The event was kicked off by both authors giving a reading from their novels. Mikhail read the first paragraph of his novel in Russian to show the audience the beauty of the Russian language.
Mikhail explained that the concept of his novel is very simple. It is a novel of love correspondents and switches between he and she. They write letters to each other because they are separated from one another. There are two sorts of time, there is reality which is the time for journalists, it is a fake time in which the newspapers believe what they have written is true. The paper of yesterday will be dead tomorrow. The other kind is real time. A writer has to pick the important bits of reality time and wind them into real time. When you read immortal literature like War and Peace then you become immortal yourself. All words are dead and language is dead, a writer has to start with the understanding that you can’t say anything with words. Mikhail’s mother tongue is Russian and it can be a difficult language to express yourself in, as the language is always changing, as language is the key to reality. The changing Russian language is like a train and the writer must be on the train. If the writer falls off the train they have two choices run after the train or create their own language. What is fresh today will be rotten tomorrow.
Lauren was interested on how we are haunted by our own history. The same problems seem to come up repeatedly in history. It is all about how we understand time and time is all about language. People have an idea that you must choose between plot or character this is not true you can have both. A story should be a house that you can inhabit and language is our way of understanding the world.
Mikhail believes that the writer must write about things that journalists can’t. Everything that is important in life has no words and it is up to the writer to translate this into language. A good book should not humiliate the reader but give the reader some dignity back. There are two types of novelists the master of the novel, he is always drinking coffee, rings a bell and the novel comes to him. The second type is the servant of the novel, he is always waiting around for the master to ring the bell.
Lauren compared writing to taking a road trip at night, you know all the important landmarks but you can not see the road in front of you. There is a drunken master at the wheels that is swerving in all directions. Time travel is done badly so often and for time travel to work it has to make sense. Lauren tracked all the events that happened in her novel to make sure they were all connected and flowed. Lauren had to do a lot of research for her novel, in order for time travel to be executed correctly everything else has to be real. The richest details within the novel are actually historically accurate and are taken from real events.
As a novelists there are two important prizes you can win, Mikhail explained first prize is that the novel comes to you before you start writing. The second prize is that it is possible to write the novel all the way to the end. They are the two prizes that Mikhail wants to win over and over ageing.
With that final thought the event was brought to a close.