Friday, March 18, 2005

Snippets of Louis

The highlight of the Fiction Day of the Words by the Water festival was Louis de Bernieres' agreeably shambolic talk about writing and general and his new book in particular.

I liked him. Very natural and unpretentious. Funny, but in an accessible, bewildered by Man sort of way.

He read from Birds Without Wings a short scene where the young heroine is persuading the local man of letters to write a message on a bird's back with tears for ink, in order that she might send a message to her dead mother in heaven. It should have been ridiculous. Instead it contrived to be gentle, funny, and poignant. Very, very human.

An audience member asked about his cast of characters and how he keeps track of them. The answer was reassuringly mundane - an alphabetised notebook, "to keep track of who they are and what they do and whether or not they have a moustache."

Then he made my day by talking about writer's block. (Yes, it does exist. And to those who say it doesn't? Just because you're lucky enough not to experience it, doesn't mean it doesn't exist.) "If I can't write it right," he said, "I don't go near the screen." If it's not there, he won't struggle to pin it down.

Sensible man.

At the end, someone finally caved and asked him about the filming of Captain Corelli's Mandolin Mostly, he said he liked it. But he did mention the 'spurious sex scene' that was 'totally out of character' and said it was probably put in because, "the director wanted to see Penelope with her top off." *Pause for laughter*. "He should have asked her in her spare time."

Finally, however successful the film might have been, when writing his new book he, "made sure it isn't filmable because it hasn't got a hero...."

Smart move.


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