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Comment from the book world in February 2020

February 2020

Writing about Thomas Cromwell

24 February 2020

‘He was a good pick. I thought it was an amazing fact that Henry VIII's reign is told and told and told - but where is Cromwell? It seemed to me that no one had bothered to try to listen to his voice, and that it is such a major gap because he is so central. It's almost as if he was so central that people couldn't see him...

When you look at the earlier books, you can see the movement towards crisis, and the way I've chosen to do it is to lead the first book up to the death of Thomas More... and the second up to the death of Anne Boleyn. But when you get to the third book, there is no tidy pattern because the crises come every day, really; every day he is under siege from circumstances...

I admire his cleverness, his energy, is sheer appetite for life. I admire that kind of determination in the face of the worst life can throw at you...

Novels teach you about all sorts of circumstances in the bigger world that you might encounter or states you might pass through. I don't mean they formed a guide to conduct, but a guide to the complexities of life.'

Hilary Mantel, author of just-published The Mirror and the Light, the third book in her trilogy about Thomas More in The Sunday Times magazine. The first two books, Wolf Hall and Bring up the Bodies, both won the Man Booker Prize.


'A golden thread of loyalty and friendship'

17 February 2020

Modern children have ‘a yearning for a world without screens. Yes it's rough and Torak and Renn go through some difficult times, but it's this amazing world where there's no climate change, lots of animals, no pollution. It doesn't matter what you look like. What matters is you don't make any noise when you're hunting...

I very much want to make sure that any child reader doesn't feel worse about the world when they've read my books. I visualise a golden thread of loyalty and friendship, and love personified in the friendship of Wolf and Torak. Hope is so important. Everything you do can make a difference.'

Michelle Paver, author of Wolf Brother, Dark Matter and Spirit Walker, talking about her new book Viper's Daughter, published next month, in the Bookseller.


'How do you write a book without offending people you love?'

10 February 2020

‘Lots of aspiring writers ask me, "How do you write a book without offending people you love?" And you have to make a decision to be honest. I mean it's painful, but I want to write a book that is true to my moral core and that is true to my characters. Writing the abortion storyline, I found that really frightening because I was brought up as a Catholic, it went into my bones and the fear was real. It took so much courage for me to be able to say. "I'm going to address this taboo issue in my book in the hope that it might change people's minds" And do you know, it was a wonderful, freeing thing to do. But my mother was upset, you know.'

Marian Keyes, author of Grown Ups, Lucy Sullivan Is Getting Married, Rachel's Holiday, Anybody out There? and 14 other novels, in The Times.