Thursday, 20 June 2013

The wonderful Kate Atkinson

Bliss = being snug and warm inside (hoping the power doesn't go off) while a wild southerly rages outside, up to pg 375 of Life after life and still another 154 pages to go. The sort of book you can't wait to finish but want to last forever. The only thing that could make it any better is for Jackson Brodie to make a cameo appearance, but I doubt that's going to happen.

Kate Atkinson appeared recently at the Auckland Writers and Readers Festival - the best possible reason for going - and I didn't. But never mind, because her interview session is now online - over an hour of wonderfulness. Her conversation is as delicious as her prose. How many people can casually drop a word like "bifurcating" into the middle of a sentence?

She had firm opinions about the process of becoming a writer, and the place in that process of creative writing classes - "creative" delivered with imaginary speech marks, because she doesn't like the word. "Learning to be a writer is really, really hard and you have to do it on your own... it's a very isolated, individual thing." She said that what a writer needs is "an enormous cushion of knowing what good writing is", and that you have to "read everything that's ever been written - it doesn't matter if you forget it", because that's how you learn to find your "inner critic", which is the most important part of learning to write.

When the interviewer, Ramona Koval, opened the session up for questions, Kate Atkinson warned the audience that they probably wouldn't be able to match the best question she'd ever been asked. It came from a 13-year-old boy who wanted to know, "if you were stranded on a desert island, which member of your family would you eat first?" She had answered that with tact, ingenuity and humour, which was how she also responded to some other tricky questions in this session. Like predestination vs free will - "that's an extraordinarily large question to be asking me!"

Another good one was "how do you know when it's time to start a new book?" "When I start worrying about money." But the biggest cheer came when someone asked: "can we look forward to more Jackson Brodie?" (He even has his own page on her website.) "He's on a cruise," Kate said. "A long cruise." But she didn't say no.

Jason Isaacs as Jackson Brodie

Kate also said how much she liked the Canadian cover of the book, with a fox on the front.

Power still on, phew. Unlike 30,000 other homes around Wellington. Back to the book. Wonderful.

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