I’ve just come across a piece on the Bookseller magazine’s website about crime writer Lynda La Plante. Apparently she has criticized books ‘written’ by such celebrities as Katie Price at an awards ceremony. ‘Publishers stop spending your millions on this tripe!’ she is said to have begged.
A big part of me agrees with her. I don’t mind the celebrity autobiographies at all but I do become frustrated when yet another ‘cleb’ thinks they’ll have a go at writing for children. Writing for kids? Must be a piece of cake, right? Now I know that whatever I say next is going to sound like sour grapes or just plain snobbish; never comment on anything you haven’t read is my motto but when someone such as Jools Oliver says she’s writing a book because all the modern children’s books are full of bad grammar and poor punctuation it puts my back up. As for Katie ‘I just think of the idea and someone puts the idea into books words for me’ Price … beam me up Scotty!
On the other hand, if those personalities’ titles get kids reading, does it matter? Anything that puts a book in a child’s hand instead of a keyboard mouse or a remote can’t be bad, can it? Reading a ghost-written story by Darcey Bussell isn’t going to scar them for life. Plus there are some celebrities who can write well; Sandi ToKsvig, Ian Ogilvy and Charlie Higson for example.
The real problem comes when other writers are squeezed off the bookshelves. It’s bad enough competing for shelf space with the genuine ones as it is. Me, I’m as jealous as Cinderella’s sisters every time I search the P section and find blooming Dave ‘Captain Underpants’ Pilkey taking a whole shelf with his big box set (or should that be big boxers set?) but the thought of being bumped off altogether to make way for some bloke who was once in High School Vampire Ponies the Musical 3 is a thousand times worse.
Oh well. I’ll just have to do what it says on that wartime poster: Keep Calm and Carry On.