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fiction

Lindsay Madden, MLitt in Publishing Studies 2018/19

November 7th, 2018 by Lindsay_Madden | Posted in Student Profiles | Comments Off on Lindsay Madden, MLitt in Publishing Studies 2018/19
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Most people seem to be able to remember their first book, or the book that made them “fall in love with reading,” but for me, books have just always been there. From Robert Munsch, to Mary Pope Osborne, to Kenneth Oppel, to JK Rowling—I’ve had a book in my hand for as long as I can remember. Publishing is not a big industry in my hometown of Ottawa, Canada, so it never really occurred to me to make a career out of my love of books. When I started university, I decided to pursue a BA in Criminology and Criminal Justice, as I loved studying human behaviour, crime, and deviance. Three years into the programme, I realised that publishing would be a dynamic, challenging, and hugely rewarding job that would pay me to bring more books into the world. I had the sudden epiphany that, as an adult, there was nothing stopping me from moving to where I needed to be to get into this field, so I went out and got a second BA (Honours) in English Language and Literature.

During my second degree, I completed a study abroad semester at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, England. While I was there, I enrolled in a Publishing module in which I conceptualised, wrote, edited, and designed an original crime magazine called Deviant. The module cemented my determination to work in the publishing industry and, as I loved living in the UK so much, I moved back to Norwich when I graduated in 2017 to begin my career. Unfortunately, like Ottawa, Norwich isn’t exactly a central publishing hub, so I made one of the easiest decisions of my life and moved to Scotland to start my MLitt in Publishing Studies at the University of Stirling. It has already been such a rewarding and enlightening experience, and I’ve had opportunities to get involved by volunteering with Bloody Scotland and joining the Society of Young Publishers. My understanding of global book markets, the publishing industry, and the technical skills required to succeed in this field have grown substantially over the last two months, and I cannot wait to learn more so that I can apply my skills and my passion to a career in trade book publishing.

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What defines the best?

November 30th, 2017 by David Graham | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on What defines the best?
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The experience of being a shadow fiction judge for the Saltire Society.

By David MacDonald Graham.

I had the honour of being a shadow fiction judge for the Saltire society, six books to read, take notes and ultimately decide which one was the best. The books ran the gauntlet from the emotional, political, heartwarming, the despairing and the disturbing.

 Judging and reading is an interpretive game and sometimes you need to separate the enjoyment factor and concentrate on craft, tone, intent and relevance. Perhaps, when all of those factors fail, the enjoyment factor remains the only aspect left to work with. It’s a challenge, thinking in and outside of literary factors, determining merits or lack of them. As a writer myself, I had to distance myself from the knowledge, that crafting a book, whatever the reason we choose to create, is not an easy task. A lot of work goes into the craft, a lot of doubt and second-guessing.
I know the work ethic, the difficulties and the attacks of doubt, and I owed it to the writers on the basis of knowing how aggravating and rewarding the process can be, to be as robust as possible in my analysis.
I spent the evening of the panel talking about books with my fellow shadow judges, which is probably how most of us would like to spend our evenings. The discourse and debate was lively, certainly well moderated and when the time came for a consensus, there was one question that challenged my perceptions and ultimately changed my decision.

“What is the best book, what deserves the award?”

Well, to me, these are two questions.

The best book is not necessarily the one that deserves the award. An award is a powerful thing, it creates visibility, it calls attention to both the author and the themes explored in the text. The question then becomes, who needs the award? There are, after all, some books that will always sell based on genre, subject matter and the author’s reputation. There are others that make important points, comment on society and explore culturally relevant issues that may not always be comfortable to read about. It’s possible these books may not find an audience without an award to champion it.

Another question is then raised, which is the most important book?

Bearing in mind, I had only been asked one question and my interpretation threw up four more in the space of seconds, including, is the most important book also the best book?
In a matter of seconds, I found myself asking internally if I had the right to judge, and mentally imagining myself saying to my previous decision;

“It’s not you, its definitely me. You’ll find your way.”

We all have a relationship with the books we read, and I essentially broke up with mine. Luckily there are plenty of books in the metaphorical sea. The book I eventually choose, quite simply, had a role to play that was beyond entertainment, it was a book that needed to be read.
The shadow judging was an invaluable experience, one I would be keen to repeat, armed with the knowledge that my preconceptions could be challenged by a simple question. I extend my thanks to the Saltire society; it will be interesting to find out on the 30th of November if our overall consensus matches up with the judging panel.

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