I spend a lot of my time on the Internet.
One of the things I’ve noticed, as I’ve been frolicking in that ceaseless cavalcade of amusing cat pictures and misguided witch hunts, is that very few people these days argue.
Oh they disagree. A lot. But that disagreement is expressed in words designed to punish the other person for having the wrong opinion about football, films or feminism. There’s rarely any debate, no attempt to win the other person over to a differing point of view. A lot of telling-off. Not much ‘hearts and minds.’
And if we can’t successfully negotiate the small stuff, (politics, philosophy, personal grooming) how the hell are we supposed to manage disagreements over the real issues? Like whose turn it is to do the washing up? Or if the recycling goes out this Monday or next?
There’s more than one reason for buying a book. Apart from the books that people buy because they think they might read them, and the increasingly endangered books containing information that might conceivably be useful as reference, there’s a rarely-discussed third way: the Gift Book.
Gift books are books that offer scant readability, and little in the way of intellectual enrichment. The idea of a Gift Book is to buy it, and then to give it away as quickly as is practically possible.
The Gift Book enjoys the same sort of symbiotic relationship with wrapping paper as the snail does with garlic butter. In the same way that a good sauce can turn a snail from a gobbet of recently deceased snot into a gourmet delicacy, so the wrapping paper transforms a Gift Book from a puzzling piece of potential landfill into a present.
Vinyl records are just annoying. Don’t listen to these bearded Hoxtonites who insist that vinyl sounds better than an 8-track cartridge or whatever. It’s heavy, hard to store, and heartbreakingly easy to damage.
A stack of vinyl LPs will all jostle against one another and do their best to press dust and grit into one others’ grooves. Plus, if you let them get too warm they’ll curl up like the top of a Vienetta.
An optimist would say that the boom in Young Adult Fiction augurs well for the next generation of readers. A cynic would say that the boom in Young Adult Fiction is a result of so few adults actually having an adult reading age. A pragmatist would say ‘who gives a toss who’s buying the books: I just want those sales.’
The big winners in the YA bracket seem to be set in worlds a good deal less dull that our own. They’re populated by vampires, or wizards, or fruity young archers. So the first part of my plan is to dream up some kind of society plenty of stuff happens. I was thinking maybe some sort of post-apocalyptic caper.
Something else I’ve been thinking of addressing lately is the sizeable demographic that seems to think that Jeremy Clarkson would make an excellent Prime Minister. My story will take place in a world where those people have got their wish. Again, some sort of post-apocalyptic scenario suggests itself there.
One of popular fictions’s hardy perennials, one of its Thomas Hardy perennials if you will, is the Clog and Shawl saga.
A tale of hardship and heartbreak set in an olden times milieu really hits the spot for a large, lucrative demographic of (mainly female) readers. The kind of readers who, once they’re sold on a brand such as, say, Catherine Cookson, will stay with it for book after book.
And you can bet your boots (or clogs) I want some of that endlessly renewable dollar.
But we need a twist. Some USP that will lift my Clog & Shawl saga above all others. And I think I might just have it.