Category Archives: Writer

Richard Adams … Watership Down

Richard Adams … Watership Down

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Richard Adams, aged 94, at home in Hampshire. Photograph: Graham Turner/Guardian

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Richard Adams (1920 – 2016) was an English novelist who is best known as the author of Watership Down, Shardik and The Plague Dogs. He studied modern history at university before serving in the British Army during World War II. Afterwards, he completed his studies, and then joined the British Civil Service. It was during this period that he began writing fiction in his spare time.

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Richard Adams originally began telling the story that would become Watership Down to his two daughters on a car trip. They eventually insisted that he publish it as a book. Extraordinarily, he had never written a word of fiction before. He began writing during the evenings in 1966, taking two years to complete. The story was rejected by six publishers, all concerned that older children would not want to read about rabbits and that its dark themes were too “adult” for younger children. In 1972, when Adams was aged 52, Rex Collings agreed to publish the work. The book gained international acclaim almost immediately for reinvigorating anthropomorphic fiction with naturalism. 

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An Aldo Galli illustration for a new edition of Watership Down

Over the next few years Watership Down sold over a million copies worldwide. Adams won both of the most prestigious British children’s book awards, one of six authors to do so: the Carnegie Medal and the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize. In 1974, following publication of his second novel, Shardik, he left the Civil Service to become a full-time author. 

“It was rather difficult to start with. I was 52 when I discovered I could write. I wish I’d known a bit earlier. I never thought of myself as a writer until I became one. If I had known earlier how frightfully well I could write, I’d have started earlier”.

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Cover of First Edition

It’s non of their business …

It’s non of their business …

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Deborah Moggach

Deborah Moggach

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Deborah Moggach is an English novelist and screenplay writer. She has written eighteen novels including The Ex-Wives, Tulip Fever, These Foolish Things (made into the film The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel) and Heartbreak Hotel. Her latest book is called Something to Hide. She currently lives in the Welsh border town of Presteigne and also has a maisonette in Kentish Town, North London.

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In 2016 she was interviewed by the Guardian for their My Writing Day series.

Everyone has their rituals and I have to start the day with a roll-up and a cup of coffee. It gets my brain fizzing – it loosens the connections – and if I’m interrupted, I’m lost. If someone even says “I’ll phone you some time in the morning” it threatens my concentration, which is a feeble organ at the best of times. With screenplays it’s not so bad because it’s a more public process anyway – so many other people are involved – but if I’m writing a novel, I need to shut myself off into my private world. I don’t mind people in the house, as long as they’re not quarrelling and they don’t come in, but I can’t bear music.

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The weird thing is that unexpected interruptions can jolt me when I’m stuck and can actually help, like a computer being switched off and on. But I mustn’t expect them. And if there are too many, the morning is flushed away; I can almost hear it hissing into oblivion, like an airline toilet.

When that happens, it is a day’s work gone, because I can only write in the mornings. A lot of writers I know are the same. In the afternoons I become a normal person doing normal things – shopping, cooking, talking to people. If a novel is going well, however, I perform these tasks in a dream. It’s a wonderful feeling, this, but it doesn’t happen very often. When it does, I find that everything feeds into what I’m writing. The swing of somebody’s hair, the odd remark on the bus – they absorb themselves into the bloodstream of the story in a mysterious way, so my day is pulled into the subterranean flow of the novel.

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At 6.30pm I’ll go back to my desk, have a glass of wine and another roll-up, and work for an hour. That’s the best time of all, and utterly essential. After that I watch TV.

Author website

Write hard …

Write hard …

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All writers have this vague hope …

All writers have this vague hope …

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Lemony Snicket …

 Lemony Snicket …

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Daniel Handler is an American writer and journalist. He is best known for his work under the pen name Lemony Snicket, having published children’s series A Series of Unfortunate Events and All the Wrong Questions under this pseudonym. He has also published adult novels under his real name. His first book The Basic Eight was rejected by many publishers for its dark subject matter. His books have sold more than 70 million copies and have been translated into 40 languages. He lives with his wife and child in San Francisco. 

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Handler’s desk is a gynecologist’s table. A black file cabinet is stuffed with the tiny notebooks Handler uses to jot down ideas. It belonged to his wife’s grandfather and still has his labels on it: “Sewing, Sun cream, Bulbs, Shaver, Soap.”

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In a 2013 interview with The Daily Beast he spoke about his daily writing routine.

I have an idea and then I start poking around. I read whatever books seem appropriate, which leads me to books that really are appropriate, and I write down a lot of things on index cards and legal pads that I move around while muttering to myself. Then suddenly I say, this is enough, get going, and it’s enough, and I get going.

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I write longhand on legal pads, about half at home and half in cafés. I drink a lot of water and eat a lot of raw carrots. The only unusual desk item I can think of is a Buddha Machine, which produces loops of ambient sound, for times when music is too much and silence is not enough. The view in front of me is a blank wall, but I can stand and look out a window at my lovely street and watch bicyclists give up on the hill and walk it.

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How simple the writing of literature would be …

How simple the writing of literature would be …

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