#InkAloud with novelist Sebastian Faulks



hello my name's Sebastian folks and I'm a novelist from England visiting Bombay as part of the literary festival and chatting with the British Council today in kaloud I think is that what I'm trying to do here inking aloud it's great to be here in India where I've been several times before and of course India has a great literature which has meant a lot to me and to other people in England the novels I write are I think you'd say very serious really they tend to be about war death love madness serious things and I suppose in a way you might call them old-fashioned insofar as they are not about me a lot of writers nowadays write in in a fictional form but really just about their own experience and that has become a very popular way of writing fiction it's not really fiction is it it's memoir actually but you know the great thing about the novel is it's such a loose and easy form it can take all sorts of things you can do it how you like it you can beat it up and throw it on the floor and stick it on the wall and take it down again and it'll still come back for more the books I have tried to write over the years have been I suppose based on that model the idea that a book must be centered on an idea a theme and this theme should have some intellectual strength and that thing and the characters in the book are also very important but they are subservient to the theme and then the matter of plot well plot is considered vulgar in these you know by these standards that I learned but of course plot things do happen in life it's ridiculous to say that nothing happens it doesn't have to be a car chase or a shooting or an explosion but people grow old people die people meet fall in love separate bad things happen good things happen change happens I grew up in the world which seemed locked into the possibility of a nuclear war between the Soviet Union and the West and now the Soviet Union no longer exists and there was no nuclear war I grew up in the world which had apartheid in South Africa and guess what it doesn't anymore so things do change so I think it's foolish to suggest that in life nothing happens and the only good novels there can be are ones in which nothing happens the book that I has sold most copies of mine of which I'm best-known is called birdsong which came out in 25 years ago exactly and is set during the first world war which was such a catastrophe for Europe but also actually for people from India who sent over a million soldiers into Europe to fight it's a hundred years ago almost to the day that that finished in my book is about the experiences of one man at that time as a soldier but it's also his life before and after the war so it's a book about the extremes of human experience I have also another book that you might like to hear about it's called human traces which is I wrote a lot of books early in my career which were about how we got to the point in the 20th century where we were living and which is essentially through war and destruction and then I thought well I've discovered who we are how we got here now what are we what kind of a creature is Homo sapiens mankind so the next run of books were really about that and the first one human traces looks at the question of madness and why one in a hundred human beings is psychotic hears voices and is subject to horrible delusions how can this be no other species that we know of has this so another very serious book another very serious subject set in the late 19th and early 20th centuries but in case you're getting the impression that I just only write very sad and difficult books I am a normal person I do have a sense of humor I do have a family nice children friends cricket none of this comes out in my books except into one is a book a James Bond adventure which I was invited by Ian Fleming's family to write to celebrate the centenary of Ian Fleming's birth 2008 and that was called devil-may-care annoyingly it has not been made into a film yet but my fingers are firmly crossed and the other fun holiday book if you like that I wrote was a Jeeves story in the style of PG Woodhouse which again his family asked me if I would like to write it's called Jeeves and the wedding bells and that came out about five years ago I will continue to write I have a new book out at the moment called Paris echo which is set guess we're in Paris and is about the interplay of past lives in the current day Paris which is a very interesting very multicultural City with quite deep-rooted unresolved historical problems with its past in North Africa particularly in Algeria but also its past in the second world war with Germany so I like looking at people's individual lives their love lives their passions their day to day life but in the way that it is connected to things that have happened maybe before they were born and I believe that all of us are very very subtly shaped by historical events even if we are not aware of it so these are some of the things I've written about and we'll be talking about here in Bombay a lot of people want to write they think it's an interesting and enjoyable thing to do which it is they think it'll make them money which it won't so my top tip if you thinking of being a writer yourself is make sure your husband or your wife or your partner your friends or your parents have a job because you're not going to make enough money to put rice and chicken on the table but my second tip is believe believe in yourself no one is born a published writer everyone who has ever been published and even if they've had a whole career in writing it as I have began thinking I can't do this it's beyond me it's too difficult I will never be published writer but everyone started like that Shakespeare Henry James you know all the great writers all the great Indian writers as well you have to believe my advice really to people trying to write is don't write just about your own experience you used to get the advice I did when I was about 20 write about what you know my advice to young writers would be write about what you don't know write about characters of the opposite sex from yours write about people living in a different country at a different time use your imagination let it flow and then that's if you're writing fiction if you're writing factual stuff or poetry and I know less about poetry though I've tried and failed it's pretty hard factual stuff I've wrote as a journalist but my and that's just a question of spending a lot of time on the telephone and making you sure you get everything right but fiction my top tip to all of you make it up and let your imagination fly don't be bound by your own life write about other people's lives

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *