Teen heroes and writing about writing

Anthony Horwitz is one of those few authors writing for older children/teens who has "cracked it", "it" being the elusive goal of writing books that boys are keen to read. (And girls too, of course, but girls are known to love books.) Horwitz’s character, 14-year-old Alex Rider, has long been popular with the reading fraternity but has now become the new cool in the UK. Read all about it on Oasis — readers in the USA, stand by for the movie and the latest teen idol. (I sat through the movie while in York recently, and can vicariously attest to Alex Pettyfer’s appeal to those who like the young James Bond image.)

Boys may not like reading, but that is not down to paucity of choice. I haven’t been over to look yet, but Kimbofo on Reading Matters reports that Penguin publishers have started a blog (not content with their recent 100 "best classics" list, evidently). Penguin’s blog is apparently by Venetia Butterfield (great name), a commissioning editor; Kim opines that all publishers will soon be following suit if they haven’t already. (My own employer, Macmillan, has long featured a blog by CEO Richard Charkin, and Nature, the journal for which I work, runs several editors’ blogs as well as the excellent Nascent, a web technology publishing blog.) Returning to books, though, as Kim says, how on earth does anyone have time to read the products we are all writing about? I often wonder that myself, as my own book-reading capacity has reduced by about 75 per cent since I started blogging.

If you have any time for reading about books, however, Elaine Flinn interviews Tess Gerritsen over at Murderati. Gerritsen’s books are very enjoyable, and the interview sparkles. In line with Kim’s sentiments on blogging about writing, I don’t know how Gerritsen finds time to read and endorse so many books as well as writing her own to such a high standard; so far as I am concerned she can stop writing the blurbs (as I’ve read quite a few duds that she’s enthusiastically endorsed) and concentrate on producing (even) more books herself (her output is pretty prodigious as it is — the interview is pegged on the publication of her next at the end of this month).

Moving on from books, Chris at qwghlm reports that the UK Daily Mail has discovered del.ic.ious. Oh no, for all the reasons he says. At least if you are a scientist you have the option of Connotea instead, if you want to avoid the Daily Mail’s ideas of key topics to tag negatively (genetically modified organisms, fertility treatments and IVF, indeed, science in general) and positively (silly health stories, fashion victims, the home lives of celebrities and how mothers who seek paid employment outside the home are wicked "career women"). One of Chris’s examples of a Daily Mail del.ic.ious top tag is a story about how flip-flops can damage your health. Says it all, really.

Finally, some decent (non-Daily-Mail) light-hearted links from Paperback Writer.  They sound worth checking out, not least the one about creating a caricature of your most (or least) favourite character online. Other examples in the list include a fractal drawing program and a Jackson Pollock image generator.