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12 Books in 12 Months

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Interview: EJ Newman

EJ Newman

I was faffing about on the Twitter back in January when SF author Ken MacLeod retweeted a message about 20 Years Later, the debut novel from EJ Newman. I hadn’t come across her work previously, but a quick look at her website told me I had to get in touch to find out more, as her creative output puts mine to shame!  She found time in her busy schedule to answer a few questions about her debut novel (a mystery set in post-apocalyptic London), current projects (Split Worlds, which involves producing a new story every week for a year and a day) and supporting local bookshops.

“I’m often asked what it is about dystopian novels that grabs the YA reader’s imagination, and I always like to point out this is nothing new – every generation post-apocalyptic and dystopian novels have a surge in popularity. When I was growing up it was The Tripods and Empty World (that was the first post-apocalyptic novel I read) and there’s the perennial appeal of the books 1984 and Fahrenheit 451 for example. The only different today is that the “YA market” has been explicitly defined in a way it wasn’t the last time this sub-genre was popular.

That aside, the reason it keeps being popular is quite simple I think; dystopian fiction explores problems and threats that already exist all around us, but writ large. In most dystopian fiction the reader is given a hero who resists the system, who wants to fight despite how dangerous it is – thereby enabling us to live out our own fantasies vicariously. When I was a teen, I was constantly furious at adults who were simply ignoring terrible things going on in the world. In dystopian fiction, the heroes actually do something about it.

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12 Books in 12 Months: A Review

In November 2010 I completed National Novel Writing Month, a challenge where you have to write 50,000 words of a novel before midnight on November 30th.  From this adventure, an idea was born.

The received wisdom is that once the first draft of a novel is written, you’re supposed to leave it alone for at least three months before returning to edit – preferably longer.  Coming back to it with fresh eyes means you’re more likely to be ruthless about cutting stuff that doesn’t work.  But what do you do in the meantime?  For me, the answer was write more.  Essentially, NaNoWriMo created a monster.

In 2011, I set out to write the first draft of a novel every month of the year.  I gave each month a genre, and off I went.  It was hard going, and I only reached the hallowed 50, 000 words twice throughout the year.  But I don’t regard that as total failure, more as a lesson in what is physically possible.

Whenever I was tempted to beat myself up about it, I went back to the fact I was working four days a week as an office temp throughout the year, as well as producing monthly columns for The Broughton Spurtle and Ten Tracks, and other articles for Mslexia Magazine, IdeasTap, The Guardian and STV as I went along.  I may not have produced 50k fiction every month, but I think I probably did reach 50k across all my writing.  I blogged about this in June to serve as a constant reminder.

But what was the final word count?  Drumroll, please….

Continue reading “12 Books in 12 Months: A Review”

A Story

What do Jedward’s Birthday, Liam Fox, Justin Bieber, Siri, We Are the 99 Percent, the Rugby World Cup, protests in London and the Korean Grand Prix have in common?

They’re all featured as keywords in this blog post, because they are the things people seem to be talking about on Twitter today and I want to see whether mentioning them drives more traffic to this page.

I don’t have a lot to say about any of them though, sadly.  So what I might do is incorporate them all into a short horror story, as this month I’ve been claiming I can write a short story every single day (turns out I can’t – it’s really quite hard).

 

It was John and Edward’s birthday, and they were celebrating by dancing around their kitchen to the new Justin Bieber album.

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Society of Authors Conference

Today the Society of Authors are holding a conference in Edinburgh. I am not at it, but have been following the live tweets from Colin Fraser of Anon Poetry with interest this morning. And that got me to thinking, perhaps other people would be interested in following the conference today. And then I thought thanks to Phyllis of The Edinburgh Reporter, I have the technology to help people out with that. So I’ve set up a real-time feed for you.

Unfortunately Word Press won’t let me embed it on the page, but if you click the link below it will open in a new window.

Click Here

The Great Kindle Challenge: Day 4

Today I am going to post a few negative words about kindle at the behest of Twitter user @JacToTheFuture, who is trying to find reasons other than immediate financial impracticality why she should stick to paper.  So here you go, ten reasons not to buy a kindle, which you should listen to as I am currently in possession of a borrowed kindle and have read stuff on it and everything.

  1. Continue reading “The Great Kindle Challenge: Day 4”

Literary Edinburgh at the Fringe

This week I had a guest post called Thar Be Monsters, about a comical literary event happening at the Forest Cafe on Monday as part of the Inky Fingers Minifest, which is just one of approximately 8000 festivals happening in Edinburgh this summer.  It can be hard to decide what to do to in amongst all the comedy, music, theatre, dance, literature, poetry, spirituality, politics and bag-piping due to take place, but posts like that one can help the discerning viewer make up his or her mind.

To that end, I would like to take this opportunity to say that if you are doing something as part of one of the festivals and you’d like a platform to tell people about it, you should get in touch about doing a guest post on the blog.  You can email me on ali.george85@yahoo.com or leave a comment below, on facebook, or on twitter.

Continue reading “Literary Edinburgh at the Fringe”

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