New Edition. Contemporary Publishing Magazine.

Page 1

pg 9 lisa burstein explains her decision to self publish her latest novel after finding an agent and traditional publishing deal

pg 24 Seven independently published authors talk about their publishing journeys and creating one genre-busting digital box set

pg 30 environmental-lawyerturned-thriller-author declan milling shares why he chose to self publish his take on the carbon crisis





Love in the Digital Age

Hillary Carlip’s ‘ClickLit’ eBook Find Me I’m Yours follows Mags online and through the streets of LA to find her potential true love, Mr. WTF


This Month


News In Brief 5





We Know What You Read Last Summer

18 On the Drawing Board 21


24 30 2



COMING IN 2015 32


FROM THE EDITOR Welcome to the January/February double issue of New Edition! Twice the issue means twice the authors, and we’re starting off the new year talking to writers who’ve published every which way. I talk to Hillary Carlip, author of ‘ClickLit’ title Find Me I’m Yours, and hope that this year will bring more highquality interactive content to eBooks everywhere. Declan Milling’s Carbon Black takes on climate change and the carbon industry in a self published cli-fi novel on the radar of The New York Times. Traditionally published YA author Lisa Burstein tries her hand at self publishing with her new adult novel Again and discusses plans to collaborate on a new YA series. Seven awesome female authors from all over the publishing spectrum come together to self publish a cross-genre box set of women writing women. All this and more in this issue of New Edition! Thanks for reading!

Jordan Koluch Editor-in-Chief


HAPPENI N GS February 12 |

20 |

Richard Ford and Lorrie Moore

92nd Street Y, New York City Two quintessential American authors meet to read from their newest works. In Let Me Be Frank with You, Richard Ford revisits his beloved character Frank Bascombe. The collection of short stories takes place in New York City in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Moore also brings her new short story collection, Bark. Tickets are available at the 92nd Street Y website and are priced from $28.

Russell Brand

Southbank Centre, London Comedian Russell Brand will be reading from his new children’s book The Pied Piper of Hamelin, the first in his ‘Trickster Tales’ series. The book is illustrated by Costa Award-winner Chris Riddell. Tickets are £14 for adults, £7 for children and are available through the Southbank Centre website.

Daniel Handler reads from We Are Pirates: A Novel

First Parish Church, Cambridge, Massachusetts Best known for his ‘Series of Unfortunate Events’ titles under the pen name Lemony Snicket, Daniel Handler will be reading from his new adult novel We Are Pirates, as well as signing copies of the book after his reading. Presale tickets are available on January 13 for $27 and include a copy of the book. $5 tickets go on sale January 27 through the Harvard Bookstore website.



News In Brief

Obituary sparks Twitter backlash When bestselling Australian author Colleen McCullough – whose The Thornbirds has sold 30 million copies worldwide – died on January 29, The Australian printed an obituary calling her “plain” and “overweight”. Fans took to Twitter defending the author and neurophysiologist, using #myozobituary to satirise how they would likely be remembered by the paper. Bestselling authors Jennifer Weiner (@jenniferweiner) and Neil Gaiman (@neilhimself ) were among the Twitter users participating in the hashtag. According to online Australian news source Crikey, the obituary was written several years ago by a male writer who has also since died.

Ireland names first Fiction Laureate Author Anne Enright has been chosen as the first Fiction Laureate of Ireland, a position newly created by Arts Council Ireland. Enright’s novel The Gathering won the 2007 Man Booker Prize for Fiction. Her latest novel is The Forgotten Waltz. Enright will receive a stipend of 50,000 euro (£37,500) for each year of her three-year tenure and will be required to deliver an annual lecture and attend public events. “It is a great honour to be chosen,” said Enright after her appointment. “I hope I can rise to the role, and maybe have some fun along the way.”

Scholarly press publishes surprise bestseller Pamela Smith Hill’s annotated autobiography of Laura Ingalls Wilder, published by the South Dakota Historical Society Press, reached the No. 1 bestseller slot on Amazon on Thursday, January 29. Pioneer Girl: the Annotated Autobiography beat out American Sniper and The Girl on the Train for the top spot. The small press’s initial 15,000 copy print run has sold out several times over; the third print run of 45,000 will be available in March. The press is now focusing on selling Japanese and French rights and adapting the oversized, annotated text in a user-friendly electronic version. The South Dakota Historical Society Press publishes an average of six books a year. This year, they will publish three or four to focus on Pioneer Girl. Nancy Tystad Koupal, director of the press, said, “We hope to do more with Laura Ingalls Wilder. And we hope to someday perhaps end up with a bigger press – a medium-size press rather than a small one.”



Trending: We Know What You Read Last Summer




Big Data has been integral to a number of industries for years, but publishers may be the next to jump on the bandwagon. Jordan Koluch explores how knowing more about readers as consumers could strengthen the industry. Last month, both Oyster and Scribd announced that they would be adding Macmillan’s backlist titles to their catalogues, taking Oyster’s library past the one million title mark and Scribd’s to over 500,000. This also means that over half of the Big 5 are now participating in subscription services, as HarperCollins and Simon & Schuster already have partnerships with Oyster and Scribd. Alternatively, Amazon’s answer to subscription services, Kindle Unlimited, is catching flak from authors who have seen their sales numbers (and revenue) go down after automatically opting in to the programme. This was the major problem voiced by most publishers when subscription services first became an option – why give away unlimited eBooks for $9.99 when you could sell one title for the same price? According to a recent piece, the answer is data. Before the advent of eBooks, publishers had no way of knowing where readers read, how quickly they read, or how much of a book they read. At best, they knew where the book was purchased, but with some retailers forgoing ISBN barcodes for storespecific inventory management, that data wasn’t ideal either. The kind of data the likes of subscription services can provide may be worth smaller net receipts in the long run. (Amazon, Kobo and Barnes & Noble have this data, as well, but consider it proprietary.) Never before have publishers had access to this breadth of data – print books don’t report back after being purchased. And while knowing when and where a book is purchased is good, knowing how it’s read, how quickly and how completely is even better. Are more readers accessing

eBooks on their smartphones? Reading before bed or while commuting? Did most readers get through chapters one to ten fairly quickly but then slog through chapter eleven? Or give up on the book altogether? The industry’s data detractors fear that this level of knowledge will adversely affect the acquiring choices of already fickle editors. While previously 10,000 copies sold would be a smash hit, would knowing that almost no one who bought the book actually opened it prevent that author’s second book from being picked up? I would argue no. A sale is still a sale on the P&L, and subscription services still pay out if ‘a fair portion’ of the book is read, according to Scribd’s vice president of content acquisition, Andrew Weinstein. The accounting department doesn’t much care who reads what. But I think it’s dangerous to ignore the analytics altogether. While sales may be the best indicator of a book’s financial success, reader data can help assess the success of a marketing campaign, piece of PR coverage, or cover design. If HarperCollins can see that most of the YA books read in 2013 had blue covers, perhaps that’s an indication that the target market is most attracted to that aesthetic. If Macmillan sees a significant uptick in downloads of books that have just been covered on a certain sci-fi blog, perhaps that blogger will be offered a copy of every sci-fi title they publish. If Simon & Schuster is at a trade fair handing out tote bags to promote one title and bookmarks to promote another, and the book on the bookmarks is downloaded more, perhaps they forgo tote bags in favour of bookmarks at the next trade fair. That’s not to say that correlation means causation in any of these instances. If those



Subscription services have proven themselves valuable to publishers by providing user data they collect from readers.

bookmarks came along with an author appearance on Good Morning America, we can safely say that it wasn’t the bookmarks that sold the books. But just because user data is difficult to interpret doesn’t mean that it isn’t valuable. It seems to me that the industry hasn’t been interested in this data because we think readers are beyond interpretation; we refuse to think of them as ‘users’ or ‘consumers’. We forget that data is the new way of doing business – you better believe web content providers know exactly who their readers are and where they’re coming from. This data can be particularly helpful when it comes to marketing certain books in conjunction with each other. Most online retailers use recommended titles, or some variation of ‘Customers who bought this also bought that’. What if those promotions were not the purview of the retailers, but rather the publishers? If the same customers who buy Divergent are also buying Brave New World, HarperCollins would do well to box them together, or at least offer price promotions on purchasing both books. One of the biggest gripes in book marketing departments is that while targeting aggressively to very niche genre markets is still an excellent way to leverage consumer support for a new title, these genre markets can shift and bleed into one another, making the tracking of your


reader demographic somewhat more complex. The best example of this may be the recent revelation that the YA genre is growing because eighty per cent of readers are adults buying for their own consumption. Instead of marketing to fifteen-year-olds, then, publishers have to shift their focus to an older audience and the marketing channels they consume. If you sign in to Oyster with Facebook, you better believe they know all of the ways you self-identify (gender, age, etc.). We can decry lack of privacy and consider ourselves too idealistic to access these metrics, but the fact of the matter is that it’s become common practice to use this information. Imagine the marketing dollars saved by knowing exactly which group of people to target with a campaign. I can’t think of a valid argument as to why the publishing industry should pass that opportunity up. The data is here to stay; it’s too useful for anyone to let it disappear. Subscription services have realised its value to publishers, and it seems like publishers are slowly but surely coming around too. Instead of resisting yet another technological advancement, I think we should embrace it head-on and realise what the potential is for doing what we love to do – making books – and getting them in the hands of the people who want to read them.


Hybrid Theory Increasingly for the modern author, there is no direct route to publication. While the traditionally published, instant-star author is the pervasive fantasy, hybrid authors are more often than not the norm. Jordan Koluch talks to author Lisa Burstein about trad publishing, self publishing, pseudonyms and more.

Lisa Burstein had five traditionally published books under her belt when she decided to self publish her new adult novel Again last year. Though she’s publicly very thankful to her agent and publisher, she’s also been known to blog occasionally about the struggles of being a midlist author. So when it came time to publish Again, she knew she wanted to go a different route. “I just wanted to see what I could do on my own. Additionally it is a little different from traditional new adult in that it is about a 30-year-old woman pretending to be 19. I wasn’t sure a publisher would know how to market it and in some ways I’m still not sure myself. I’ve been selling it as new adult just because it’s an easier explanation, but it really isn’t true new adult.” Burstein touches on a problem many authors are beginning to face. Even those with traditional publishers find it difficult to break genre moulds when they have a body of work in one genre, even when the two are as similar as YA and NA. A lot of these authors are exploring the hybrid option. But that doesn’t make the transition easy. Even though she’s

a veteran of the industry, there was certainly a learning curve to going it alone. “I think the hardest thing to learn was that you still need to market and even more so. You don’t have a publisher’s name on your book to let people know it’s worth reading. You have to be able to show them that. Show them why they need to read it. That is very hard. It’s way easier to have a publisher’s good name under your title than just your own. Also

notice. Burstein says this is both a blessing and a curse. “I was used to getting sales weekly through my traditional publisher on my digital titles. They are ahead of the curve in many ways with their sales reporting, but for Again, I could see sales by the minute. When it first came out it was really hard to not keep ‘refreshing’ as the sales rolled in, but now that it’s been out for a while I try to only check once a day.” Now having been on both sides of the aisle, so to speak, Burstein says she would dictate quicker workflows if she were Publishing Queen for a Day. “Having contacts get back to you faster. Having everything about publishing move faster. With self publishing you see how quickly you really can get a book out and I think publishers and agents could both be a little faster with their response times. I know this is a wish of many writers!” And would she ever self publish again? “Absolutely. It’s a lot of work, but it’s also one of the most rewarding writing experiences I’ve ever had.”

It’s a lot of work, but it’s also one of the most rewarding writing experiences I’ve ever had. thank goodness for all the people who are there to help you with that learning curve. I would be nowhere without my cover artist, editors and formatter.” One of the striking differences between trad and self publishing that hybrid authors have been discussing as of late is the availability of sales figures—while trad published authors have to wait six months for theirs, self pubbers can have them on a moment’s

But self publishing her new adult fiction isn’t Burstein’s only foray into other genres. She’s also writing an erotic novel under a pseudonym, something many hybrid authors do to distinguish their different brands. Burstein’s alter ego draws a definitive line between her YA work and more racy themes. “It’s been really fun to write as someone new and get rid of a lot of my baggage if that makes sense.” That alter ego, Candy Sloane,



even has a separate Twitter presence that Burstein also controls. She finds adopting another persona to be both exciting and potentially confusing. “I haven’t gotten messed up yet, because I’m not totally hiding that fact [that Candy is my pseudonym]. Her name is actually

I don’t think there are any wrong answers right now... if you do one it doesn’t mean you can’t ever do the other. a character in one of my books who was an erotica author, so no... not yet, once the book comes out though perhaps.” In the meantime, Burstein has a lot to keep her busy. “I’m working on a YA series for Entangled Publishing with a few other authors. It’s the first time I’m collaborating with other authors and I’m excited.” From agents to publishers, to self pub and collaborations, Burstein has seen much of what the industry has to offer. So I asked her if she had any advice for authors starting out about how to educate themselves and make well-informed decisions about their publishing careers. “I don’t think there are any wrong answers right now. I would just reiterate your question, educate yourself. Learn about traditional and self publishing before you make your decision and also remember if you do one it doesn’t mean you can’t ever do the other.” Lisa Burstein is the author of six novels, most recently the new adult novel Again. Find her online at and on Twitter @LisaBurstein


Lisa Burstein (above) is a hybrid author who has explored all avenues of publishing. Her most recent novel Again is self published, while her five other novels, inluding Sneaking Candy, are traditionally published.


RE SOL VED Last year we gave you our top ten resolutions to make for your writing in 2014. But, of course, whether you decided to be more positive, occasionally be more realistic, or just to write a certain number of words a day, making a resolution is only part of the battle. Once the initial enthusiasm and excitement begin to fade, the determination of sticking to your resolutions for the rest of the year begins. Here Edward Coates offers some tips to make sure you keep yourself going beyond January.




Work your way up to your resolutions. If you decide to overhaul your writing habits in one go, it can be rather like quitting smoking by going cold turkey: entirely possible for some, but very difficult for most and likely to be pretty miserable along the way. Instead, realise that the most successful change is usually gradual. Start with some smaller, more realistic resolutions that you can easily work into the way you currently write. If you want to spend a certain amount of time writing each day, aim initially for ten or fifteen minutes, or to hit your goal a certain number of days a month. Once you see how simply you can accommodate a small change, and how accomplished you feel, you can work your way up toward bigger changes.


Focus on one resolution at a time. Whilst it may feel like changing how you write is a very singular endeavour, it likely involves lots of smaller changes rather than one big one. Resolving to write more succinctly, for example, will require attention to how you think, how you put the words on the page and how you edit them some time later. To make the process more manageable, break it down into the simplest parts you can – like writing without adverbs or cutting one page from each chapter you write – and focus on those individually. Once they become habit, you can move on to greater things. If you spread your efforts too broadly at first, though, you are more likely to become mentally fatigued and feel like you are working at chores rather than your love and passion.

Be positive with yourself. You are your own biggest advocate and closest ally, and your resolutions are your chance to be the writer you want to be, not a way to berate yourself for not being there yet. Firstly, this can manifest in the way you see your resolutions: ‘I want to be in a position to devote more of my time to writing’ versus ‘I really should be writing now’ is the difference between helping yourself and simply demanding of yourself. Also, give yourself rewards when you hit goals, like occasional guilt-free time off. If you think of yourself as someone to be supported, rather than coerced, you will be that much more able to form positive habits.



Don’t rely on just yourself. Any change has to come from within, and the writer’s pursuit can be a largely solitary affair, but you don’t have to stick it out alone. Tell a family member or trusted friend that you are aiming to change and improve your writing life, and ask them to keep an eye on how you go. They will be able to support you if you waver and provide a frank assessment of your efforts, if you trust them to. Alternatively, if you want to connect with other writers, remember that there are many online and offline communities and ways to support each other. No doubt plenty of others will have made New Year’s resolutions and will be looking to reach out too.

Choose a resolution you are able to fully control. So many parts of the writing and publishing process rely on the work and good graces of others to see them through. To make your resolution achievable, reflect on what is under your control. Setting yourself goals like getting published, selling a certain number of books or getting a certain number of blog hits or Twitter followers leaves you open to the whims of others. However, resolving to submit to five agents a month or to write one blog post a week are completely within your control. Focusing on what is in your power alone will help keep you sane, and you may find it helps the other things fall into place too.

Don’t let yourself be put off by setbacks. It is almost inevitable that you will have days when you are busy, feel ill or simply can’t gather the energy to devote time to your writing. Do not be disheartened when this happens. Just as a very positive first week of January would not constitute a successful resolution, neither should a weaker moment in February feel like a total failure. Remind yourself of what you want to do and get back on the horse.




Take it one day at a time. No doubt there are many things in your life that constantly cause you to look forward or back, but it can help to consider your writing in the present. Whether you are outlining initial ideas, putting the words on the page or trying to revise your book, keep yourself grounded in the moment. Don’t think of all the words you may (or may not have) written the day before, or the many more you will write in the future, but keep focused on the ones that concern you right now. Firstly, it will make a big undertaking seem much smaller, but most importantly, it will mean you are free to concentrate on writing the best work you can.


Be honest with yourself. Whilst it is favourable to focus on the present when you’re actually writing, a resolution will only work if you can be frank with yourself when it comes to the bigger picture. If you have failed to hit some of the targets you set, don’t be tempted to gloss them over. Work out what you have achieved, reassess your aims and methods, and see if you need to step them up or down. Just because you didn’t hit your initial goal doesn’t mean it can’t be adjusted to be more attainable and an overall success.

Try out different schedules and practices. Every writer is different and there is no one-size-fits-all approach to the major commitment that is writing a book. Some find that creativity comes in unpredictable fits and bursts; others will not let themselves get up from the chair without writing a certain number of words. If you are writing in your spare time or fitting it around another job, you may find you have less control about when you write. But if you find you are not devoting as much time as you want to, try varying your approach. Perhaps set aside a time specifically for writing, or try introducing some prompts or warm-up practices, such as free writing. You may well find a method that fits you better and allows you to build a good long-term habit.


Click Me! Borderline-obsessed with interactive eBooks, Jordan Koluch talks to author Hillary Carlip about Find Me I’m Yours, a ‘ClickLit’ title that blends audio, visual and video content with the written word for an immersive reading experience.

Mags Marclay is in her twenties. She wants to be an artist but works an uninspiring job to barely pay her rent. Her lame ex-boyfriend is currently sleeping with her terrible roommate. On her best friend’s urging to join a dating site with profile videos, Mags buys an old-school video camera that just happens to come pre-loaded with a tape of a hot guy setting up a scavenger hunt to find true love. With very little to lose, Mags soon finds herself running all over LA looking for ‘Mr WTF’, and finding a lot more along the way. What makes Find Me I’m Yours more than a story of faith and friendship is the clickable part. Mags doesn’t describe the video she sees; you watch it. She doesn’t tell you about her DIY Americana blog; you can explore it. All the original videos, custom-designed websites and integrated images were created specifically for the ecosystem of the book. Author Hillary Carlip had been holding on to the idea for ClickLit for years before the book came to fruition. “I actually got the idea back in 1999, when I co-founded a digital entertainment dot com called Voxxy. After a meeting one day, I wrote on a piece of paper ‘interactive book’, even though eBooks were barely a reality at that point. I thought about the idea many times over the years, and then finally I felt the time was right to create an interactive, multiplatform entertainment experience that starts with an eBook novel, where you click through to original videos, and over thirty custom websites that further the narrative, blur the lines between fiction and reality, and offer endless ways for readers to enjoy additional original content.” All of that original content is Carlip’s brainchild, along with her partner Maxine Lapiduss. “Really, it’s such a ginormous undertaking. But I am an author who has had four books published before this one, a visual artist, and I’ve had a web design business for twelve years now, so the exciting thing was that I was finally able to combine everything I do into one project. Hillary Carlip is a visual artist, web designer and the author of numerous books, including Find Me I’m Yours.



Same with my partner, Maxine Lapiduss, another multi-hyphenate (TV writer/producer, director and branding expert). Together we were able to do a lot of things that could have been challenging for others to do without a lot more people or a big company behind it.” I enjoyed the pictures in the book to varying degrees. My favourite was probably the image of the Craigslist post for the video camera – something about the familiarity of that poorly styled grey screenshot made it seem so real and culturally relevant. (Carlip has secured some pretty impressive brand placement in the book, which begs the question of what other possibilities there are for authors and publishers to host paid content in eBooks.) The

I want people to focus on the magic. videos were fun and well produced. But I was really impressed by the websites, my favourite being the main character’s blog of her collage artwork, collageaweek. com. Carlip had a much harder time pinpointing the content she liked best. “That’s really hard to do, so I’ll narrow it down to one in each category. My fav pic in the book is of the stranger Mags meets in Runyon Canyon who has a connect-the-dots tattoo on his arm. Fav video is the first one from the handsome stranger Mags dubs Mr WTF that sets her off on the treasure hunt that changes her life. And as for my fav site, I’ll say the main hub — findmeimyours. com — because it shows and links to ALL of the websites in the storyverse, and lets readers easily find and pick their own favs!” What impressed me most about


the sites is that they’re all populated – much more than just landing pages, all of the websites host layers of content. You can see characters interacting on blogs; the online magazine Mags works for has posted stories. And Carlip imagines that readers will get involved, as well. “That’s been the vision from


the start. I know how I feel when a novel I love that’s full of characters I’ve grown attached to is over. I want to keep the story going even after the last chapter. So, many of the websites have new content being added all the time, and nearly half of the websites offer numerous ways for readers to participate by

adding their own content (photos, stories, wishes, confessions, etc.), being able to leave comments, etc. By the way, if you look closely on some of the sites (like collageaweek. com), you’ll see characters from the book interact with the content, too!” That, for me, is the exciting part of Carlip’s vision. A major publisher would never invest the time and money to create a whole ‘storyverse’ online, much less have a team support it after the book has been published. I would have to say that the coolest part of the book, by far, was when Mags calls a phone number and gets an answering machine. Calling that same number gets you the same answering machine message – that’s some dedicated storytelling. Carlip not only wants the enhanced content to feel authentic and germane to the book, she wants readers to be part of the process, making the storyverse part of reality. “I want [readers] to experience a whole universe of entertainment in the context of one story. I also hope that through the whole concept, and Mags herself, readers will be inspired to realise that there are endless possibilities and infinite opportunities. As Mags’ dad says in the book, ‘There’s always going to be both magic and disaster, and we get to decide which to put our focus on.’ I want people to focus on the magic.” While a well executed enhanced content eBook is game changing for the industry, Carlip isn’t completely defeatist about the future of print. “While I think (and hope!) there will always be printed books, I also think that entertainment is changing, especially for this age group (18–30) who are online or on their mobile devices so much of the time. So I definitely see a future full of more digital-only publications, and new and different ways for readers to interact with stories. I totally understand the concern that our attention spans are getting shorter. But I think

within the context of connectivity, they’re also getting longer. For instance with Find Me I’m Yours, you might be flitting from reading, to watching, to uploading, etc. but it’s all focused in one experience so it’s actually holding your attention for a longer time than maybe you’d spend sitting in a chair reading a printed book.” Though creating ClickLit products takes a lot of time and allows very little sleep, Carlip is ready and willing to start similar projects. “Mags definitely has more adventures in her! And this is only the beginning for ClickLit. Maxine and I have started Storyverse Studios, and we look forward to creating many other properties – books, movies, or TV shows – that expand into a larger interactive, multi-platform entertainment universe.” I, for one, hope that more authors start following Carlip’s lead, challenging our perceptions of what a book can be. I found Find Me I’m Yours to be an immersive reading experience where I was just waiting for the next video or website to take me deeper into the world of the story. I generally think it’s a shame that eBooks don’t take advantage of the capabilities of the reader that hosts them. Find Me I’m Yours was a welcome change. Find Me I’m Yours is the fifth book written by best-selling, awardwinning author Hillary Carlip. As a visual artist, her work has been sold in galleries and shown alongside Andy Warhol and Damien Hirst in a five-city museum exhibit. Hillary has been creating content, websites and news in the digital space since 1999. For more information, visit or @findmeimyours on Twitter.



Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s New Year’s resolution was to read one book every two weeks.

A Year in (Face)Books Has the age-old tradition of book clubs finally found its way online? Last month, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg shared his New Year’s resolution to read one book every two weeks with all of the members of the Facebook community. India Lassiter investigates whether A Year of Books is the new Oprah’s Book Club. 18



On January 2, Mark Zuckerberg posted to his thirty million Facebook followers that he was “looking forward to shifting more of my media diet to reading books”. His 2015 New Year’s Resolution is to have A Year of Books, one read every two weeks. His first selection, The End of Power by Moisés Naím, sold out on Amazon in three hours. Zuckerberg epitomises today’s fastpaced online experience, which seems to have so little room for books. His site is more famous for posting Buzzfeed articles and coining the acronym ‘tl;dr’ (too long; didn’t read) than espousing on a bestseller’s literary merits. So some were shocked by the invitation for Facebook users to read books and “immerse yourself in a deeper way than most media today…with an emphasis on learning about different cultures, beliefs, histories and technologies”. For others, it was underwhelming. Did Zuckerberg just get the memo about books being valuable? And if so, is this one sad example, or a case study of a generation? Then there were doubters. The Washington Post’s Dominic Basulto noted that this might be Zuckerberg’s first move toward making Facebook a content media company more than a tech startup, which would require “loading up the News Feed with the types of middlebrow content and safe community experiences that appeal to big advertisers. Stuff like Internet book clubs, for example.” The Guardian’s Lindesay Irvine said the first interactions on the A Year of Books page were a “disappointing performance from a man widely considered to be a master of the universe”.

Zuckerberg’s first two book picks: Moises Naím’s (above) The End of Power and Steven Pinker’s (below) The Better Angels of Our Nature



Whether this is a good move for Zuckerberg and Facebook or not, is it a good move for the book publishing industry? We’ve seen recently how celebrities, films and other trendsetters make sales jump. Recommendations by Oprah, Richard and Judy’s Book Club, John Green and other big names have had great sway in the past. Bill Gates even brought a 1969 economics book back into print by mentioning it in his must-reads. The New York Times calls this the ‘literary lottery’, since publishers rarely know the free press is coming. Mark Zuckerberg could be another influencer, one with access to an audience of 890 million users. Let’s look at A Year of Books so far. Discussion of The End of Power encountered problems. The End of Power is a heady book, and Facebook’s single-thread format could not handle it. In the discussion thread, comments were disconnected and often offtopic, reading like a series of announcements rather than conversation. Then in the Q&A session for the author Moisés Naím, questions were repeated or judged inadequate by Naím, who frequently just referred askers to parts of the book. Engagement was low. One example came when Mariko Fukuyama asked, “What have you been thinking so far about what happened in Paris, France last week?”, referring to the Charlie Hebdo massacre. Naím answered, “Yes, the tragedy in Paris surely has strong echoes of the themes that I discuss in the book.” This lack of depth could be due to Facebook’s platform, which facilitates thousands of communications coming at you instantaneously from all sides. Or it may have been that Naím is unfamiliar with the unspoken rules of Facebook-post culture and unprepared for the nature of an online Q&A. All this mess, despite the 277,000 likes on the A Year of Books Facebook page. Or maybe because of that very popularity. When Zuckerberg names an author or book, there’s an explosion of interest, but when faced with something much longer than one of his status updates (namely, a book), interest dips. Another unavoidable problem of the format is that A Year of Books gives community members a soapbox – or at least a comment box – to do what people on the internet do best – troll. Not even the best of moderators can rein them all in. But it seems unfair to write off the experiment after only one trial. Zuckerberg announced on January 17 that his second pick was The Better Angels of Our Nature by Steven Pinker. Since the paperback is 800


pages long, readers have been given a month to finish it. How that discussion goes may make or break the project. It seems that Zuckerberg has been focusing on ideological non-fiction works, which he can continue to do, but it may be worthwhile to pick works with younger authors who understand internet culture and can better leverage the interaction to their – and his – advantage. People are wary that what Zuckerberg has created can’t handle his vision. The tone, understanding, and challenge of in-person book clubs, classrooms and round tables are difficult to upload. But not impossible. Online platforms like Wattpad have shown what can be done with engaged authors and heavily involved readerships. There’s no reason Facebook couldn’t achieve the same thing. And online book clubs can be another venue for authors who already understand the benefits of online engagement. Authors who involve themselves in online media know that blogging and social media builds loyal online audiences and drives traffic to their profiles and retail platforms. Online book clubs are just another venue to achieve the same effect. This does pose certain challenges, however. Facebook doesn’t warn authors or publishers that their books will be chosen. Naím’s book sold out, given that the book had only sold about 6000 copies since its publication two years ago. Basic Books, the division of Perseus that published Naím, finalised a new print run the day Zuckerberg announced his choice. But how many potential readers couldn’t buy the book in the two-week window because of limited availability? Arguably, if this is the new nature of book promotion, where coverage is unexpected and instantaneous, and book production will have to change to accommodate. This has started with print-on-demand but still doesn’t fit within the two-week time frame from purchase to discussion. Though Basic Books is hopeful that those who didn’t get the book in time will still be drawn in by the nod from Zuckerberg. The Amazon listing for the title begins, “Mark Zuckerberg’s inaugural pick for his ‘Year of Books’ challenge”. Perhaps that tag line will do what the ‘Oprah’s Book Club’ sticker used to do to the selected titles – drive sales and create momentarily insatiable hype. Only time will tell. But Zuckerberg taking a swing at literary discussion – whatever his aims – is both a blessing and a challenge to the industry.


On the Drawing Board A new year always means new tech innovations, and the world of reading is no different. James Wharton looks forward to major eReaders coming in 2015 and what it means for the eBook market as a whole.




Nothing has changed reading like Amazon’s original Kindle did, since Gutenberg’s printing press. Suddenly, other book retailers and tech companies were scrambling to catch up. Year on year, the main eReader brands have been in competition to win over the market share of the industry, yet there don’t appear to be any world-changing technology unveilings planned for this year as yet; but there are hints and suggestions that we are moving towards something pretty big, perhaps in 2016 or 2017. You don’t have to search online for too long to find plenty of excited gadget jounros reporting virtual reality technology as the next big thing with regards to entertainment. We may be moving into the most significant evolutionary period in reading and in terms of how we, as consumers, access books; but not yet. It isn’t all doom and gloom, however, there are still some new gadgets this year for us to get excited about. The three big names in the eReader world are unveiling fresh devices in direct competition. Nook, Kobo and the market leader Kindle have all continued to improve on their technologies and are offering new products. But it’s perhaps telling that two of those ‘Big 3’ have forged partnerships with hardware developers in an attempt to win over the market. While Amazon Kindle are continuing to do their R&D inhouse, Nook have partnered with Samsung and Kobo have teamed up with Sony for their next generation eReader devices. Let’s look at these three leading brands and what they have in store for us this year. In 2014 Amazon unveiled the


Kindle Voyage (£169 / $199) and has thus far been credited by leading reviewers, including cNet. com, as the greatest eReader yet (as well as the most expensive, of course). But critics have highlighted that its operating system lacks the sort of upgrade that the cost of this product perhaps warrants. The gossip on the tech scene is that Amazon will rectify this issue for their 2015 offering later this year in its Voyage 2. Kindle Voyage 2 does not yet have a release date but is expected to retail at around £229. Watch this space Kindle fans! According to,

distribution platforms into more consumer hands? They already have one fan in Authoright CEO Gareth Howard: “I will be getting a Kobo eReader. I love my iPad for all kinds of tablet-related stuff. But when it comes to eReaders for books (as opposed to magazines etc.) I have a Kobo Aura and really like it. I think their new edition will be really interesting.” Nook have teamed up with Samsung in an attempt to woo us to their devices; but what will this bring? has reported the Samsung Galaxy Tab 5 could be released in June or

I love my iPad for all kinds of tabletrelated stuff. But when it comes to eReaders for books (as opposed to magazines etc.) I have a Kobo Aura and really like it. Gareth Howard, CEO of Authoright rumours suggest Kobo have teamed up with Sony for their offering in eReader production this year, after Sony announced it would cease to make eReaders of in August last year, sending all Sony eReader customers to the Kobo Store. While their market share may not be as strong as Kindle’s, what’s major for Kobo is that Sony are the only company in the world who can make use of its patented Ink Mobius technology, which is ultralight weight and incredibly highresolution. Will this partnership allow Kobo to leverage their eReading software, publishing and

July and further reports suggest that it will likely be accompanied by a Nook-branded device. It’s predecessor, the Tab 4 (£149 / $199), was well reviewed upon it’s release last year. The Tab 5 will be priced about the same as the Kindle Voyage 2 and boast more features. This may persuade buyers to invest their money in an eReader/PC tablet hybrid, offering consumers greater value. It’s impossible, right now, to predict who will be the outright winner in the eReader battle of 2015, but as the year comes and goes, perhaps it will prove


to be the last year the three big names in this market will have to compete toe-to-toe. If that corner is fast approaching for a new age in technology, perhaps with it will establish a new leader in the eReader market. This is echoed by Hayley Radford, Co-Founder and Director of Marketing at Authoright, when asked about whether or not she will be purchasing a new eReader over the course of the next year. “I won’t be buying another eReader (I also have a Kobo) until there is a transformational gear change in how these pieces of tech operate.

No one is reinventing how we read yet, there’s been no profound shift in altering the experience of reading, so I’m content to stick with the Kobo Aura I have until something really special comes along. For me, tech changes in phones and eReaders are just creaking along with small improvements at present. These things come in peaks and troughs of activity and I shall be waiting for the next big development before upgrading.” All in all, nothing worldchanging in 2015 and the concerned consumer might be well

advised to hold off purchasing a new device, given that the wheel has not been re-invented – yet. If nothing else, entertainment is moving into a new arena and as the year progresses, perhaps the occasional leaked document or rumour on the technology grapevine will give us a greater understanding of what, and more importantly, when, this gamechanger will occur.

Clockwise from top left: The Kindle Voyage is a hit with reviewers, but its operating system may not be up to snuff. Expect the Voyage 2 to remedy this. Kobo has slowed down its own hardware development with the release of the latest Aura, but may have partnered with Sony for new devices in 2015. Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 4 is a favorourite of non-Apple users everywhere. The Galaxy Tab 5 is coming this year, with rumours of a Nook-branded version in the works.



STRONG WOMEN STRONG BOOKS Box sets are all the rage in indie publishing; self published authors have begun taking advantage of the flexibility afforded to them and teaming up with other authors to offer readers unique combinations of books with similar themes. Jordan Koluch talks to the seven authors who constitute the Outside the Box: Women Writing Women box set.

“The best piece of advice I ever received was to develop the skin of a rhino, because you’re going to need it.” Jane Davis, whose debut novel won the Daily Mail First Novel Award, put to words the overarching tone of my interviews with the six other authors of Women Writing Women – it’s not easy to be an author in today’s publishing climate. The feeling I got talking to these authors – some of whom abandoned traditional publishing for indie, some who have happy hybrid careers and some of whom have self published all along – is a sense of freedom. The democratisation of publishing technology has opened up new doors for authors and given rise to a whole new publishing culture – one that puts



The digital box set, featuring work from seven independent authors, is available for a limited time beginning February 20, 2015.

the power in the author’s hands and has fostered a supportive community of author–publishers who would have previously been split along imprint lines, or not published at all. Orna Ross has been a traditionally published author and literary agent, and is now a self published author and founder of indie author community ALLi. Having watched the industry evolve, she says she’s excited about the possibilities available to writers now more than ever before. “Now as an author–publisher running ALLi, I feel like I’ve totally found my niche, as if everything I did in my career to date has led to me being able to do this. As a cancer survivor, I feel completely privileged, overjoyed actually, to still be here for this time of radical opportunity for writers.” Perhaps the most radical of these opportunities is the ability of writers to now publish themselves. Roz Morris, an author whose initial search for a publisher landed her a lucrative ghostwriting career but little attention for her own novels, initially turned to self publishing to be able to put her own name on one of her books. “I began self publishing as a writer with nowhere else to go. But through it I found my audience, my voice and a way to be true to myself. Now it’s a positive choice, a way to build a body of work.” The other Women Writing Women authors mirror her sentiments. Davis, who found initial success with traditional publishing but had unexpected difficulty selling her second novel, mentioned that she was surprised to find that there was no one mould for the ‘self published author’. “Far from being amateurish, I discovered that self published authors are…a diverse group, including authors who have walked away from

six-figure deals, established authors who have been dropped by their publishers after their latest book didn’t sell quite so well, talented newcomers building a readership, innovative authors whose work doesn’t fit the market, cross-genre authors who sell themselves as a brand, best-selling authors who have never tried the traditional route, who were there at the right place, at the right time, at the start of a publishing revolution. And of course there are the 25 per cent who fall under the hybrid model. They decide which route is right on a project-by-project basis.” Carol Cooper is one of the authors who sees the different methods of publishing to be project-specific. As an MD, Cooper has traditionally published several medical texts but decided on self publishing her first novel. She was familiar with the process and felt very natural choosing to self publish. “I never thought there was a stigma attached to self-publishing. In her late 70s my mother had self published several bilingual books for children, and they had done well. Why couldn’t I go down the same road?” Davis is quick to point out that, in many ways, ‘self publishing’ is a misnomer. “Indie publishing is all about collaboration. There is no ‘self ’ in self publishing. Each author–publisher has built his or her own team of beta readers, editor, proofreader and cover designer, many of whom come from the writing community. There’s a very generous spirit in self publishing and, because we’re in the driving seat, a few emails can quickly spark off something really exciting.” All of the Women Writing Women authors stressed that what they’ve found in self publishing is a sense of community. And though many of them knew each other beforehand, they now find this community in



ALLi. Founder Ross wanted this to be central to the organisation’s mission. “What I hope ALLi provides for our members – as well as the advice, education and trusted guidance – is a safe space, where they can work together for each other, explore the wealth of opportunities afforded by the new technologies, and take risks, if that’s what they want to do, from a place of safety and support. A space where they can forget about getting published as a mark of status or validation and return to first principles: to working out who their readers are and what they might have to offer.” Morris emphasises that in the uncertain world of author–publishing, it’s helpful to have a group of people who learn from and support each other. “I think the community is essential. I love the supportive spirit in the world of self publishing, and ALLi brings it together. Authors are so helpful. It’s all new and we’re all learning how to do it well by sharing our journeys.”

The best piece of advice I ever received was to develop the skin of a rhino, because you’re going to need it. – Jane Davis It was this spirit of sharing that Jessica Bell – an author and musician who chose self publishing to keep creative control over books that traditional publishing deemed to be too off-beat – thought she could turn into a brilliant marketing strategy. “I was trying to brainstorm some marketing ideas, as these days, once you find success via one route, its effectiveness quickly declines, and you need to up your game with something fresh. I noticed a lot of talk online about box sets, and thought it might be a wise idea to explore the possibility. Most authors who have found success with the box sets were a part of very genre-driven compilations. But that’s where Outside the Box: Women Writing Women differs. The spotlight is on ‘unlikely heroines’ and though the seven novels included may fit through the literary/contemporary women’s fiction slot, they are all remarkably and uniquely different in style, which I believe to be a very strong attraction. There are readers out there who don’t like to read the same kind of genre, or about the same kind of characters over and over. This box set is for them.” All of the authors were quick to sign on after being contacted by Bell. “I’d thought of a box set in a purely theoretical way. Then Jessica Bell approached me with


a concrete plan,” said Cooper. “I jumped at the chance to be alongside writers I admire hugely. As you can imagine, it’s quite an honour for a newbie novelist to find herself in such select company. That apart, what’s really interesting about the box set is the scope of the writing. It’s a genre-busting collection, taking in literary fiction, suspense, mystery and romance. The cast of characters is equally varied: a woman accused of killing her father, a radical poet on a journey to escape the shadow of her infamous mother, a gifted pianist who fears her career is over after an injury, and a single mother who turns to prostitution to support her daughter. That’s just for starters, which shows what a group of creative and talented writers can do.” Kathleen Jones found the subject matter to be right in her wheelhouse. A biographer whose career was steered largely toward histories of women by her traditional publisher, Jones chose self publishing to branch into novel writing. She was excited to contribute a novel focused on two very strong but different female protagonists. “At school I was always curious about the absence of women’s stories in history and in my twenties I started doing a bit of research. I was knocked over by the material I found and put together a BBC programme on women writers in the Middle Ages. I couldn’t understand why they weren’t widely known and set out to make them more visible. Men have had a very good opportunity to publicise themselves through the centuries and, understandably, they haven’t wanted to share the platform with women. But now it’s our turn!” Joni Rodgers, a New York Times bestselling author and ghostwriter who has begun self publishing her backlist and new novels, was excited about the potential of a box set and thinks more traditionally published


Blue Mercy is a high-octane drama in the shape of a mother-and-daughter conflict swirling around a family murder mystery. A tyrannical old father is dead, a suspected mercy killing. The answers as to who might have killed him and why are deeply embedded in male–female relationships but also, crucially for this volume collection, in something core and primal in inter-female relationships too. It was the obvious book for a collection entitled Women Writing Women.

White Lady is my latest release, and therefore, I believe, my best novel to date. With every book I write, my skill improves, and though my previous books still claim a decent chunk of my heart, I felt it was necessary to put my best foot (book) forward. This isn’t to say that I believe my backlist isn’t of great quality – not at all – it’s just that, as a writer, I find it would be dishonest to not admit to constantly growing and improving, as I’m sure every kind of artist does the more they produce. I also must say, that the women in White Lady fit the theme of ‘unlikely heroines’ to a tee.

I think my narrator character, Carol, fits well with this collection of unconventional female protagonists. An interviewer once asked me if Carol was an ‘everywoman’. I thought this was so interesting. As a novelist I start with specific characters who face the most profound challenges of their lives. So on one level, Carol is hardly an everywoman because her life has been unusual – she is a concert pianist. But the impulse that started her on that path, and ultimately undoes her, is certainly universal – she wants a place to belong and to feel loved. Then when a mysterious injury stops her career, she believes her life is over. Not just her occupation, her whole identity. I hope Carol will touch a chord in everyone who has something they cannot imagine living without. An everywoman – and perhaps an everyman as well. All great stories start with characters, don’t they?

We were looking for books with unusual female protagonists so The Centauress was the obvious choice because the main character, Zenobia, is an eccentric Italian artist born just after WWI with ambiguous gender – what is now called ‘intersex’, a condition that was poorly understood even a decade ago. The novel also has another female protagonist, Alex, a young woman from a very conventional background, who has come to write Zenobia’s biography, bringing her own problems with her. Juggling two very different female characters was quite a challenge.



Given the name of the box set, I wanted to offer a novel that addresses a fairly substantial women’s issue: the lengths a mother will go to in order to provide for her daughter – in this case, sacrificing the ballet career she loved and, after struggling to hold down a number of low-paid jobs, resorting to prostitution. I had written the book during the year in which changes to the law were proposed, which seemed to me to be as hypocritical as those they were intended to replace. Despite the subject matter, it was never my intention to write a book about sex. An Unchoregraphed Life has far more in common with Henry James’ What Maisie Knew than it does with Belle de Jour.

All the books are different in style, so when one talks about fitting, I believe it’s really about complementing rather than mirroring the other novels in the set. One Night at the Jacaranda has a number of strong female characters, among them the lawyer, the single mother of four, and the freelance journalist. As the story develops, the reader gets drawn into their situations and their problems, which are those that resonate with many women. Harriet for instance gives up what she values most in the world for love, only to find that it wasn’t real love after all. Without giving too much away, the book also focuses on the universal themes of death and loss, and I’ve looked particularly at the impact of these on women in their 30s. The story is a light read compared with some of the others in the set, because that’s how I write, but it’s neither fluffy nor sugary. The deeper message is that you haven’t got a hope of finding happiness until you confront who you really are. The idea of a collection of unruly heroines really appealed to me, because I never write about well-behaved women. Crazy for Trying was definitely the best fit for that theme, and it was my first novel, so it does mean a lot to me personally. Tulsa, my heroine, is a bookish, zaftig misfit, much like I was in my early 20s, and I drew on my experience as the lone female disc jockey at a rock station in western Montana. The themes of body image, forgiveness, making peace with one’s past were important to me, then and now. I also wanted to write about a healthy, loving union between two women (Tulsa’s mother and her partner) and how unfair it was – to them and to their daughter – that they weren’t allowed to marry. I was turned down by a number of agents because I refused to cut that storyline, and back then (in the mid-1990s) it was still a verboten topic for commercial fiction. I started writing this book when I was living on a fire tower in the Northern California wilderness and finished it almost ten years later while I was undergoing chemotherapy for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (blood cancer). I had no immune system, which meant mandatory isolation. That gave me the space and quiet to write 16 hours a day simply because I loved placing words in rows. This purely creative purpose breathed joy and peace into what was otherwise a very dark time. My prognosis was poor; I was told I’d live five years if I was lucky, and my son and daughter were just five and seven years old. When I started seriously pursuing getting the book published, I was driven by the reality that this book might be the only way my children would ever really know me. Crazy for Trying was originally published by a prestigious small press and was a finalist for the Barnes & Noble Discover Award, which launched my career and gave me a whole new life. This book, I truly believe, is the reason I’m still alive. Had I not found the purpose and peace I gained from writing it, I don’t think I would have made it. It gave me so much pleasure to revisit Tulsa and her crew. The book is a lot funnier than I remembered!



All seven authors are members of ALLi, which Ross founded as a community for independently published writers.

authors should be undertaking similar projects. “I’m bummed that we don’t see [a Macmillan/Penguin/ HarperCollins] sci-fi box set. I’d buy it in a hot second! It would benefit the authors tremendously, and readers would enjoy the heck out of it. Big corporate publishers don’t have the agility we have in author– publishing, but authors should be banding together and pushing for that, especially small and micro-press authors who typically get very small advances and need all the visibility they can get.”

Authors are so helpful. It’s all new and we’re all learning how to do it well by sharing our journeys. – Roz Morris Talking to a group of industry veterans, it’s hard not to ask for insider tips on the writing trade. Bell said that while she admires the advice she receives from other writers, it’s the lessons she learns from previous projects that most inform her new ones. “I’ve been writing since I was twelve, excelled in English Literature at high school, studied English at university, obtained my Bachelor of Arts, which included a course in screenplay and fiction writing, have been working as an English Language Teaching editor and writer for ten years, have written a series of bestselling writing craft books, and numerous novels, poetry books and short stories, and I’m still discovering ways to improve my writing. I’m still reading back my own work and telling myself that I can do better. There will forever be room to grow.” Jones, who teaches a number of writing courses, always tells her beginning students, “Forget about

everything you’ve been told; don’t give a f*** about what your mother/ husband/best friend/teacher thinks; just write and write and write until your fingers drop off. Get it down first – edit afterwards. If you worry about what people are going to think about your writing it will never be original.” Rodgers’ advice is for publishers as well as writers: “Oh, Lord, I’d tell everyone to take the day off and read a book. That’s the single most important thing writers can do – for ourselves and for the book culture at large – but we leave ourselves so little time for it.” Outside the Box: Women Writing Women is a digital box set of seven novels by critically acclaimed authors Orna Ross, Joni Rodgers, Roz Morris, Kathleen Jones, Jane Davis, Carol Cooper and Jessica Bell. It will be available for ninety days only beginning February 20, 2015. For more information, and to pre-order, visit



Energy Crisis Environmental lawyer Declan Milling takes on the issues of climate change and a fragmented carbon market in his debut thriller Carbon Black. Jordan Koluch talks to Milling about the inspiration for his cli-fi trilogy and what it’s like to be tweeted by The New York Times. Emil Pfeffer is the director of the United Nations task force focused on regulating the carbon market and he’s struggling to make a difference in the contentious energy industry. But he finds himself speaking more at conferences than he does taking action on the front lines. That is, of course, until his colleague mysteriously disappears in the remote forests of Papua New Guinea. Emil is forced to investigate a web of political corruption, militant environmentalist groups and conspiracy amongst the industry’s top players to find the truth about his friend’s fate. Emil, of course, is not real; he’s the main character of Declan Milling’s Carbon Black. But Milling’s inspiration


for Emil’s character is founded in his very real experience in the energy industry. “[Climate change is] an area that I’m familiar with through my work and it’s one that I’m interested in writing about, not from the climate disaster point of view (where much of the climate and environment related fiction to date has been based), but from a political intrigue perspective: I think the subject matter lends itself very well to the political conspiracy genre. The issues related to the problem of climate change, its causes, effects and solutions are complex and difficult to fathom, especially for those not working in fields related to the subject. As a result many people don’t engage on the subject. Not only

are there resources and materials for story-telling buried in those issues, but by delving into those issues and creating stories from them, it might help people engage with the subject better.” The novel’s evocative title and cover go a long way toward explaining the insidious nature of the energy industry Milling describes. “I was mulling over the fact that carbon, which is basically what the book is about, can be found in the form of diamonds, and coal and graphite. It’s found in all living matter and obviously it’s a store of energy. We breathe out carbon dioxide that plants take in for photosynthesis. It was in that context that the name came to me – also it’s a play on the noir genre (Carbon Black works better than Carbon Noir, don’t you think?).” Over the past decade, as climate change has come to the fore of political discussion, it’s also become the central theme of many novels, inspiring the term ‘climate fiction’ or ‘cli-fi’. Though Milling’s initial aim wasn’t to write in the genre, he has certainly embraced it. “I only became aware of cli-fi as a genre in the middle of 2013 when I saw a couple of newspaper articles (Guardian and FT), although I did know of some of the novels mentioned. What’s interesting is that cli-fi could probably be related


back to some of the earlier sci-fi novels. By that time I was well into my writing, so no, I didn’t set out to write cli-fi, although I’m happy to be considered part of that genre if that’s how readers interpret Carbon Black.” In fact, Carbon Black has garnered attention from Dan Bloom, the journalist who coined the term cli-fi, as well as Andrew Revkin of The New York Times Dot Earth blog. What is it like for an author to garner such a warm reception? “Fantastic, in a word. It really does give one a real push and incentive to keep going. There’s nothing quite like positive reinforcement!” That reinforcement is encouraging, given that Carbon Black is the first title in Milling’s environmental thriller trilogy. “I’m about half way into the second book in the series. I don’t want to spoil the story for my readers, but Emil continues to become more aware of what is really going on about him and now he has a quest: some unfinished business that he needs to find a way to resolve.” A writer first and foremost, Milling undertook self publishing his book as an educational experience. Now, having undergone the process, he feels much better equipped for his next novel. “It would have been good to have been more aware of the role of marketing and promotion. Writing is only the first part of the author’s role: it doesn’t stop once the last page has been written.”

The learning curve hasn’t discouraged him, or kept him from recommending self publishing to other authors. “I think that unless [new authors are] familiar with the publishing business, have lots of contacts and are willing to commit themselves 100% to the ‘other’ roles (that is, everything other than the researching and writing), I’d recommend they get the help of professionals,

carbon can be found in the form of diamonds, and coal, and graphite. It’s found in all living matter. like Authoright.” Milling also has advice for readers who are inspired by Carbon Black to make a conscious effort to make better use of the energy they consume. “Become more aware about your own personal contribution – both to the cause of it and to the solution. Then act on it. We can all do more, however small, if we think about it. The problem is one of increments, so are the solutions.” Declan Milling’s Carbon Black (published by Clink Street Publishing, RRP £8.99 / $11.99 paperback, £2.99 / $4.99 eBook) is available online at retailers like and for order at all good bookstores. Find Milling online at




Jordan The trailer for the third season of Netflix’s ‘House of Cards’ didn’t even need dialogue to strike the fear of God in us. Based on the BBC miniseries, which is based on the trilogy of books by Michael Dobbs, ‘House of Cards’ is back on February 27. I may or may not have cheated and watched the ending of the British version, and I hope Netflix kept it. But there will be no lack of suspense as Frank Underwood undertakes the presidency. I’m also enthralled by the Claire Underwood character and can’t wait to see how her character arc plays out!

With 2014 now behind us, we can begin to look forward to some of the great literary happenings of 2015. If you haven’t already marked your diary with these dates, there’s still time!

I’m very much looking forward to the film adaptation of 50 Shades of Grey this year – not because I’m a fan of the book explicitly, more because I like to get carried away in a hype or trend. In this case, I feel I will probably be critical of the finished film and will particularly enjoy reading through the reviews of my favourite critics as they pick the adaptation to pieces compared with the original book. What’s certain is that it will be a hit – maybe even making more that the book has made to date. Equally likely are mixed reviews. Its Valentine’s Day release is eagerly marked in my diary already.

3/20 Film adaptation of Divergent series’ Insurgent

3/30 Bologna Children’s Book Fair 2015

4/30 God Help the Child by Toni Morrison




5/27 BookExpo America 2015

6/5 Film adaptation of John Green’s Paper Towns

Diana Edward Burns has been one of my biggest influences as a writer and I am so excited to go to the signing of his new memoir Independent Ed! He will be doing a signing at the Union Square Barnes and Noble in February. As a screenwriter and as a New Yorker, I know Ed’s memoir will be filled with so much insight and wisdom and it will be a delight to meet him.

N 2015

I feel a strong mixture of nervousness and excitement about one of my favourite author’s characters being transferred to the big screen. ‘Mortdecai’, starring Johnny Depp in the title role, will be taking on the humungous task of doing justice to Kyril Bonfiglioli’s Charlie Mortdecai. The character is deliciously uncouth, a coward and, to many, a disgrace – a man with few morals and scant regard for exercise. I dearly hope Depp doesn’t overact in the role, but even more worryingly Gwyneth Paltrow is tasked with a role that requires her to be indomitable and sexually vociferous – which seems somewhat a quantum leap of the imagination. If they don’t do justice to Kyril Bonfiglioli’s masterpiece, I will go – as his book states – ‘After you [Hollywood] with the pistol’!

6/16 Comedian Aziz Ansari’s book about romance

10/14 Frankfurt Book Fair 2015

11/20 Final film in the Hunger Games series, Mockingjay Part 2

‘Mortdecai’ hit cinemas in late January 2015. Kate’s full review of The Mortdecai Trilogy can be read here: thefriendlyshelf.wordpress. com/2014/08/26/the-mortdecai-trilogy-bykyril-bonfiglioli