The Literati, Digerati and Twitterati are finally officially coming together – today marks the start of the first Twitter Fiction Festival.
From a historical perspective, this will no doubt be seen as a natural progression of serialised writing. Publishing got a new breath of life from Dickens’ serialisation success and I’ve no doubt that the festival will similarly benefit the literary world in the twenty first century.
Hosted by Twitter, writers from five continents will showcase creative storytelling experiments in five languages.
Obviously, I’ll be watching the official hashtag stream – #twitterfiction – with much interest. I co-authored a book published by Bloomsbury this year, The Twitter Diaries, with my friend Georgie Thompson. We met in real life at a New Year’s Eve bash, she jetted back to London while I remained in NYC and we became fast friends from transatlantically tweeting. A novel seemed the obvious step – and I was rather proud to see it described in Metro today as a “fluffy piece of chick lit” – yes it is! We set out to write exactly that – we all sometimes need some pure escapism in our lives. Our two heroines, @StellaCavill and @TuesdayFields continue to tweet suitably fluffy new material – whether it be about Daniel Craig’s Skyfalling, Maggie Smith’s Downton one-liners or a not so profound tweet yesterday from Stella about teeth whitening.
I’m imagining the #twitterfiction on offer will often be somewhat more highbrow, but the authors will face the same challenges and delights from the 140 character discipline. Having to write in tweets made Georgie and myself sharper. Funnier. We agreed that everything should be properly spelt – we were writing a book after all – and sometimes our characters would go onto a second tweet, but The Twitter Diaries in the end read like a fast paced conversation. It will be fascinating to see how the authors taking part in the festival narrate their stories, to what extent they write “standalone” tweets.
One thing is for sure – the literary and digital worlds will be all-a-twitter for some time to come.
I’m very happy and excited that the following has just been announced in PubLunch. It’s a huge privilege to be working with St Martin’s and I know that I will learn so much from the legendary Michael Flamini. A massive thank you to my long time literary agent Sam Hiyate for his support over the years through thick and thin.
“Writer and television commentator Imogen Lloyd Webber’s THE CHEAT SHEET: HOW TO BE NEVER KNOWINGLY SHORT OF AN OPINION, a compendium of facts, formulas and philosophies that will make you the savvy star of any conversation in Obama’s America, Cameron’s United Kingdom and around the world, to Michael Flamini at St. Martin’s, by Sam Hiyate at The Rights Factory (NA).”
Just written a piece for FoxNews.com in celebration of the new Bond movie “Skyfall”…
My latest piece for the Huffington Post about America’s place in the world economy has just been published:
There is a lot of confusing, complicated talk about banks and regulations, but I’ve boiled it down to this.
We need to look at what Canada did right: it was the only G7 country to survive the financial crisis without a state bail-out for its financial sector. It has an uncomplicated and well co-ordinated regulatory framework, with capital requirements at its core.
Banking systems should be based, as the Canadian system is, on principles rather than the rules.
These must be bold, simple, transparent and verifiable. They must be easy to understand and possible to enforce.
It is key that financial institutions retain risk.
Regulations are required as throughout history it has been proven, give a banker an inch, he (it usually has been) will take a mile.
So much has been written and said about Syria and Assad’s brutal dictatorship. He must go, the question is of course, how. In all my reading these points have come up and I think are worth highlighting:
– Within Syria, the Syrian uprising is popular but not universal. In June 2012 it was estimated that roughly a third of its population are pro Assad’s regime, a third of people support the insurrection and the remainder do not like either side.
– The Syrian regime is backed up by the world’s 15th largest military – to put it in perspective, Libya’s was protected by the 50th.
– The main opposition group, the Syrian National Council, is made up of seven infighting factions, including Christians, Kurds and the Muslim Brotherhood. They are likely to turn on each other when Assad goes. Arming them is not without risk.
– When Russia warns of anarchy in Syria we must listen to them. The Russians know what arms are sitting inside the country – they sold 75% of Syria’s weapons to them, including those of the chemical variety. Assad spent $700 million on Russian weapons in 2010.
– America – and the West – are in the unfortunate position of being in a classic no win, damned if you do, damned if you don’t, situation. America can harm with best intentions and as seen in Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia, it is very hard to shape good outcomes inside other countries.
The Syrian elites, the middle classes, are right to fear chaos. It is understandable if what they really want is good governance, however delivered. Transition needs to be orderly and will require Russian (Syria’s key ally) support.
But transition must occur.
America is currently experiencing the worst Presidential election campaigns that money can buy.
The irony is, that the campaigns probably aren’t about you.
Keep this in mind: America is a 51-49% country. Partisans have already decided how they are going to vote.
What Obama and Romney need are independent voters, the estimated 6 percent of people who haven’t made up their minds – in swing states.
For the Presidential election is decided via Electoral College. So dismiss every national poll you see as interesting, but actually somewhat irrelevant to the result. The key polls are those in swing states – and everything both candidates are now doing is to try and win those who are undecided in these areas.
The winner of this Presidential election will thus be the politician who wins the middle ground. Which is one of the reasons why, although President Obama should be losing this election with the way economy is, he’s still right up there. Romney had to go way to the right in the primaries and the question is – how long will that stay in voters’ minds.
My July 2012 call for November 2012? Barring all Eurozone meltdowns (Merkel is Obama’s best friend right now; the misbehaving monolith that is the Eurozone, Romney’s), I believe it will be a 2 point election. And very possibly that one candidate will win the popular vote and the other the electoral college. Which would mean Obama for a second term, by a whisker – and the result may just end up in the Supreme Court again…
Every time we are told that peace is impossible, that compromise can never be found, this photo from June 2012 is a timely reminder that we must keep working at both.
It is a picture of Britain’s head of state, Queen Elizabeth II, shaking the hand of Martin McGuiness, the former commander of the Irish Republican Army.
This took courage from both – and so many others.
In 1979, the I.R.A. killed the Queen’s cousin Lord Mountbatten, who was also her husband Philip’s uncle. The “Troubles” lasted over 3 decades and killed more than 3,600 people. When I was growing up I never believed there would be peace in my lifetime.
The peace took sacrifice, so much compromise and work – and does so to this day. But it exists. And this moment serves as inspiration for us all.
I’m a Brit who is lucky enough to live in America. I hugely admire this great nation of yours.
But on July 4th, I feel it my duty to say to you, America – you’re getting perilously close to acting like the country you sought independence from in 1776. Then you will be in trouble.
In Britain we are self deprecating to the point of the glass always being half empty, which may be charming, but is often self-defeating. We may still sing with much gusto that “Britannia Rules The Waves”, but it obviously doesn’t. We Brits accept that the empire has been consigned to the history books, where it will remain. I am so proud to be British – (this is me in a Union Jack outfit extolling my place of birth on American television), but although we Brits will always make a unique contribution to the world, we’re never again going to be its most powerful player.
But you, America, still are. Perhaps because you’re currently experiencing the worst election that money can buy, the positives are being drowned out. Let me remind you of some of them.
America is still, by far, the world’s largest economy, with a GDP of more than $15 trillion. To put it into perspective, the world’s second largest economy, China, is at around $7 trillion. A survey earlier this year by the consultant Accenture, found that 40% of companies moving manufacturing operations in the past two years had moved them to the US, compared with 28% that moved facilities to China.
Even if China does become the world’s largest economy (optimistic, see below), it has been before – in the early 19th century, but that didn’t make them top dog. Europe, especially Britain, was ruling many a wave back then. Likewise, America will be the real power – China’s GDP per capita will still be smaller than America’s and it doesn’t have political stability. America, you coped with the Soviet Union sitting menacingly on the doorstep of all your allies, and the rise of Japan’s economy. You’ll manage the dragon.
Here’s the thing – the rest of the world would love to have America’s so-called decline right now. The United States’ share of world GDP was roughly 25% in 1969 — and is still roughly 25%. Measure America against other developed countries and it has done well since the credit crisis of 2008. Of the G7 countries only Canada has done better – but even it had one quarter in 2011 where the economy declined. Not America, where of 14 developed world economies, it was the only one to show consistent growth over the most recent four quarters and has reported a growing economy for 11 consecutive quarters. There’s even glimmers of hope in the housing sector. In May, sales of existing homes rose 9.6% and other indicators suggest the market will continue on an upward trajectory.
Admittedly the United States’ recovery could be faster, but speaking as someone whose homeland is going through a double dip recession, we’d be happy to swap these sort of improving economic indicators. If you need further convincing, let’s just take a further look at how your competitors are doing.
We’ll begin with the much vaunted BRICs – Brazil, Russia, China and India. All are facing some big hurdles. In Brazil, there are major issues with manufacturing. Russia is an oil based economy with not much else going for it and it needs oil to be at $117 a barrel for its budget to break even. Oil is currently at around $100 – no wonder Putin looks even more murderous than usual. India has multiple issues including problematic politicians and bureaucracy, a falling rupee, double-digit consumer inflation and a rising trade deficit. Meanwhile, China has a multitude of difficulties – manufacturing in decline, the threat of the housing sector bubble bursting big-time and political instability.
Europe? Well we basically invented civilization and are now doing our level best to destroy it, ourselves first.
Of course there are issues with the American economy. But here’s the thing, when the US is down, it comes back stronger than before. The 1890s, the 1930s and the 1970s were all lows. But then came the fight back and highs of the 1910s, the 1940s and the 1980s.
America is still exceptional. Your military is by far the strongest in the world, with the United States spending more on defence than the rest of the other great powers combined. Silicon Valley is spearheading the future.
I was asked in an interview the other day what I liked most about America. My reply? That you see the glass as half full. Don’t lose that positivity – it drives you.
It is of course vital to be aware that there is much to fix in this nation of yours, but as long as you see the glass as half full, the American dream will still exist – in minds and reality.