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Industry Insight: Q&A with Maxim Jakubowski (A LoveReading Very Short Story Award Judge)

Liz Robinson

By Liz Robinson on 9th December 2019

Our LoveReading Industry Insight pieces are going to be slightly different for this month, as we will be focusing in turn, on each of the other judges for our LoveReading Very Short Story Award 2020.  I am hugely thrilled to be able to introduce you to Rachel Edwards, Matt Bates, Joanne Owen, Maxim Jakubowski, (and I will be the fifth member of the team). We have asked our judges a number of booky questions, and they have answered beautifully. Their knowledge really shines through and I’m sure you will be able to appreciate that each will bring their own unique talents, as well as a love of writing and books to the table. 

Maxim Jakubowski has kindly agreed to return this year as a judge for our LoveReading Very Short Story Award. I reviewed Maxim's books long before meeting him, and I’m sure I probably made a little bit of a bumbling fool of myself when we spoke for the first time. Maxim really is one of the most knowledgable booky people you are ever likely to meet. He not only writes the most fabulous books (sometimes under a  pseudonym), he contributes short stories himself and also collects and edits stories for anthologies. Louisiana Republic is a bold, original, dystopian novel, while The Mammoth Book of Best British Crime and his latest Invisible Blood, are both fabulous collections of short crime and mystery stories. 

Maxim Jakubowski is a book world great. He has been involved in all forms of the book industry. His first book, and his first book review were published at the age of 16. He spent 20 years in the publishing industry as an editor and executive, followed by 20 years owning a bookstore (Murder One). He has always reviewed, spoken and written about books, writing for Time Out London, The Guardian, Crime Time, and LoveReading, as well as appearing at Literary Festivals, on radio and TV. He is a celebrated author, and is currently the Vice Chair of the Crime Writers’ Association.

We are thrilled that you have agreed to be one of our judges for the LoveReading Very Short Story Award, what in particular do you love about short stories?

Where a novel can be a whole, nourishing meal, a short story is often something more delicate, not so much an appetizer but a sampler for a whole new self-contained world which looks smaller from the outside but is endless inside and leaves you begging for more.

Do you have a favourite anthology of short stories, or type of short story that you like to read?

Naturally, I have a sweet spot for my own anthologies, but I also read many others if only to check up on the competition or, more accurately, to spot authors I would have missed otherwise. Basically, I enjoy all types of short stories, regardless of genre or mood.

If reading a short story anthology, do you start with the first story, look for a favourite author, or open at a random spot?

Truly at random.

Where do you like to read?

I read on my sofa, in my bed, on deckchairs by the pool or the sea, on cruises in my cabin. Anywhere is a place to read... 

What (and why) are your top three favourite books of all time (sorry, mean question, and I’m sure your answers could change from one day to the next!)?

An impossible question so will reword it: the three books I am most looking forward to right now are this autumn's new novels by Erin Morgenstern, John Le Carré and Emily St John Mandel (and, cheat that I am, the 3rd novel by Chris Whitaker scheduled for 2020 which is on my bedside table right now, and am delaying reading until cruising the Great Canadian Lakes in a few weeks).

What was your favourite book to read as a child, do you still have that book, and have you read it since?

I can remember the story, but neither the title nor the author, alas, as the book was borrowed from the local library in Paris where I lived. It had cossacks, war, romance and so much more...

Do you have one particular booky moment that still stands out for you and makes you smile?

Probably holding a copy of my very own first book, such a long time ago now. 

Have you ever been star-struck by an author, who was it and what happened when you met them? 

No. They are as human as you and me. 

Which author, no longer with us, would you loved to have met, and what is it about their work that calls to you?

F. Scott Fitzgerald, if only because his books and stories resonate profoundly with me.

Is there anything in particular that you will be looking for when you read the LoveReading submissions?

Amaze me! 

You can find maxim on social platforms: 

Website: https://www.maximjakubowski.co.uk/

Bio: https://www.lovereading.co.uk/author/2536/Maxim-Jakubowski.html

If you enjoyed this article why not check out our other Industry Insight Features?

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