Each included author has something important to say and Mendenhall has a talent for finding just the right way to allow the authors to express themselves. Mendenhall has a knack at getting to what is significant, and revealing truths both about the writers and about their books. Nor do the interviews shy away from topical issues or cultural conflicts.
Jeff Herman’s iconic Guide to Book Publishers, Editors and Literary Agents is a well-respected industry standard, much like Writers Market. Now in its 28th Edition, the Guide enjoys continued acclaim and popularity—and there is a good reason for this. Flatly stated, it’s just the one of the best, if not the best, of many (many!) writers’ guides out there.
The Writing In Uncertain Times event at The Wollongong Writers Festival featured an amazing panel of commissioning editor for PRH, Lex Hirst, rapper and poet Omar Musa, author and screenwriter, Amal Awad and debut novelist, Daniel Findlay. The event concluded to this year’s festival and author, reviewer and interviewer Samuel Elliot was there to cover it.
Miller, the “writing whisperer” as Jessica Rowe puts it, has created a vital guide to memoir and other forms of creative nonfiction. Though there are many how-to guides on the market, this one is special, both for its depth of wisdom – Miller has over 26 years of experience in teaching others how to write creative nonfiction, as well as her own experience as a nonfiction author/memoirist – and for the simplicity and practicality of its approach.
DBC Pierre’s writing book is like his fiction – a bit bizarre, purplish, chaotic, and often brilliant. Release the Bats is inspirational, making it clear that anyone can be a writer regardless of circumstance, and that literature is all about the interplay of worlds (internal/external; the gap between chaos and the ideal). The book provides a welter of ideas and tools and does so in a surprisingly coherent manner. It’s surprising because the book has a tendency to ramble, philosophise in extended and often convoluted metaphors, explode into digression, and slide into memoir, with Pierre using his own experiences as an example of how and in what ways his tools work.
Most of the writers interviewed came across as incredibly generous, surprisingly humble, and warm and accessible. Wood allowed the writers to approve their interviews before they went to print, and the resulting transcripts are beautifully readable, smooth and lucid, without losing any of the candid nature of the conversations, or the intimacy. I felt, above all, that the information provided in these interviews was a tremendous act of generosity – not just in terms of authors sharing their best tricks, their struggles and their visions, but also because of the way these discussions draw the reader almost directly into the writing process.
Frugality is Howard-Johnson’s stock-in-trade, and since none of her suggestions involve a large outlay, I’d say that picking up a copy of this book is about the most frugal and valuable thing a new author can do in order to generate inexpensive and highly credible publicity. The book is easy to read, and rich with Howard-Johnson’s own considerable experience. Above all, I think the point that she makes about treating the acquiring of reviews, not as an ancillary activity, but an integral part of the promotional campaign and one that cannot be skimped on, is key.
In How to Be a Writer, he is free with the swearing and the sexual metaphors, but also with solid advice about tackling writerly problems and going about making a living out of writing. The first part of the book deals with issues such as finding your voice as a writer, the need to specialise in the ever-changing world of publishing, getting a routine established (just not one like Hunter S Thompson’s, too much cocaine), and using technology to your advantage.
This is a book that has the potential to help creative writers ‘make knowledge festive’ in the process of creating their research projects. It is structured logically so as to make for optimal comprehension. It is superbly written and gives exciting examples of writers and books that illustrate the process of researching creative writing and writing as research.
Gilbert’s book – so full of soundbites it’s almost impossible not to begin quoting it immediately – urges readers to pursue a creative life, without becoming bogged down by questions of talent, and by all-pervasive fear. Creativity is its own end, and Gilbert suggests that it’s the birthright of all human beings. So clear and compelling is Gilbert’s argument, that, after reading Big Magic, it feels greedy not to write; guilty not to paint; wrong to let one’s creativity submerge into the busyness of life’s daily demands.