An insight into the publishing world…

Posts tagged ‘Stephen King’

Exciting news from author Daniel Pembrey

Today’s interview is a catch up with my friend and author Daniel Pembrey, author of The Harbour Master. He’s dropped by Words Are My Craft to share with us some exciting news…

Daniel, what’s new since we last worked together on the Britcrime Online Literature Festival?

Hi Stephanie! Nice to be here … I just released a short story as a Kindle Single (Amazon’s curated, short e-book programme). The Lion Hunter was inspired by a combination of Cecil the lion, a recent trip to Tanzania and my re-reading of Hemingway’s African short stories. It’s about a newly married British couple who meet a Texan trophy hunter at a remote game lodge. The lion hunting turns out to be less morally straightforward than the husband bargains for. It really is short at approximately 40 pages. I loved writing it, and I love the creature it’s based around.

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You can buy The Lion Hunter: A Short Adventure Story here if you live in the UK and here if you’re in the US …

You seem to like novellas and short stories …

I really do – both as a reader and an author. I love nothing more than being gripped by a story during the course of a plane or train journey. Also I feel so lucky to be living in an era when there is a viable market for them. Before e-books, novellas were the realm of Hemingway and perhaps Stephen King; now, with programmes such as Kindle Singles, they are flourishing.

The Lion Hunter is in fact my fourth Kindle Single; the previous ones are a standalone espionage story called The Candidate: A Luxembourg Thriller and the first two instalments of the Harbour Master series.

Speaking of The Harbour Master, which I read and reviewed earlier in the year (click here to read); what’s going on with that?

Well, thanks to the success of the Harbour Master Kindle Singles (the first became the No. 1 Short Story on Amazon UK), I got a picked up by a great agent, and between her and the visibility I received at our BritCrime Festival this summer, I ended up receiving two offers from traditional publishers. I went with No Exit Press, who have built up a terrific crime list. The Harbour Master e-book novellas are now being withdrawn from sale in preparation for the launch of two, novel length books. The first should be out next year.

How exciting! So what else can we look forward to from you?

I’m working on a novel set in Berlin and the screen adaptation of my standalone spy story The Candidate, which has been optioned for a film in Luxembourg. I’m also working on the new Harbour Master stories, and of course there is the BritCrime Christmas Ball on Sunday December 13th to look forward to!

That will indeed be a ball! Thank you for taking part in this interview.

My pleasure! Thanks for having me, and see you on December 13th if not before!

Before you rush off, can you tell us where our readers can find you online?

Good catch! I am active on Twitter, https://twitter.com/DPemb, and also present on Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/DPembrey … You can view my latest news on my website too, http://www.danielprembrey.com, and also sign up there to receive my quarterly email newsletter with offers of free exclusive content. See you soon!

 

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Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel

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I ended up buying Station Eleven when I was in Waterstones in Hull with a friend, who offered to let me take advantage of the Buy One Get One Half Price deal as he wasn’t interested in buying anything else. After asking for a recommendation from a staff member, I bought Station Eleven and took it home with me. So congratulations, Waterstones sales assistant. You succeeded in selling a book and satisfying a customer.

What was lost in the collapse: almost everything, almost everyone, but there is still such beauty.
One snowy night in Toronto famous actor Arthur Leander dies on stage whilst performing the role of a lifetime. That same evening a deadly virus touches down in North America. The world will never be the same again.
Twenty years later Kirsten, an actress in the Travelling Symphony, performs Shakespeare in the settlements that have grown up since the collapse. But then her newly hopeful world is threatened.

For me, Station Eleven is the book that Stephen King’s The Stand fails to be. I read The Stand last summer while I was on holiday in Tenerife (I know – not the most relaxing subject matter) and only really finished it because my stubborn personality refuses to let me give up on a book. But after reading Station Eleven, I came away from it thinking, “Now, that’s all King had to do. In far fewer pages than The Stand.” And the similarities between the two are many, in terms of plot and characterisation.
At first, I was worried that Station Eleven would be a little too cliché for me, but I did want to give a book a try based solely on word-of-mouth recommendation. I expected to read a novel that was all the recent zombie and/or apocalypse movie themes combined. And I won’t lie, there are some scenes in this book that lift straight from those movies (hoardes of people crowded around a small mounted television screen in a public place, all looking terrified, for instance), but then again, this probably just means that the movies and the books are correctly predicting what circumstances would be like in these types of situations.

Each unique character within the book brought richness to the narrative. The central character, Arthur Leander, is a conflicted and egotistical Hollywood star who comes from a humble background and struggles all throughout his life to find a balance which makes him happy. He recognises the superficiality of Hollywood life and misses his quiet life back on the remote island on which he grew up, and yet at the same time he craves the spotlight and feel stifled and claustrophobic when he returns home. His tendency to jump from one wife to the next, each very different from each other, reflects his inability to really understand what he wants from life. In this way Arthur is a personification of the book: while the novel highlights how fragile society is and its obsession with the trivial things such as corporate wealth, social media and celebrity culture, it also demonstrates how lost people feel when it’s all ripped away.

Jeevan, the man who attempts to save Arthur’s life on stage, is another such character. Originally a celebrity journalist and then a member of the paparazzi, he eventually moves on to training to become a paramedic, to give his life more substance and to feel that he is contributing to something truly worthwhile. Arthur’s childhood friend Clark reminisces about his corporate life after the collapse, wincing when he thinks of how he used to behave towards other people in his business life.

“I used to write ‘T-H-X’ when I wanted to say ‘thank-you.'”

“I did that too. Because, what, it would have taken too much time and effort to punch in an extra three letters and just say thanks? I can’t fathom it.”

Clark goes on to shave his head in the same manner that he did when he was a teenager. In the face of crisis, he tries to reach back into the days when he felt the most the carefree and a sense of individuality. Kirsten, another major character, was too young when the collapse happened to remember much of life from before. Because of this, all she does is crave the world that her and her friends had taken away from them before they truly had the chance to experience it. She pines for it, but, unlike Clark, who knows exactly what he’s lost, Kirsten mourns what she never had.

One of the most striking and interesting characters is the prophet, who for me is quite similar to Randall Flagg (the Dark Man) in The Stand. I won’t give too much away here but the extremity of the prophet’s reactions to the collapse, his so-called ‘spirituality’ and his actions towards other people provides an effective contrast to the other characters in the book. The book, in a non-linear narrative, shows us how the collapse affects each of these characters in turn and how differently they cope with survival in a world where most of what they loved is now gone.

What I loved about this book was how it highlighted the stark contrast between what is important in today’s society, and what would be considered important in a post-apocalyptic world. Station Eleven seemed to me to be a social commentary on the state of modern culture.

The Travelling Symphony is a group of musicians and actors who travel across North America performing the plays of Shakespeare and accompanying classical music. They are clearly trying to preserve the best, or what is perceived to be the best, of arts and culture in a world where those things have become obsolete. The Travelling Symphony are a characterisation of this sentiment. But this isn’t to say that more modern culture isn’t appreciated in this world.

Gone is electricity, gone are computers, and therefore all the social media and the internet crazes that come with them.

“Alexandra had been enraptured, the screen a magical thing with no memories attached.”

But these things do have a lasting effect on some citizens. They are viewed as just as magical and amazing and Shakespeare to many. Clark, a key character within the novel, starts up a Museum of Civilisation – preserving and exhibiting any and all objects that they can find from the pre-apocalyptic world. Mobile phones, books, snow globes, bikes all make it into the Museum.

Clark had always been fond of beautiful objects, and in his present state of mind, all objects were beautiful. He stood by the case and found himself moved by every object he saw there, by the human enterprise each object had required.

The importance of newspapers and literature is also a big theme throughout the novel. Miranda, the main character’s ex-wife and the writer of Dr Eleven (the comic which plays a large role in the book), is wholly dedicated to her art. She cares far more about how it helps her emotionally than getting it widely published and earning money. The importance of the text and art itself lies in the message and the comfort it gives to those who read it.

Similarly, the newspaper which Diallo publishes in Year Fifteen in his settlement/town, The New Petoskey News, for obvious reasons does not have a large circulation or commercial impact. But still it somehow manages to find itself in the hands of Clark in the Museum and its contents have significant meaning and relevance to him. Communications, literature and publications survive in a world that is considered doomed. That is a powerful message in a novel in an age where literature and publishing is still largely, and essentially, profit-driven.

I could go into more detail, but perhaps it’s best to leave the reader to see more for themselves! I highly recommend this book, to those who are lovers of the genre, but also to those who are looking for something a little different to try. Well done Emily St John Mandel!

And so it begins!

I read a wide variety of genres

I read a wide variety of genres

Now, a self-respecting publishing enthusiast such as myself cannot start a blog without including a book review section! My love of books is perhaps the strongest love I have (barring my love for friends and family, of course) and so it would be silly not to write some book reviews and share that love with fellow readers.

While I’ve probably read thousands of books in my lifetime so far, I have decided for now that I’ll review books that I’ll read from now on. In the future I’m likely to go back to those books I’ve read in the past and give them a review, because I want to show people how much the book meant to me, or indeed why it let me down!

My taste in books varies widely – I am a massive fan of John Grisham, master of the law thriller. I adore Stephen King, the – ahem – king of horror and Meg Cabot writes some of the most addictive ‘chick-lit’ I’ve ever read (although this isn’t the only genre in which Meg writes). I’m also a sucker for comedy, as I am with film and television. Let’s face it, we all need a bit of laughter in our lives.

So please, as I go through my book reviewing journey, share your thoughts and opinions with me. Agree with me, disagree with me (debate is always fun), and generally just discuss with me! This means telling me about YOUR book blogs, too. I want to read as well as write book reviews. Books are about discovery and sharing your discoveries. If you share yours, I’ll share mine.

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