’s worth listening to on these subjects. (I think he does a pretty good job of succeeding in the world I mentioned above too.) And I also think data is good. I wouldn’t want to do my job without our many sales reporting tools (even the ones Doctorow seems to think I don’t have). I’m not naïve about where my paycheck comes from.
But I’m also not inclined to dismiss the elements of mystery and imprecision in measuring “how the book’s doing” at a given moment as bugs to be purged from the system with a fire hose blast of data. I have a sneaking suspicion the bug, as they say, might actually be a feature.
We hope you’re having a better hair-day than Maya who just can’t keep her hair under control. Luckily her grandma knows just how to tame it in Maya Was Grumpy. Find out how she does this by reading the full pdf here.
Eoin Colfer, the
internationally renown author of the Artemis Fowl series, is back in the
land of CRIME with a
follow-up to his acclaimed debut, Plugged.
On May 2, Overlook will publish Screwed, continuing the
Will Hammond is commissioning editor at Viking Books, and edited Rhidian Brook's emotional wartime thriller The Aftermath, out today. He assisted Brook during the process of turning his original film script and 60-page treatment into a novel; now, the journey is set to come full circle with the news that The Aftermath is to be adapted into a film. Here he argues why the story of The Aftermath is one that needed to be told as a novel, and examines why film-makers consistently look to the publishing industry for inspiration.
One way to
measure a novel’s success is to ask whether they’ve made a film of it yet. The Third Man, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, The Graduate: dozens of screen classics began life as Penguin
A film adaptation is a sign that a book has made its mark in the culture. And in
some exceptional cases, such as Rhidian Brook’s The Aftermath, a film is already in the works, despite the fact
that we are only publishing it today. Is this a sign that The Aftermath has some classic quality to it? What is this love affair between films and
When these film
adaptations hit the screen, the publisher will usually see a handy boost for
their author’s book. Hence Penguin’s tie-in editions of Victor Hugo’s epic Les Miserables,
Mohsin Hamid’s The Reluctant
Jonathan Safran Foer’s Extremely Loud and
Kathryn Stockett’s The Help. Watch
out next for the tie-in edition of The
Great Gatsby alongside Baz Luhrman’s remake.
For some reason, the experience of watching a film inspires people to seek out
the novel on which it was based. If they’ve enjoyed the experience in one form,
the other form presents an opportunity to enjoy it all over again in a
different way. The book leads to a film, which in turn leads back to the book.
then, that book editors are continually scouring for news of forthcoming film
adaptations in the hope of acquiring rights in novels that have films in the
works. One particularly canny colleague of mine at Viking acquired the UK publishing
rights in two books that last year became the films Argo and Lincoln.
If push comes to shove, a publisher might even commission a novelisation of a
film, which results in good books such as John Briley’s Cry Freedom on the one hand, and far more dubious creations on the other.
It doesn’t take
a great leap of imagination to understand why book publishers greet news of
film adaptations with relish. Happy the publisher of Life of Pi when that chicken came home to roost. Indeed, it’s now
almost expected that a big book launch comes with a film-style trailer, and
some of these, such as John le Carré’s this week, have such high production
values that you might be forgiven for mistaking them for actual film trailers.
Online, meanwhile, publishers need ways to communicate their verbal or written content visually: hence the
remarkable rise of Cognitive Media, famed for their RSA animates.
interesting is that just as often, it’s the film industry who look to the book
industry to take the lead, and not the other way round. Film scouts are
continually asking book editors what’s hot so they can pick up the film rights
in a book in advance of its publication. What is it that draws the film
industry time and again to books -- even those that seem to defy adaptation,
such as Cloud Atlas? What is it that
draws film-goers, who know how the story pans out, back to the original prose?
novel that Penguin is publishing this week illustrates the situation perfectly.
The Aftermath by Rhidian Brook is set
in British-occupied Hamburg
in 1946, a city utterly razed by the Allies’ ferocious bombing campaign of
It tells the story of Colonel Lewis Morgan, whose job it is to rebuild the
devastated city, and it begins with an extraordinary choice.
At its opening,
Lewis is awaiting the arrival from England of his grieving wife and
only remaining son. Like all British officers of the time, a large house has
been requisitioned for him and his family to live in. But rather than turf out
its owners, a German widower and his teenage daughter, forcing them into
billets, he decides, in a spirit of reconciliation, that the house is big
enough for both families. He decides that they will live together – with the
brilliant premise, spring-loaded with tension, and the story that unfolds from
it is intensely involving. It was on this premise that Viking – and eighteen
other publishers around the world – entered into highly competitive auctions to
acquire the rights to Rhidian Brook’s novel. For at that point, Rhidian Brook
had written only its first 60 pages.
But he had also
written a film script, based on the same premise, which had been commissioned
by Ridley Scott’s Scott Free Productions and was in development with BBC Films,
with the backing of one of the major global film distributors. It goes without
saying that, at this point, there was no guarantee that the film would ever be
made. But once a deal for the novel was in place, it would take exceptional
circumstances to prevent the book from being published. The possibility of the
film no doubt played a part in publishers’ interest in the novel, but no
publisher would acquire a book purely on the basis that a film of it might be
in the works. It was the brilliant premise, conveyed in 60 brilliant pages of
prose, that had everyone convinced – not the script.
his writing career as a novelist, Rhidian Brook had long wanted to write the
story of The Aftermath as a novel.
But having turned his attention to screenwriting over the last ten years, it
was as a film script that the opportunity finally presented itself. In the
event, Rhidian Brook’s agent convinced him to put the script to one side after
a first draft, and to tell the story in the form in which he had first
conceived it – to write those fateful 60 pages. So was this a case of a publisher
acquiring rights in the book of a film? Or was it actually a case of a film
producer taking an option on a novel in progress? Which came first, the book or
The answer is
neither. What came first was that extraordinary choice: a choice that Rhidian
Brook’s own grandfather made as a British army officer when he was himself
based in Hamburg
after the war, when he decided that his family would share their home with a
German family. It was a choice that had lodged itself in Rhidian Brook’s mind
many years ago as the beginning of a story that had to be told.
Palahniuk points out in his essay ‘The Guts Effect’,
prose has a power all of its own, as he found when reading his short story
which had the alarming effect of inducing vomiting and fainting in some of his
listeners. When reading (or hearing) prose, the action takes place in our heads
– not on a screen in front of us. It’s an invasion of our minds. When reading
of Colonel Morgan’s choice in prose, we feel that we are making it ourselves.
no doubt attracted, for quite straightforward commercial reasons, to books that
are made into films. But as with all readers, perhaps what attracts film-makers
to books is the experience of inhabiting a character’s mind entirely – the
experience, in fact, of experience itself.
The Aftermath is available to buy from today in hardback and e-Book formats.
On May 5th, around the United States and Mexico, colorful decorations will hang, mariachi bands will play, and people will party in the street to celebrate Cinco de Mayo. This holiday celebrates Mexican culture – the music, the traditions, the food, but why, exactly, are we celebrating on this day? Some people think that Cinco de Mayo marks the day when Mexico became independent from Spain, or when the Mexican Civil War ended. Nope! Actually, Cinco de Mayo celebrates a battle in a war that Mexico lost!
Mexico had a tough start as a country, enduring war after war, first against America in 1846, then against themselves in the Mexican Civil War. When all this was over, the country had spent so much on war that there was very little money for regular people to spend in their lives; in other words, the economy was hurt. As countries sometimes do, Mexico borrowed money from other nations in order to help itself. And, as friends sometimes do when you borrow a toy or book from them, those countries got tired of waiting for Mexico to give their property back and came over to collect. No, their moms didn’t drive them over in the van or anything like that; fleets of warships representing England, Spain and France crossed the Atlantic Ocean, entered the Mexican coastline and demanded that Mexico pay them back.
Mexico didn’t have the money to pay them though! What’s a young country to do?! All they had were vouchers to give to the representatives from these countries, papers that double-super-promised to someday pay them back. This satisfied England and Spain and they went home, but to France, this meant war! Sacre bleu!
Under the command of Napoleon III, France invaded Mexico with the intention to totally control it. They marched from the coastline to Mexico City, and on the way passed the small Mexican state of Puebla. The Mexican soldiers at Puebla were vastly outnumbered, but in this fight on May 5, 1862, called La Batalla de Puebla, Mexico somehow overcame the odds and defeated the French forces! Now that’s reason to celebrate!
France eventually managed to occupy Mexico, but they were delayed a whole year by this surprising Mexican victory. The shocking, underdog victory at Puebla has come to symbolize the Mexican spirit of resilience and tenacity. Therefore, on its anniversary every year, Mexico and places with many people of Mexican descent play Cumbia music, wave the Mexican flag, eat tamales, hit pinatas, and generally celebrate all things Mexico!
Of course, at Sylvan Dell we celebrate Mexican people and culture every day! Each and every one of our dozens of titles are available in Spanish, such as Los árboles de globos and La naturaleza recicla—¿Lo haces tú? and El detective deductive!