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'Writers in front of readers'

25 September 2006

'Whoever originally came up with the idea of putting writers in front of readers must've been taking a real punt. We spend most of our time by ourselves, along in a room with all these characters in our head, talking to them as they talk to us. Not really an ideal training ground for making public appearances.

But more often than not it must work, as it's still happening. We have now, somehow, become a part of the entertainment industry, and I don't just mean the schools, the shops and the library visits, and all the panels and events at the increasing number of literary festivals there are to do...

Is this then the future? Will writers now be judged not only on their literary merit, but also - like politicians - on their looks and performance abilities? And which will be deemed the most important? Will writing courses have to start offering speech and drama modules, stand-up comedy training and hair and beauty advice? You never know.

Graham Marks, Children's editor of Publishing News and author of Zoo