Chaired by Rosemary Lennot
Glenn read an extract of his book first. Before he read from his book he thanked the subset of people who come out on a Friday morning in the rain.
Romesh read next and I noticed that his copy of his book was full of sticky notes. This is the kind of book I love to see.
Rosemary then kicked off the discussion by stating that the two books have a lot of similar themes running through them.
Glenn was first to answer and talked about who he liked writing about orphaned children as once you are orphaned a lot of things can happen to you. He also mentioned how a new world to a character is a brilliant idea as they can act as a guide to the reader.
“Dickens always got rid of the parents; he was ruthless in his killing of characters.” This is was Romesh added to the discussion, he also said that orphaned children always have interesting back stories.
The discussion then moved onto how both the novels are set in the height of the empire.
“My novel is set in the odd bit of the empire” Romesh admitted. There was a lot of competition between the UK and France regarding Mauritius. Mauritius had a blank canvas during the reign of the empire.
“Belfast in the late 18th century was ahead of its game” Glenn told the audience. It already had an anti-slavery movement in place.
Rosemary then commented on how both the books have bibliographies at the end of the book. She was curious to know why they had chosen to do this.
Glenn’s first reaction was that he did it as he was afraid of litigation. He then said that people “expected that you must have read books and there is now a feeling that you must declare these books.”
Romesh said one of the reasons he did it was to “impress American publishers.” He admitted he collected every bit of research he could find. He put his bibliography in a non conventional order so it flowed better like a poem.
Talk then moved back to the empire. Romesh described it as a “time of enlightenment and a very romantic period.” However he admitted that this was very true of any period in history. Glenn added the view that to these characters this isn’t the past, this is as far as they have got.
The topic of discussion then turned to research. Glenn admits that he has read all the books in the bibliography and they helped him know where the novel is going. However it is “important that the research doesn’t drive the book.”Romesh agreed with this and went on to say that there is a “danger of what you read about will lead the story and change it. Discovering the shape of the novel is very important to me. It is a balancing act between what is real and imagination.”
On this thought the discussion was brought to a close.