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November 29, 2007

Iain Banks interview at the BSFA meeting

Iain Banks was interviewed by Farah Mendlesohn at the BSFA meeting last night and I made a lightning raid into London to see it.

First up she interviewed both Iain Banks and Iain M Banks, and in fact one of Farah's first questions was how Iain saw the division between his books if not by genre.

As a reader I found Banks highly entertaining, and as a writer I found him immensley inspiring. Entertaining because he rambles off at tangents with anecdotes and rants. It's the sort of stuff you could sit in a pub, with a pint, and listen to all night. Inspiring, to me, because a lot of his answers were very straightforward, very simple in that he obviously doesn't analyse his work too much. He said things like (and I paraphrase because I can't remember exactly):

  • I don't know, I just write it, it's up to you to analyse it.
  • I just write what I think is cool.
  • I try to write original ideas.
  • A lot of it is wish-fulfilment.
  • I just throw complexity at stories.
They are the sort of answers that reassure me! (Of course it should be noted that he does have a degree in English Literature so maybe it's a case of all the technical stuff is bedded so deep he doesn't have to think about it?). I also liked his discusison about how everyone reads a different novel, maybe it's obvious but sometimes it seems to be forgotten.

Other snippets:
  • Matter is meant to read like the first part in a trilogy. There are no parts two and three!
  • The Algebraist had three months of brainstoming (worldbuilding!) before he started on the plot.
  • He thought Brasyl was amazing.
Very enjoyable.

He also read some of chapter 5 of Matter and then signed books, annoyingly I hadn't taken any of mine. Should have taken the proof copy of Matter. Grrr.

Also said a quick meatspace hello to Niall and Paul, saw Paul's post-it festooned copy of Matter (which made me feel very unorganised) and caught up with Robin, before finally getting the bus home just before it turned into a pumpkin.


Photo from the evening here. Great interview, huh?

> Matter is meant to read like the first part in a trilogy. There are no parts two and three!

Banks did says this but I am not at all sure if he meant it. He was in full flow talking about The Algebraist and I thought it was a slip of the tongue when he said the title of the SF book he is about to publish rather than the last one he did publish, whilst he was commenting about the world building he did for The Algebraist.