Monday, 16 May 2016

And the Cover for "Keeper of Light and Dust" Looks Like This...

Hi everyone,
Well, here it is. This is the cover, which Dutton has chosen for Keeper of Light and Dust and which will appear in a book store near you come April:
Thank you all very much for your feedback. It was an interesting experiment! I received comments from MySpacers, the members of the discussion board on my website, and I also asked for feedback from people offline.
As I expected there was a split along gender lines, but not as sharp as I had imagined there would be. The great majority of men chose the cover above, although there were some guys who professed to being rather smitten by the pink girl in the cover below:
My publishers always tell me men don't read (??) and that writers have to target - and please - the female readership.
They should therefore be happy when I tell them that the black cover seemed to have met with approval from the majority of the women in my mini poll, as well. However, many women didn't like it at all and the pink cover received almost as many votes as the black. This was my publisher's first attempt at a jacket concept and at the time I liked it. However, I didn't think it was edgy enough and suggested the designer go for a little flash and ring the girl's eye with a kind of phosphorescent glow! Cool, yes? Maybe not. This suggestion did not fly and I got the distinct impression my publisher thought the idea cheesy. I then wanted them to move the tattoo from her shoulder to her cheek but that received an even frostier reception.
My publisher's second attempt was the tattooed girl and the cityscape background:
What surprised me was how few of you voted for this cover. I had thought all women wanted to be Angelina Jolie in The Wanted - and all men wanted Angelina Jolie in The Wanted. Here on MySpace there were a few takers but overall this cover scored really poorly and received some actively hostile comments from some of the guys. (We had a rather spirited discussion about this on my discussion board.)
Thanks again for participating, everyone. I am really grateful to you for taking the time. And speaking of time, I was wondering if I might impose on you again. Season of the Witch has been nominated, along with 49 other titles for the "Spread the Word: Books to Talk About" Award. The titles on the list are British but voting is open world wide as part of the World Book Day 2009 campaign. I need votes! So if you have a minute to spare, may I ask you to please go to the Spread the Word website (see details below) and vote for yours truly? Thanks to all of you who have already voted for me. Very much appreciated indeed. I would also be in your debt if you could spread the word to other people who may be interested. The organisers are encouraging people to place links to their blog pages and websites and to leave a comment along with their vote. However, a vote alone will do nicely.
Until next time! Take care.

Friday, 6 May 2016

A truly reprehensible book: The Bunker Diary

The Bunker Diary
By Kevin Brooks
Hi guys,
As an author myself, I rarely rubbish any novel, but I do have a short list of books I find beyond redemption. Brett Ellis’s “American Psycho” is one. This YA novel by Kevin Brooks is definitely another.

*spoiler alert*

I am clearly in the minority. Bunker Diary won the 2014 Carnegie Award – Britain’s most prestigious children’s book prize. Reviews on Amazon – some written by readers as young as eleven -- are glowing. Librarians and teachers tell about placing the books in the hands of eager pupils and congratulate themselves on being so hip, so enlightened, so in tune with the angst of the teenage mind.

I am revolted. Nihilism does not even begin to describe the tone of this tale of a teenager locked in a basement cell by a psychotic stranger along with five other dysfunctional characters who are then given the option of killing each other in order to win their freedom. It includes scenes of torture, of a dog strangled to death, drug addiction, of an old man committing suicide by cutting his wrists with the sharp edge of his glass eye – it sounds comical when you read it like this – but it is not. It is vile. For 270 pages we witness the stinking physical deterioration and mental collapse of the hostages before the view point character too, dies, with no hope, no insight gained on the journey, no reason.

If this was a book written for an adult audience I would have called it a mildly interesting, if pointless plot and with the characters crudely drawn except for the viewpoint character who does manage to engage some empathy in the reader. As a novel written for YA readers, I am appalled. I do not have children myself but I have an 11 year old nephew and I would be desperate for him not to read this self-indulgent, gratuitous shock schlock. I “get” that 21st century teenagers in the developed world have to deal with a lot and don’t live in Mayberry. But for goodness’ sakes – I grew up on a continent where children often have no shoes, let alone cell phones and computers, where basic amenities are scarce and where they have to envisage a future for themselves on a continent where there is constant war and disease. And despite all of this, they still manage to look for joy and hope.