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Comment from the book world in January 2024

2024

‘I didn't set out to write a novel about the future...'

12 February 2024

‘I didn't set out to write a novel about the future. Most of my novels have been set in the past, which for me is the space of the greatest mystery and enlightenment. The future, if I thought about it, seemed by contrast thin and predictable. We know that people will be hotter, more opinionated and less well-informed; but in 30 years' time, I thought, they're also likely to still be preoccupied by money, sex and how their football team is getting on.

So my new novel, The Seventh Son, didn't start out as "future-fi" or "near-fi", let alone as sci-fi. But the future crept up on me as I wrote, in terms intriguing, and sometimes more comic, than I'd imagined...

The challenges of this new book lay ultimately not in understanding "the science" or picturing what life will feel like 30 years from now, enjoyable though this was. The hardest thing was trying to imagine the inner life of a young man who is human, but in a different way from the rest of us...'

Sebastian Faulks, author of his new book The Seventh Sun, Birdsong, Charlotte Gray and 17 other novels and anthologies, in the Sunday Times

https://www.sebastianfaulks.com/

 

'Something that would be fun to write and make me smile while doing so'

29 January 2024

I've always read (and watched) classic and cosy murder mysteries, but I'd never written one before, being known primarily as a thriller author. But then Covid happened, and during the first lockdown in 2020 everything felt rather bleak and uncertain. I decided to cheer myself up by writing a modern cosy mystery, something that would be fun to write and make me smile while doing so...

As for a tip, the one I always recommend is to set yourself a daily word count quota - mine is 1,000 words - and hit it every day you're writing.

You can always write more, of course. But extra words don't count against tomorrow's quota; you have to hit it afresh every day. For example, just this morning I wrote 1,500 words, which is great. But tomorrow I'll write at least another 1,000.

While it sounds simple and obvious, it takes discipline to put this into practice day after day, month after month, year after year. But if you do the results can be extraordinary...'

Anthony Johnston, author of The Dogsitter Detective series, Atomic Blonde (a graphic novel), The Explosion Code and three other thrillers and The Organised Writer

https://antonyjohnston.com/

 

'My plan was always to write novels'

15 January 2024

‘I enjoyed being a journalist. It was fun and my press pass got me into police departments, which was invaluable as a crime writer. But my plan was always to write novels...

I'm way beyond just writing a good tight plot puzzle whodunnit. You've got to have something that makes you feel like there's a higher game to it. It almost feels like a duty, with this amazing life I've been given, not to mail it in.'

Michael Connelly, author of 38 novels, including The Black Echo and Resurrection Walk, which have sold 85 million copies worldwide, in The Times

https://www.michaelconnelly.com/

 

'Writing is sort of revenge for me'

1 January 2024

‘When the first books came out, I loved them. They were so different and they had Lisbeth Salander - a character that I, and a lot of women, could really relate to. I said yes straight away (to the offer), no hesitation. I appreciate that so many people are involved across the world and want to sell a lot of books. But it's still just a book...

The first three books were fantastic but with the others you started having the same plots, the same boring Lisbeth Salander in a way. She comes in, solves everything. Where's the vulnerability? How do I humanise her but still keep her a hero?

My take is not less violent than the others - maybe it's even more violent, because I use violence differently. I have the female eye on it. And writing is sort of revenge for me, to dig into what happens to people who are exposed to violence. I'm angry when it comes to men's violence against women, and I think you have to be a woman to really understand the depth of that anger.'

Karin Smirnoff, who has picked up the reins from Lagercrantz for the next Scandi-noir instalment of the era-defining Millennium series, The Girl in the Eagle's Talons in the Bookseller.