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Literary agenting is changing at a rapid pace, and perhaps only those bold enough to set up digital imprints, represent self publishing clients, and collaborate with Amazon will survive. Authoright’s Ben Wood spoke to maverick agent Hellie Ogden of Janklow & Nesbit about embracing new ideas.

Hellie Ogden is part of the modern literary agent vanguard. Far from the stereotypical ivory-towerdwelling author representative, Ogden is accessible to unpublished authors, meeting them at literary festivals, dishing out advice in media interviews, and even propositioning potential clients through social media. Recently, Hellie spotted the popular sweet-toothed blogger The Little Loaf on Twitter and cornered her there and then, “Do you have a lit agent Kate? I’d love to chat…” “Ha – you saw that!” Hellie laughs. “I regularly use Twitter to make contact with potential clients and I’m always on the lookout for exciting new blogs. Things have definitely changed – it is so much easier to track someone down! Twitter is also a great barometer for what’s trending as I’m keen to find projects with a large social following and cross-media potential.” So has everything changed in a world where everyone has become their own publisher, whether that’s in the micro form of social media or by self publishing their latest eBook? “Things are shifting at an incredible pace but the most important thing remains the same – finding that talent and getting it out to a wide audience. How people are reading has changed but finding those brilliant storytellers is still my priority. Making sure all digital opportunities are explored is really important – that includes making sure eBooks are available for all my titles and also encouraging my clients to use social

media to help with publicity. It’s about thinking ahead and getting the most out of every single book. “There has of course been great success with self published authors finding traditional publishers too. Keeping an eye on self published authors has become much more of a priority, but I wouldn’t take something on in this way if I didn’t feel as passionately about it as I do my other projects – it’s still got to tick all the boxes.” It’s very common to hear literary agents talking about having to ‘love’ the books they work with, but a quick stroll around your local chain store will inevitably raise questions as to how this can always possibly be the case. Were the agents at author-brand powerhouse The Blair Partnership struck down by the literary genius of Frank Lampard’s children’s novels? Did they nurture his writing talent as they might have approached the next Roald Dahl? I doubt it. Their approach isn’t exactly cynical, it’s just brutally business-focused. Thankfully there are plenty of agents, Ogden among them, who believe that business acumen and common sense can co-exist with a genuine passion for a new author. “Because of the importance I place in doing lots of editorial work prior to submitting a project it has to be a project I really believe in and that really excites me. We spend months preparing a book, talking about the book, helping with publicity plans – how can you do that with genuine feeling if it doesn’t mean anything to you on a personal level? We don’t take on heaps of debuts at Janklow – just the projects that we feel passionately



about so we have the time to do everything possible to make that book a success.” Hellie’s commitment to a client is what characterises a great literary agent; while every agent will have a long list of writers on their books, the best make every author feel like they are the only one, the absolute centre of their attention. Agents have to be there as not only a representative but a sympathetic ear, a sounding board for ideas, and a source of good advice. It was this unique relationship that first inspired Hellie, at that point interning at Pan Macmillan, to become a literary agent. “I enjoyed observing that very special agent/ author relationship and I really wanted to be the one finding those debut authors and nurturing material right from the very beginning through to publication and beyond.” The first author Hellie discovered was crime novelist Clare Donoghue. “Clare took an MA in creative writing at Bath Spa and I read an extract from her crime novel in that year’s anthology. You could see instantly that she was a very special writer so I got in touch and asked for the full manuscript. The ideas were all there but we worked for a few months editing the material ready for publishers – you only get one chance with this so editing work is something I take very seriously. Clare responded to my thoughts brilliantly and we soon had a polished manuscript ready to send out to editors in the UK in the run up to the Frankfurt Book Fair – timing is everything. Macmillan ended up snapping up two books at auction and we quickly secured deals in the US and Holland too. The Watcher will be published March 2014 and it’s now time for jacket decisions and publicity plans – the fun stuff!” This hands-on approach with clients means that Hellie works incredibly hard. Love it or loathe it, in the world of agents and publishers ‘pressing the flesh’ still counts for a lot, and long working lunches by literary agents quickly translate into benefits for the authors they represent. But balancing the needs of existing clients with searching for new literary talent means a full schedule. “I get in around 8.30 and I will start the day looking at new submissions that have come in overnight – you need to be quick. If I’m intrigued by a cover note

I will have a glance at the pages sent through and if I like what I see I will request the full manuscript. I’ll then check emails, dealing with any client queries first off, and that might be discussing potential jackets, publicity plans, edits or perhaps looking at photographs for my cook books or looking through a contract. It’s different every day. I will also spend time each day developing new material ready to submit to publishers and throughout all of this I will be liaising with my UK and US colleagues – we all work very closely. I might try and grab a lunch or coffee with an editor as relationships are key and I can pitch my new books or I will be meeting up with potential clients. In the evenings I will often try and have drinks with editors or other agents – publishing is a tight community! I take on only projects I really care about so I’m careful with my time and, I hope, get the balance right supporting my current list and finding new talent.” That talent comes in many different forms. The Twitter approach is a new method of finding the next bestseller, as is following the Amazon self publishing charts, but the good old-fashioned ‘slush pile’ of literary agent submissions is still incredibly powerful for the few that get picked up. This means that, as an author, getting your query letter right is paramount. “I’m sent a huge amount of submissions every week and it’s amazing how many cover letters seem to be written in haste. Getting a book published is increasingly difficult and publishers are looking for very sellable pitches. Pitch that book right to me in the first instance and you’ll have my attention immediately. I sold at auction a thriller, Eeny Meeny by MJ Arlidge, to Penguin earlier this year and knew from just the concise, one-page pitch and first twenty pages of the manuscript that I was dealing with a very special author. His voice shone through instantly and it was clear he was an ambitious guy who wanted help building a successful writing career – don’t be afraid of outlining, briefly, plans for future books. Biggest turn-off is spelling my name wrong.” Hellie Ogden is looking for series crime, psychological thrillers, commercial women’s fiction, young adult debuts and accessible literary fiction. She enjoys novels with exotic settings, bold twists and enticing protagonists. Email her directly:

Do you have a lit agent Kate? I’d love to chat...





The author and performer Rohan Quine explains why he’s harnessing the multimedia power of video, audio and photography to accompany the telling of one of 2013’s most intriguing novels. In his recent Guardian review of my novel The Imagination Thief Dan Holloway was putting the book’s text in the cross-hairs of an alarmingly well-read gaze. By itself, this isn’t so very unusual in the context of professional journalism and literary criticism. In his case, however, it is accompanied by something less common, which the journalist or reviewer or reader is having to engage with, in tandem with the text. I knew Dan would approach my book with an open mind because of the writers he has published and the reviews he has written: adventurous tastes that are equally at home with all literary forms, from the most to the least traditional. This feat of being equally at home with all forms is achieved, because those adventurous tastes are driven by a single powerful engine that prevents them from getting alarmed by the presence of any unusual forms or any blurring of literary categories or any extremity of subject matter (not that any of these things are compulsory either). This hidden engine is the search for artistic truth, whether this be loud or quiet, grand or modest, rude or composed. Artistic truth – which illuminates and challenges and stretches and complicates us, aside from entertaining or inspiring us – can be discovered peering out at us from within any formal structure it chooses, like some alert animal gaze we might notice staring out at us from among the details of rocks and vegetation in a landscape. The structure of the den from which this gaze peeps out may be experimental or classic; the gaze may or may not aim to problematise its own den’s structure, and those startling animal eyes may stare at us with any colour

of iris or shape of adjacent animal snout. But whatever those variables may be, its status as such a gaze of artistic truth remains the same. So the adventurousness of those above-mentioned tastes is revealed as both simpler and greater than mere eclecticism or love of novelty: for its in-built ‘adventure’ is the restless quest for truth itself. Everyone should create what they want to and consume what they want to. I enjoy a bunch of different stuff, and I’m glad we’re all different in our interests and outputs. But in writing fiction, it would seem I’m daft enough to be motivated by the following instead:

1 2 3

How can I illuminate the world, to the best of my abilities, using language in new and old ways, and thereby leave the world infinitesimally better than it was before I did so? How can I aim and attune my ears as clearly as possible to whatever my/our highest artistic potential is, then bring down the richest results from that place, then give those results the truest and most beautiful form I can create? How can what I write take an honest account of the darkness and pain in the world, while at the same time being a vote for life (maybe even an absolute blast of fun, along the way)?

Fun is important, by the way, for me as well as the reader. What I write isn’t intended to be especially plot-driven and there aren’t a whole load of cliff-hangers,




because its rhythm is different from that (it’s a rhythm that can accommodate a bit of non-linear dipping and diving, if you wish) – but there’s a lot of fun in there, of the serious fun kind, to anyone inclined to bring a bit of focus to the party. So on to The Imagination Thief. There are four completed novellas in the publication pipeline at the moment, to emerge later in 2013. The first two of these are code-named the London novella and the Dubai novella, and there are sizzly tasters of them on my website. All four will comprise a sequence of those familiar things that most fiction comprises: rectangular paragraphs of text. At the centre of the novel there is also a series of paragraphs of text which stands alone and selfsufficient. That’s how the novel began; and if text is all you want, then that’s absolutely all you need. As an option, however, there is also a bunch of fun and frolic in video/audio/photographic form, which you can consume alongside the text – or even instead of it, if you like. Although these rich media are optional, they are nevertheless tightly integrated with the text in conceptual terms, rather than being stuck onto that text or being just an online bonus. Dan Holloway’s version of the above-mentioned search for artistic truth or coherence is a sharp-eyed and incorruptible one, so I was glad when his review mentioned my interlocking of text and the other media as helping not only to tell the story but also to embody and exemplify it directly: ‘In a too-familiar story, [The Imagination Thief ] was scheduled to be published by a mainstream publisher who went under before they could bring it to press. It’s a novel that’s available on Amazon as an eBook, and one of those genre-defying blends of literary fiction and other genres – in this case fantasy/thriller […] blends form and content superbly (the common thread of great self publishing). He has created video and audio content for each of the 120 chapters in the books, which you can peruse on his website and in the eBook. For many books this would be ersatz and more than a little annoying. But for this story of Jaymi, who has the power to see into other people’s imaginations, and his playful-turned-terrifying tour through New York’s physical and mental recesses, this offers the perfect blend of immersion and voyeurism.’ The exact ways in which the text and the rich media are conceptually interlocked and reflect each other are described in a piece called ‘A proliferation of lenses’, in which I go all Sartre-explains-Genet, disappearing several times up my own conceptual posterior. This piece includes a list of ten kinds of lens, ranging from the most physical lens to the most conceptual one, that echo and refract one another across The Imagination Thief as a whole. It’s somewhat tongue-in-cheek, but it’s basically serious too, and it’s all true – honest! A good number of rich-media rabbit-holes are also available at the on-site hub for all the Tumblr links and Wattpad links and Audio-Book links on my website. Since eBooks can now contain such things more


easily, I dare say this kind of shenanigans will probably become more frequent within novels, as an option for readers. But good old-fashioned rectangular paragraphs of text will tend to remain at the core of it all, I should think. That text has to bear the weight of all other media that may shoot up from it, and it will always have to withstand the same scrutiny it has always been subjected to. In the website’s ‘Video-Book & Films’ menu, The Imagination Thief ’s Video-Book and Films can be accessed on the web pages for the novel’s ten Parts numbered I–X but the Films’ equivalent passages of text are all right beside them in that same ‘Video-Book & Films’ menu. For me, text remains Empress; but Empresses don’t get much privacy and they can never be lazy.


UNCONVENTIONAL N O VE L ROHAN quine’s multimedia ebook contains:

11 films 240 still PHOTOS


text chapters


3 marketing videos AUDIOBOOK OF EACH CHAPTER 9


LOUIS DRESNER In the 1950s, Pop Art was born. It represented an attempt to move away from the elitism of fine art, creating visually stimulating works that were broadly accessible. Pop Art mimicked capitalist mass culture not just in its style and subject matter, but also in its method of production; pop artists would use assembly lines to mass produce their artwork. It marked the birth of cultural manufacturing designed specifically with the consumer in mind. It’s a concept we’re seeing all the more frequently in publishing today. Building on the legacy of Pop Art, the second half of the 20th century saw the music industry dominated by manufactured pop music, which reached new heights of artifice when a team of music agents invented the Spice Girls. Their creation was intended purely to serve a particular section of the market – young girls; each member of the group


PATTERSON EMPLOYS A METHOD HE HAS PREVIOUSLY CALLED THE 'FICTION FACTORY’... was very distinct, with her own personality, so that submarkets could be targeted across a broad crosssection of pre-teens. Pop stars by focus group. The music was always intended more to be catchy and addictive than artistically expressive. In short, much of pop culture was – and still is – geared towards making money. It is often said that the publishing industry is about a decade behind the music and film industries and that is certainly the case when it comes to this socalled manufactured content. Of course, publishers have always sought to make a profit, but only in the last ten or fifteen years have we seen the industry specifically catering to the consumer – an agreement which allowed books to be sold in supermarkets marked a real watershed moment – with creative freedom and artistic licence being pushed to the back

burner. One early proponent of ‘writing for the market’ was James Patterson, the thriller, romance and now young adult novelist, who has written over seventy bestsellers. Patterson, who had a long career in advertising before becoming a fiction writer, has churned out an impressive, almost unbelievable, number of titles each year. He employs a method he has previously called the ‘fiction factory’; the parallels with Motown and contemporary pop music are uncanny. Patterson devises between thirty and fifty story ideas every year, and gives each of his team of co-writers a selection of these plot lines to develop, stepping in every few chapters to see how they are progressing. If an idea isn’t working they’ll scrap that book and move on to the next one. Patterson’s fiction factory has produced an average of around seven

HE GIVES EACH OF HIS TEAM OF CO-WRITERS A SELECTION OF PLOT LINES TO DEVELOP, STEPPING IN EVERY FEW CHAPTERS TO SEE HOW THEY ARE PROGRESSING. about his mass production method when the author first created his production line in the mid-’90s, but millions of dollars later, they’re convinced. Usually confined to the business side of the book world, this profit-driven approach is gradually being adopted by the whole industry when it comes to the creative side too. The boundaries between the art of book-writing and the business of book-selling are becoming blurred. The establishment and explosion of ideas factories is one trend which highlights this change and Working Partners is one such company that epitomises the concept. Founded in 1994, Working Partners employs a team of editors and marketers who brainstorm ideas for children’s books and then pass them across to teams of writers to flesh out and finish. They don’t just think about the types of story or characters which will appeal to a large audience,


books a year for the last decade. He never fails to heap praise on his obviously talented team of co-writers, but for Patterson a page-turning plot trumps stylistic writing every time, and is key to each book’s success. In an interview with The Guardian a few years ago Patterson explained that, “it’s a very different process than if you’re trying to write Moby Dick, or The Corrections. That’s painful. That’s different from very simple, plot-oriented storytelling.” Clearly he accepts that there is a distinction between mass produced popular fiction, whose focus tends to be on the plot, and higher-brow literary fiction, which can value style over substance or dynamism. But Patterson sees no shame in being a pop author, and why should he? After all, he’s one of the wealthiest and most widely read authors in the world. Patterson’s publisher wasn’t quite so sure




there is a focus on establishing a brand too, a franchise which they can sell to publishers. Since they were established, Working Partners has created some of the best known children’s book series, including Animal Ark, Rainbow Magic and Beast Quest. This type of simple, repeatable, market-proven content is appealing to big publishers who, in times of turbulence, are looking to invest in known quantities rather than take a risk on something less certain. By owning a franchise such as this, the publisher need only pay a fee to those who write each book whilst retaining the rights themselves; again this means more profits. The success in recent years of multiplatform franchises like Angry Birds and Moshi Monsters suggests that publishers will continue to look to brands and other cultural spaces like these in future.

Any decent publisher must think commercially if they are to succeed. But the act of commissioning stories, tailoring content to the market and favouring brands over quality writing seems to be more common than it once was. The celebrity book market has been expanded as the famous have now become infamous for lending their names to ghost-written children’s novels, cookbooks and style guides, rather than just publishing their memoirs now and then. As big publishers look to keep their profits up during a time of flux, and with masses of data about consumers’ reading habits now available to them, it seems logical that we will see a rise in ‘Pop Lit’. New technologies now exist, for example, that allow publishers to track the page on which a reader gives up on a book. This could allow them to devise a generic template for each type of novel; a crime thriller should have


a murder before page 50, for example. Just look at how uniform pop songs have become – the same length, structure and style, the same reference points, the same sacrificing of individual talent and voice in favour of what is almost guaranteed to appeal to the mass market – and you will see the future of books: Pop Lit. Is it clever, witty and business genius? Or is it depressing, mundane and utterly devoid of personality or finesse? As the big publishers continue to focus on the commercially obvious choices – celebrity titles, franchises and manufactured pop fiction tailored to the consumer – it may be left to indie authors and smaller publishing houses to really push the boundaries and lead the way towards new literary horizons. And where the good stories go, the reader will follow.


The Curly Haired Girl Who Knows Everything Trashing covers, befriending customers and knowing the children’s book market inside out: Authoright’s Diana Rissetto looks back at her time at Barnes & Noble and reveals why a bookseller’s personal touch means everything in retail.

It was my first job outside of baby-sitting, and to an eighteen-year-old kid who wanted to be a writer – and who at any given time was given to carrying five novels around in her bag – working at Barnes & Noble was a lot like working in the Wonderful Land of Oz. My first week didn’t go too well. I was put on a cash register – my first time ever – on a rainy Saturday afternoon in June and I messed-up. I’m not sure how… I think it was some mistake with a gift card, which resulted in my register being short. I wept to the manager that I would never make this mistake again, knowing if I lost this job, it would break my heart. She wasn’t the warmest person and told me that if I did make this mistake again, I wouldn’t be there much longer. After this incident, I’d always be a nervous wreck in that woman’s presence. But in spite of the nerves, I decided I’d show her. I stayed at Barnes & Noble for over five years.




Photo: Flickr user See-ming Lee. Share alkie

You grow up a lot between eighteen and twentyfour. I grew-up a lot in Barnes & Noble. Since the cash register was clearly not my forte but being perky and helpful was, the managers decided to relocate me to the children’s department, which quickly became my home. I loved recommending all of my old books, ones I had enjoyed as a child, to customers. I was always so happy knowing that Ramona, Fudge and Laura Ingalls were still being read by the next generation of kids, and I had an excuse to read all the new young readers’ books myself. Many times a customer would come in the back and say something like, “I was told to come back here and see the Curly Haired Girl Who Knows Everything. I guess that’s you?” I was the Curly Haired Girl Who Knew Everything. And I loved it. People who work in bookstores get to wear costumes a lot. As the only staff member who was a young-looking college student with big, crazy hair, I was naturally the choice to dress up as Hermione Granger for every single Harry Potter party we had while I was there. I sometimes think back to those ‘Midnight Madness’ release events – where book buyers queue around the block in the middle of the night in order to purchase the book before anyone else – and I’m just so happy that I actually made it out alive! We also would get to dress up in animal costumes for Celebrity Appearances (Clifford, The Cat in the Hat, Madeline). Sadly, there was a height requirement for those costumes, which I didn’t quite

meet. Curious George outfits have been known to kill those under 5’4’’. Embracing the Wizard of Oz motif I did get to wear a Dorothy Gale costume every time I had to work on Halloween. Community, interaction with readers, making books fun; that’s what we all did best. My all-time favourite customer never once came into the store. She used to call us every Sunday (we later learned that this was because her local library was closed on Sundays and she called them the other six days of the week) and would ask us for advice. She apparently really trusted book people. That was always the most important aspect of the job for me; that my recommendations would prompt total strangers to engage with the books I loved myself. My co-workers would automatically hand her over to me. I was the only one who would be nice to her. One time, she even called and told me her daughter told her it was rude that she called us so much and that she should stop doing it. She asked me if I agreed with her daughter. Of course, I told her I didn’t. What if we were all she had? Once, towards the end of August when the annual ‘My Kid Hasn’t Even Started Her Summer Reading’ panic began to set in, a mother pulled me aside and asked if I ever did any work ‘on the side’. When I asked her what she meant, she wanted to know if I could write her kid’s book report on The Devil’s Arithmetic. She would pay me $200 for it. The Devil’s Arithmetic is a very dark, Holocaust story. I thought about this for a second. What if I took the $200 (in cash, so there could be no paper trail) and wrote a book report for this child in which I repeatedly stressed that this was the ‘FUNNIEST book I had EVER read’? That would teach somebody and their mother a lesson! Similarly, I was asked for Sparknotes for Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl. I actually responded to that one with, “You DO know a 15-year-old girl wrote this book, right?”

When The Passion of the Christ was in movie theatres I STAFF recommended the Bible and wrote on the little card



Everybody who lives in Monmouth County, New Jersey has their own ‘My Encounter With Mr Bruce Springsteen’ story. He and Jon Bon Jovi are the neighbourhood’s most famous residents and both frequently shopped at our store. (I remember cleaningup Berenstain Bear books after the littlest Bongiovi once.) And none of us ever forgot the time Bruce came in and bought a stack of books… about himself. He seemed a bit self-conscious about his purchase and explained to the cashier, “There are just SO many great pictures of the guys in here from twenty-five years ago!” Queen Latifah came in once and had our Member card with her. Even Mama Morton likes a bargain! Much to my horror, as a writer myself, I learned that many books that were not sold were ripped of their covers and thrown into the recycling bin. I will never forget the first time I had to rip a cover off of a book. Was this what it felt like to euthanize an animal? After a while, I got over it and realized that ‘stripped books’ meant ‘free books’ and I just started taking everything


I could home in an effort to save them. Almost ALL books get stripped at some point… even Harry Potter. Even books on Oprah’s Book Club list. The OBC list is a whole different topic; the power Oprah Winfrey had over getting people to read was alarming. I think some people were under the impression that Oprah Winfrey actually wrote The Grapes of Wrath. We had a Staff Recommendation shelf. I’m proud to say that I never once missed a month. When ‘The Passion of the Christ’ was in movie theatres, I staffrec’d the Bible and wrote on the little card, ‘Now a HIT FILM!’ I stayed at Barnes & Noble throughout college and for nearly two years after while I looked for that famous First Real Job. I would later learn that retail just IS a real job, and a very hard one at that. Quitting that store was one of the hardest things I had ever done in my life, and I never felt sadder to leave someplace as I did when I left that job… even though I was going someplace great! New York City, to work in a Broadway office. I would go see every show for free while I worked there, and go to the Tony awards, but I still would truly miss Barnes & Noble. At least six couples that I worked with that had met at the bookstore ended up marrying. I think it’s easy to fall in love when your backdrop is some of the greatest love stories of all time. Sadly, the store closed, and moved about a mile away. It has a Starbucks now, something that customers had always asked for. The couches are cleaner and the store is generally a lot classier looking. I still stop by, and many of the same people are still working there, but it’s not the same. I have worked in retail since then, and I think that there is always a very special little bond you develop with your co-workers while working in a store. At certain other retail jobs you bond with colleagues out of commiseration and exhaustion, but things were different at the bookstore. Everybody there was there because they LOVED books and, for me, that’s what makes a good bookseller; a genuine love of literature of all kinds and a strong desire to share, inform and celebrate. I noticed that a Buy Buy Baby is in Barnes & Noble’s old location, and the first time I saw its new sign I automatically remembered that line from ‘You’ve Got Mail’: “I own a store, did I ever tell you that? It’s a lovely store, and in a week it will be something really depressing, like a Baby Gap. Soon, it’ll just be a memory.” I want bookstores to revive and to thrive, to embrace change and to keep doing what they do best, the stuff that doesn’t translate online; a passionate, personal service that unites readers in their love of books. Diana is now Assistant Marketer at Authoright.




TOM CANTY KATY GARLAND When Tom Canty decided to quit his job as an event tester for a stag weekend agency, despite its sounding to us like the job of most men’s dreams, he was blissfully unaware of the economic downtown which was about to hit the UK. After finally plucking up the courage to pursue a more rewarding career path, he was suddenly thrust into a world of unemployment and was forced to move back in with his parents; to make matters worse he wound up with a chronic medical condition leaving him unable to eat properly. But what originally felt like a profound set back actually provided Tom with the idea for his debut novel. Wanting to draw on his experience as a disappointed and frustrated graduate unable to get started in the career of his dreams, he threw himself into the writing


process and his book was ready in just eight months. Getting the book published, as so many writers can emphasise, wasn’t an easy ride. Rejection came thick and fast and even when Tom’s gastric problem was misdiagnosed, leaving him bed-bound for months, he refused to give up. Unemployed, penniless and poorly, but with hope intact, he continued to search for a publishing contract. Luck came his way when his literary agent decided to set up his own publishing company, and offered Tom an attractive deal. Clapham Lights is a story that many young people in today’s economic gloom can relate to. For aspiring authors, it proves that with persistence, hope, talent and spirit you can achieve what at first may seem impossible. What advice would you give to someone considering leaving their job in order to follow their dreams? If you are going to quit and

do something different, you have to be 100% committed and willing to make sacrifices. You also have to be realistic about your capabilities and consider how your decision may affect your partner, family and friends. At twenty-six, I had few commitments and a supportive girlfriend and family. At thirty-one, I may not have followed the same path. You drew on your experience of a disenchanted graduate for Clapham Lights. What do you think the future holds for graduates coming out of uni now? And what do you think the government should be doing to help them? I feel sympathy for today’s graduates as the competition for jobs is huge and a degree guarantees little. Many of them, particularly those from less well-off backgrounds, are in an impossible situation; without a degree their chances of landing a good job are severely diminished but equally they could study hard


for three years and find themselves unemployed and with a mountain of debt. Young people should be allowed to make mistakes and change their minds but all the advice I read seems to urge them to choose a career path as early as possible and stick to it. What you want to be at seventeen could completely change by twenty-one, and the idea that life should be about accumulating experiences to put on your CV to impress middle-aged corporate HR managers is too depressing for words. The government could offer businesses incentives to take on more grads but the reality is that without a buoyant economy, the job market will be tough. I choose to study English at university because I studied English at A-level, so studying it at university seemed the natural choice. I had a lot of fun at uni but I didn’t get as much out of my degree course as I had hoped to. Literary theory and the surgical dissection of texts didn’t excite me and I dedicated most of my time to boosting the profits of the student union bar and playing rugby. You’re traditionally published through Silvertail Books; was self publishing ever an option for you? My route to getting published was unconventional as Silvertail Books was started by my former agent and prior to that the number of publishers I approached was in double figures. I came very

close to a deal after doing re-writes for a big publisher and two other well-known publishing houses asked for first refusal on my next book but ultimately, before my deal with Silvertail, a number of rejections. I didn’t consider self publishing as I was confident of getting published through the traditional channels and I felt I didn’t have the money or expertise to do everything myself successfully. Clapham Lights tells the story of young people’s attempts to find personal and professional success, capturing life in noughties London. Were many of your friends in the same position as you? Many of my friends worked for companies where any discontent was often sweetened by a bonus or the prospect of a promotion, whereas I was in a dead-end copywriting job and had ambitions of doing something more creative and stimulating. Today most of my friends are settled in their careers, though not all of them love what they do. Which authors were your main source of inspiration when writing the book? David Lodge, Malcolm Bradbury and Alan Sillitoe all inspired me to write, with a bit of Martin Amis and BS Johnson in the mix somewhere. My favourite modern day author is Michel Houellebecq and of all time, it’s F

Scott Fitzgerald. My favourite book – The Great Gatsby. Since the release of Clapham Lights, are you now working as a full-time writer? I’m a full-time writer by default. I’m working on a second book – a comedy about a man forced to marry his girlfriend by his girlfriend’s father – and I’ve also cowritten a sitcom that has just been taken on by a production company. I do some freelance copywriting and am working on scripts for television at the moment but when they’re done I’ll be back to looking for a fulltime job. I split my time between my girlfriend’s flat and my parents’ house. Despite writing a book based around Clapham, I’ve never actually lived there but I knew a lot of people who did and I socialised there a lot. What advice would you give to writers who are just starting out? Be self-critical and keep rewriting. If you think your first or second draft is good enough to send off to agents, you’re either a genius or deluded, and you’re probably not a genius. Finish whatever you start – nobody is interested in half a novel or a third of a script. Also, if you haven’t got a thick skin, grow one, as you will get rejected. Tom Canty is the author of Clapham Lights, published by Silvertail Books, £9.74 paperback, £1.79 Kindle eBook



T O CO L OR SCH OL September means only one thing for children: going back to school. Gone is the freedom of summer, replaced by routine and bedtime curfews. But there are plenty of books around that should make bedtime reading a thing to savour. Here’s our selection of all-time kid classics and new releases.

THE CLASSICS The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe CS Lewis

It goes without saying that the image brought about by the Pevensie children climbing into that old wardrobe and entering the magical world of Narnia leaves a lasting impression. The story follows the extraordinary journey that Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy embark upon when they are evacuated from London during the Blitz. Strong character, right and wrong, good and evil and a talking lion combine to make this one of the most evocative children’s novels of all time. CS Lewis also inspired kids the world over to search the backs of their own wardrobes in the desperate hope of falling into a fantasy world full of mythical creatures, including the scarf-wearing man-faun, Mr Tumnus.


Roald Dahl


Every child in the world should read Roald Dahl in order to help them understand that grown-ups are not always nice and that it’s totally acceptable to trust a giant with massive ears. Dahl’s remarkable knack for modern morality tales is infectious, naughty, tender and hilarious all at once. Matilda follows the story of a little girl who learns she is gifted and worthy of magical powers, whilst growing up with her mean and unloving parents. This fearless child discovers the wonderful world of books and their power to transport us to other worlds when we feel so alone in our own. Matilda’s popularity has known no bounds; it was adapted as an audio book, a BBC TV programme, a Hollywood film and, latterly, a celebrated West End and Broadway musical which is set to tour the US and Australia.


Winnie-the-Pooh and House at Pooh Corner


AA Milne

Pooh Bear is one of the most recognisable children’s book characters anywhere in literature, anywhere in the world, and Winnie-the-Pooh follows his adventures alongside his friends Piglet, Eeyore, Owl, Rabbit, Kanga and Roo; we only welcome the introduction of Tigger the tiger in the sequel, The House at Pooh Corner. Our love of the characters was undoubtedly the reason why we all wanted to believe that our toys and teddies were real, and led their own wonderful little lives when we weren’t looking.

THE UP AND COMING The Witch’s Assistant Patrick Coombes

Franklin and his owner, Dot, are an odd couple; while most witches at Templeton Towers are stern and ugly, with brutish cats as their helpers, Dot is a kind and pretty witch and her assistant, Franklin, is a bespectacled bat. Franklin tries hard to help Dot but he is forever dropping her magical ingredients, perpetually hindered by his awkward posture and allround clumsiness. Franklin is regularly scolded by the other, nasty, witches for his incompetence until one day, embarrassed by his failings, he decides to leave Dot’s service. But when Franklin hears an intruder entering Templeton Towers he has a chance to redeem himself, and quickly discovers that his apparent flaws are in fact his hidden strengths. Patrick Coombes is an artist from Cardiff who has dedicated much of his life to working with disadvantaged youngsters. He hopes to spread a message of tolerance between children – and between adults – in this delightful novel.



The Crowded Kingdom Louella Dizon San Juan

Sisters Jinny and Jada faint in New York’s Central Park after a long day playing, and when they awake find they’ve been shrunk to the size of daffodils! At first the girls are frightened, but soon they meet a friendly, sewer-dwelling elf who promises to help them find a way to return to their normal, not so small size. Shocked but intrigued, the girls head off on a mystical journey through the dark underground tunnels and the big iconic landmarks of the Big Apple, meeting magical beasts and friendly elves along the way. Whether by the end of it Jinny and Jada will actually want to return to their regular lives remains to be seen! Louella Dizon San Juan is an established playwright as well as an author, and she is an active advocate of empowering the involvement of girls in maths and science, something she touches upon in this book.

War of the Gods Justine Henao

It looks like another boring rainy day for Justin. That is until he sees his new Chimera Box! When Justin jumps inside the box his dreams of becoming the best Greco-Roman warrior will come true. Justin will travel to dangerous lands, come face to face with terrifying creatures, and prepare for his most challenging battle of all. With the guidance of Goddess Gaea, will Justin have the courage and tenacity to confront Hades and Cronus? Will he have the strength to fight the Cyclops? Will he be able to fulfil the prophecy and save all the trapped and defenceless gods from the wrath of Zeus and Jupiter? Justine Henao is a mother who’s passionate about connecting younger readers with the bountiful stories of Greek mythology. War of the Gods was written and illustrated with the help of Justine Henao’s eight-year old twins.



Justine Borrego Juan borrego marco borrego














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THE AuthorloungE

New Edition is written and designed by Authoright. Contributors: Louis Dresner, Katy Garland, Hayley Radford, Diana Rissetto, Ben Wood.







New Edition. September 2013.  

Issue 6, September 2013 of New Edition, Authoright's monthly magazine for authors. This month we look at manufactured fiction, speak with li...

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