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Interviewer: Good afternoon everybody, and welcome to our program. Today we continue our series of programs about modern writers. We all love reading books, but at some point of our lives, we all feel that we can write a best seller, or that an episode of our lives can become a plot to one. That’s why you like our program so much, don’t you? Well, in our studio right now we have Alex Smith, the famous writer. Good afternoon, Alex.
Alex: Good afternoon. It’s so nice being here. Thank you for inviting me.
Interviewer: Let me remind the listeners about your outstanding achievements, Alex. As far as I remember, you’ve written over 60 books for adults and children, as well as a variety of academic, legal texts. The best known books you’ve written refer to a series about a lady’s detective agency. The latest addition to this series was published in 2018. Am I correct?
Interviewer: Well, to start with, I address all the writers I talk to one and the same question: Why do you write?
Alex: Like most writers, I write because I feel that I have to. It’s not exactly a compulsion, but it is quite close to that. Writing makes sense of my world, which is what most of us want to do on some level or other. Earning money is important, but most writers would still write even if they weren’t paid for that.
Interviewer: Which novelists do you admire?
Alex: I like the usual ones, the great 19th century novelists, such as Tolstoy, Flaubert, and Dickens. However, I very much enjoy reading 20th century and contemporary novels too. Graham Greene was a great master. R. K. Narayan, the Indian writer who created a wonderful series of books set in a small Indian town of Malgudi is one of my great literary heroes. He is something of a miniaturist, as S. Barbara Pym, another enthusiasm of mine. Then for a bit of humor, I greatly admire E.F Benson.
Interviewer: Will you please describe the route to your first novel being published?
Alex: I started as a writer of children’s books. I entered a writing competition and was fortunate enough to be one of the winners. After writing numerous children’s books, I started to write short stories, and then progressed to writing novels.
Interviewer: As far as I know, you have a literary agent. Has it helped you?
Alex: At the very early stage in my writing career, I acquired an agent. I was very fortunate to have Gina Green on my side and she continued to represent me until her retirement. I then went to Caroline Walsh, who has done a wonderful job for me. A good agent is above the price of rubies.
Interviewer: In what ways do you service your books?
Alex: If you are fortunate enough to have your books taken up in a significant way, there is a tremendous amount to do in servicing the books. I do a lot of travelling and often attend literary festivals and other events all over the world. Although it can be quite burdensome, it is always very interesting to meet the readers and I think that is what keeps me going.
Interviewer: What advice would you give to an aspiring novelist?
Alex: I think that many novelists at the beginning of their careers spend far too much time writing and then tinkering with their first book. My advice is to write a book and then immediately go on to the next one and to the one after that. In other words, the more you write, the better you will become.
Interviewer: Thank you very much Alex, it has been very interesting talking to you.
Alex: My pleasure. I will be happy to come again, one more time, if you wish.
3. What do we learn about Alex at the beginning of the interview?
2) His most famous books are detective stories.
4. Why does Alex write?
2) He simply can’t help it.
5. What do we learn out about Alex’s reading preferences?
3) His preferences are varied.
6. What was Alex’s first book?
1) A children’s book.
7. What does Alex say about literary agents?
3) Good agents are invaluable helpers.
8. What does Alex say about promoting his books?
1) It’s very motivating for him.
9. What is, in Alex’s opinion, the typical mistake of starting novelists?
2) They spend too much time on their first text.