Apologies to Kate Atkinson fans

Kate Atkinson
Kate Atkinson

As you can tell by the number of posts during the Writers festival, it was pretty busy.  This is my excuse for why, somehow, unbelievably, we seem to have missed out on posting anything about Kate Atkinson’s session.  This is a shame, because those who went really enjoyed it.

The session was scarily chaired by Lynn Freeman from The Arts on Sunday Radio Programme, (her warnings about what she would do to anyone whose phone went off during the session was enough to get me rifling through my bag to double recheck that my phone was off). However she asked some really good questions and kept the mainly female audience in strict control.  We all knew exactly where we stood thank you very much!

Kate Atkinson read a chapter from her new book When will there be good news.  I thoroughly enjoyed sitting back and being read to, but I did hear murmurings about not coming to a session to spend half of it listening to a chapter of a book that they had already read!  Others however …

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New Margo Lanagan book

Black Juice
Black Juice

Australian writer Margo Lanagan has a new book coming out. Best known for her speculative short story compilations, Margo was the key-note speaker at the South Island’s Children’s Librarians Conference in March. She talked about her resistance to providing moral lessons in her work for children and young adults and also the need for authenticity, as children can detect dishonesty.

Her “hit single” as she put it, comes from her anthology Black Juice. “Singing my sister down” is a complete short story. It lingers in your mind and is something I go back to everytime I want to really learn about creating effective short fiction.

Her new book is called Tender Morsels and it’s already received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Kirkus Reviews. It’s getting rave reviews from people in the blog world too –

“This book is nevertheless a marvel to read and will only further solidify Lanagan’s place at the very razor’s edge of YA speculative fiction.” – Booklist

You can read some reviews here and also get an advance peek. You can reserve it to be one of the first in the queue when it comes out, or check out some other books by her.

Romance is dead: Sex sells

One of the ironies of The Press Christchurch Writers’ Festival was that the star guest, Robert Fisk, works for the main sponsor’s opposition. Tony O’Reilly, who owns The Independent that Fisk writes for, also owns Australian Provincial Newspapers, which in turn owns The New Zealand Herald, The Star in Christchurch and most of New Zealand’s commercial radio stations. Anyway, it’s The Independent you’ve got to thank for this post.

The Independent has reported that Mills and Boon, the venerable romance fiction publishers who have reached 100 years in the business, have turned the heat up a notch. Gone are the days of emotional attachment between hero and heroine – from 2009 in the UK (and already in the US) it’s “sex for enjoyment” as their marketing director put it, in a series called Spice.

It is part of a continuing pattern for the Mills and Boon books – once upon a time they published sports and craft titles, before moving into escapist romances. They’ve been getting gradually more explicit ever since. All this begs the question: If Mills and Boon books have got progressively raunchier, does the audience, ah, keep pace?

One thing’s for sure: the title writers will have a field day… if they weren’t already!