Monday, May 23, 2011

Reclaiming the semi-colon: Kate de Goldi

Kate de Goldi is crazy in love with semi-colons. She told a gathering of writers and readers this last night at a Writers on Sunday session at my bookshop. Not those exact words - I might have Steve Tyler from American Idol on my mind here - but something close. I was supposed to be conducting proceedings, so I wasn't taking notes.

Really, I should have guessed about this semi-colon thing. I re-read The 10 PM Question in preparation for Kate's session - a truly delightful experience, I'm not a re-reader in general, but I loved re-reading this book and it makes me wonder if I shouldn't do it more often - and anyway, I did notice that one sentence had THREE semi-colons.

Kate says children's books, and literature in general, are rapidly shedding the old semis and she regrets it - passionately. She says the semi-colon allows for longer sentences and, as a result, more complexity of thought, and it's simply rubbish that children aren't capable of handling semi-colons in their reading.

Just recently Kate visited the great children's author KM Peyton and they discussed the way she has had to shed the semi-colon at ( I believe) her publisher's behest. Certainly, when she did it, the publisher was pleased. However, in discussion with Kate - who is a big fan - KM admitted her writing was stronger when it embraced that odd-shaped dude, the semi-colon.

(While I was hunting for a semi-colon image, I found this hilarious post on a semi-colon rampant.)

Kate de Goldi was the first of our guests in our Writers on Sunday: Rona Winter Series. She was a stimulating, generous guest - talking about an awful lot more besides the semi-colon. She also went into the thinking behind her book The 10 PM Question, about place and character in her book, about children's and adult literature in general and how her book fits into those categories, about the nourishment books give and how 10 PM shows us this, and so much more besides. She read from 10 PM, as well as reading three pages from her novel-in-progress.

Everything Kate said had the audience of 40+ captivated, not least me. I will blog on the children's/adult lit question and Kate's insights into 10 PM when I have a little more time.  

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