As you can tell by the number of posts during the Writers festival, it was pretty busy. This is my excuse for why, somehow, unbelievably, we seem to have missed out on posting anything about Kate Atkinson’s session. This is a shame, because those who went really enjoyed it.
The session was scarily chaired by Lynn Freeman from The Arts on Sunday Radio Programme, (her warnings about what she would do to anyone whose phone went off during the session was enough to get me rifling through my bag to double recheck that my phone was off). However she asked some really good questions and kept the mainly female audience in strict control. We all knew exactly where we stood thank you very much!
Kate Atkinson read a chapter from her new book When will there be good news. I thoroughly enjoyed sitting back and being read to, but I did hear murmurings about not coming to a session to spend half of it listening to a chapter of a book that they had already read! Others however …
who had read the book said it gave them a whole new approach to the story and went back to re-read the passage. I suppose you can’t please everyone.
Kate writes her books organically, and her imagination is stimulated by what she writes. She did admit to every now and then having to rein herself in as she can easily go off in a tangent, but you get the sense that she loves the process of writing and the way the characters and the plot are revealed to her as she progresses.
I was interested in what she had to say about the violence in her books. Her priority is to write about how it feels as opposed to the blood and guts, and is more interested in what it is like to be the ones left behind dealing with the aftermath of murder, rather than motives and detective work. Detective Jackson Brodie apparently has a fairly low level of activity in her lastest book – mainly because he is in a coma for most of it.
Her opinion on the inevitable question of “is this book authobiographical” was unexpected. She said that she used to get very defensive about this question, but has realised that it is very hard for the book not to be about her in some way, even if it just includes facets of her life, such as books read, games played or even just things around the home. She said that as a writer you expose a great deal of your mind, but that your true self is not on the page of her books.
I am now off to read When will there be good news. I haven’t enjoyed the previous outings of Jackson Brodie as much as Behind the scenes of the Museum (which had a grandmother in it that reminded me fondly of my Nan), but I am now looking forward to reading this new book with renewed insight.