Books · Jottings · Witterings

Authors in October – Part 3

So stomach’s full and more book recommendations picked up as people sit and chat about what they have read, reading at the moment, how many book clubs they attend, what sort other events they have attended and the like and we are back in the theatre with two more authors.

Roopa Farooki (image from website)

This time James Runcie and Roopa Farooki. I have heard of the former but only this year and not the latter. So it was with some interest these two people were put together and to also discuss the theme of Heroes and Villains of books. First some background on the authors, James Runcie (his late father was Robert Runcie, Archbishop of Canterbury ) is a well known documentary maker as well as an author. Most famously in the film department; of being the only person to film and interview J.K. Rowling, who he later described as a lovely lady and a good friend. He made her cry, is another claim to fame with her, but only when she was taken back to the estate where she lived as a single mother and the first ideas of that little boy wizard were starting. James Runcie touched on the fact she realised how far she had come and what she had achieved in such a short space of time. It takes others lifetimes to achieve so much.

Roopa Farooki is another author that started her working life in an advertising agency. If you work in such a place, are you burning to write a novel? You could do no worse than read about Roopa, who also teaches creative writing and is also involved in social issues such as counselling. With four children as well, it is a wonder she has time to write books, let alone read them. She must be doing something right though to be long listed for this years Orange Prize.

Both authors came to the conclusion that there can never be true heroes or villains. Heroes always have a flaw and a villain normally has one redeeming feature if not always that obvious. So perhaps we should all love the anti-hero (David Copperfield suggests James Runcie). It is the most unlike able and unlikely heroes/villains out there. Sherlock Holmes, clever but with a cocaine habit. Mr Rochester, mysterious but locks his mad wife up in the attic, Mr Darcy, dashing but a snob. Why on earth would we want to like any of them? Quite!

To a common theme which ran through the day, was obviously where books are going to be in 2013 and also the effect of social media. Roopa has a website and enjoys it and sees it is an extension of her writing, when she completes a novel. Although readily admits that someone else does all the work to get it looking snazzy (my words not hers). James understands the need for social media but also enjoys these sorts of events where you meet the people who are enjoying your work.

Books are an object and should be cherished; looked good and feel like you have something tangible in your hand. I had a lovely conversation with James about books as he signed my hardback copy of his new book Sidney Chambers. I explained I had received this via kindle to read and review but wanted an actually copy and hinted at that they look great and I look forward to seeing them all on my shelf together, there is a plan for 6. He has been assured that his publisher ( Bloomsbury ) will do this and hopefully not change design half way through. It also means that James has to write all 6 as well! Book 2 is out next year and I cannot wait. I am going to reread the first one, now I have this lovely signed copy.

James Runcie

And so for this afternoons Meet The Author session; with James Runcie and the book in question was East Fortune. Which I had finished only a few days before. James gave background on the book and some of his other work and about where he came up with some of his themes and how when friends tell him stories that have happened to them – they put a caveat of whether he can use it or not. A great storyteller and with some wonderful stories which covered the idea of family and secrets which were themes in East Fortune.

I could have listened to James talk for a lot longer than the time we had, he had a very witty take on life and what happens around us and some interesting concepts being a ‘willie’ – Works In London, Lives In Edinburgh; none of this dividing time nonsense for James. It was a session where you did not have to ask many questions because the narrative was flowing, but I did ask one question, which came to me in a flash. “What influence did your father have on your reading?” Parables were the main thing that James recalls, stories that tell us something. He recalls that before embarking on his degree pre-reading for the course was the Bible, the Iliad and the Odyssey. The thought gives me nightmares.

Are you thirsty? Time for another cup of tea I think.