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Thriller writer Ian Jay on book reviewing – Page 2

Thriller writer Ian Jay gives some reading tips…

Ian Jay thought his novel To Do or Die was “probably too techno for most readers but it isn’t overloaded with that stuff” and that “It’s a bit slow in the middle after a strong start. I shouldn’t have killed the dog!”. Also he wasn’t happy with the edit and production values. I thought the production values were fine but that the edit could have used more work. I asked Ian Jay about reviewing, and about the mistakes and shortcomings he’s seen in books.

READERSVOICE.COM: Is it better to just ignore a book that was badly written, or is just bad, rather than review it?

IAN JAY: I wish I could sometimes, but I stick with it and am as honest as possible. If an author writes the book and it’s released to the public, it’s fair game!

RV: With the books you’ve reviewed in recent years, what kinds of mistakes do you see?

IJ: Poor production values by authors, editors and publishers. Also, 1st versus 3rd person. Authors mix the two up and it can be confusing.
Weak endings, particularly with a strong build-up.

RV: If you could create a bit of a checklist of a few points, what should authors make sure their books have, in your view?

IJ: Every author should ask themselves this one question and ask it often: “What is the purpose of this book?”.

Also, read the draft after a good break in time. Then rip into the work and re-work it until it’s right. Have a couple of trusted reviewers but not too many. Authors can lose their way with too many opinions.

Get a good edit done; don’t skimp on this.

RV: When writing your thrillers To Do or Die, and its sequel Maximum Effort, did you have a critic’s voice in your head competing with the writer’s voice?

IJ: No. But reading them now, I can see the errors.

RV: Can you recommend a few of your favourite books of all time, fact or fiction?

IJ: Anything by Gerald Seymour (UK thriller author). [Novels include his first Harry’s Game (1975), The Glory Boys, The Contract, and A Line in the Sand].

I thought The Catcher in the Rye (J.D. Salinger) was outstanding.

RV: How often do you do your talks on writing and publishing?

IJ: Not very often. Once or twice a year. My reviewing with ABC concludes this year [2009]as I need to get back to writing.
RV: If someone was serious about learning to write novels, what habits would you advise them to get into?

IJ: Read lots of books, and analyse them critically!

RV: Can you recommend a book or two, or a magazine, on writing?

IJ: That’s easy… On Writing by Stephen King.