Tag Archives: reviews

Researching for my Novel.

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I often mention, joke, that I buy so many books because I need them for research. Generally, I really do love to have books on hand to either answer questions or to get some inspiration. I know the wonders of the internet has helped me numerous times but having a break from the computer and opening up a book has been more helpful. The novel I’m writing is set in a big Cornish House with woodlands and forests; includes magic- folklore-first life on Earth and climate change. See how many books I can investigate?

9781909263659Every Sunday I work in the Children’s department of the bookshop and  recently, I was organising all the new stock in the delivery when I came across- Briony May Smith’s debut Children’s book; Imelda and The Goblin King. A gorgeous illustrated book and such a great story. It reminded me of why I’d love to read as a young girl. I grew up in the countryside and spent most of my young life sitting in trees and running about in woods and farms. Even as I child I was inclined to write from my imagination. (As do most children.) My diaries had occasional words like- Went to School-came home- went out again-but my stories, they  could go off on a tangent. I used to stare at books like this one.

imelda-and-the-goblin-king-interior-briony-may-smithFiction after all, comes from inside our minds; also mixed up with life’s experiences. Our writing is a blend of likes and dislikes, applying them to characters and fictional situations and relationships. Some customers love the Sci-fi and Fantasy section or fiction in general. While others can’t abide it, preferring instead to go upstairs in the shop to the non-fiction department. The grown up section I call it. But non-fiction plays a huge part in fiction. It’s where I go to get all the facts I need to write my fantasy. Briony’s book with all the stunning visual inspiration and folklore, connects me back into that first desire to see and hear magical stories and characters in books. All genres connect to each other. Think of all the books Briony may have read and studied over the years to inspire her. Colours- art- illustration- trees-flowers- baddies-You get the idea.

Next: Looking at books about the first life on Earth. Richard Dawkins and Yan Wong’s; The Ancester’s Tale. 9781474600569Dazzling four billion year pilgrimage to the origins of life. Remarkable encounters with fellow animals, plants, fungi and bacteria. I’m not an academic, and certainly no expert on the subject, but I love the language and words, which help sections and chapters find their way into my brain. Other times I read the same sentence over and over but nothing happens. Still love it. Early history of this planet is a huge love of mine and I’m still getting through this and I will take my time learning from it. (Four billion years! Still nothing.) This is the new Revised and Expanded Edition, just released. Highly recommended.

James Lovelock: GAIA: A new Look At Life On Earth. My protagonist certainly has strong interests with the planets ecosystem, but she’s not quite Gaia. 9780192862181I’m very late reading this book, it’s been around since the late seventies, but I have a 2009 edition and I’m following it very well. Lots of updated thoughts, information and preface. I have a lot of images of the planet in my own novel that involves the characters evolving from the first cells of life so this book gives me lots of ideas and thoughts on the world as a living self-regulating entity. I find it fascinating. Well- worth having a copy of this on your shelf, if not for writing, then a interesting discussion. (Fight!)

MrFOx-story-of-life-bookI want to finish, (although I have loads more research books) with another children’s book. The Story of Life: A first book about evolution. Authors- Catherine Barr and Steve Williams. Illustrated by Amy Husband. story_of_life_spre_3246931b

I couldn’t help but notice this lovely book. How could I refuse to buy this!  Look at these little faces! Actually, a bit of lighter relief education doesn’t hurt anyone as I learnt quite a lot from this book! (Funny enough I could follow it quite well!) Please buy this for your child or for yourself. Really educational and fun and another great illustrated kids book. Until next time…enjoy your books. I’d love to hear what your researching!

My Interview with James Daunt Of Waterstones.

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James Daunt 03/10/13As a bookseller and a writer, I love the publishing world. What more could you want then being surrounded by shelves of  the most amazing  stories and creative talents pulled from very interesting minds and peoples experiences. After performing on stage for years, I’ve slowed down to combine my creative nature with the story telling world. I  can now sit at home and have the cat on my lap and a coffee beside me while working on my own. To me that is absolute heaven.

In the last few months, I’ve been taking a full time Professional Writing MA at Falmouth University, ( I’ve just passed!) and whilst working in Waterstones part-time,  I managed to interview James Daunt, Managing director for my Industry module.

I really wanted to talk about the survival of the book industry, maybe a question he’d been asked numerous times, but because I feel strongly about the physical book and so do many customers, I knew it wasn’t a question he would be bored with. I wanted to speak to the man himself and confirm what I’d been witnessing in the shop.

Me: ‘How have you managed to keep the bookshop on the High Street against the ever-growing market of the e-book?’

JD: The e-book has it’s natural place. It can be appropriate for travel, for saving space in the home, the green point of view and the digital book is cheaper, making it a finance choice for the customer. Amazon is all about pushing the digital book because they are interested in what they can sell beyond that. But publisher’s recently took a stand against the price of Amazon’s digital’s prices and took their books off the Amazon site and renegotiated, led by Hachette, Macmillan and Harper Collins, to conclude that the publisher sets the price of the digital book. This allows publishers to keep the price to a level that doesn’t distort the market in favour of digital. This is a huge significant development because Hachette had for almost six months been locked in a bitter dispute. This means the publisher has gained back some control with their sales with the physical book. Amazon still have a monopoly on many books with publishers, and we all know about the corporate tax that they avoid by registering in the EU and avoids paying the tax it should in the UK. Waterstones and other business’s have to pay a high level of rates that online businesses don’t, and it has affected many businesses not just Waterstones.

Me: What about the physical book? Are people still buying enough physical books to keep the shop and other book shops open and why would they come in to Waterstones if you could buy cheaper elsewhere?

JD: You have to make Waterstones an interesting and attractive shop. So you make people come into them more, buy books and come back. If you sell better books your customers read them quicker and come back for more. An old system that’s been changed in the way the shop looks, is that the Publishers use to pay a premium for their chosen books and Waterstones would put them in the shops exactly how the publishers dictated, Waterstones sold slots and campaigns were created. This meant the shops all looked the same. We made a huge decision to change this, it took away an incredible amount of income for Waterstones but it meant they have the decision on what’s going to sell, displayed and what gets chosen for The Book club and The Book of the Month.

I also think this gives a greater chance to other authors who might not have been otherwise selected as the chosen title with the publishers.

Waterstones has the choice of what books to campaign, and now they are selling better books, the shops are individualised to suit the market area they are in, and the bookseller is ‘handselling’ the books Waterstones decides on. It’s organic.

I asked if the publisher missed that level of control, if they were unhappy about it. But he said that because the books Waterstones are choosing are selling well, and the publishers aren’t paying Waterstones for the marketing, it’s working out for both sides. Of course, my experience of being an independent bookseller, I know that making a shop welcoming works.

I enjoyed listening to someone who obviously enjoyed not only his job but the product he sells. (Yes he earns more than me!) But I have found the human nature of the need for a physical book fascinating.

I don’t believe the book will disappear. I think they are so much part of our DNA and culture that they will always exist and there will always be a need, an appetite for them. Most of the customers I speak with are book fanatics: to hold a book is a kinaesthetic experience, and you find people buy them even if they don’t have the time to read. (Or is that just me?) This is what brings people back, encourage them to come and see and pick books that have been carefully selected and chosen for every genre on the market.

I asked James Daunt what Books he loves to read.

JD: The classics are still excellent and continue to stand the test of time, but I read quite a lot of the new literature so that I can talk to the customers about those books in the shops.

Change and evolving with the market seems to be the focus and that the bookseller is the key to saving the physical book. I’m just very glad that the book is still here. (I’m going to buy some more now!)

More books what I bought…

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Nobrow, Graphic Novel.

 The lovely book itself is a light-hearted and playful exploration of possible theories of the creation of the universe dreamt up by the contributors themselves. The quality of the paper and the binding is truly lovely. If you are a fan of illustration or even books in general, this is a lovely book to have in the library. You can see some examples of the content on the Nobrow website. I have yet to read this, so watch out for the review. It is amazing in the flesh!

“Faery Tales” by carol Ann Duffy

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A stunning gift edition. I bought this mainly for the cover

Faraway lands of wicked witches, evil monsters. Carol Ann Duffy’s stunning collection of fairy tales.

Once upon a time . . . I bought the same book twice!

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Penguins deluxe edition of Emily Bronte’s “Wuthering Heights”.

The problem I have working in a book shop is I see all the new editions and new releases and have to own them. Yes, I already have “Wuthering heights”, but look at that cover!

I shall be back with more delights. I’m just piling them up, until I pounce and devour them all.

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