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12 Books in 12 Months

writing books and blogging about it

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roalddahl

52 Book Covers (+2) – Interview with Aurora Cacciapuoti

Aurora Cacciapuoti is a Sardinian illustrator currently based in Cambridge.  She splits her time between running art workshops and working as a freelance illustrator.  Whilst I was writing 12 books last year (or 1,667 words a day) she was drawing 365 faces (or 1 face a day).  You can see them all on her tumblr page.

This year Aurora has a new project, to create 52+2 book covers. I asked her a few questions about what she finds inspiring about books.

Continue reading “52 Book Covers (+2) – Interview with Aurora Cacciapuoti”

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Life Changing Reads

Roll up, roll up… it’s time for another question courtesy of The Rogue Verbumancer, aka @Glempy.

Is there one book or writer who has influenced your style more than any other? For me it was Gormenghast. A book which after reading utterly transformed the way I wanted to write, burning away years of childish whimsy and leaving me with a decidedly darker and wordier style. Has a book ever had a similar effect on you or has your style evolved independently?

There are definitely a couple of writers who have influenced earlier short stories I’ve written, the main ones being Spike Milligan and Roald Dahl…  The Milligan influence comes in where I’ve created characters with ridiculous names like Ivan Itch, and with Dahl there’s the kind of Tales of the Unexpected sadness that creeps in sometimes alongside the silliness.  That’s a style I am trying to return to with my children’s books.  More recently I’ve fallen in love with the style of Andy Stanton, author of the Mr Gum books – his stories genuinely make me laugh out loud – so I suspect there will be elements of his silliness influencing me too.

Having said that, writing this much in such a short length of time has meant I haven’t had a lot of time to read over the past few months, so I think that my voice has probably evolved relatively independently in 2011.  There are tons of authors who I’ve read and come away thinking yes, that was amazing and profound, I want to do something like that – but it never quite turns out that way.  I would love to write like Margaret Atwood, for example, but I just don’t have the themes or deal with ideas in the same way as she does.  I’m incorrigibly frivolous.

I also think that much more than being influenced by other people’s stuff, the thing that has impacted on my writing during 12 books in 12 months is personal experience.  By that I don’t mean that I’ve solved a murder or fought a dragon, I just mean that random pieces of conversations I have overheard, or interesting looking people I’ve seen when I’m out and about, have turned up unexpectedly.  And the books for grown ups are all really Scottish, which was never my intention, but I guess that’s happened because that’s where I’ve always lived.

Still, this might all change when I’ve had the opportunity to research my genres more thoroughly.  Ask me again when I’ve read Gormenghast!

Writing Style

This week I’m answering questions from Ian Collings, a writer based in Shropshire who blogs at Take One Step Back and tweets as @ibc4

Of the twelve books you’re writing which falls into your natural writing style the most? Which do you find the easiest to pick up?

My natural style tends towards the silly, often by accident, and even though I haven’t written a kids’ book yet, I’ve harboured ambitions to be a children’s author for about ten years… Essentially I forsee July’s book as being the best – or at least the most enjoyable to do!  That or fantasy, actually.  I’ve written a bunch of short stories that fall across both of those fields and have probably read a lot more of those than any other type of book.

I would love to strike a balance between well written, engrossing but often humorous fantasy written by Neil Gaiman / China Mieville and the silliness of Spike Milligan (whose picture book for little kids, Sir Nobonk, is one of my favourite books ever), with an element of the dark or unexpected twists that you get in Roald Dahl.  And I think May and July’s fantasy and kids’ books are the ones where I’ll be able to give that a proper try.

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