Bric-a-brac

(From the obsolete French à bric et à brac, meaning ‘at random’…) Here are a few things I’ve spotted on the web over the past week; I note them now because I’m about to bugger off to Germany for a couple of weeks. First up is a series of posts by Sara Gran (heads up from John Barlow). Sara is an American writer who has had some success with her first three novels. She’s been describing some of the problems that have befallen her publishing career. Here’s one of my favourite bits, phoning her publisher:

“And you are…?”

“Um, I’m one of your writers? I’m publishing a book with you?”

“Oh, oh, okay, sorry.”

Eric Rothkirch writes a great post about genre fiction, and the value of the writer putting his or her arse on the chair and getting on with the job. Some interesting thoughts, including:

Sometimes to make a mark on the world, you don’t have to be the greatest or the best. You can put out shoddy work. You have the full freedom to make grave storytelling mistakes. It’s better if you don’t make the mistakes, and it’s better if you put out great work instead of mediocre. But that didn’t stop the legends of sci-fi from becoming legends.

When everyone else gives up, or stays at home… When everyone else quits or quietly goes away… that is the perfect opportunity for you to make an entrance.

Sometimes, all you have to do is show up.

I have a feeling that Brother Rothkirch speaketh the truth.

And, despite an introductory sentence that declares ‘Brett Easton Ellis is a phenomenon’ (grrr), I can recommend a series of video interviews with this author over on the BBC Collective. I haven’t read any of his works, but I’ve certainly heard of them: Less Than Zero, American Psycho, Lunar Park. He’s an engaging interviewee and discusses the craft of writing, among other things.

Talking of interviews, I presume you’ve already come across the fantastic Don Swain interview archive. Throughout the 1980s, many of the best writers swung through his small New York studio, and this website presents the unedited footage: Norman Mailer, John Updike, Frederick Forsythe, Robert Ludlum, Douglas Adams, Gore Vidal, and lots more. Classic.

Otherwise, Michael Allen (aka Grumpy Old Bookman) is serialising his latest novel, How and Why Lisa’s Dad Got to be Famous, for free over on his website. And are you finding it difficult to wring enough productivity from the damp towel of your day? Steve Pavlina may have an answer for you. Lastly, via Joe Gordon over at Forbidden Planet International, comes intel that Scottish author Ken Macleod (who will I always owe big time for being the first ‘proper author’ to read my book and provide me with some blurb; said blurb probably being instrumental in getting me subsequent reviews…) has been discussing what it’s like to be nominated, simultaneously, on three sci-fi prize shortlists. Ken’s new book is called Learning the World.

Hocking out.

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Ian Hocking

Writer and psychologist.

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