With his Booker Prize-winning debut, The White Tiger, Aravind Adiga joined a fresh crop of Indian writers who portray their complex, changing country as they see it. With a successful follow up, Between the Assassinations, under his belt, Adiga is poised to publish a third novel. Last Man in the Tower (Grove Atlantic) is set in Mumbai, and explores the conflict between a high-powered real estate developer and one man who won't sell out.
Adiga's Indian publisher, HarperCollins India, calls the book "a sweeping novel about contemporary India, more particularly Mumbai. Adiga's characters are unforgettable, his prose riveting." Fans can look for the novel sometime in 2011.
John Updike once said in an interview that he wrote every day because “the pleasures of not writing are so great that if you ever start indulging them you will never write again.”
In the spirit of diving into creative output (and not indulging the pleasures of procrastination), over 100,00 people will spend November pounding out nearly 2,000 words a day in order to complete their own 50,000-word (175-page) novels.
Chris Baty, a freelance writer from San Francisco, named November National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) in 1999. There were 21 participants. Since then, NaNoWriMo has exploded. Last year, over 119,000 people signed up, and 21,720 writers completed 50,000 words by 11:59:59 p.m. on Nov. 30, 2008.
In 2004, Baty published a book called No Plot? No Problem!: A Low-Stress, High-Velocity Guide to Writing a Novel in 30 Days. The first chapter explains the reasoning behind marathon writing:
What you need to write a novel, of course, is a deadline. . . Deadlines bring focus, forcing us to make time for the achievement we would otherwise postpone, encouraging us to reach beyond our conservative estimates of what we think possible, helping us to wrench victory from the jaws of sleep.
Since Nov. 1, I have enjoyed reading Twitter updates from hundreds of frenzied writers (search #NaNo for by-the-second tweets). As you might expect, some of them are flying (one woman posted that she’s finished 6,672 out of 50,000 words). Others are suffering from pesky distractions (one participant tweeted: “I have to stop getting distracted by facebook and twitter! If you see me, tell me to get back to writing!”). In the Stanford Department of English, students are writing for a grade; this school year, National Novel Writing Month is an official seminar.
Are any of you in the midst of writing a novel for NaNoWriMo? If so, will you share plot details? To play devil's advocate: Anyone wary of the month’s mission, which emphasizes quantity of prose over quality?
Since I know our blog followers love free stuff and info about upcoming books (who doesn’t?), I thought I’d make sure our new readers know all about our popular e-newsletter, BookPageXTRA, which goes out twice a month.
In each issue of BookPageXTRA, readers will find something new, like advance access to author interviews and features on BookPage.com, exclusive reviews, or sneak previews of our print edition. We also give away books—and lots of ’em. (In our last issue, one XTRA reader won Barbara Kingsolver’s The Lacuna, David Baldacci’s True Blue, John Irving’s Last Night in Twisted River and Mary Karr’s Lit . . . even with the crazy price wars, that’s still a deal.)
The next issue comes out Nov. 2. . . sign up for free right now!
Though she made her name with the historical Slammerkin, Irish-Canadian novelist Emma Donoghue is also known for her contemporary fiction. After last year's historical, The Sealed Letter, Donoghue has plans to publish a ripped-from-the-headlines story with Little, Brown. As she describes it on her site, Room is a "dark contemporary novel in the voice of a five-year-old boy," who happens to have been held captive in a garden shed (with his mother) most of his life. Shades of Jaycee Dugard, but, eerily, Donoghue had been working on the novel for months when Dugard was discovered in the Garridos' backyard.
Don't miss our interview with Donoghue for her 2004 historical, Life Mask.
This morning brought a story of yet another big deal from the Frankfurt Book Fair. Australian mother and small business owner Rebecca James has sold world rights to her first two young adult novels for major bucks, going from mom to millionaire overnight after her manuscript was pulled out of the slush pile by a U.K. agent. The rights to Beautiful Malice and its sequel got $600,000 in the U.S. alone, according to the Wall Street Journal, who calls James the next J.K. Rowling (because of her success story, not the subject matter of her books, which are described as "sexy, psychological thrillers" for teens). Since the days of big advances for the heck of it (or for the publicity) seem to have disappeared with the recession, this signals that Bantam Dell expects a Rowling-sized payout once the books are published. On her blog, the 39-year-old mother of four says she's "mega chuffed" to be published (gotta love the Australian vernacular!) and shares pictures of her sons and two adorable puppies.
But what's the book about? It's the story of the friendship of two girls. One has lost her sister in a horrible murder. The other is a chilling and charming party girl. The series has been described as Twilight without the vampires and with the sex.
According to the WSJ, Kate Miciak, editorial director of Bantam Books, who won U.S. rights, said, "You had only to read the opening sentence -- 'I did not go to Alice's funeral' -- to know that you had instantly fallen under the thrall of a strong narrative voice, which was going to hold you in its grip and keep you there." No firm pub date has been set (we hear the book could appear as early as May 2010), but we'll keep an eye out for more news on this YA thriller.
12.02, ETA: Looks like Bantam now has Beautiful Creatures scheduled for a September 2010 publication. (via)
We’ve posted about bloggers getting book deals in the past, and that trend certainly seems here to stay. The latest: On April 27, 2010, Alan Beard and Alec McNayr's site Historical Tweets will be published as a book by Villard.
A couple weeks ago Trisha posted a handy list of tweeters in the book world. Well, this site’s premise is that Twitter has always existed, and historical figures have been communicating to each other in 140 characters or less since the beginning of time. (The most popular post on the site: “anyone got a more creative way of saying ‘87 years?’” HonestAbe on Nov. 18, 1863.)
Is there anyone out there whom you’d like to see with a Twitter account? Do you keep up with any of your favorite authors on Twitter?
From the what's-the-world-coming-to-department comes news that Simon & Schuster has signed a deal for a series of three books based on an iPhone app. Is this a first? I think so (but I could be wrong -- leave a comment if you know of other iPhone apps that have spawned book deals).
The iPhone app store describes Soul Trapper as "a supernatural tale that unfolds over 23 chapters, each ranging from 5 to 15 minutes in length." Buyers are promised that this "richly-produced audio drama" is "seamlessly interwoven with interactivity, navigation, and audio puzzles." Players follow 27-year-old drifter Kane Pryce, who owns a mysterious device (the Soul Trap) that lets him capture ghosts and exile them from Earth.
To see what all the fuss was about, I attempted to download Soul Trapper on my iPhone, but I got an annoying message indicating that the app was too large for obtaining by phone and should be downloaded through a computer instead. So I'll probably never know whether the app lives up to its billing as "triple-A entertainment" in the "audio spectrum" (hmmm).
Soul Trapper was created by F.J. Lennon, whom, we were heartened to learn, has previously written at least one book, a 2001 title from HarperBusiness called Every Mistake in the Book: A Business How-NOT-To -- apparently a lively account of his computer game business that flopped. Maybe Lennon's next business title will advise readers on how to turn iPhone games into publishing gold.
If you don’t usually spend a portion of your day blogging, journaling, creating stories – or otherwise putting words on paper (or screen) – then today is a great day to start. A couple weeks ago, the U.S. Senate declared Oct. 20, 2009, as the National Day on Writing. The official Resolution is quite long, but it’s worth it to give it a read. I was pleased to see the Senate embrace digital media in their document:
Whereas the National Day on Writing honors the use of the full range of media for composing, from traditional tools like print, audio, and video, to Web 2.0 tools like blogs, wikis, and podcasts
One of the best ways to get involved in the day’s festivities is to post to the National Gallery of Writing, a website where anybody can post writing that is “important to them. . . from letters to lists, memoirs to memos.” The Gallery was unveiled today, and it looks like there has already been wide participation. So far there are 21 records from the state of Tennessee alone.
How will you celebrate the National Day on Writing?
I’d like to give a shout out to my 11th grade English teacher for giving me a copy of William Zinsser’s On Writing Well. (“Look for the clutter in your writing and prune it ruthlessly… Simplify, simplify.”) And perhaps I’ll celebrate, also, by reading other people's great writing. I would love to dig into a novel I haven’t yet found the time to start (A Gate at the Stairs? Her Fearful Symmetry?).
This week brought news of a new project from Neil Gaiman. After the success of The Graveyard Book and Coraline, he's continuing to write for a younger audience with Instructions. Described as "a charming guide through fairy and folk tales, as well as life" the book will be illustrated by Charles Vess (who worked with Gaiman on the Sandman series) and published by Harper Children's in May 2010.
While there's no news on the content of the book, our guess is it's a picture book adaptation of the poem "Instructions" that Gaiman published in A Wolf at the Door. According to his blog, he's currently in China, working on a project called Journey to the West.
ETA: According to Charles Vess, our guess was right! He kindly pointed me to more detailed information on his blog. Head over to check out the beautiful illustrations and get a peek into Vess' creative process.
Depending on how you look at it, last week was a great week for bargain-hunting book buyers or a disheartening one for authors, booksellers and publishers.
Wal-Mart and Amazon have engaged in a price war for the holiday season’s hardcover bestsellers.
On Thursday, Wal-Mart announced that it would pre-sell 10 hardcovers for $10. Amazon matched the price on the same day, then Friday Wal-Mart lowered to $9 – then again to $8.99 (where the price currently stands).
The price of Stephen King’s Under the Dome is a whopping 74% off the $35 cover price. Barbara Kingsolver’s The Lacuna can be bought for a 67% discount. Wal-Mart also offers free shipping for the 10 titles on their list.
If readers come to believe that the value of a new book is $10, publishing as we know it is over. If you can buy Stephen King’s new novel or John Grisham’s Ford County for $10, why would you buy a brilliant first novel for $25? I think we underestimate the effect to which extremely discounted best sellers take the consumer’s attention away from emerging writers.
What do The Book Case readers think of the price war? Will you be ordering multiple copies of The Lacuna to give away as gifts, or do you plan on sticking to your local bookseller for a more memorable book-buying experience? Do price cuts like the ones offered by Wal-Mart and Amazon encourage you to buy more books? Would you rather buy a $9 hardcover or a $9.99 e-book?