Book Review | ‘Nineveh’ by Henrietta Rose-Innes

That’s right, folks, it’s time for another book review! Thanks so much to Dawn at Book & Brew for sending me the book and hosting my review on her gorgeous blog. You can read the full piece for free on the Book & Brew site, but here’s a little snippet to whet your appetite…

DLSBou3X0AEp2OK-900x450From the outset, Nineveh is characterised by vibrant insectoid imagery: the opening chapter focuses on a tree that has been colonised by caterpillars, for example. In the hands of any other author, such a motif might make your skin crawl, but under Rose-Innes’ deft touch it makes for compulsive, surprisingly beautiful reading. Right up to the last pages, you cannot be sure quite where the fleeting – often surreal – imagery is going to take you… [READ MORE]

 

BookMachine | The June 2017 Publishing News Wrap

Did I hear someone ask for some publishing news? Look no further, because it’s time once again for my monthly publishing news wrap over on BookMachine! Follow the link here and at the end of the excerpt for full hyperlinks and article.

BookMachine_logoThis month in publishing, there has been much news from across the pond as BookExpo took place, with tweaks promised for 2018 to try to find the right balance between Expo and Con. The big books of the BookExpo show have been slightly overshadowed, however, by the continuing fuss over the size of advances being paid to American politicians for their books, including $795k for Bernie Sanders and former FBI Director James Comey is looking at a rumoured $10m bidding war.

In bookselling, once again author James Patterson has partnered with the American Booksellers Alliance for his Holiday Bookseller Bonus program, which this year will give even more ‘bonuses’ to individual bookshops in America. For one bookshop, however, no bonus is needed, as they just sold a first edition James Bond book for a whopping $22,500! Continue reading BookMachine | The June 2017 Publishing News Wrap

Sneak peek inside Don’t Panic

Just over a month until Don’t Panic hits the shelves – yes, I’m dancing excitedly; yes, it’s due out on 10th August; and yes the digital proofs look so pretty a whole flock of butterflies just erupted in my chest.

Yes, you can also PRE-ORDER the new book at all the best bookstores, including but not limited to:

Amazon
Blackwells
Foyles
Waterstones Continue reading Sneak peek inside Don’t Panic

Reporting from Hay Festival 2017

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As some of you may have gathered from social media, I’ve been busy-beeing away running the Hay Festival Twitter feed again this year. What a joy it’s been too: so many insightful, thought-provoking ideas flying around. Amazing to be there to help celebrate 30 years of Hay – I’m totally exhausted and completely inspired!

As well as Twitter, I wrote a summary of the industry news from the first half of the Festival for BookBrunch, and also joined the journalists in the media room to write a few Facebook posts for Hay: Continue reading Reporting from Hay Festival 2017

BookMachine | The May Publishing Wrap

Roll up, roll up! It’s time to hear about the biggest publishing news from around the web over the past month, with the BookMachine May Publishing Wrap!

BookMachine_logoBig news from Amazon once again this month, as it hit an all-time high in the stock market and revenue from Q1 is up, prompting CEO Jeff Bezos to sell some of his stocks in the business for the largest sum yet. The tech giant’s Japanese expansion continues apace and they are widely considered to be “eating the world”, but all is not well with Amazon’s relationship with publishing. The introduction of a new buy button programme has drawn criticism from publishers and authors alike – including in the independent scene. What’s more, Amazon has this month announced and released a new book chart system, in which – perhaps unsurprisingly – their own books are notably faring better than anyone else’s. Continue reading BookMachine | The May Publishing Wrap

The final BookBrunch interview: a celebration of reading with Damon Young

It seems fitting to end my collection of BookBrunch interviews over the last year with this blast of positivity and deep thought from author and philosopher Damon Young.

Thank you so much to BookBrunch (Nick, Neill, David & Tobias in particular) for letting me launch this new column of the magazine over a year ago now, and a huge big shout out to my successor Julie Vuong – do get in touch with her via the BookBrunch website if you’re interesting in being interviewed. I have enjoyed doing these interviews so much and will really miss them – big love to everyone who’s been involved along the way.

So, without further ado: Damon Young on his new book, The Art of Reading.

young_damon.jpgYoung describes The Art of Reading as having three strands: autobiographical, philosophical, and “vaguely” sociological. But it quickly becomes clear that his analysis of reading is going to step outside the box…

Define ‘reading well’
“What I’ve suggested is that the best way to think about ‘reading well’ is that there is no law. It’s not an easy universal principle, you can’t just say, ‘The way to read is like this.’ Our experiences and books are too diverse for that to make sense. We can’t even read the same book in the same way, let alone all the different books.” He cites the Bible. “Love of God’s a perfectly reasonable Christian response to the Bible, sure, but it’s not enough. There are so many different ways to read the Bible, let alone Nietzsche, and Jane Austen, and Henry James… There is no law.”

Continue reading The final BookBrunch interview: a celebration of reading with Damon Young

BookBrunch | Hot new American novelist Angie Thomas, author of bestseller The Hate U Give, on race, writing and resistance

Once in a while, a book comes along that totally blows your mind. The Hate U Give is one of those books and everyone should read it right now. Even better, the author Angie Thomas, is a total sweetheart, absolutely bursting with passion. Here’s our chat – and you should totally check out the full article on BookBrunch – but you should also buy the book.

Angie Thomas has shot to literary stardom in recent months, as her debut novel The Hate U Give, skyrockets to the top of the NYT bestseller charts. Set to be published in 18 territories and counting – and already out here through Walker Books – the YA novel follows 16-year-old Starr, who lives between the poor Mississippi neighbourhood where she was born and a posh high school in the suburbs. When she becomes the only witness to the fatal shooting of her unarmed best friend, Khalil, she comes face to face with police brutality and systemic racism

After the intensity of the book, Thomas herself is a slight surprise: a generous smile, regular laughter, and a soft Mississippi accent. Her passion and conviction shine through, however, and she has much to say on publishing, on the importance of books, and on America itself.

The struggle to write

Though Thomas has been telling stories for as long as she can remember, it took her a long time to believe that being an author was something she could do. “For one, I never saw or met any authors who looked like me. Mississippi has a rich literary history, but most of them are either white or dead and I was neither! So it felt like it was something that I, as a black girl in a poor neighbourhood in Mississippi, just couldn’t do.”

Continue reading BookBrunch | Hot new American novelist Angie Thomas, author of bestseller The Hate U Give, on race, writing and resistance

Publishing internationally, digitally and collaboratively with the BookBrunch interviews

Another trio of interviews for you from BookBrunch, and each one is a real treat for publishing enthusiasts.

First, I caught up with Henry Rosenbloom from Scribe, who was so frustrated with the state of rights sales, he decided to expand his publishing house from down under to the UK. This is one publisher that’s serious about seriously good books!

“Later on in life, I’ve realised that what drives me as a publisher, in a strange kind of way, is the Holocaust. That’s what imprinted on me the seriousness of the world we live in, and how important it was to try to understand history, politics, people, and how to tell the truth. How to ‘comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable’. Books have the power to change people’s lives, and we want to put out books that demand to be published because of their intrinsic significance.” Continue reading Publishing internationally, digitally and collaboratively with the BookBrunch interviews

BookMachine | The March Wrap

BookMachine_logoIt’s the time of the month where I round up all the internet’s top publishing stories and stick them in one place on the BookMachine blog for your perusal! Here’s a sneak peek – don’t forget to visit the BookMachine blog for more…

The big news from March in UK publishing is obviously the London Book Fair (LBF). Poland shone at this year’s Market Focus, and the Fair was busier than usual, with six-figure deals struck ahead of time and publishers cheerfully splashing cash as sales rose. This was seen as further evidence of the rise of print, with The Guardian stating that by the end of the month stats showing that print outperformed digital. Yet, despite the recent whopping $65m forward paid for the Obamas’ new book (which hasn’t pleased all and prompted a list of the biggest deals of all time) no single title emerged as this year’s big hitter. Continue reading BookMachine | The March Wrap

Book Review | ‘The Mandibles’ by Lionel Shriver

27064345In the midst of writing a dystopia of my own, it strikes me on an almost daily basis the degree to which society has come under the thumb of a very fickle dictator: money. Further, money within the context of an inherently unstable and unjust neoliberal capitalist system. For a searing criticism of the failures of this system, flawlessly melded with a scintillating story, I point you in the direction of Lionel Shriver’s The Mandibles: A Family, 2029-2047.

The Mandible family has a sizeable fortune, but when a bloodless world war wipes out their millions they, like the rest of America, find themselves out of their homes and on the brink of starvation. Crammed into their poorest relatives’ house, the financial crisis brings out the best in some, and the worst in others. But, as society continues to devolve and culture breaks down, the choices ahead only get tougher. Continue reading Book Review | ‘The Mandibles’ by Lionel Shriver

Book review | ‘Fahrenheit 451’ by Ray Bradbury

farenheitSpoiler alert: This review contains massive plot spoilers about Fahrenheit 451.

In a year when readers seem to be turning to dystopias for sanity, there seemed to be no better time to return to Bradbury’s sometimes overlooked book, Fahrenheit 451.

Named after the alleged temperature at which books burn, the story follows Guy Montag, who lives in a world where books are banned, as they are thought to be the source of discord and unhappiness. As a fireman, it is Montag’s job to burn any books that are found. Yet, unhappy in his marriage and unsatisfied with life, Montag finds the lure of books too much to resist – and once there are books in his house, there is nothing to stop the feared Mechanical Hound of the Fire Department from tracking him down.

Fifty years on from its initial publication, growing post-truth, anti-intellectual sentiments in Western society have given Fahrenheit 451 new relevance, indeed in parts with almost uncanny precognition on Bradbury’s part. Many elements come into play during this book: the frustrating loss that comes with conformism; the borderline madness that comes with rebellion; the senselessness that must, after a certain point of tyranny, accompany political hope. Yet, to me, it is the end which is most pertinent in the current climate. Continue reading Book review | ‘Fahrenheit 451’ by Ray Bradbury

Don’t Panic! Fourth self-help book out this summer

I took my annual pilgrimage to the Summersdale Publishers stand at The London Book Fair – and guess what I found hidden away in the Spring/Summer catalogue:

9781786852038-3-172x225Don’t Panic:
How to calm your anxiety and stay chilled when life gets stressful

Yep, that’s right I’ve got a fourth book coming out with the lovely folk at Summersdale and it’ll be landing on shelves in August! I’ve been busying away on it for the last few weeks and I can’t wait to see it in print.

While I was there, I also spotted copies of Boost, Stress Less and Believe in Yourself – the cherry on top of the awesome publishing cake that is LBF!

Signed by literary agent Sandra Sawicka at Marjacq

Marjacq_jpeg_400x400Big, huge, GIANT news today: I am now officially signed with a literary agent, the lovely Sandra Sawicka from Marjacq! I’ve got an author page on the agency website and everything.

I cannot express how excited I am to be working with Sandra and I’m really looking forward to seeing what the future holds – let’s go make some stories…

Happy Valentine’s day and huge love to you all!

A fortnight of BookBrunch interviews

It’s been a wildly busy fortnight my end, but in amongst it all I’ve managed to get out the BookBrunch weekly interview as normal, so here’s a pair of publishing chats for you perusal…

On boosting adult literacy with Jo Dawson from Quickreads
“As heavy readers, publishers have trouble imagining what it’s like not to be able to read well. It’s something we all forget about in the industry because we’re in this bubble of people who do read and believe that books are important.”

After the bestseller: an interview with author Kate Hamer
“I just try to focus on what’s going down on the page every day. What will happen will happen, but the page is the one thing I can control.”

BORN – BREATHING – BOUND to be published in Cadaverine

cadaverine-Logo-final-01-2.pngI am hugely excited to be able to tell you all that my latest short story, BORN – BREATHING – BOUND, has been accepted for publication in The Cadaverine!

I’m so grateful to the fabulous editor Lenni Sanders for finding my little tale in the slushpile and can’t wait to see it on Cadaverine’s pages. Cadaverine is a wonderful, free online magazine of poetry and prose from writers under 30 and I’m really honoured to be featured in its pages. 

More details as and when…

BookBrunch | Last interviews of 2016 & my very first PODCAST!

Season’s greetings, friends! And boy, what a ride 2016 has been! Here’s hoping that 2017 brings more peace and sanity into the world – and for all of you much prosperity and some grand adventures.

christmas-card-from-jasmin

Just because the season of of gifts and feasts is upon us, doesn’t mean I’ve been slowing down on the old journalism front though. Very excitingly, I can now reveal my first ever podcast: The BookBrunch Yearly Wrap 2016 Podcast, brought to you for FREE! That’s right, you can listen in for absolutely no money as some of the publishing industry’s top voices talk about their feelings on 2016 and their predictions for the year to come. The only reasonable excuse for not listening is if you have eaten so much you’re plastered to the couch. Continue reading BookBrunch | Last interviews of 2016 & my very first PODCAST!

BookBrunch | “How can we be good?” An interview with Sara Pascoe

This week for the BookBrunch interviews, I talk to comedian and author Sara Pascoe about feminism, comedy and her brand new book, Animal. You can find the full article, right here.

ANIMAL jacket.jpgComedian Sara Pascoe sits in a room at the Faber offices surrounded by piles of her new book, Animal: The Autobiography of a Female Body. She speaks quickly, as if each of her thoughts are eager to be expressed first, and uses her hands expressively to illustrate her points.

We’re here to talk about Animal, but in our half-hour chat the conversation zips from feminism and publishing to empathy and burning orangutans, all set against the backdrop of her career as a comedian. Continue reading BookBrunch | “How can we be good?” An interview with Sara Pascoe

Bookmachine | AI Authors: Who owns the Rights to the future?

BookMachine_logoBookmachine time again!  This week, I’m discussing the possibility that robots might soon be writing our books and the effects that could have on the Publishing industry.  As ever, if you want to continue reading, head over to the Bookmachine blog.

We need to talk about AIs, algorithms and Rights. Over the next decade or two these issues are only going to become more prominent and will likely become major concerns for the Publishing industry.

AI authors – fact, not fiction!

On Thursday, Publishing Perspectives posted an article on possibility that AIs will soon writing our books for us.

This is not as far out as it first sounds. Major and minor news outlets across the web are already using AI-authored stories on their websites. These AIs are capable of compiling articles from raw data and, for the most part, they are indistinguishable from those written by humans. While these stories are still cleared by human editors and have certain flaws, such as not being able to include quotes, they can produce stories almost instantaneously, and in multiple languages. What’s more, they can create thousands of news stories in the time it takes a human journalist to produce only one.

Needless to say our friends in Silicon Valley are already working on the next generation of these AIs: ones which can write fiction novels. I scoffed a few years ago when I heard they were going to write news stories, I’m not fool enough to scoff again…  [READ MORE]

‘Sarnia’ by Hilary Ford (AKA Sam Youd)

Sarnia cover, SYLE PressI will warn you before we begin, this is not a book for the faint hearted. It is, however, a brilliant, painfully emotive evocation of the powerlessness of women in patriarchal societies, and also in a more subtle way the miseries we inflict on those suffering mental illness by not approaching them with due humanity. As such, I strongly recommend it.

As it typical of Sam Youd (writing here as Hilary Ford), the plot is character-driven, fast-paced and gripping from the outset. Our protagonist is a young lady, apparently orphaned, working for a forward-thinking banker in the 1800s. Without great wealth, but with the love-interest of a solid young man named Michael and a steady income, Sarnia is pragmatic and positive. However, when her unknown relatives, the Jelains, turn up on her doorstep determined on reuniting her with her estranged father, she undertakes a trip to Guernsey which will change her life. Youd paints the darkness into this novel slowly, building an increasing sense of doom and captivity until you can hardly breathe. Continue reading ‘Sarnia’ by Hilary Ford (AKA Sam Youd)