I'm off on my annual November wanderings for the first half of this week and travelling light so in terms of technology no laptop, just an iTouch and thus entirely dependent on butting in on someone else's wireless signal. It's becoming something of a tradition now to book myself a week away from the day job about now, leave the men at home and head off to re-charge my batteries ready for working over the Christmas season, frequently not one of good cheer and happy family gatherings for those who have been bereaved or are seriously ill.
Working online and from home is a wonderful near perfect combination for me, PJs and a pot of tea, no more trekking out in the trusty Fiesta to farms on high Dartmoor on a freezing cold and wet November afternoon, or feeling like the only person stupid enough to be outside as I trudge through Princetown. Princetown can resemble a ghost town in winter, many the day I found myself whistling the old Clint Eastwood spaghetti western tune as I walked down the main street in the shadow of Dartmoor Prison, the tumbleweed twining around my ankles...
Do-do-do-do- do - doo-doo..
I'm always telling others to pencil in treats for themselves so I've pencilled in a few for me, talks, exhibitions, bookish events, lunches, theatre, walks with authors and all in three days which I think will add up to about a year's worth and I will be taking you along too, so much more about it all on my return.
However, I don't think you'll miss me because I have lined up something special.
It was my pleasure to meet Erica Wagner, the literary editor of the Times, at the recent PEN event in London and we had a fine old natter about books over dinner afterwards. It was a few days later that I asked Erica if she would kindly do "dovegreyreader asks... the Literary Editor" as part of this little series of interviews I then hatched to sneak us back stage on the world of books, writing, reviewing and publishing and I'm very grateful to Amanda Craig who launched the endeavour wonderfully with "asks...The Author."
It's all taking a while and I think I have a few people out there patiently waiting for their questions, but I want this to develop step by step over a period of time rather than map out the whole process with rigid questions from the start, plus composing open-ended questions that offer scope for interesting answers is often quite a challenge and not to be rushed....well those are my excuses.
So I am delighted to bring you not one but three posts from Erica this week, because in the end I sent over eight questions and she has answered them so diligently and thoroughly, and they make such sincere and fascinating reading that I felt it would be good to share them out over several days to give you time to read and digest and comment if you want to. I certainly hope you will enjoy Erica's answers as much as I have and she has very kindly to pop into comments occasionally and respond.
Here are Monday's questions ...
Can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?
Can you outline some of the dilemmas faced by the literary editors today?
How do you make your choices for books to be reviewed?