Thursday, 29 March 2012


Sixty years ago, just before they got married, my uncle gave my parents a copy of Ronald's Searle's Back to the Slaughterhouse. This was the third collection of St Trinian's cartoons, but it also included many of his lesser known cartoons, with an edge of political satire or social commentary, as well as some he'd combined with verses by Kaye Webb.

Years later, the book travelled with my parents to Canada when they emigrated, and lived on the bookshelves in our basement, where I discovered it as a teenager. When Searle died, a few months ago, I found I could recall its yellow dust jacket and bring to mind in almost perfect detail some of my favourite cartoons.

Meanwhile, however, my parents had moved to a smaller place. At some point, no one can quite remember how, they gave the book away and it was passed from hand to hand until it ended up on a charity bookstall at the local farmers' market. There, by sheer coincidence, it was picked up by a friend of my parents who, reading the old inscription from my uncle, guessed to whom it must have belong.

So this spring, I make my first trip to Toronto in a decade, and happen to look up this friend of my parents, of whom I had been very fond. She tells me, "You'll never guess what I picked up at the Farmers' Market a few months ago." And I tell her, "I can't believe it - I've been thinking about that book."

And so now the book I loved so much as a child is back in my hands again, just as if the god of lost books had been keeping track of it all along.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Support for Libraries - Overdue*

Because of the timing of the Speak up for Libraries Rally in London, the Library Cat column this month comes to you from the blog rather than the magazine.
Like hundreds of other library supporters, I travelled to Westminster today to join the Speak Up For Libraries rally in Methodist Central Hall.

One of the first people I met when I arrived was Mar Dixon, who became an unwitting campaign leader in January last year after tweeting "Libraries are important because ... [fill in your answer & RT] #savelibraries." This casual tweet was retweeted by the likes of Margaret Atwood and Neil Gaiman and eventually trended worldwide.

Her knack for the timely tweet continued last October, when her suggestion for a rally in support of libraries coincided with a proposal arising from the Campaign for the Library Conference. And so Speak Up For Libraries was born.

Today’s rally was supported by Unison, the Women’s Institute, Voices for the Library, CILIP, the Library Campaign, Booktrust, the Reading Agency, and many individual library campaigns. The Campaign for the Book’s Alan Gibbons opened procedings with a ‘half-term report’ on Edward Vaisey, aged 43 ¾ . Gibbons’ verdict was received with much laughter by an audience who had just watched a film of the Libraries’ Minister giving evidence to the parliamentary select committee:

  • English – has problem with the meanings of some words, particularly ‘comprehensive’ and ‘efficient’. Appears to think ‘library’ is synonymous with a phone box full of books
  • Maths – statistics are a particular weakness
  • Science – little grasp of the concept of a fair test
  • Attendance – goes missing when asked to perform

Speaker after speaker presented their own personal take on why the minister’s indifference to the fate of libraries is plain wrong-headed.

Author Kate Mosse asked what would happen to the writers of tomorrow if anyone from children to the elderly could not look round at books on shelves and think – why not me? “We need more people to write stories – not fewer.”

Children’s author, Philip Ardagh, reminded us that we are losing post offices and losing pubs, “so let’s not lose libraries as well.”

Ruth Bond from the WI warned that the issue was not all about closures. “Where the buildings are safe, then services (staff, opening hours, book funds) may still be eroded.”

Dave Prentis of Unison quoted figures from their new report into libraries which show that more people use libraries each week than attend Premier Football League games or go to the cinema.

James Dolan of CILIP told us that in this financial year alone two thousand library staff have been lost and three thousand opening hours per week have been cut from libraries around the country.
Dan Jarvis, Shadow Library Minister, came up with what was perhaps the soundbite of the day – comparing Ed Vaisey to Dr Beeching, who in the 1960s presided over the closure of vast sections of the railway network.
Ian Anstice, librarian and author of the highly influential Public Library News blog, told us of the library users who tell him that they don’t know what they would do without the library. “I know what they’d do. They’d never get out. They’d never meet anyone… I’m a librarian and I’ll never be shushed!”
Many speakers reminded us that when libraries close it is the most vulnerable sections of society that suffer – children, the elderly, those on the lowest incomes.
But as Alan Gibbons reminded us, a protest must be about Roses as well as Bread. Amidst all the serious speeches, two musicians filled the hall with their protest songs. The lead singer from Doyle and the Fourfathers sang their song, ‘Welcome to Austerity’. One Man and His Beard belted out ‘We Need Libraries.’

And if all that did not show the breadth of support enjoyed by libraries, as people prepared for the move across the road to lobby Members of Parliament, a small group bearing pink balloons gathered on the pavement outside. ‘Mills & Boon Loves Libraries’ read the placards.

Monday, 12 March 2012

Harry Bowling and the RONAs

As a working mother of two young children, I don’t get out very often. So, when I got an invite to this year’s RoNA awards, I jumped at the chance. What do you mean you’ve never heard of the RoNAs? Actually, neither had I until the invite came through.

RoNA is an acronym for the Romantic Novelist Association. Not being a romantic novelist, I’d never had much to do with this writers’ group. After attending their awards ceremony, here’s what I now know about the RoNA:

  1. It’s the body representing writers, agents, editors and publishers of romantic fiction.
  2. Romantic novelists, and others in the romantic fiction industry, are lovely people.
  3. The RoNA throws one heck of a good party.
So, what was I, a dark crime writer, doing at such a fluffy, pink gathering? Well, earlier this year I was lucky enough to be shortlisted for the 2012 Harry Bowling Prize. This prize, for new writing, was set up in memory of the popular east London writer, Harry Bowling. The prize is sponsored by Harry’s agent (MBA) and publisher (Headline), in association with the RoNA. The winner of the prize is announced at the RoNA awards ceremony in London.
Along with the other shortlisted authors (five of us in total), I was invited to come along to MBA offices prior to the event, where we could meet the people behind the prize, including Harry’s daughter, Sally.
I arrived at MBA offices to find a party in full swing. I had a lovely time meeting members of the MBA team, people from Headline and the other shortlisted writers. I was thrilled when Laura Longrigg from MBA told me she was very familiar with the area my novel is set in, as she lives just down the road from there. I love coincidences and this one would have done me nicely for the day. However, it was quickly overtaken when I was introduced to Harry’s daughter Sally – who only turned out to be my children’s swimming teacher. It goes to show, even in a city the size of London, just how small the world can be sometimes.
After a very pleasant afternoon at MBA, we whisked ourselves across London to the salubrious venue for the awards, One Whitehall Place – a neo-gothic delight near the Thames Embankment.
We were greeted with glasses of pink champagne (the quickest way to win this girl’s heart) before getting our photos taken. After more chatter (and some more pink fizz), we all went into another room for the awards ceremony.
The awards, presented with some panache by authors Peter James and Jane Wenham-Jones, was a glitzy affair. Much of it passed me by in a haze of applause and pink fizz. I didn’t win anything but, as the afternoon progressed, that hardly mattered. It was a great excuse to dress up, meet some lovely people, and spend an afternoon celebrating some great writing.
Huge congratulations, of course, to all the winners announced at the event, most especially Natalie Lloyd-Evans, winner of the 2012 Harry Bowling Prize for her novel, A Dark Flowering.
If you’re an aspiring writer, I’d really recommend entering this competition. It’s run by some lovely people and is a great chance to showcase your work with a top agent and publisher. And, if you make it as far as the shortlist, you’ll have a fabulous day out.
by Sheila Bugler

Friday, 9 March 2012

Red Lion Books, Colchester

Red Lion Books, Colchester was shortlisted in the south-east region for Independent Bookseller of the Year. Regular customer, Tricia Gilbey sent us this review, and an interview with owner, Sarah Donaldson:

It’s hard to imagine Colchester High Street without the Red Lion Bookshop. It has been in the town for over thirty years, and is as well known as the old coaching inn of the same name nearby. You know that you are likely to find the book you went in for, but it also manages to have a slightly alternative air and you are just as likely to find books you wouldn’t have thought about buying.

As you go in a stand invites you to buy the ‘Mind Expanding Books on Offer’. There are also stands of greetings cards, and a well chosen selection of books grouped by genre. Further back is the children’s area which is bright and colourful, its books well displayed and enticing. The bookshop is proactive in linking up with schools in the local area and this builds their future readership.

Downstairs the Red Lion has a different atmosphere – the shop is strong on Sci-Fi and Fantasy books, with a large cardboard Frodo and Sam warning us to ‘Take care. Reading fantasy books can be hobbit forming.’ Down here are psychology and counselling books, mind, body and spirit books, books about diverse religions, and books on art and film. At the back of the shop you are tempted by squashy sofas with an exhibition of paintings by a local artist, and arched alcoves holding ceramics by an artist who has lived in New Zealand and South Africa.

Sarah from Red Lion Books took some time out from preparing for Essex Book Festival events to answer some questions for WWJ.

In these difficult days for independent bookshops what do you think makes Red Lion Bookshop one of the survivors? You have to compete with Waterstones and WH Smiths. How do you do that?
We don’t think ourselves as survivors. We think the future may be very good for independents. With the new appreciation of High Streets people are really trying to get behind their town centre shops. We are continually pleased about the frequent remarks to us about the importance of independents. We have had competition for so long we don’t really worry about it. It is so important that the ‘bricks and mortar’ bookshops thrive on the high street. We all send customers to the other shops in the hope that they will find the books they are looking for. We also have the advantage that we can source many thousands of books overnight, and this is much appreciated. We also try to have fun events for children. At the moment we have a lucky dip for World Book Day, Find Wally pictures, word searches, colouring etc etc.

Which books have excited you the most over the past year?
We are a general stockholding bookshop and so cover most genres in bookselling. We have a very wide selection of new books, which we label to point out the monthly new books and it is surprising how often brand new books are on our sales print outs. The real difficulty is to decide which of these books should go in to our stock. These are the books that really excite us.

Over the past year we have had two wonderful art books from our local internationally known artists. One, The Oak by Stephen Taylor, is paintings of one single tree through the seasons. Oprah Winfrey chose it as one of her books of the year, and our customers have loved it, particularly the tractor driver who looks after the field next to the tree. The other art book is Tidelines by James Dodds.

Of the more national titles I have very much enjoyed a children’s book called A Dog and his Boy by Eva Ibbotson, a wonderful children’s story that celebrates the need for affection and care for children. And it is a great adventure.

It has been a great year for biographies. Now All Roads Lead to France : The Last Years of Edward Thomas by Matthew Hollis was a stunning story of the pre-1stworld war poets. There was such a flowering of talent. 2012 has been the Dickens year, and great books have come out for this anniversary, particularly Claire Tomalin’s biography.

I attended a writers’ course hosted by your shop. In which other ways would you say that you support local authors?
We are lucky to have a thriving writing community. We hold various events for them. We always agree to stock any local writer’s book. This can range from to local poets to history. The local history books always outsell all local books and are often are our bestsellers.

How do you decide which books to stock?
This is the big question. The number of new books that come out every month are terrifying. We go on advice from the publishers reps, information that we are sent from publishers, our regular suppliers, books read on the radio, reviews, etc. But as much as we can we try to pick books that interest us and our customers (many of whom we have known for some years).

What is the biggest challenge you face at the moment?
The big challenge this year will be ebooks. Given the sales of Kindle over Christmas we are all holding our breaths to see if fiction sales will hold up. The other huge competition issue is of course Amazon. They sell books at prices we can only dream about. We are in the ridiculous position that it is cheaper for us to access some books from Amazon, (which we don’t). We have had people (so far very rarely), who have consulted their smart phones to check best prices when they find a book with us to check best prices elsewhere. This is a little galling as they would not know about the books if they had not been in to the store. We need their support to continue to stock these books. When will the publishers wake up to realize that they are killing the book trade by the prices that they offer Amazon?

Do you ever stock self published books?
Yes, but they need to have a local connection.

What is the most rewarding aspect of your job? Our customers.
They are really great.

If you’d like to find out more about Red Lion Books they have a great website:

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Michael Morpurgo - in conversation with Gillian Hamer

At WWJ towers, we’re uber-excited to have an exclusive interview with the multi-talented author, Michael Morpurgo, in our next issue. Not only has he written over 120 novels, he has recently seen his most famous novel, War Horse, transformed into an epic big screen hit, directed by world-famous director, Stephen Spielberg.

His honest replies about his decision to write about war and its effects, even to an audience of children - plus his reasons behind writing War Horse, very nearly had this hardened journo on the edge of tears. This is a man who comes across as not only passionate about writing – but equally passionate about life.

As well as answering a wide variety of searching questions about his recent experiences, not only with Hollywood, but also seeing War Horse transformed into a huge hit with theatre audiences across the globe, Michael took time out to answer our quick fire questions from one of his biggest fans - Harry Ellison-Oakes from Class 3, Colne Engaine School, near Colchester, Essex. Harry’s class read ‘Friend or Foe’ last year and also saw the theatre production.

What inspired you to write about horses at war?
Meeting an old man who had once been a soldier in WW1

What gave you the idea to have Joey’s best friend, Topthorn, die?
Millions of horses did die in the war.

Did you ever consider an alternative ending?

Why did you make Albert’s father horrible to Joey?
Not everyone can be nice and it was in his character to be a bit harsh.

The saddest bit of the book for me was when we found out that Emily had died, did you feel sad when you wrote it?
Yes, very.

We also like to be a bit political at WWJ Towers, so we thought it interesting to see what Michael Morpurgo, often out-spoken with his beliefs, thought about on-going library closures, and we weren’t disappointed with his reply:

Q You are on record as criticising library closures both in Devon where you now live and in your native Hertfordshire. But what kind of library service do you think can best serve communities these days?
A I believe that good libraries and good school libraries in particular are vital, but more importantly the librarians who work in them and enthuse about books and stories, are essential. We all know that reading can transform people and change lives, and libraries play a vital role, especially for those children who don’t have books at home.

For the full interview, look out for April’s Words with Jam, for yet another exclusive for one of today’s hottest authors.

Monday, 5 March 2012

Second Annual First Page Competition 2012

Yep, it was so successful last year, our annual First Page Competition is now open with an increased first prize - DOUBLE what it was last year. What are we looking for: the most gripping, read-on-able first page of up to 400 words. Any genre, but as always we're looking for The Best First Page. Bribes can be sent in cash, but we guarantee they won't do you much good.

1st Prize - £500
2nd Prize - £100
3rd Prize - £50

Entry Fee: £6 for one entry or £10 for two
Closing Date: Friday 8th June 2012
Judge: Amanda Hodgkinson
Results: All three winning entries will be published in the August 2012 issue of Words with JAM.

CLICK HERE for more information.

Below are the winning entries from our 2011 competition:


Sunset Dust by Abdul-Rehman Malik

I walk into the staffroom and it feels like someone just kicked me in the soul. My colleagues are huddled around the kettle, desperately seeking the solace of a steaming cup of caffeine. They’re old and overweight, waddling over and sinking into the couches, silently protecting their coffee with one hand and massaging their brow with the other. Their faces sag. Dead dreams and forgotten ambitions well in deep pools under their eyes. This. This is what these kids have for inspiration.

I had to get out of there. I walk outside into the light of the ruthless South African sun to the sound of screaming children and peals of laughter. Table Mountain and Lion’s Head brood in the distance, silhouetted against a deep blue sky. Kids run in circles around me before zooming off to another game. I take a deep breath, even though it stings my nose, and breathe in the unique Cape Town air.

Why the fuck am I here? In the company of these worn out educators? I see them looking at me from the corners of their eyes with cautious suspicion. They’re wondering the same thing I am. What is a white Afrikaner doing in a black school? Let me tell you, it’s a good question.

Two kids, two black girls, come sprinting towards me, kicking up small mushroom clouds of dust in their wake. One of them – the pintsized Berna-Lee – is in my class. She is holding her knee as bright strawberry blood erupts through the fortress of her fingers and snakes down her leg. She’s crying, her face knotted in exaggerated anguish, already screaming about which girl pushed her over in the playground.

Before I can console her and get some bandages, Principal Abels slinks up behind me and whispers, “Don’t touch her, she’s HIV positive.”

Let me tell you a bit about Abels. She got the job of Principal two months ago when George resigned. Everyday she sits behind her desk with her laptop in her fancy dresses and bouffant hair typing away at incident reports and fee absences. Monday mornings she leads a school assembly, which starts with the same greeting, “Good morning learners and how are you today?” Their response? “Fine thank you.” Always fine. Never good, never great, just fine. Every time she speaks her mouth opens like some gaping chasm, every word over-emphasised, every letter enunciated to death.


Altered by JW Hicks

Chapter 1 - Trouble in New Swansea

So what are you going to do if you’re a fem with a sizable corpse on your hands and a fused filament on your flesh-cutter? Hell, if you can’t slice and dice there’s only one damn option, leave town.

Now, that’s a fine idea if you’ve got a haven to head for and blunt to get you there. But what if you’re skint and there’s no safer place to skip to? What if that’s the reason you landed in a sinkhole like New Swansea in the first place? Let me say that on a hot-list of the resurgent cities of New Britain, New Swansea comes right at the arse end printed in crayon.

I try the knife again, pressing the on-switch so hard I damn near break my thumb. And what do I get? A pathetic little gnat-whine, that’s what. Effing cutter’s dead as the stiff. And now the pain drills in. The real cost of the killing – a giant sized bradawl in my skull! And it’s my own damn fault; I flung the mind-bolt and now I’ll pay the price. But the creep did sneak up on us ... Okay, we acted too hasty, slapped him with more power than was strictly necessary. Soon as I let fly I knew the snoop wasn’t gonna be the only sufferer. Granted he got the sticky end of the deal – hell, he’s dead isn’t he? But my brain’s not as robust as Raft’s so I caught the whole back-slap. Well, he wasn’t power scorched at age five! It’s taken me thirteen years to get back what I lost back then. Not that all my talent came back, and what has isn’t exactly reliable – more like damned iffy, Raft says. Used moderately, it’s steady enough. Some mind-talking, bit of teleporting ... flicking the odd flame, things are fine, but doing something like offing a slimy snooper ... then I get a brain seizure. The rat insists it’s a psyche-wound, whatever that is. Says I’ll need therapy to over-mount the prob. Got a big vocab, does ratty. A lot of knowledge in that lumpy, rodent head.


This World and The Next by JW Hicks

Chapter 1- The Move

Ever had dreams that cast a day-long shadow? Dreams that frit you into fear-sweat, or wow you all bliss-soft? No? Then luck on you. Got one a coupla days ago that had me jonesing backwards all day, like there was something direful back of me. But last night I woke with colours in my mind, all cosy like I was floating in a warm bath, scented with some spice I never smelled before. All around me swum fuzzy things that loved me. Look, I don’t know how I knew they loved me, I just did. I been zinging since first wake-up, despite the twins’ wrangling.

The twins, my brothers, Saul and Zephaniah. Thirteen years old, two less than me and cursed with the same red hair and green eyes Pa handed down, together with his skinny frame. Look like me? Yeah, but inside they’re alien – girl hating, staring mutoids. They do speak, but only to each other and fellow grous in a patois that changes so fast you need code breaking wet-ware to keep pace.

They been cuffing and spitting since light on, despite Ma’s rants. Did I say they cultivate deafness? Pa’s lucky; he’s on earlies this month up and gone with the dawn.

‘Faith, stop trancing, get ready for college. I don’t want any more calls from Mr Summers saying you’re lagging behind. You’ve got to keep up, get qualifications, or you’ll be stuck in shit forever.’ That’s Ma; sweet she ain’t. It’s best I keep my mouth shut. She don’t want to know what it’s really like in Zone 3 ComColl. She’s deaf and blind to what we see and hear each day. The three of us just mute and stare, like always.

‘Who’s that?’ Ma screeches as the door runners grate.

‘It’s me, Ma.’

‘Les? What you doing here?’ she shouts, as she drags the twins to the wash unit. ‘Surely you didn’t leave your keying-in card home?’

Pa doesn’t answer. He’s pale and breathing like he’s been running hard. I pull a seat-shelf from the wall and he sags down and drinks the water I hand him. Ma’s muttering about wasting work-time sitting and drinking.

CLICK HERE for more information on our 2012 competition.

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Robert Jackson Bennett Interview

Sixteen-year-old George Carole has been the house pianist at Otterman’s Vaudeville Theatre for six months, but when he hears that The Silenus Troupe is playing in a nearby town, he quickly packs his bags and heads for the train station with only one thing on his mind: finding the man he suspects of being his father, the great Heironomo Silenus. George finally tracks his father down, but discovers something far stranger than the troupe’s performances. The very texture of the night is different somehow, and time and space as George knows it has been altered, meaning only one thing: The men in grey are here. Let the show begin…
The Troupe is the third speculative fiction novel by the award-winning author Robert Jackson Bennett. Darren J Guest interviewed him recently on his blog. He has kindly allowed us to reproduce a shortened version:
What came to you first; the story, the setting or George?
RJB: The story, long, long ago. It was one of those “confluence of ideas” things: I read in high school about Pythagoras and the “Music of the Spheres” – for he hypothesized that, if the celestial bodies are moving through space, then there must be friction, so they must make a hum in proportion to their size and orbit, which builds to one immense, endless chord. I was pretty involved in music at the time, so I immediately wondered if the chord was major or minor – for minor chords feel unresolved. So it would be a bit unhappy if the Music of the Spheres were minor.
That sort of floated in my head for years, the idea of a chord or a song humming in the background of everything. I began to wonder if perhaps the song was maintaining the world, as if someone was singing the song and thus making the world at the same time, and if we could hear the song then we could decode it, and begin to understand... well, everything.
How much research went into The Troupe?
RJB: A fair bit. I read a lot of the autobiographies of vaudeville stars, which were plentiful, for many of the later stars went on to become movie stars, and everyone wants to know about movie stars. The best two sources were Harpo Speaks and Much Ado About Me by Fred Allen. It was such an expansive and ever-changing industry that it was both hard to get a bead on and utterly absorbing.
You’ve written three novels now set in the early 1900s – is this a feature you’d like your readers to come to expect from a Robert Jackson Bennett book, or is this commonality a pre-planned masterstroke, because it would seem that by setting your work in these specific eras you’ve given yourself the freedom to play around with many different genres?
RJB: I really don’t know. My next book is contemporary, but also – how shall I put this – troubled or concerned with history. I did once conceptualize my first few novels as falling into a grouping of “The Bad Old Days,” in that they’re focused around a similar era and a usually corrupt, threatening world. I don’t really know if I’ve kept to that theme much.
Maybe I just like hats, and smoking. I do think that my next few books will be completely different than these three – both in structure, tone, and content.
Talking of tone, The Troupe is positively breezy compared to Mr Shivers – was that a conscious decision you made before starting, or did it emerge that way organically?
RJB: It was pretty conscious. I'd written two stories about tough guys with guns, who are happy to perpetrate violence in uncaring worlds, and I'd kind of thought, "Enough. Enough of that. Let's do something else." I wanted to write something with more humor, and more energy - because Shivers and The Company Man were both pretty laconic. And I just didn't want to do that again.
So I wrote about an arrogant sixteen year old learning about himself and the world in show business.
Doesn’t sound like you struggle for ideas. How important is it that you maintain originality, especially in an industry that seems to promote a ‘clone culture’ within fiction?
RJB: Well, it's weird. I value originality over nearly everything - I always want to try something new, rather than something old and dependable.
At the same time, I don't see my stuff as very new, because I can see what it draws from, so I think, 'Well this is just my version of that." To me, I'm just riffing on things I like.
I like weird shit, is what I'm saying to you. And people mistake that for originality. Maybe.
In Mr Shivers you use some powerful symbology in your examination of the ethos of death himself, and describe the novel as literary-ish. In The Troupe there’s a certain Latin phrase that hints at a similar metaphysical exploration that could warrant another ‘ish’ – where do you stand in the old ‘Literary Vs Genre’ debate?
RJB: I don’t pay attention to the conflict – I presume it isn’t there, because it isn’t, not really. It’s a bunch of preconceived notions that we’re starting to shed the more porous our mediums get – TV bleeds into internet bleeds into writing, etc. I was once told, for example, that genre readers are some of the most aesthetically conservative readers out there – this is a statement I intend to disprove if it kills me. Or the genre readers.
What’s an average week in the writing life of Robert Jackson Bennett?
RJB: Jesus, it’s changed so much recently I don’t know how to define “average.” I write in the gaps in my days, in the borders and limits of waking hours, sometimes during lunch. I write like starving men eat meals, because I don’t know when I’ll get the chance again.
What are you working on at the moment, and can I squeeze a title out of you?
RJB: Sure! It’s got the working title of American Elsewhere. It’s sort of like Twin Peaks meets H.P. Lovecraft. It’s about an ex-cop named Mona Bright who finds out she’s inherited a house in New Mexico, and discovers her mother led a life she never knew existed.
To read the full interview, as well as Darren’s review of The Troupe, please visit