Out of the ordinary?

What is ordinary or normal? It’s all relative in my opinion so why does society not accept the wonderful diverse range of people who make up our rich communities?

The song ‘People are people so why should it be…’ springs to mind…

On the one hand we have stories of books being banned because the author didn’t write what society wanted to hear. On the other, we have people embracing ‘acceptable’ differences such as those with learning differences in Emma Claire Sweeney’s Owl Song at Dawn. Isn’t it time, all differences were accepted as the norm? Emma has paved the way – and rightly so – for those who have learning differences. At TSL we value difference and do not let labels dictate who and what get’s published.

Leslie Tate’s Heaven’s Rage is more than an autobiography and shouldn’t be labelled for a specific group. To do so prevents so many others from accessing a journey of discovery – of self and of a writer. As Karen Maitland says in her review:

It is wonderful and truly inspiring to read, in Heaven’s Rage, such an honest account of the development both of a novel and, in parallel, a writer, and to be able to watch the creative process unfold on the page. Leslie Tate courageously reveals a process which is too often hidden from the world. New writers often feel that there must be a secret magic formula which, if only the established authors would share it, would give them the key that unlocks the mystery of writing. I think Leslie Tate’s account comes as close I’ve ever read to revealing that strange alchemical process.
There are some lines in his story which have sent my own imagination reeling ‘… the book created an alternative version of my own experience, a kind of theatre of possibilities …’ and ‘A sentence is bridge and there is a limit to how much weight it can bear.’ Like the Russian nesting dolls those lines have whole stories and poems buried inside them. And if an author’s words can set another writer or artist afire with new ideas, as these do for me, then that is creativity at its blazing best.’ – Karen Maitland author of Company of Liars, The Owl Killers, The Gallows Curse, Falcons of Fire and Ice, The Vanishing Witch and The Raven’s Head. Karen also writes joint medieval crime novels as a member of The Medieval Murderers.

Paul Ross‘s approach to books has allowed both him and TSL to explore alternative ways of engaging young readers and taking books to a new level of interaction.

Whilst putting this blog together, Banned Books week passed by raising the question: why do we feel the need to ban books? Surely we should educate readers on how to evaluate and think for themselves rather than tell them what they can and cannot do? Teaching young people to respect and value diversity and others would go a long way to reducing the need some have to ban books. (Sometimes one just has to let the idealist dominate the realist!)

Thanks Pablo for the image

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Language – crossing boundaries

With the increase in cross-boundary and cross-cultural writing, it’s important that the writer gets the language of the protagonists right but also to ensure that the reader knows what is meant.

The importance of this was brought home to me quite early on in my stay in England – in South Africa what we call pants are called trousers in England, while pants in England refer to underwear. There are different definitions/understandings of the term now which I won’t even venture to explain in text – if you’re curious, find a South African and ask them to explain the difference between now, just now, and now now. Engaging with a Caribbean colleague enlightened me to a different meaning behind the verb to cane. In South Africa and it appears British school slang this was to get a hiding whilst in Jamaica it meant to get high on drugs. An article in the Harrow Times brought introduced another meaning of the verb to ride. But sometimes, it’s more straightforward than double (or triple) meanings. Sometimes, terms are used from another language.

So how do authors convey these different interpretations of words to ensure their readers get the point?
Anna Ryland’s A Second Chance has a glossary at the end of the book for those who want to double check they’ve understood the Polish terms used. John Samson’s Shaka are Dead and Maya Alexandri’s The Celebration Husband make the meaning explicit through the context in which the slang is used.

Thanks Pablo for the image