Writers festivals are just as much about discovering new authors as they are meeting your favourites. David Mitchell is one of those authors I keep meaning to read. I hear lots of great things about his books and the blurbs sound interesting but that's as far as I've got so far. After listening to his session at the Auckland Writers Festival today his latest book has gone to the top of my reading pile and I'll be searching out his earlier books.
The interviewer started by asking David about the inter-connectedness of his novels. Although each of them is a stand alone novel, there has been much discussion by fans about how characters overlap in his stories and the very 'Middle Earth feel' of his work. David explained that, as a kid, he made his own Middle Earth by drawing imaginary maps. He would scrawl these huge worlds and locations on paper. His impulse with his writing is to make something enormous. He wants each book to be individual and for people to not have to read all his books, but each book is a small piece of something bigger.
David described himself as 'such a nerd for names.' He mentioned that it's very important to get the names right and that he spends lots of time working on them. High Scrabble scores apparently make very good names.
David's latest novel, The Bone Clocks, is his 'midlife crisis novel.' It deals with immortality and the price you might pay to have immortality. The story is made up of multiple parts and each one is written in a different genre. David wanted to put many different ideas in the book but make them co-exist. The only way to do this was to compartmentalise them by genre. The interviewer pointed out that the book's protagonist, Holly Sykes, is David's first proper female protagonist. David found it particularly nerving and frightening writing a female protagonist as he hadn't done so before. The Bone Clocks sounds amazing and I certainly can't wait to delve in to David Mitchell's world.
The inevitable question about his influences was asked, and I loved David's response:
The world is made of potential ideas; you just take from it what you want.
Christchurch, you are lucky - you can see David Mitchell at WORD Christchurch Sunday 17 May 6pm at Court Theatre. Buy tickets now.