Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Guest Post: Mike French's Imaginary Bookshop


Recently I reviewed Mike French’s book, Blue Friday. Mike has kindly agreed to pop over to Writer’s Little Helper and answer 9 questions on the subject of running an imaginary bookshop.

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Hi Mike, congratulations on the publication of your second novel, Blue Friday and thank you for popping over to Writer’s Little Helper.

STOP PRESS: Mike was too busy living the glamorous life of a writer to answer the questions so he has sent Mr Brittle and Mr Stone, characters from Blue Friday to answer them.

1.     What would be the name of your imaginary bookshop?
Mr Brittle: Brittle & Stone Incorporated.
Mr Stone: Stone & Brittle Incorporated.
Mr Brittle: Don’t start, Mr Stone.
Mr Stone: Sorry, Mr Brittle.

2.     Where would your imaginary bookshop be located?
Mr Brittle: At the back of the dry cleaners on Edgware Road. 
Mr Stone: Next to Jack.  He likes books.  He lives in the underground.   Can we have our shop in the underground?

3.     Would your bookshop have any special features? E.g. a performing stage, a cocktail bar, etc.
Mr Brittle: It would have a big clock on the wall and a rotating door.
Mr Stone: And naked girls in a sandpit.

4.     What would make your bookshop different from all of the other ones?
Mr Brittle: At five-o-clock we would throw people out onto the street.
Mr Stone: We would oil the rotating door.

5.     What sections would you have in your bookshop? And what sections would you ditch?
Mr Brittle: We would have a section called RCB.
Mr Stone: Really crap books.  We will discount them and put them in piles of three.
Mr Brittle: We can count to three.
Mr Stone:  One, two, three.  See.
Mr Brittle: I think she sees, Mr Stone.

6.     Every bookshop needs a display table. Which books would you have on your display table? Why?
Mr Brittle: You ask a lot of questions, Mrs Jessica.
Mr Stone: We would put the RCBs there.
Mr Brittle: Yes good one, Mr Stone. A table with legs five meters tall.
Mr Stone: They can’t reach them.
Mr Brittle: And rats to bite fingers, Mr Stone.
Mr Stone: Yes, bad customer should know better, Mr Brittle.
Mr Brittle: Bite, bite, scratch and claw.
Mr Stone: Shoo, bad customer. Go away. 

7.     If you could run only one author event who would you have? You can pick a living or dead writer. What sort of event would they run?
Mr Brittle: I would invite Mike French. 
Mr Stone: He is very famous.  Although sadly dead now.
Mr Brittle: He was killed taking in the milk.
Mr Stone: It was the birds.
Mr Brittle: The event would be a book burning.
Mr Stone: Yes, a good idea, Mr Brittle.
Mr Brittle: You see, Mrs Jessica, we hate his books.
Mr Stone:  Apart from the bits with naked girls.
Mr Brittle: We would humiliate him, invite all his friends then burn his books.
Mr Stone: That would teach him, Mr Brittle.
Mr Brittle: Teach him, Mr Stone.

8.     A customer comes up to your till with a copy of Blue Friday and asks you to give them a reason on why they should buy it. What would you say?
Mr Brittle: Don’t - you’re wasting your money.
Mr Stone: Read page ninety- one.

9.     What sort of cake would you offer when launching your book in your bookshop?
Mr Brittle: Chocolate mice.
Mr Stone: We haven’t got a book, Mr Brittle.
Mr Brittle: I think she means Blue Friday, Mr Stone.
Mr Stone: We don’t like that book, Mrs Jessica. My Mother is not pleased.
Mr Brittle: Not pleased, Mrs Jessica.
Mr Stone: It is after five, Mr Brittle.
Mr Brittle We are going to throw you out now, Mrs Jessica.
Mr Stone: We will enjoy throwing you out, Mrs Jessica.


Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Book Review: Buddhaland Brooklyn

My review of Richard C. Morais's Buddhaland Brooklyn is now live on The View From Here Magazine website.

You can read it here > Buddhaland Brooklyn

Mike French, The Senior Editor of The View From Here Magazine will be here tomorrow. Or his characters from his novel Blue Friday will be here answering the Imaginary Bookshop Q&A.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Guest Post: Janina Matthewson’s Imaginary Bookshop


Recently I reviewed Janina Matthewson’s great book, TheUnderstanding of Women. Janina has kindly agreed to pop over to Writer’s Little Helper and answer 9 questions on the subject of running an imaginary bookshop..
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Hi Janina, congratulations on the publication of The Understanding of Women and thank you for popping over to Writer’s Little Helper.

1.      What would be the name of your imaginary bookshop?
I really want to be clever about this, but I'm not sure I'll manage it. I have a bit of a thing for well-named shops; there's a hairdresser in Christchurch called Shylock's which I've always thought was great. Maybe it'd just be “Where The Hell Is My Book” because that's a sentence I often say. Known to its friends as Helly.

2.      Where would your imaginary bookshop be located?
London is so full of unexpected tiny streets. I love turning off a main, claustrophobic street and suddenly feeling like the city's disappeared, so somewhere like that. Somewhere you hear rumours of and have to seek out, or discover by accident when you're trying to avoid the crowds.

3.      Would your bookshop have any special features? E.g. a performing stage, a cocktail bar, etc.
Ooh, I like both of those ideas. I'd like it to be a place you can sit for a little while, or a long one, without feeling like you're just there to buy things. So tables and chairs and space around for people to read or work. Not a separate cafe section, but just as part of the shop.

4.      What would make your bookshop different from all of the other ones?
It'd have a fully stocked kitchen behind the till so when I got bored of customers I could bake cookies. Which would then make everyone love me.

5.      What sections would you have in your bookshop? And what sections would you ditch?
Since this is a fantasy and I can ignore sensible business practice, I would arrange books by my own personal associations. I like visiting bookshops to find books I haven't heard of, so I'd want to encourage that. For example, I read The Meaning of Night by Michael cox and A Girl's Guide to Kissing Frogs by Victoria Clayton on the same holiday, so they're connected for me, even though they're completely dissimilar. So maybe I'd arrange the shop autobiographically. Annoying for everyone but me. I'd also have sections of reading requirements like “Books For The Tube” and “Hefty But Worth It.”

6.      Every bookshop needs a display table. Which books would you have on your display table? Why?
The display table would be my own personal book diary, with books I'm reading or have recently read. This is clearly a very egocentric shop. Also, if I woke up and happened to remember how much I used to love A Girl of the Limberlost, I'd put it on the table.

7.      If you could run only one author event who would you have? You can pick a living or dead writer. What sort of event would they run?
Roald Dahl. No contest. I'd like to have a poker tournament with Roald Dahl.

8.      A customer comes up to your till with a copy of The Understanding of Women and asks you to give them a reason on why they should buy it. What would you say?
I like to think that my writing is a bit like comfort food, but hearty comfort food. Not donuts and chips, but homemade seafood chowder with crusty bread, or apple crumble with custard. So hopefully I can say that if you'd like to be in a good mood with the world, if you're low and you don't want to be, The Understanding of Women is a good choice for you.

9.      What sort of cake would you offer when launching your book in your bookshop?
Just to completely blow my own for a second, I make an amazing chocolate zucchini cake, so it'd have to be that. I'd do it all layered and fancy, with cream cheese icing dripping all over it.

Bio: Janina is from a tiny country at the bottom of the world and now she lives in a big city near the top. She writes novels and plays and is rife with opinions. She likes sharing food but not kitchens. 
You can find Janina either at her website or hanging out on Twitter


You can buy The Understanding of Women from here

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Book Review: The Evolution of Inanimate Objects

The Evolution of Inanimate Objects: The Life and Collected Works of Thomas Darwin (1857-1879)
A Novel by Harry Karlinsky 
Published by The Friday Project

The Evolution of Inanimate Objects is a curious and compelling little book that will make you think about it weeks after reading the last page.

While researching on the history of Canadian Asylums in the Victorian age, Harry Karlinsky, professor of Psychiatry, who is the author of this book and also a character (which one is real?), comes across the name 'Thomas Darwin.' Could this Thomas Darwin be related to Charles Darwin?

What follows is a fictional biography about Thomas Darwin, the 11th fictitious son of Charles Darwin and the curious tale of how Thomas went from being a scholar with eccentric tendencies to being held in an asylum in Canada. Thomas takes his father's theory on evolution and applies it to inanimate objects. His specialism is kitchen cutlery. All seems plausible until he insists that the objects evolve without human intervention.

I love the barcode!
The Evolution of Inanimate Objects is full of letters, scientific reports, photographs, diary entries and meeting notes. This documentary-style structure makes it feel like you are really reading a factual biography. At times I was so immersed with the story that I needed to go away and google-check to remind myself that The Evolution of Inanimate Objects is fictional.

If you like novels that leave you puzzled (in a good way) and you fancy something more than the usual beginning-middle-end type of novel then you should definitely give this novel a try. Trust me, it's enjoyable, original and fantastic.

The Evolution of Inanimate Objects is available as an ebook and physical book from your preferred book retailer.

Thank you to the publisher who kindly sent me a copy.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Guest Post: Jonathan Pinnock's Imaginary Bookshop



Today’s blog post is part of Jonathan Pinnock’s blog tour for this new short story collection, Dot Dash. Last year I read and enjoyed his novel, Mrs Darcy versus the Aliens and so I jumped at the chance to have Jonathan come over and visit Writer’s Little Helper.

So here is Jonathan’s response when I asked him 10 questions on the subject of running an imaginary bookshop.

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Hi Jonathan, congratulations on the publication of your short story collection, Dot Dash and thank you for popping over to Writer’s Little Helper. I thought I would give you some questions that you may not have already answered on your blog tour. 



 1.     What would be the name of your imaginary bookshop?

Paige and Turner. Or maybe Reedham and Weape.

2.     Where would your imaginary bookshop be located?
Every single high street. In every single community with a population over 300.

3.     Would your bookshop have any special features? E.g. a performing stage, a cocktail bar, etc.
The construction of the building would be a Faraday cage in order to block mobile phone signals. The in-house wi-fi would also intercept all traffic to online bookstores and divert requests to a virus-ridden site that dumped a load of incriminating photos onto the hard-drive before contacting the local police. I know this will be controversial, but it will at least level the playing field a bit.

4.     What would make your bookshop different from all of the other ones?
It will only sell good quality books. Obviously. Also, the sales assistants will be encouraged to loiter around the outside of the shop, humiliating any passers-by who happen to have a copy of Pippa Middleton’s book in their shopping bag.

5.     What sections would you have in your bookshop? And what sections would you ditch?
No celebrity bio section (again, obviously). No misery lit. And no books with a sparkly rainbow on the cover.

6.     Every bookshop needs a display table. Which books would you have on your display table? Why?
The complete works of Stanislaw Lem, because they’re awesome – especially “A Perfect Vacuum”. Every single title published by Salt, because not only are they awesome, they look gorgeous too. And probably everything ever written by Jon Ronson, as a concession to non-fiction.

7.     If you could run only one author event who would you have? You can pick a living or dead writer. What sort of event would they run?
Boris Vian, author of “Froth on the Daydream”. I would expect him to read a bit and then conclude the evening by singing a few songs. With any luck he might also bring along some of his surrealist chums. There might be some cleaning up to do afterwards, but I think it’d be worth it.

8.     A customer comes up to your till with a copy of your short story collection, Dot Dash and asks you to give them a reason on why they should buy it. What would you say?
It’ll make you laugh, it’ll make you cry and it’ll make you think. But most of all, it will entertain you.

9.     Which story from Dot Dash would you recommend?
I’d probably suggest starting with “Canine Mathematics”, as it’s quite short and it’ll give you a fair idea of where I’m coming from.

10.  What sort of cake would you offer when launching your book in your bookshop?
Coffee and salted caramel cake (recipe here from my daughter’s blog)



Details on where you can purchase Dot Dash can be found here > Buying Dot Dash

Bio: Jonathan Pinnock was born in Bedford, England and studied Mathematics at Cambridge University. He subsequently stumbled into a career in software development and has been there ever since. Somewhere along the way he wrote one book on software development and co-wrote a further twelve. His preference, however, is for fiction and his first novel Mrs Darcy versus the Aliens was published by Proxima in 2011. His short stories have won numerous prizes and have been widely published. He is married with two slightly grown-up children, several cats and a 1961 Ami Continental Jukebox. He blogs at www.jonathanpinnock.com.



Friday, 9 November 2012

Ingredients For A Short Story

A few months ago Suzanne Joinson blogged about her ingredients for a novel and it has inspired me to look at the ingredients for a short story that I am currently writing.


The sea
Brighton, April 2012

A fisherman

You can't tell it from this 'sketch' but I have an As Level in art.

A list of sentences


What are the ingredients for your current writing project?

Friday, 2 November 2012

Literary Rejections

Yesterday saw the launch of a new website for writers and it is about a writing taboo that writers don't like to talk about much - rejections.

Literary Rejections has been set up James Hughes to help and encourage writers who have faced rejections to persevere. There are some great interviews and articles with Literary Agents, Publishers and Writers who have came head to head with rejection.

I have a small piece on the Literary Rejections website called the The Good, the Bad and the Ugly Side of Rejections.