Thursday, March 30, 2006

love a recipe

I did enjoy this comment from Slate on Dan Brown's witness statement:

Brown has done a lot of thinking about what makes a successful Dan Brown thriller. He has found that it requires a few essential elements: some kind of shadowy force, like a secret society or government agency; a "big idea" that contains a moral "grey area"; and a treasure. The treasures in Brown's four novels have been a meteorite, anti-matter, a gold ring, and the Holy Grail. The shadowy forces have included the Priory of Sion, Opus Dei, and the National Security Agency. The big idea, if I'm reading him correctly, goes something like this: Is the Vatican good … or is it evil? Is the National Security Agency for us … or is it against us? When all of Brown's elements come together, doled out over cliffhanging chapters, with characters that exist to "move the plot along," it is like mixing the ingredients to make a cake.

go to for the rest of it

thanks to lili at the cyl for the orginal link

seriously but not solemnly

A fashion guru featured in a magazine at the local coffee shop said she took fashion seriously but not solemnly. It struck a chord - that's how I'd like to see children's books taken.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

mid-books crisis

Mickyd queried me whether I'd finished So Yesterday and I'm admitting I'm having a mid-books crisis. I get to the middle of the book and I get stuck and start something else. Mainly a YA problem at the moment. (Tim Winton's The Turning I've stopped reading a few stories short of the end because I don't want it to be over too quickly.) A book I've just got stuck in has a great start but our heroine's been stuck on a plateau for sometime and it looks like she'll be there for a while. Is this just a problem for me or are authors and editors forgetting the middles of books. Great starts but loose rambling middles. The editing finger itches as interest wanes. But perhaps YA readers don't want to finish books too quick and I'm out of step.
If you're missing hearing an English accent, pop along to the APA AGM.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

art is not truth

It was a plus being sent to find this quotation while reading Blue Balliett's Chasing Vermeeer:
"We all know that art is not truth. Art is a lie that makes us realize the truth.
Pablo Picasso

I really enjoyed Chasing Vermeer, though the ending didn't quite fulfil the promise of the rest of the book.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

interesting quotations

"We are now in a position to say to authors: 'This is our plan to put you in every airport in the world.' It's a very attractive proposition."
'It's in the interests of authors to have one global publisher - it gives more sales and marketing visibility.'
Tim Hely Hutchinson, Hachette Livre UK c.e.o. The Bookseller Feb 06

The Burning

I'm reading Tim Winton's The Burning. It's good to be back in Winton World. I loved Dirt Music. It was a Xmas holidays one year, perfect summery reading. Reading Tim Winton is like tapping crystal.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Clayton's CBC

I went to the CBC Clayton's award last night. It's always a good night - a qurky, oddly Australian idea of an award's night. Mike Shuttleworth was provocative and entertaining. I didn't agree with all he said (although I agreed with his comments about The Black Dress being a fine read) but It did make me sit up and listen. I think one of our problems in children's books is that we like to sit around agree with each other too much. One of his points was his disappointment that the older readers section wasn't a YA section. The various premier's award are either de facto or de jure pretty much YA awards so YA books actually get pretty good "award" coverage. It's the chapter book area, the post-picture book and pre-YA section as well as poor old non-fiction that dip out in terms of critical recognition. We've come along way from Redmond Barry refusing to let fiction into his library. Non-fiction didn't get guernsay at the Claytons, and it's all crammed into one section in the awards. While on the topic of the awards I'd also like to see more encouragement to new writers and illustrators - good on the Victoria CBC for having the Crichton Award. I'm just disappointed it doesn't have as a high a profile as the other awards. Maybe it should be the one we really celebrate. Maybe one for new writers as well? All in all, though, the CBC does a fabulous job of promoting children's books.

Monday, March 06, 2006

latest Magpies

I just got the latest copy of Magpies and I enjoyed David Fickling's article. I particularly like his entry on "Publishing Lunches", something the poms are famous for. And it's cross referecnced under "Listen".
"Necessary. Talk to your author. Get to know them Find out what they intend their story to do … The truth is particularly good over coffee."
I found it interesting in his speech at Reading Matters that he divided editors into shoppers and cooks, and David identified himself as a cook but all the particular stories he told were about shopping.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Saturday paper pickings

The Australian had a nice article on Begg-Smith. Interesting that the Canadian Olympic bureaucracy makes such demands on their athletes but Australia was ready to turn a blind eye to Begg Smith's extracurricular activities. We didn't have much to loose but the Canadians need to have the discipline to sustain the quality across of the whole team. Or is the Canadian reputation for bureaucracy deserved? Begg Smith said: "For Australia, the No 1 thing is results. Results speak higher than anything else." I'm not sure we should take that as a complement. It reads to me like we're weak, easily lead and focussed on the short term and on the appearance of success. That's all probably true. Look at the AWB. It would also seem to be pretty much the way of the modern world. I liked the claim reported in the article that one of Begg Smith's domains infected your computer with pop-ups then has a pop-up advertising software that kills pop-ups. "Which is like me breaking into your house and then selling you a burgular alarm.