LIFE’S FUNNY. I learned from Cynthia Webb that my comment in this space yesterday on Man Booker Prize winner Hilary Mantel getting two prizes for a single work ended up being broadcast on the ABC (Australia’s BBC). They phoned me up to talk about it and recorded the conversation.
The audio link is here, but I know you’re too busy to click it, so here’s the transcript.
EMILY BOURKE: The international bestseller 'Bring Up the Bodies', has made Hilary Mantel the first woman and first British author to win the Man Booker prize for fiction twice.
HILARY MANTEL: I regard this as an act of faith and a vote of confidence. Thank you.
EMILY BOURKE: And now $80,000 richer, Mantel will throw herself into writing part three of her trilogy about the life of Thomas Cromwell during the time of Henry the Eighth.
NURY VITTACHI: She is the first person to win the prize for a sequel.
EMILY BOURKE: Nury Vittachi is a novelist based in Hong Kong who's also been involved with the Australia Asia Literary Award.
NURY VITTACHI: As a novelist myself, I know that the hard jobs are:
creating the world in which they live
creating the tone and language of the novel and lastly,
And if you're writing a sequel those first three jobs are already done, it's just that fourth job. So sequels are actually very easy. So in a sense I think it's one story which has won two prizes as opposed to two books which have won two prizes.
EMILY BOURKE: And he says Mantel's success points to the rise of women in literature.
NURY VITTACHI: For decades, the book industry has known that women are the dominant readers, but if we think about that, they are also the dominant decision makers because what women choose to read become the successful books in the market place.
In the meantime, reader Hans Luk asked what I meant by “creating a language and tone” for the book.
Every human being speaks his or her own language, Hans, and you have to reflect that in your novel.
And all that has to be filtered through the narrator’s language and tone—because all books have a narrator, whether it’s obvious/ upfront or hidden. To show you what I mean, compare these two first lines, which could start the same story, but have very different tones.
1) He stepped out of the icy house at midnight, breathing steam like a dragon.
2) Ain’t gonna tell you nuthin, so shaddup.
See how different the tone and vocabulary of each opening line is? Yet they could tell the same story.
Here endeth lesson one of How To Write a Novel That Sells.
For something a bit less serious, here’s my favorite video of the moment. It’s just a guy on a bike going on a journey. He starts off doing a few predictable stunts, but it all gets more and more breathtaking.
At 1:30 for example, he meets Grandpa’s plane…