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Comment from the book world in August 2020

August 2020

'My intense love of history'

24 August 2020

‘A lot of people start studying history from my books - I can't tell you how many people have told me that they read one of my books and then they started reading history, went to university and are now graduating...'

I don't wish to be vain about it, but it brings me great pleasure that my intense love of history has spilt over to other people reading history and historical fiction who came to it though my books...

I could not write these books without being a feminist. I'm interested in women's success, in women's struggle, and the Tudors are a period when women are legally, politically, socially, culturally and religiously massively oppressed. Any women's story in that period is going to be a story of struggle. That speaks very clearly to us who, though we have come a very long way, feel that we have some way to go.'

Philippa Gregory, author of 27 novels, including Tidelands, The White Queen, The Constant Princess and The Other Boleyn Girl, in The Times.


'I didn't just want to write ordinary detective stories'

17 August 2020

‘I'm always interested in trying to use whodunit and murder mystery forms to do something a bit more profound than, after 400 pages, saying the butler did it, thank you, goodbye. Effectively, I didn't just want to write ordinary detective stories...

They are the only form of literature that deals in absolute truths. When you read a whodunit, the joy of it is that you know that at the last chapter every ‘i' will be dotted, every ‘t' will be crossed, everything will be solved. Perhaps now, more than ever in an age of 24-hour news, fake news, when we often no longer know what to believe, the I enormous comfort in coming to a world in which everything is completely explained and closed off.'

Anthony Horowitz, author of 73 books, which have sold 7 million print copies, including the Alex Rider series, the just-published Moonflower Murders, Magpie Murders and 14 TV series, in the Sunday Times Culture.


'When I was five, I thought I was a writer'

10 August 2020

‘We say to girls, "you can have ambition, but not too much" When I was five, I thought I was a writer. I didn't just want to be, I thought I was.

One of the things of being pregnant and having a child was that it was a reflective time for me, and I am happiest when I'm creating. I am slowly coming back, but haven't quite settled. When my writing is going well, it's fully absorbing, so it's not "When do you find the time to write?" It's "When do you find the time to take a shower?"'

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, author of Purple Hibiscus, Half of a Yellow Sun and Americanah, and very successful TED talks, including 'The Danger of a Single Story', in the Sunday Times magazine

Writing in a lockdown

3 August 2020

'Well, the first six weeks I was not doing any writing at all. It was all about making sure the kids were all right and everyone was in a good mental state. Then, I thought maybe I can work for an hour or two a day and it was really hard work getting back in the groove. But, hey, the books aren't going to write themselves. The way I think about it is, what if I got struck down by plague or lightning? I'd rather finish the book than not...

There were a lot of small absurdities amid the psychological horror of the pandemic - people fighting over supplies in the grocery store, subway drivers having to breathe in the same air that their passengers were breathing out. That's the stuff of plague fiction. Then, there's the perversity of coughing in someone's face to ridicule them because they're wearing a mask and you're not. These are the kind of irrational things that, as a writer, you couldn't really think up. The strangeness of human nature outdoes you.'

Colson Whitehead, author of The Underground Railroad, The Nickel Boys and seven other novels in the Observer.