You've probably already read about the new initiative by some publishers to add an age range to books as a guide for parents when choosing a new book for their offspring. The story has made the press and a full outline of the issues can be read in The Telegraph and at the BBC. I have to say having just finished 'The Darkfather' I'm against the idea, the reasons being:
a) Books should be read for enjoyment not because they mark base camps along the Everest of reading. I read books that are meant for children but its the story and the characters, the language and the created world that makes it for me, not some arbitrary age grouping.
b) When I set off to write a novel I have no idea about the age group it fits into. The story develops and the language along with it. The language I use is suitable to the story not the age of the reader.
c) As I child I came to books late (I read mainly comics as a youngster) but when I started to read I read voraciously and worked through everything from 'The Hobbit', to 'Great Expectations' to the works of Shakespeare. If I had known that were I to pick up a book and be stigmatised by those around me by the 'age' of the book then I might not have picked some of them up.
d) If you're an adult choosing a book for a child and don't know what to buy - speak to a bookseller or a Librarian. I've worked in both positions and I can tell you the people working in books do it for the love of the works and not the pay (which in most cases is rubbish). Go to a good book shop and ask for help. The staff will impart their knowledge freely and try their best to help you.
So that is why I've added my name to the Philip Pullman lead campaign and ask that you do the same. Details can be found here.
Started on the editing process of 'The Missing' today with my editor Maureen. She's leading me down the rubbish strewn path of missing colon's, sentence restructure and tense clarification. Chapter 1 has been reviewed and we should have that finished within the next couple of weeks. She's read the book twice and says she enjoyed it (phew!).
My new leather jacket has arrived - hurrah! It's taken some time due to my rather poor Lycos email account which seems to be acting up at the moment and the trip to Japan. But it is now here and looks wonderful and fits perfectly. Many thanks to John at Bad Wolf for sorting it all out for me.