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The devil you don't know

First things first, today is the last day for entry into my give-away of THE THIN EXECUTIONER by Darran Shan, THE RETURNERS by Gemma Malley and THE BLACKHOPE ENIGMA by Teresa Flavin - details are all set out in the link.

Thanks to the precognitive abilities of Paul the psychic octopus, Spain did beat Germany in their semi-final and as a result, I won the Byzantine and fiendishly complicated office World Cup sweepstake. The final's tonight and once again, Paul has predicated a Spanish victory.

Work's been mad this week because the Government finally listed those PfS projects that it was stopping or putting under review on Monday night. It then corrected the list several times during the course of the week. I understand that in political terms this is what is known as a "cock up". Anyway, we've been juggling with that at the same time as getting on with the million and one other urgent things that need to be sorted out.

The PfS thing is actually one of those things that I'm debating whether to talk about more on this blog. On the one hand, I want to be as candid as I can be here because I don't think there's much point to having a blog unless you say what you think. On the other hand, there's the fact that the work that I do does involve dealing with PfS and while I'm not worried so much about putting my job in jeopardy (if I get sacked/made redundant/whatever then it's not great but it's not the end of the world), I don't want to say anything that could be used by idiots to suggest I'm reflecting the views of my employer.

What I do want to say is that while we do live in unfortunate economic times where choices have to be made as to what money is going to be spent on which project - it seems insane to me that we have a situation where Government is cancelling projects and basically gutting a known and operational procurement programme without having anything set up to replace it. Building Schools for the Future has flaws - most public procurement programmes do - but the reason it existed is because public school buildings are in a dire condition and need to be fixed or replaced on a mass basis. If you're going to gut something so completely, at least have the wit to show us how you want to do it instead. The currently favoured Academy solution has flaws as well and at best seems to be a piece meal approach to a serious problem.

Yesterday I went to a very well attended meeting of the T-Party Writers' Group where we had a fantastic workshop with fantasy and graphic novels legend Mike Carey who came to talk about plotting and world-building. It was a really good workshop that left me with a lot of food for thought and a hankering to re-write Hamlet as a modern day chav. Mike's a really nice bloke and a v. cool writer - if you're into urban fantasy/urban horror then I strongly recommend his Felix Castor series (beginning with THE DEVIL YOU KNOW) because its mix of London's geography with original world building makes for a very entertaining read.

Afterwards I tried writing in the LSE library but it was like sitting in a sauna so I gave up after an hour and came home where I had better luck in writing but also caught the repeat of the first episode of Misfits on Channel 4 which now sort of has me hooked (it's about 5 teenagers on community service who end up with super powers).

Back to writing ...


( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 11th, 2010 07:26 pm (UTC)
Sorry to go off-topic, but I need to ask you a question. I'm kind of mentoring someone who's writing YA, and the question of whether you can drop f-bombs in YA fantasy/UF fiction aimed at the British market came up. I'm fairly certain you can, but I'd like to get some reccies to pass along. Since I'm currently working on adult stuff aimed at the US market, I'm not all that hep to the current YA British market. Can you please help? Thanks!

ETA: I'm specifically seeking titles of fairly recent books (say, last 2-3 years) by British authors published first by British publishers. (It's okay if they were picked up in the US, but I'm looking for stuff that was *first* pubbed here.)

Edited at 2010-07-11 07:37 pm (UTC)
Jul. 12th, 2010 12:36 pm (UTC)
To be honest, I'm drawing a blank on titles but I'll go back through what I've read over the last couple of years to see if I can pull anything up and I'll ask the peeps at SCBWI to see if they can think of anything.

I can think of several books first published in the US with the f-bomb but nothing first published in the UK.

For what it's worth, my WIP has the f-word in it and although I had to reduce its use, it's not something I've been told to remove by my agent.
Jul. 12th, 2010 02:22 pm (UTC)
Okay, thanks. I can at least start her off with that. While I use the f-bomb profusely myself IRL, I almost never write it, and when I do, it's for major impact. (Since I'm writing high fantasy, I also like to use it as it's actual meaning...boy howdy does that have some impact when you do it right!) But for my mentee, the first chapter is some pretty tough older teens (17-ish), and having not a single f-bomb really stuck out to me. She had them but took them out because previous (unpublished) critters told her no one would touch a YA story with f-bombs in it, and I think that's bollocks. She only needs to sprinkle in a few, but I don't think it's true that no British YA publisher will touch the f-bomb.
Jul. 12th, 2010 02:38 pm (UTC)
I've got to say that while I don't believe that the f-bomb is a problem for YA publishers generally, I do know for a fact that Oxford University Press will not take a book with the f-word in it (one of their acquiring editors said that they will look at books with it in but if an offer is made, then it's conditional on their being removed from the final manuscript because the constitutional documents for OUP are v. strict about its mission and purpose). I've heard that the same is true of Chicken House but have not spoken to an editor to verify.

Part of the issue is that some publishers look at YA as anything for over 12s, which means they're more leery or swearing generally - but I do know that some like Bloomsbury and Faber segment again at 14+.

I'm waiting for the SCBWI-ers to give me their thoughts but I've got to say that my general advice is to write it with the swears in (on the assumption that they can be justified and are in keeping with the book) and if an editor/agent likes it then they'll work with you to keep them or ditch them as necessary.
Jul. 13th, 2010 10:14 pm (UTC)
I'm still waiting for people to come back to me with suggestions, but one person has pointed out that Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma (published last month in the UK by Definitions) has the f-word in it. It's also a story about a love and sexual affair between a brother and sister - so, you know, if you're writing about that then I guess the f-word becomes moot ...

If I get more then I'll let you know but honestly, if this writer is starting out, then I can say categorically that an agent (which is what she should really try to get in the UK) is not going to have a problem with it.
Jul. 24th, 2010 12:22 pm (UTC)
Just in case it's useful, I finished reading iBoy by Kevin Brooks this week. The f-bomb gets used liberally throughout the book. I've since been told that he's used it in other books (I think his debut was Black Rabbit Summer), so it can and has been done.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )