12 Books in 12 Months

writing books and blogging about it



I Have Questions

Further to Monday’s shout out for guest bloggers, for the rest of this week I am answering the queries of Andrew Blair, an Edinburgh-based writer of comedy and other things.  You can see some of his work on this website, or follow him on Twitter @aagb1884.

Tuesday 26/4/11, 08:00


I have been reading your blog sporadically. I have questions.

Number 1. You are writing in 12 different genres. This is not a question. What genres of books do you predominantly read and have you enjoyed the experience in researching others? That is a question.


Tuesday 25/4/11, 13:01


I don’t really have a favourite genre, although I lean towards books with a sense of humour and quite like things with a fantastical element.  I also like a lot of YA and kids books, and Scottish fiction.

To give some examples: some of the best and funniest books I’ve ever read are the Mr Gum series by Andy Stanton, which I’d recommend to anyone (even though they’re really aimed at 8 year olds).  Meanwhile in fantastical terms, I go from the very dense prose of Isabel Allende to Neil Gaiman‘s Sandman graphic novels with a bit of future dystopia from Aldous Huxley or Margaret Atwood along the way.

In terms of YA, I’ve recently enjoyed stuff by Holly Black and Gemma Malley, as well as The Gates by John Connolly who started out writing adult crime novels.  You can read the first chapter on his website, and I think it’s awesome.

Great kids books I’ve read lately include The Girl Who Could Fly by Victoria Forrester and The Secret Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart.  I’d also recommend Steve Augarde‘s ‘Touchstone Trilogy’ which is suitable for 11+.  Good Scottish novels include The Ossians by Doug Johnstone and The Incredible Adam Spark by Alan Bissett, and anything by Muriel Spark…  Essentially I like to think I’ll give anything a go, and as such my ‘to-read’ list is very, very long.

In terms of research for 12 books, so far I have probably enjoyed the romance month the most because the genre is often unintentionally very funny.  It’s quite rare to find a romance book that is genuinely romantic, I think partly because a lot of authors tend to get caught up in sex scenes – one of the reasons why I decided to go for unrequited love, actually – and these are notoriously difficult to write well.


Book Two Excerpt

Katie nodded officiously and scurried away to carry out her orders.  The manager, whose name was Bob Taylor, ran his fingers anxiously through his receding hair and with a deep breath, marched across the foyer to talk to seat G15 in person.

“Mrs Shiers-” was all he got out before her tirade shot forth.

“What was that, Mr Taylor,” she shrilled in tones that had spent years being cultivated into a semblance of Jean Brodie, “some keynd of joke?”

“I can assure you it was not,” Bob began, but she ignored him.

“If that is the case, I can assure you it was not in the least bit entertaining.”

“No, well-”

“This theatre has been going downhill for several months now,” she continued.  “The shows you get in are poorly advertised and of poor quality-”

“Mrs Shiers I-”

“- don’t interrupt me Mr Taylor, that’s extremely rude!”  She glared at him over the top of her varifocals with undisguised menace.  “As I was saying, the shows are terrible, a fact of which you must be aware given that nobody comes to see them – ”

“I wouldn’t say nobody, exactly – ”

“There were twelve people in the audience this evening, Mr Taylor,” she informed him crisply, “I know because I counted.  And two of them left during the interval.”

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