Date Archives December 2013

2013 reading highlights

I’m always a bit suspicious of those “Best books of 2013” articles. I read lots of them anyway, and carefully note down all the recommendations, but still I can’t help wondering how people can pronounce judgement when they can’t have read more than a tiny fraction of the thousands of books on offer. So these are not the best books of 2013. They’re the best ones I happened to read this year. They may or may not have been published in 2013. Here we go… The Hired Man by Aminatta… Read More

Interactive apps for books: Q&A with author Vince Kamp

Personally, I like reading traditional, app-free books. I like to immerse myself in a story, taking a break from all the pictures and links and interactivity. But I also recognise that things are changing, and that people have different reading styles. The digital world offers so many new possibilities, from ‘enhanced’ ebooks to interactive apps. It’s important to keep up with what’s happening. So today I’m talking with Vince Kamp, who recently released his children’s graphic novel Robotslayer as both a book and an interactive animated app. He talks about… Read More

The Spinning Heart by Donal Ryan

OK, how good is this opening paragraph? My father still lives back in the road past the weir in the cottage I was reared in. I go there every day to see is he dead and every day he lets me down. He hasn’t yet missed a day of letting me down. He smiles at me; that terrible smile. He knows I’m coming to check is he dead. He knows I know he knows. He laughs his crooked laugh. I ask is he okay for everything and he only laughs…. Read More

The limits of automatic recommendation systems

I was reading an article in NewScientist the other day about a system devised by academics at Royal Holloway, University of London, which “could form the basis of a recommendation system that makes suggestions based solely on an automatic assessment of the text.” Unlike Amazon’s recommendations, which look at sales, and those on sites like Goodreads, which look at reader reviews and ratings, this one looks at writing style, e.g. the frequency of individual words. Well, I’m sceptical. You see, the very last thing I want to do after reading… Read More

A guide to independent publishing: interview with Arachne Press founder Cherry Potts

A couple of years ago, frustrated with her publisher, writer Cherry Potts decided to set up her own publishing company, Arachne Press. She’s now published five short-story collections (one of which had a story of mine in it), and has a novel and a poetry collection in the works. In this interview, Cherry shares some of the lessons she’s learned, and gives some tips and warnings to anyone who wants to follow a similar path. From the trick she uses to persuade bookshops to stock her books right down to… Read More