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Thu, 19 Jan 2012 12:36
Today, we welcome author Hugh Aldersey-Williams onto the blog to talk about his new book, Periodic Tales.
Consider the Eurozone crisis. No, on second thoughts, you've probably done enough of that. But do consider the actual euro - the folding stuff used by so many of our continental cousins. It's a closely kept secret that the security features in these banknotes incorporate one of the most obscure elements in the whole periodic table - or it was until I blurted it out in my book Periodic Tales. The element is europium, and it's used in some of the fluorescent dyes that make the notes harder to forge. (These dyes are what light up when the cashier in a bank puts the money into those funny UV light machines they've got on their desks.) It's obviously not there by chance - they could have used lots of other elements. But who's responsible for this little euro jeu d'esprit. Nobody's telling.
Of course, the London Olympics will be big on elements too - gold and silver, and the copper and tin that make up bronze, not to mention the titanium and other fancy alloys used in equipment such as javelins or the carbon-fibre prosthetic limbs of some of the Paralympic athletes.
And they're even present in the books that the Book Depository ships hither and yon. Mainly as carbon, oxygen and hydrogen in the cellulose of paper, of course. But perhaps also a whiff of chlorine left over from the bleaching process, and some colourful metals in the dyes used for the cover illustrations.
Periodic Tales has been pretty popular, but I first encountered The Book Depository several years ago, when I self-published a previous book, called Findings: Hidden Stories in First-Hand Accounts of Scientific Discovery. It was a peculiar project (but I think a successful one), taking leading scientific papers of the 20th century, and subjecting them to lit-crit-style deconstruction. All sorts of amazing things emerged from these supposedly dispassionate documents, including seething envies and rivalries, and desperate attempts to cover up for inadequate data. Anyway, Findings was my adventure at the more recondite end of the publishing industry, and that's the reason I really support the Book Depository and its ethos of "selling 'less of more' rather than 'more of less'."
Happy New Year,
Fri, 01 Jul 2011 08:36
We had some wonderful entries, so thank you to everyone who took the time and effort to write in. But we had to have a winner and that is Thalia Troianou:
"I cannot claim that the very first book I ever read was romantic fiction. Far from it. I think I started reading fantasy and science fiction when I was in my early teens and to this day I enjoy losing myself in different worlds and dimensions. But romantic fiction was always around in my house. When we moved to a new country my mother would read romances to help her with the language and my grandmother is such a huge fan of the genre that almost her entire library is comprised of romantic fiction books. But strangely enough the first romance I ever read was a book I borrowed from a girl at a summer camp. To his day I still remember the plot and the look of the book. It wasn't a masterpiece by any stretch of the imagination; comparing it to the plethora of romantic fiction books I've read since I can safely say that it was below average. But its impact on me was tremendous. For the first time I read a story about the relationship between a couple, the interactions between two people of the opposite sex. It wasn't about the physical relationship; most of the books then did not contain any graphic descriptions of sex, and to be honest I was not yet old enough to actually know what exactly a physical relationship meant. But the story itself fascinated me. As soon as I got back from the summer camp I read all the romantic fiction books we had at home and then I started on my grandmother's library. It took a while to realize that real life did not always include a happily ever after like the books did, but still all these books helped me see, and partly learn about, situations I had never encountered before. Many people look at romantic fantasy and scorn it but the right book - even a romantic fiction book - can teach you something interesting and useful, especially as a young adult trying to make sense of the world.
I still read romantic fiction. I read it for fun, for relaxing and sometimes for my peace of mind as it has helped me through really difficult stages of my life. When everything around you is falling to pieces and there's nothing you can do but struggle and endure, a good book - especially a fun book with a happy ending - can make life a little more bearable (at least for me).
So really romantic fiction is a big part of my reading library and my life. And it always will be.
P.S. I cannot help but recommend a few of my absolutely favorite books, books I've read so many times that they fell apart and I had to buy them again, even though I can quote them almost verbatim. Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen and North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell are three masterpieces everyone should read."
Mon, 27 Jun 2011 08:32
It's week three of our Summer Festival and we're very pleased to welcome best-selling author Adele Parks to the Book Depository blog. Her new book, About Last Night is just out and already storming up the charts. We've also got ten copies to give away if you head over here.
But enough of my yakkin' here's Adele to tell you a bit about how she started and what writing means to her:
"I've wanted to write novels for as long as I can remember. As a child I read voraciously and wrote my own stories, making them into little books. As I grew up I always had notebooks which I jotted ideas into and when I got drunk I shamefacedly whispered about my secret dream. I was twenty-eight before I started to take myself and my ambition seriously. Once I did, I simply worked steadily until I had a novel I could present to anyone. I ruthlessly self edited, I accepted criticism and I researched my market which secured me an agent. My agent presented my book to 6 publishers and they all accepted it. I do realize this is a bit sickening to anyone who has had numerous knockbacks but on the other hand my story shows that dreams come true and novelists work in a world of dreams so I hope no-one resents it too much!
Over the past decade my career has taken me to USA, Italy, Sweden, Bosnia, Canada, and South Africa. I'm lucky enough to have my works translated into over 20 languages (although I have no idea what's said!). I've met a vast array of people from famous journalists and TV celebs to Prime ministers and people struggling to read their first novel through my work with The Reading Agency and literacy programmes. It's mind blowing really.
Since 2000, I've written eleven novels, About Last Night being my most recent. I'm scarily disciplined, very probably a workaholic but then it's not difficult to be obsessive about something you enjoy, ask anyone who has ever been in love. I write about those irrefutable, perennial issues that interest us all. I try to scrutinize our theories of love, parenthood, friendship and fidelity; I try to do so with honesty and humour. I think contemporary romance is incredibly popular and enduring because without love what have we got? It's defining, exhilarating, disappointing, infinite.
My novels are a mix of reality and escapism. The contemporary settings, descriptions and characters are all part of our world which allows the reader to easily and joyfully relate to the situations but the difference is that a contemporary romance novel invariably offers a happy or at least satisfactory resolution. We see characters improve and get just what they deserve; we often crave that in real life and appreciate it in our fiction - I think that might be part of the enduring appeal. This genre offers entertainment, solace and above all hope. However, even though my novels have a romantic element I think they also have an attitude that's modern and reflective of the women who read my work. Intelligent women who want to exam the thorny issues of the lives we lead today, women who appreciate an up-front, tell-it-as-it-is style.
I love receiving reader feedback. I've already had emails from fans who've finished About Last Night, even though it was only released 4 days ago (at the time of writing). They confide their stories of betraying best friends or husbands. There's a real sense that we're connected, which we are. My books are mine when I write them but they belong to the reader after that. We share the experience."
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