Birthday bookswap woes

I was asked what I thought of this story by US columnist Emily Bazelon about how she celebrates her sons’ birthday parties. The two boys, Eli and Simon, are 10 and 7 – and ever since the older boy’s third birthday they have celebrated a “bookswap” birthday party.

Twenty five children are invited to the party and each is asked to bring a (wrapped) book. At the end of the party each child takes away a different (still wrapped) book. The rationale for this is that the birthday bookswap celebrates the anti-consumerist values of the parents since the boys want for nothing and don’t need twenty five presents.

The problem is that the children hate it. After the first three years of the bookswap at nearly 6 Eli protested and the parents modified their austerity rules. Now twenty children bring wrapped books but five selected guests are expected to bring sizable consumer toys. Emily says: In the e-mail to the parents of the five present-givers, we told them to go nuts. They were happy to play along. “We’ll make it sure it’s BIG and made of PLASTIC,” one mom wrote.

That was four years ago. Eli has just had his tenth birthday and both children still hate the book swap. Emily describes their raction in her 22nd January column: Over the years, the kids have not exactly embraced the book swap. Nor do they tolerate it as a mildly irritating but harmless parental quirk. They hate it. Every year their protests grow louder. Meanwhile the parents don’t seem at all clear on what the bookswap is intended to achieve. They lavish their children with presents throughout the year, giving one a night throughout Hanukkah. They also allow family members (themselves, the uncles and aunts and the grandparents) and the five chosen children to give birthday presents. It’s not mentioned if the parents themselves celebrate their birthdays with bookswaps. So it appears that the only time this anti-consumerist sentiments are expressed are on the boys birthdays.

No argument against it works. The message from the children is clear.
“But I want 25 presents! I don’t care. I hate book swaps. I’m NOT having one. Nobody else has to. IT’S NOT FAIR! Why can’t I be like everyone else?
But the parents are immovable. The children don’t need 25 presents. They don’t think the idea of giving half the presents away to a charity is polite to the guests. They wants their kids to have some spine and not want to be like everyone else. They could donate the money from their own present for the boys to a soup kitchen – but they don’t want them to miss out on large parental presents like this year’s gift of a camera.

In the article Emily explains that in the end Eli gave up. Drama subsided into anticlimax. At the party, we did the book swap. Eli said not one more word about it, either of protest or acceptance.

It’s difficult to explain quite how depressing I find this whole sorry tale. The bookswap is pointless. 25 middle class children get presents, charity gets nothing and two children are cheated of the one day they can get to feel special. I think it’s particularly sad that the parents expect their children to debate them, to explain their reasons for not wanting the book swap, when the parents can’t explain their own reasons for having it in the first place. On top of that there’s the problem that books (and by extension literacy and language) are made a ‘teaching moment’ but the children themselves are not given any books and not expected to value books as gifts. Five guests are allowed to bring ‘real’ presents which are not books.

And I wonder if the five selected guests are being selected on the basis of their financial ability to produce really good real presents. Is this teaching anti-consumerism or tactical trading for the best return for the smallest investment?

There are so many better ways of doing this. Let the child receive the 25 presents of their guests but ask them to donate half the presents to charity. (I have no idea why Emily thinks this is not nice to the guests – it could be done after the guests have gone.) Or have the child donate some gently used toys of their choice to charity. Or ask that all 25 presents be books – I’d have loved this idea, although not all children would. Or ask that children don’t bring gifts, or only small gifts, or a small gift and a charity donation. Or forget the whole sorry exercise and on another date volunteer as a family to do charity work.

So, my opinion is that the birthday bookswap is misplaced idealism. What do readers think? Does your opinion change if you don’t belong to a culture that celebrates birthdays? How would you feel as either the child, or as the parents, in this situation?

Middle child syndrome in trilogies

In yesterday’s Guardian books blog Imogen Russell Williams explains that while she has warmed to trilogies (as long as each book stands alone) she feels the middle book of a trilogy is often the weakest.

After praising Inkheart, His Dark Materials, Peter Dickinson’s Changes, and Jonathan Stroud’s Bartimaeus she says:

Hex: Shadows

Hex: Shadows

I was also a tad disappointed by the second book in Rhiannon Lassiter’s Hex trilogy. The eponymous first volume, written at the precocious age of 17, has a fascinatingly dislikeable anti-heroine, Raven, and a gripping future world in which people are literally stratified by wealth – the rich in the Heights, the gangs in the shadowy ground-level slums – and citizens with the Hex mutation are proscribed and executed. While the third book, Ghosts, feeds the reader’s yen for revolutionary action as the genocidal elite get overthrown by Hexes, the middle volume feels as though it’s marking time – Raven is captured by the security forces, but not a lot happens and not much is learnt.

Since Imogen mentioned the Hex trilogy I’m going to respond to those comments. Firstly, I should say how pleased I am that the Hex books have stayed in her mind, over ten years since they were published. There are thousands of trilogies she could have used as an example so simply being remembered ten years after the fact is a triumph of sorts.

I also am inclined to agree that middle books of trilogies can be the weakest since theirs is the toughest job. The first book begins with a bang and takes the reader into a new world. The last book ends with another bang, concluding a story that has taken three books to tell. The work that falls to the middle book is to broaden and deepen the story, to add another dimension to the characters and the world. This is difficult to pull off in an action adventure where the plot must wind its way through a valley in the shadow of two obvious peaks. No wonder that middle books, as is sometimes said of middle children, are the least loved.

If Hex: Shadows didn’t work for Imogen, that’s a fair comment. There’s no rule that everyone has to like all my books – although what a boost to sales such a rule would be! But looking back on it I recall a fair few things happening in that book. (Spoilers ahead: so if you haven’t read the Hex trilogy you might want to skip the next part of this post.) In the first book of the trilogy Raven and her brother Wraith comb the streets of a high-rise London for their missing younger sister Rachel, adopted away from their family and at risk from a totalitarian government. Making contacts in the underworld they eventually track Rachel down to a secret government laboratory where she is the victim of sadistic experiments at the hands of the evil Dr Kalden. Hundreds of other similarly brutalised children perish and Rachel and two others are the only ones to be rescued by our heroes. Here endeth the first book.

In book two, I could have marked time until the inevitable conflict with Kalden in book three. But instead I chose to take the novel into what felt like darker territory. In Hex: Shadows the security forces strike back… perhaps an unconscious homage to the incredibly bleak middle episode of the original Star Wars trilogy. Hex: Shadows begins with a betrayal. A new recruit to the team reports Raven’s whereabouts to the government. After all that effort to rescue Rachel in book one, in book two Rachel is trapped with the heroine Raven and her sidekick Kez while the security forces close in from all sides. Rachel dies and Kez and Raven are captured. Raven’s Hex abilities are now put to the test as she becomes the experimental subject in the latest round of Kalden’s quasi-scientific sadism. Without access to any of her resources from book one, Raven must break through the devices being used to torture her to get a message to her confederates on the outside. As the book moves towards the conclusion the characters must put their faith in the person who betrayed them – while Raven transcends the torture and kills the sinister Dr Kalden herself. There surely can’t be many middle books of trilogies in which the hero kills the villain! My editors at the time must have wondered what would be left for book three.

The action of Hex: Shadows allowed me to take the story forward so that I could explore bigger and more radical ideas in book three. In Hex: Ghosts Kalden returns as a ghost-in-the-machine, far more deadly as a computer virus than he was as a man. And Raven is no longer a casual adjunct to the core group, the skilled consultant who doesn’t care about the main mission. By book three the cause of the Hexes has become personal and her closest friend is the person who betrayed her to the government in book two. What’s more, Kalden’s experiments have had an unexpected result: since not only has Kalden escaped into the computer network, Raven has set foot on the path that leads to true transcendance of the physical world. Everything that happens in Shadows is necessary for Ghosts.

The middle book might have as much action as books one and three – although there’s a pretty kickass firefight where I fly a flitter into a building and down a corridor with inches to spare. But action’s not the only thing that takes a plot forward. The changes in Raven are internal and emotional, the changes in the rest of a group a response to that shift. I do regret an editorial change which de-emphasised Raven’s cold decision to rid the world of Kalen. Macmillan felt that cold-blooded murder, even of a torturer, was too strong for a YA novel in the 1990s. Other than that, I’ve content with what I achieved in Shadows and I’d encourage Imogen to re-read the trilogy: not only as an action-adventure but as a coming-of-age story in a bleak and shadowy world.

But then I’ve always had a special love of middle books. At 10 years old I dressed myself in black and told my family to call me Arha: The Eaten One, after falling in love with the middle book of the Earthsea trilogy: the magnificent Tombs of Atuan. And then there’s Ann Halam’s (Gwyneth Jones) Daymaker trilogy. The middle book, Transformations, is the darkest and the most disturbing of the three. Among my friends and professional colleagues Pullman’s middle book The Subtle Knife is often cited as the favourite. Critics have also admired Rowling’s Prisoner of Azkaban: the third of seven and to me the darkest of the Harry Potter books. (The novel won the 1999 Whitbread Book Award, the Bram Stoker Award, the 2000 Locus Award, and was short-listed for other awards, including the Hugo.)

In the Guardian blog Imogen comments: “I’m all for dark and uncompromising children’s literature, but upping the ante… after [a] first volume’s gentle, PG-rated antics is baffling to me… A good rule of thumb, in fact, is probably to avoid dedicating book two to the protagonist’s capture and imprisonment.” But I suspect the darkness at the heart of a series is best found in the middle book. George Lucas knew what he was doing in The Empire Strikes Back. A series in which the heroes win, win and win again lacks the drama of one in which they win, lose, and have to win decisively and permanently against not just the representatives but the whole political system. The middle book is a story of failure, of hopes blighted and trust betrayed. It’s a book in which the characters first feel a sense of the magnitude of their mission, the promises they have to keep and miles to go before they sleep.

Middle books may be the hardest to write and perhaps the hardest to read. But they’re the pivotal ones. So when you praise the oldest sibing and pet the youngest of three: spare a thought for those middle children of trilogies, working as hard or harder to prove themselves and stand out on their own.

2010: welcome to the future

Snow in my garden

Snow in my garden

Happy new year to everyone! This post is 19 days late because I began the new year with a stinking cold and I didn’t even go out and play in the snow which has been 8 inches deep or more across Oxford. Here’s a view of my garden from my window. I only went out to put out the compost: those are the tracks you can see on the right.

Since then I’ve been trying to get caught up with work. I am having cover discussions for Ghost of a Chance with OUP and also working on the revisions. Ghost of a Chance will be out in 2011.

I’ve also been working on a redesign of my website. For the first time I’m outsourcing the majority of the work – although I have briefed the designer about the layout I want and collated much of the code. The design will be based on a template created by Matthew James Taylor whose css layouts are well-worth checking out. The site is being constructed by Mo Holkar of Freeform Games in his alter-ego as web designer. It’s a real relief to be able to pass on some of the work of putting the site together to a friend I trust. Mo also runs the sites I designed for Celia Rees and Frances Hardinge so he’s familiar with the way I create sites and write html and css.

I’m also a judge for the 2009 Clarke award so I’m reading my way through the submission list. (I’ve been looking for a link to this but I think it’s not online yet.) I’ll check with the committee to find out where and when the full longlist can be seen.

Shadow

Shadow gazing up at me

I’ve various other projects on the go which I’ll write about in separate entries. The current great joy of my life is that my little black cat, Shadow, has been driven by the cold to sit on my lap. This is something she has rarely deigned to do in the past so I feel very honoured. Here’s a picture of her eyes beaming up at me.

So here I am in 2010! It’s the future: 2010 is a really science-fiction sounding year. I hope it’s been good to everyone so far and here’s wishing you all the best for the year ahead.

Dreams poll

Living in Dreams

I once wrote a novel called Waking Dream. For a long time (until Bad Blood) it was the novel I was proudest of. I think that’s because I live in dreams.

When I was little I didn’t have a lot of friends who “made things up”. Maybe that was just my group of friends but it was always a surprise to me when someone admitted to “telling themselves stories” or were willing to play a “make believe”  or “let’s pretend” game. It was surprise because most of the time my schoolmates and classmates and other contemporaries were alarmingly literal. After about age 10 it was virtually impossible to get any of my friends to play with dollshouses, action figures or the most basic of imaginative games. Approaching secondary school I found myself doomed to a life of gossip and chatting and no more make-believe.

Even my reading friends were too old to play out games. Instead we turned to writing shared world stories or sharing book recommendations. Everything in text because our school didn’t prmote drama. Then later at a school that did promote drama, putting on a play. But forever the world of make believe, true make believe, was lost to us by then.

The play’s the thing to catch the conscience of a king
But when does the wild rumpus begin?

Make believe exists in dreams and as much as I live in a world of fantasy, I exist in dreams. I have, at times, kept a dream diary. But it’s virtually impossibile for me to capture every aspect that incorporates the reality of dreams. In Waking Dream, the novel, I tried. But in using a pastoral arcadian quest story mythic resonance canvas I missed out so much of what dreams are about. The missed train, the unpacked bag, the doors in walls; there’s just so much I could have said in that novel and didn’t have the space for.

So, just to begin with, some dreams I’ve mentioned in places elsewhere:

The Tooth dream
In this dream there is a problem with my teeth, they are crumbling out of my mouth and although I try to put them back in they won’t go.
The Packing dream
In this dream I am staying somewhere on holiday and need to pack to leave. But the room is full of things belonging to me, I have no sensible packing materials, not enough cases, and then I realise that there are bookshelves full of books and tonnes of fragile ornaments and bits and pieces of stuff that I can’t possibly get packed in time. For bonus points I have my cat with me (and no cat carrier). For extra bonus points I have multiple cats.
The School dream
In this dream I am back in school or college. I am behind on lessons, I need to study, I am late for class but I don’t know what my time table is and I can’t find my way around the buildings. (This dream can be linked to the Moving House dream or the Bus that never seems to get anywhere dream.)
The Moving House dream
In this dream I have moved out of my lovely house and into much less suitable accommodation. I am living with a bunch of poorly-chosen people in a house where there are not enough rooms and some of us will have to share rooms or beds. Only then do I notice an entire wall of the house is missing and replaced with clingfilm or some equally unsuitable and structurally-lacking substance. (This dream is sometimes combined with the Gate Crasher dream)
The Gate Crasher dream
In this dream I am having a party and it has been gate-crashed by some people I either know but do not like or don’t know at all. They won’t go and when I try to get them to leave they laugh at me, they take over my bedroom and start using/breaking my stuff. I ask my friends to help but they think it’s funny.
Rooms opening into other rooms dream
I am in a house, possbly a new house that I’ve just moved into, and discover new rooms that I did not wot of through unexpected doors. This can be a positive thing unless those rooms are occupied by confused or aggressive strangers who did not realise their house connects to mine
Flying powers are failing and can only slightly float dream
Everyone loves to fly but sometimes my flying dreams don’t work and then I bob about ineffectually.
On a bus that never seems to get anywhere dream
For bonus point combined with Failing At University dream
People I know have been replaced by doppelgangers dream
Creepy dream in which the people I love behave inconsistantly with how I;d wish to believe they’d behave in real life.
Witch can see into my mind and is going to come and get me dream
See Ghost of a Chance, coming in 2011 from OUP
Not Enough Pies dream
In this dream I am making a quantity of food for myself and others. When the time comes to serve there isn’t enough to go around.
Eating Weird Objects dream
In this I am for some reason able to consume things one would not normally think of food. Last night it was a light-bulb. I don’t like this dream because it makes my throat feel sore and I can taste the lightbulb and feel the glass crunching when I bite it. It burns.

Melissa in Wonderland, Romeo and Leanne

I am disturbed by the concept of personalised classic books: found here on iwantoneofthose.

Have you always dreamed of starring in your very own novel alongside your friends? Well, here’s your chance. The Personalised Classic Books take 5 well known classics and lets you choose who you want to be the central characters. The plot remains the same, the only thing that changes is that it’s you hunting vampires in the darkest depths of Transylvania, or your friends setting out along the yellow brick road while you chase them on a broom stick.

It’s clearly an idea whose time has come but who actually would want one? The most obsessive Alice fan I know would run screaming from this concept. And in the 70 years until Twilight fans can have them will they still want one?

Bad Blood published in Czech Republic and Japan

Bad Blood is to be published in the Czech Republic (by Mlada Fronta) and in Japan (by Shogakukan). Both editions have new covers – as different from each other as they are from the UK edition.

  

Bad Blood the short film

Yesterday I made my first video. I’ve had all sorts of software to help me do this for years and years but I’ve only just managed to make something with it. The Bad Blood short film is only 33 seconds long but I made it all myself.

The voice effect is me reading the Bad Blood poem, adjusting the pitch of my voice for each character, adding an echo effect and layering the sound so that the last two lines are spoken by all three voices. I created this in GarageBand and saved the sound file. The video is a piece of film I took of the real house in the Lake District, filtered to make it look more threatening. I cut and spliced this with the sound file and the photographic images using iMovie. The images that appear are photoshopped image files, mostly taken by me but a few from copyright free images on the internet, all heavily photoshopped, filtered and then added with a ‘ken burns’ effect into the iMovie video. Finally I exported the whole thing and put the video on YouTube. The images (if anyone would like to see them as single shots) are available on Flickr here.

I’ve rated the video PG13 because it is scary. It scared me and the sound file alone scared my sister! Don’t watch it if you think you might find it too much for you.

Second Polish interview

Here’s a link to the interview I did with Polish website Carpe Noctem. There’s also to be a competition to win some of my books in Polish coming up soon.

And here’s the text for English readers:

Even though “Bad Blood” is your latest book, it was the first one that has been published in Poland. Can you say something about your other works? Which one would you recommend for someone who liked “Bad Blood”?

I write in a wide range of genres. My first books were science fiction but since then I’ve written fantasy, horror and contemporary fiction novels. Readers who liked Bad Blood might also enjoy Waking Dream, a tale of three cousins who enter a landscape of dreams, or my series that starts with Borderland, about a group of teenagers who travel between worlds.

In 2011 my next horror novel will be published in the UK and perhaps in Poland as well. It is called Ghost of a Chance and is a ghost story and detective story set in an English country house.

Why did you decide to write literature for children and young adults?

I fell into writing almost accidentally. I was writing stories for years before I realised I was a writer.  I wrote the kind of books I wanted to read and fortunately for me there were publishers who liked them as well. It wasn’t until I’d written several books that I started to write more deliberately for young adults. I still write for the kind of reader I was as a teenager and the kind of reader I am now. I like stories about change and becoming and identity: all themes that are very appropriate for teenagers.

What was it like to send a sample of your first book, “Hex”, to your mother’s agent as a seventeen years old girl and later get it accepted for publishing? How did you feel while waiting for the feedback? Were you confident or rather nervous and hopeless?

I was sending material to my mother’s agent for advice about whether to try submitting professionally, so I was hopeful that she’d find something to like. I don’t know what I expected but it came as a HUGE surprise when she offered to represent me. Then, later, Douglas Hill suggested I send my book to his editor Marion Lloyd. She was the first editor it was sent to so I wasn’t expecting much – most books have to be submitted to lots of publishers. It was wonderful when Macmillan took the book and gave me a contract for a second book as well. I had just started at university so I was very young to get a first contract straight away like that.

Did your mother encourage you to write and was she helpful? Did she give you any advice on writing?

My mother has always been very helpful and supportive. We talk to each other about our ideas and discuss tricky bits of narrative. She also gives me advice about the industry and we discuss what ideas are popular and what might be new and exciting.

Why did you decide to turn to darker fiction and write “Bad Blood”?

I like to move forward in my writing and experiment with new ideas and new styles. Bad Blood was a challenge for me. I wanted to see if I could write something frightening and bring a darker atmosphere into my work.

Is there anything particular that inspired you to write “Bad Blood”?

I went to stay in a house in the Lake District in England and was inspired by the architecture and ambiance of the house as well as by the surrounding scenery. I was staying with my family which might have inspired my use of a family as the central characters in the book.

I was really impressed by the way you used the abandoned house and eerie dolls to create dark atmosphere in “Bad Blood”. Have you ever thought about writing a full-blooded horror for adults?

I would like to write an adult novel, which might have horror elements, but I haven’t had quite the right idea yet. I have lots of notes and some text fragments for an adult novel but right now I’m having too many young adult novel ideas to work on!

Who are your favourite writers and did their works have influence on your writing?

I have definitely been inspired by Diana Wynne Jones (A Tale of Time City, Fire and Hemlock and others) and Margaret Mahy (The Changeover and The Tricksters). Another favourite author is Ursula Le Guin.  I’ve also been influenced by Alan Garner, Annie Dalton, and John Wyndam. I read so much and enjoy so many different authors that I could list hundreds of books here, so I’d better leave it at that for now. If anyone would like to know more about my influences and the writers I admire, I sometimes recommend books on my blog which can be found on my website: http://www.rhannonlassiter.com

 

A penny for your thoughts

A friend linked me to the discussion that’s been going on in writerly circles about donation buttons, direct selling to your readers and whether it’s possible to make money from online publication. Here are the posts I’ve been reading:

  • Steven Brust on begging for alms
  • Bill Ward on patronage and an online audience
  • Cory Doctorow in Locus about creative commons licenses and other ways of gaining attention for your books
  • Paul Raven in a Futurismic blog post about how to make money from fiction in the internet age
  • Since plenty of bright people will be putting forward their two cents of thoughts into the discussion I’m not claiming mine are the ultimate answer. Here’s where I stand on some of the questions that have been asked.

    Steven Brust asked what people thought about him putting a donation button on his website to help him with his finances because he is “bad at money management”.

    To this I’d say he’s perfectly free to put such a button on his site just as visitors are free to ignore it. I personally wouldn’t use it to donate to him. While it’s true that the author gets a pretty pitiful percentage of the cover price, this is how conventional publishing works. Very few people make large amounts of money from their writing – most writers do not make enough to support themselves, let alone their family. I’m not saying this is how things should be – but I’d rather look at solutions that affect the whole system and donating to Brust wouldn’t be a solution to anything other than gaining him a bit more cash.

    I donate to Brust by buying every last one of his Dragaera books, regardless of quality, typically in hardback. I then later buy again in paperback and donate the hardback to charity. If he’d like to make some extra cash from me then offering me something that would appeal to me as a fan of the novels would be a better way to persuade me. But again, I personally would prefer to donate extra content to my fans – hoping to persuade them into buying more books.

    I also don’t think being bad at money management is a good enough reason for a “moderately successful novelist” to ask for money. I can understand his problem, I can share his pain (I too am Not Good at money management) but I think you shouldn’t ask dedicated fans (who have already bought the product, see below on those who haven’t) to pay something for nothing.

    Paul Raven asked “leaving aside dead-tree or digital books bought in the traditional manner, where do you pay to read fiction, if anywhere? What does it take to get you to pay, and what amount seems reasonable to you for what you’re getting – if anything?”

    The answer to this, for me, is I don’t pay for fiction except from booksellers. I gain my reading matter either from a bookshop or online seller, for free as a review copy or gift, for cheap from a second-hand shop or (occasionally, but not often) borrow them from a library. I do pay for some online services (generally the ad free version or premium version of a site I use) but I have never donated money to an author or paid an author directly for their product. It would take a lot for me to be persuaded to. If Ursula Le Guin was in some sort of extremis (in danger of being without shelter or food) then I would donate to her and if she produced a book that was only available to be be bought direct from her website, I would buy that book. But she is my favourite author.

    I think I might make more of an exception for physical book objects or book-relate objects sold at promotional events. If I went to a book fair and found an author signing copies of their books and a table of books to be bought, assuming that I liked that author’s work in the first place and the prices of the objects seemed reasonable, I might then buy a self-published book by that author. As for what constitutes a reasonable amount, I wouldn’t pay anything higher than publishing company prices (between £4,99 and £14.99) and I’d be less likely to buy something at the high end.

    Cory Doctorow asked
    a) Will people donate to support a free book? How much? Will they donate more to support an audiobook or a print edition?
    b) How much work does it take to replicate a professional publisher’s contribution to publicizing and distributing your book?
    c) How much demand is there for premium editions, and what characteristics make those premium editions more valuable?

    My replies are:

    a) If you’re donating in order to gain a copy of a book, how is that book free? I would describe this as buying a book. I personally prefer physical book objects because they are easier on the eye and I can read them in the bath.

    b) Publicity and distribution are THE main things a professional contract gets you. (Also good editing if you’re lucky enough to have an editor who you work well with, but that’s not a given.) Even when the marketing of a book is effectively zero, you’re still benefiting from the name of the publishing company, a listing in their catalogue, and the kudos of professional publication. A known name like Macmillan is worth a lot to an author, especially when compared to a smaller lesser known publisher or a self-published title. I don’t think it’s possible to replicate this sort of distribution or publicity. Self-published books have to find a different method of distribution and a different kind of marketing. Viral marketing and word-of-mouth marketing are good for this type of title but very difficult to create yourself.

    c) A premium edition would have to press a quality of specialness that I actually wanted.

    JKR’s special charity editions of her tie-in Harry Potter title were handwritten by the author. I personally don’t give a damn about having a personal handwritten edition, I like print. It pains me to think of an author I cared about wasting their time laboriously copying out their words when they could be getting on with a new book. I wouldn’t want to support them in doing this for fear it would become popular.

    When it comes to books I don’t want or need them to have lots of bells and whistles. I barely remember to read the ‘Forward by Famous Person’ sections and when I do I find them so full of lushing up and soft soap I don’t care for them. I don’t need more artwork or a free CD or a special bookmark. I just want the words.

    I wish it was easier for authors to make money from their writing. But right now I don’t see a way to achieve that.