Established authors, the next generation and the Dublin Book Festival

The fifth annual Dublin Book Festival begins next Tuesday and there’s a packed programme of events, morning, lunch and evening, over the following five days.

Virtually every event looks worthwhile but one that specifically caught the eye was the not-very-informatively-titled “In Their Own Write: John Boyne, Siobhán Parkinson, Dermot Bolger, Donal Ryan, Colm Keegan and Deirdre Sullivan” in the Main Theatre at Smock Alley on the festival’s final day.

Having never (not yet, at any rate) been privy to discussions in a fiction or poetry publishing house, I can only hazard a guess, but I would suggest that getting an established author to offer up a cover quote is one of the secrets to any novel’s success, particularly one coming from a virtually no-name younger writer.

The man’s name has since left me but Claire Kilroy’s editor at Faber and Faber spoke about this process at the launch of The Devil I Know in The Gutter Bookshop a couple of months back. He sent the book to John Banville with a view to attracting a blurb-able line. Banville replied that he doesn’t do cover quotes, but was subsequently so impressed by the book that he called back a few days later to offer one up.

This talk is about precisely that – the importance of some praise from established authors to those battling to make their way.

In this case Boyne, Parkinson and Bolger favourably reviewed, respectively, Ryan’s debut novel The Spinning Heart, Sullivan’s first novel Prim Improper and Keegan’s debut collection of poetry Don’t Go There.

If they get into the nitty-gritty of it, it promises to be an informative couple of hours on at least part of the publishing process in Ireland today.

All the details on next week’s festival are available from the Dublin Book Festival website.

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