Friday, 26 April 2013

Review: Granta's 'Best of Young British Novelists'


Since one of my favourite tutors at Bath Spa Naomi Alderman has been announced by Granta as one of the Best Young British Novelists, I thought I'd better go to and check out the book launch. She was joined by Evie Wyld, another incredible writer on the list, and the conversation was led by Granta deputy editor Ellah Allfrey.
Naomi gave a reading of her new story 'Soon and in our Days' which she wrote in stages. It started in 2006 with three paragraphs, and only after several years she knew exactly what she had to do with it. That's her life - having couple of years of doing lots of beginnings, and couple of years doing lots of endings. She is a multi-dimensional writer, working on digital projects like the best-selling Iphone app Zombies, Run! and teaching alongside writing novels. She said that novels are her heart and soul but it is no surprise that only a few writers can make a living out of them. So, what else is out there which can pay bills but doesn't involve a complete career change?
"Games are massive, man!" was Naomi's answer. As an example she gave the numbers from the launch of Zombies, Run! season two - 60,000 purchases. It's hard to phantom the size of a  book launch that would come anywhere near that number. As a lecturer at Bath Spa, Naomi often stresses this difference and rightly so - there's no harm in being aware of the risks with choosing novel-writing as a career to follow. It is good to be aware of the numbers of your potential audience.
But it may not be such a good idea to dwell too much on who's going to read your book. Despite working in a bookshop in London and coming face to face with her target audience, Evie admitted that it is far too terrifying to think of them reading her work. In a seminar at Bath Spa earlier in the day, she also said that the process becomes harder with your second book as the audience has developed certain expectations. She also recommended future writers to avoid reading Amazon reviews, though the temptation to do so might be great. She will be battling this task for the second time, as her new novel All the Birds, Singing is due to come out in June. Evie also let the audience in on a secret - she's currently working on a graphic novel with a friend who is an artist. Though in it's early stages yet, she hopes for it to become a physical object.
While studying towards her BA, Evie realised that both painting and creative writing have a similar end to them - the creation of physical objects. She believes that painting, photography, writing, music and other creative disciplines generate the same feeling for the creator. Perhaps, with technology becoming more accessible to broader audiences, we will see more and more projects that bring these disciplines together for incredible outcomes. Naomi also stressed the importance of mixing with people from different environments, even people who don't like writing. The same goes for reading - it is good to be aware of what books are out there, but reading ones that aren't currently popular can help find a different viewpoint to everyone else. 

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