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This was one of the last minute tickets I bought as I had not been to many stripped events. I am so glad that I went to it, as it was definitely one of the highlights of the festival. Stuart Kelly arrived to the event dressed as The Riddler, giving the event a definite Batman feel right from the start.

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Above are some pictures of the hand outs that Stuart provided us all with during the workshop.

The first riddle we were asked was:

What do we talk about when we talk about Batman?

It depends on who is telling the story as it is a myth that has been told by many writers. We all thought that the Jack Nicholson version of Batman was gothic at the time but the Christian Bale version of Batman makes the older versions look like Gothic camp.


The above panel is the original batman origin story. Stuart stated that the second panel is one of the worst bit of comic strip writing and I have to agree. In the second panel, it tells you the same thing in three different ways, that there is a bat in the picture.

Batman has been going know for over 60 years and there is a constant tension in the history of Batman as people felt the violence within the early comic strips should be more realistic. Ultimtely the main relationship in Batman is between the rich man and the personal war he has.

Superhero comics are the cultural glue within society. People know about them without having actually read them.

Time for another riddle:

What don’t you need to know to read a Batman comic…..

The entire history of the Batman comics (though it helps)

This is mainly due to the fact that each writer has rewritten the Batman history differently. Batman can be retold again and again. You don’t need to read Batman to know you he is, he is written into our culture through pyjamas, lunchboxes and toys for example. This is what makes him a myth as few things within our culture have this kind of power.

Stuart them took us to a world where D.C. comics are true and took us through the various history that have occurred over the years.

iconic villians

Above are the original iconic villains, Catwoman (she originally had a cat head), The Joker and Pengiun. These villains reoccurred through various Batman comics.



Above are other iconic original villains; Two Face, Scarecrow, Mr Zero (the original Mr Freeze), The Red Hood (the first supervillain to appear in the comics), The Monk (first Batman villain to appear in the comics), Dr Death (the first reoccurring villain), Polka-dot man and the Penny Plunderer. In Batman everything goes back in the box and there is creative tension as every writer wants to tell new stories and these original villains are drawn on for inspiration.

golden age

From around 1956, D.C. Comics started to redesign various characters: this is sometimes referred to as the change from the “Golden Age” to the “Silver Age”….
The above image shows the redesign of Flash and Green Lantern. Fans accepted most of these changes but obviously wanted explanation.

These changes were explained within the comics -in The Flash September 1961- as being due to the existence of multiple parallel realities. The “Golden Age” took place on Earth-two and the “Silver Age” on Earth-One… And there were many more “Earths”. The physics behind these alternative realties started in 1959, why the comics went this way is a mystery. In Flash there was major changes in the shift from Earth-two to Earth-one. In Batman and Superman these changes were more gradual.

But then another change in 1985, the franchise was “rebooted” and all the universes collapsed in one each other creating just one universe. This new universe introduced some major story lines.

a death in the family
“A Death In The Family” was one of the most notorious Batman stories of all time. It was an event to establish that Batman was not a children’s comic. There was even a phone line you could call to save Robin or kill Robin. Nobody dies in comics, the phrase “he goes for a dirt nap” is used to establish death. This story established a different tone and it was the beginning of the darker comics.


This was an experiment in a long multiple comic story. It introduced a moral seriousness to the comic.

In total D.C. comics have destroyed and remade the universe five times and this is why it has longevity. When Marvel comics do this they just keep the new universe running alongside the original.

Time for one last riddle:

What do you have to have to be the Caped Crusader?

He has to have nothing!

Nothing happened to him in a explosion
He was never but by a radio-active bat
He didn’t come from the planet Krypton
An alien didn’t give him a Power Ring to access the emotional spectrum

This is a crucial part of his story as it has always been about the grief he has suffered due to what he doesn’t have. Superman is painted against a blue sky as he teaches us what it is to be human. Batman is painted against a night sky as he teaches us what it is to be a myth. They compliment each other perfectly.

Most batman villains tend to be human and they are all interesting from a physiological point of view. The majority of them represent chaos and batman represents that force trying to contain this chaos. Chaos is something that people can relate to.

Comics are constantly product testing their own environment and there is a stage where they have to been seen as growing up. By using ridiculous stories it keeps them in the adolescent stage. But the new story line with the Joker using his face as a mask is an experiment to see if we can let characters grow.

Comics are hard to read cause you have to suspend disbelief. You have to let stories have own contours but collaborations do happen.

With that final thought the hour and a half workshop was brought to a close.

All photos are taken from the hand-outs provided by Stuart Kelly at the workshop.

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Chaired by Luke Brown

cattonThere is a rich history of gold with New Zealand’s history, New Zealand was the last place to be colonised but it was the first place to achieve democracy. Eleanor wanted to capture this dramatic atmosphere within her novel, the gold rush meant that towns just popped up within New Zealand.

Hannah’s book based on a true crime committed in Iceland. It is set after the crime has been committed and sentencing has taken place. It mainly looks at her relationship with the family that is forced to hold her and the young priest who is assigned to her. It has two narratives, 1st person in which we hear Agnes thoughts and in parts is told in a 3rd person narrative. Hannah heard the story of this crime when she spent a year in Iceland as an exchange student. She was immediately fascinated with the women that committed this crime and what kind of woman she actually was? In all her research she was struck by the fact that everyone described this women as a monster, evil and had a very black and white perspective of her. This frustrated Hannah and she wanted to write a novel that would show a complex women and perhaps discover something about her humanity. This was done through the part of the novel written in the 1st person. Her voice is a direct opposite to the voice of the 3rd person narrative. Agnes voice is lyrical and metaphorical.

Eleanor explained how it has fascinated her and raged her about how a novel has to be defined as either literary fiction or genre fiction. In literary fiction the characters propel the plot, it is the opposite for genre fiction, the plot propels the characters. The Luminaries is a very plot driven novel but why should the writer have to choose between structure and plot. This puts a element of pressure on the writer to create a level of suspense for the reader. Modern day TV programmes are masters of suspense and they manage to keep character and plot alive.

Hannah explained that her plot was a happy accident, she washannah researching and writing the book at the exact same time. The novel ended up being suspenseful as Hannah herself was in suspense as she didn’t know what was going to happen next. When writing she was thinking more about character and the plot just came naturally through character interactions.

Eleanor wanted her book to be entertaining and she was trying to write a murder mystery. When writing she liked to paint herself into a corner and then try and get out of it. By making the plot as difficult as she could for herself it meant it would be even better for the reader and they wouldn’t be disappointed by the book they were reading.

Burial Rites is about a time and country that does not belong to Hannah. A lot of research was carefully done and all the major plot points were taken from historical sources. The rest was a giant game of dot to dot and the speculation between fact fills in the dots. It was all common sense, logic and informed speculation.

All events are invented within Eleanor’s novel so there was no real historical research done. The prison that features in the novel is real and it was built using convict labour. This chimes with our idea of fate and that we all make our own prisons. Eleanor admits that the length of the novel crept up on her. It is a book of 12 parts and each part is half of the part before it. It is designed to be like a golden spiral and show the dramatic power of two. There was no promise that this structure was going to work until the novel was finished.

With that thought a very entertaining hour was brought to a close.

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Chaired by Russell McLean

jamesThe idea behind James’s novel came from the international hysteria that is going on to do with global warming. It is meant to be a very closed and claustrophobic novel. The things we seem focused on are war, weather and the economy, what would happen if all three of these turned bad at the same time. James’s also writers a series of sci-fi books, they are classed as sci-fi as they have spaceships in them. People are willing to buy into a world to escape from their own.

The idea behind Samantha’s novel came from a solar storm thatbone happened in 1859 and there was an alternative outcome. It has been classed as steampunk by some people but Samantha sees steampunk as modern technology going into the Victorian age and this novel is more Victorian age going into the modern world. Samantha built her world from the bottom up and this allowed a sense of consistency through out the novel.

Horror is used in a very interesting way in James’s book, it is more modern gothic horror than a classic horror novel. Horror should unsettle you. We live in a time in which we are not as obsessed with the body, we are more worried about the mind. If you could cure memories, it would make a difference to society as most of the time memories are just lies we tell ourselves.

There is a lot of slang present in Samantha’s book and through reading it you are meant to understand what is meant through the context of what is going on. However there is a glossary at the back of the book should you need it. Samantha created a system of clairvoyants for the novel and in this system she wanted them all to have believable limits. This was done through a lot of historical research focused on deviation. George Orwell and Margret Attwood were huge influences on Samantha’s work as both are classic dystopian.

The government do a convenient thing of forgetting thing but forgetting thing will not make the problem go away, it will actually make the problem worse. For James a good dystopia lives and dies on what we can believe ourselves. It has to be set in a real world that has a level of fantasy on top of it.

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Chaired by Jenny Brown

The clear theme that links both novels is the shadowy past of Scotland that links it with Barbados. Andrea’s book is about a series of migrations that where happening at that point in history, 1 in 5 people were leaving the Britain to find a better life. This is a story that we as a culture have forgotten. Barbados was that first British colony in the region and it was the place that the sugar revelation took place, sugar was known as the white gold of the island. The story of sugar is pivotal to the story of the region. Chris’s novel is also set in Barbados and it is a story based on a true line of research, of a woman being sent out to Barbados to be an actress.

The story of this vast migration has been written out of British history. The majority of the earlier settlers died and you would have had no idea of what you were going to be faced with when you got there. It was a one way journey, it was a chance to completely reinvent yourself.

The idea for Chris’s novel started with a work trip to Barbados for three months. In his first week on the island, Chris joined the national trust and they took you on walks of the island. Through these walks he discovered the poor white community that is present and is known as the Scotland area. What madness makes a community like this work? It took 21 years to write the book and he has learnt that you should just write the book then do the vast majority of research at a later date. In the early days the island was very much a Scottish island. Scots were better educated and supplied a lot of the doctors and book keepers (dealt with the slaves) for the island. Everyone wanted the novel to be a classical historical fiction but this was not what Chris wanted to achieve. What is history and what is fiction? The odd thing about fiction is that you can use it to discover a deeper truth but we have created a culture that there is an expectation in the reader’s mind that everything within a historical novel is true.

Andrea’s novel is non-fiction and she is well known for her biographies. However this time she has turned her attention to her own maternal family and in a way she always knew she would write about them. If it wasn’t written down then this link to the past may be lost through time. It is a story of slavery, settlement and sugar. The cheapest way to plant sugar was to use slaves. In many ways this was the beginning of the slave trade that were used for this specific purpose. It is the great historical tragedy of the island however the slave trade money enriched the area but the history of this money is never taught. The book aims to try to bring back history and remind us of the reality of the situation. There is a question of how one writes history? People who’s history gets preserved tend to be in the military or royalty. The slave trade have been deliberately written out of history. Andrea always wants to focus on the smaller people in history, so their story gets preserved for generations.

With that final thought, an interesting hour was brought to an end.

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This event featured Julia Donaldson, Samantha Shannon and John Marsden.
Chaired by Kate Mosse.

Above is a picture of the crowd, eagerly awaiting the discussion that was about to take place.

Kate describes herself as a adventure writer and writes fiction which has female heroes, they are the protagonist of the story and they don’t want to be rescued.

Julia kicked off the discussion by asking if one thinks of gender issues when writing. Most writers will tell you no, they write what they want to write. The Gruffalo is a traditional tale so all the main characters are male. However in later books The Gruffalo has a daughter and this was a conscious decision to introduce a female character into the books. However in some countries when the book has been translated the daughter has been made a son. In the world of traditional children publishing, female characters are usually feisty but are politically correct. In fact there are a lot of men campaigning to be portrayed better in children’s literature. Stereotypes have changed over times, the granny no longer knits, she rides a motorcycle.

John put across the point of how adolescents are given a low social status within our society. For example the Garden of Eden and Camelot are given an idol status and a lot of people construct childhood on the same principle. Childhood can be a place of purity and innocence. It is important as a writer to educate people to see children how they actually are, by idolising children we are ultimately setting them up for a fall from grace and this tends to happen at adolescent. Teenagers are seen as a danger to society and this is how they are portrayed in the media. John started writing for adolescents with an agenda he wanted to raise the status of them within society. Young people are excited to see themselves portrayed as heroes. When writing emotion, John feels it easier to do when writing in a female characters voice, this is mainly due to his own psychology.

Samantha mentioned how they first thing that came to her was her main characters voice, it seemed to make her female as Samantha feels she would have had to do research to write in a male voice. Through out The Bone Season the main female character is dominated by men, this was done on purpose as it is going to be a series of novels. In this age the literary scene is a lot more aware of feminism. The idea of labelling characters are “strong female character” gives the impression that by default women are not strong and this is an unusual characteristic. We need to get to the stage were it does not surprise us that the female character is strong.

Kate added that we need to be free to write the characters we want to write.

Julia does not feel any pressure from her publisher when writing. However there are certain thing you are not allowed to have in children’s books but they exist in real life. There is more pressure on authors that write books for younger children. For example in the USA you are not allowed to have nudity in a picture book, in one of Julia’s books a goat had it’s udders removed.

John added the fact that so much about writing is giving the reader what they want. Samantha added that often characters are more settled in adult books and in Young Adult fiction they are just figuring themselves out.

Kate added that even in the digital age we are in the book still exists, they still matter to us as we see ourselves reflected in the characters within the novel.

With that a very interesting hour discussion was brought to an end.

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Chaired by Richard Lea

Both authors gave a short reading from their novels to start the event.

In Eugen’s book the narrative jumps back and forward but it leaves gaps for the imagination. You can only ever show the reader a fragment of the story but you will always have the wrong idea of this book. If someone left GDR it was like they had vanished. The novel is told in pieces to make it shorter as it is possible to compress the marative. The prospective is always changing, you wouldn’t be able to manage that in a film without driving the audience crazy. Each chapter is about 25 pages and in each chapters there is flashbacks present but the narrative does not jump during the chapter. The book is about the fall of the wall and most people have a basic knowledge of this and you can use this knowledge to compress the book even more.

Patricio started by apologising for his English (personally I thought his English was fine), apologised for his voice (he is sick) and for the fact he didn’t know what day it was as he was in Argentina less than 30 hours ago. Part of the story within the novel is common knowledge and it was a painful story for Patricio to write and this is why the story must be written in fragments. It was important to find a form that was unconventional to tell the story as there has been many versions of this story over the years. It was important that the book was not closed at the end of the novel, it was also difficult to think about the right structure and have a balance between fact and fiction. The fiction aspect was added to allow the reader to have the opportunity to think that they story was fiction. Adding fictional aspects was also a way to escape parental control over the novel. The feeling of your parents reading your novel can be very paralysing.

Eugen’s book has the same mixture of fact and fiction within it as parts of the story had to be invented. Fiction in some cases, can be more true than reality. Readers from East Germany feel like the novel is taking their history seriously and West Germany are curious about what really happened during that period of history. As a writer, Eugen feels it is important to keep out of your book as much as possible so you don’t influence the characters.

Where you consulted by the translator during the process? How do you feel about the English translation?
Patricio stated that he has worked with a lot of translators, they ultimately offer a different view of the book. He really likes how his books sound in English and feels like none of the musicality of the novel has been lost during the translation process. Sometimes writers don’t like what they write but they must write it. It is important to write a book that allows people to ask questions again.

Eugen didn’t met his English translator however they did talk over email. He feels like he can tell that the book has been translated by a woman, the rhythm is different and seems weaker.

With that final thought an hours discussion was brought to a close.

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Chaired by Claire Armstead

aeClaire described Charlotte’s novel as being very much a novel about the private life of children. Charlotte described how she found it horrific to be a teenager. We all think that there is a key to being a teenager and when we find the key everything will be ok. However there isn’t a key, we just stop caring about the key. There are Hungarian aunts and grandmothers’ present within the novel, this was done mainly because her maternal grandparents are Hungarian and she wasted to writer about her grandparents because she missed them.

Fayette’s novel is centred round the idea of deception. Shefay paints family life as being built on white lies, there is a duality to this. The grown ups are telling the children to always tell the truth but they themselves are telling lies left and right. There are two sides to the lies Ivy tells, she just really wants to be liked by people. It is all about what is going to get people to like her? Fayette started her novel through NaNoWriMo, this is the idea of writing the basic first draft of a novel in a month. She had two days to come up with the character of Ivy before she started writing and mainly pulled the story out of thin air.

Both novels are set in 1980s, what were you doing in the 1980s?
Charlotte was a teenager during the 80s and finds it easier to write about things she knows. She has to be able to imagine herself as the character in order to write as them. Charlotte stated that she doesn’t want any texts or emails in her novels. By putting these in a novel, it really dates a novel. She is a fan of twitter but thinks it misses the point. You can get a hold of anyone on a mobile and by doing this you will miss a lot of drama.

Fayette was a kid in the 80s and didn’t have the luxury of having time to research the setting of the book. So she used her childhood backdrop with fictional elements to it.

Time for some audience questions

Fayette mentioned how she thought of her main character in two days and then took 5 years to write the novel. How long did it take you Charlotte?
There is a lot of detail in the novel and Charlotte has been thinking about this novel her entire life. The world of her novel, is the world of her grandparents.

How easy did you find it to plot your novels?
Fayette stated how she finds it very hard to sit down and write and also that she hates plot. She finds the idea of plot like pulling teeth. There is plot in the book but that plot had to be created, she plotted on index cards as you are able to physically move the plot around. A third of the plot was thought of before writing and then you get to the point when you run out of train tracks but you have to get putting the tracks down before the train falls off the cliff.

With that a very interesting hours discussion was brought to an end.

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This event was with Dany Laferriere (Author), Adriana Hunter (translator) and Ros Schwartz (translator).
Chaired by Daniel Hahn


These events were first introduced into the Edinburgh International Book Festival last year and it was an opportunity for the translator to take centre stage instead of the author of the book. Both translators, translated the same piece of text from Dany and neither of them saw the others’ version until the start of the event.
As Dany stated he is here as a puppet for the translators.

Daniel started the event by pointing out that the two different translations only have one sentence in common throughout the entire text.

Ros started the “duel” by pointing out that as a translator it is very tempting to stay as close to the original text as possible when translating. You have to start the process by feeling your way into the text. It is almost like you are in a muddy field with very heavy boots and struggling to walk. When you are translating a piece as short as this you are only plying with it as it is hard to find the voice within the text, as this would be the point when you are feeling your way into the text.

In both translations they use a different work to identify the mum within the story with Ros going for mother and Adriana going for a combination of mother and mum at different intervals throughout. Ros stated that when translating she felt the work mum sounded so English and she didn’t think it would suit the voice of the character. Adriana disagreed and felt the work mother could be come heavy and very worded with the text. The word mum felt more youthful and suited the voice of the character. It felt very uncomfortable referring to her as mother, within the piece of work.

Dany added that by using mother or mum each translation is producing a different piece of music with the body of the work.

Ros pointed out to the audience that there is never one official translation of a book, there is just one person’s version. This can be done multiple times to produce different versions.

Dany pointed out that he has rewrote six of his novels after they have been translated and added 200 pages to one of them. Thus creating more work for the translator, who retranslated the text to included the extra pages.

Adriana says the process is all to do with finding the voice that has been created. If an author is inconsistent within their work, then you need to ask yourself why have they done this? It could be to do with the rhythm of the sentence or repetition. Most of the time these things are done for a reason and can be missed in the translation of the text into English.

Final question was from an audience member, Do you prefer to translate a living or a dead author?

Ros was first to respond and stated she preferred to translate a living author’s text. When translating, the translators loyalty is to the author not the reader. However the author is always the last resort if you don’t understand something, it is important to try and find out as much as you can yourself.

Adriana’s answer was the same, she to preferred to translate living authors’. They are a wonderful resource of information and you learn something new through doing each new translation. This is a continuous process that goes on with each translation, a translator does.

With that final thought, a wonderful hour was brought to a end. These events could be much longer as we only got halfway through discussing the text, that had been translated.

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The main theatre was full as people waited for Ian Rankin to interview Maj Sjowall.

Ian Rankin opened the event by thanking the audience for coming and gave us a brief introduction to Maj Sjowall..

Maj published the first book in the Martin Beck series in 1965. Maj and her husband Per first started talking about the concept for the books in 1963. Maj described how crime fiction is a good genre to describe society at the time you are writing. It describes our society and our time.

Maj told us how her and her husband had the idea of it the first novel was well received, then they wanted to release 10, to represent 10 years. This was used to describe a era of Sweden through crime and police work. Overall this series of book started a new kind of genre.

The Laughing Policeman was the first foreign language book to win the Edgar award. It was extremely well received in America.

All the books within the series, if read quickly read like one big book. Maj stated that this was done on purpose, one book but with 300 chapters. All books have 30 chapters, except from two, one which has 29 and one which has 28.

All the books within the series where written at night time as both writers were night owls. Her husband was a journalist during the daytime and extremely practical if you have children. Everything was done together, the characters and the basic plot was thought out before they began writing. They wrote long-handed, one at each end of the table. If Per started writing chapter 1 then Maj would start on chapter 2. They would then type up each others chapters the next night, in order to get a feel of what the other has written and a chance for some editing.

Ian then asked if Maj read crime fiction herself?

Her answer was surprising, not really read a lot of crime fiction. However when they became published in America, they started getting compared to McBain the both read his novels to see if they could see the similarities. This led to Maj suggesting to her publisher that they should buy the Swedish rights to McBain’s books. This then led to Maj translating 12 of McBain’s novels into Swedish.

The books are labelled as the Martin Beck’s Books however this is not a accurate description. Maj says that this was done by the publisher and the bookshops as they have a need for all books to have a single hero. This was an aspect that Maj was not happy with as she wanted multiple heroes in the series, not one single detective being the hero of every plotline. All the characters have to led their own lives and become heroes of their own story.

Ian then introduced the point that Maj is ultimately to blame for the popular Scandinavian fiction that we are seeing. However you books have heavily influenced writers such as Mankell, does this make you feel proud?

Maj says she finds the majority of them boring as they are all writing the same kind of novel. All the young Scandinavian writers are heavily influenced by Hollywood not socialism. This is mainly done so they can be translated into other language more easily and make them more available to a world audience. The genre has seem to become less about the police work and more about the relationships these people develop. This was not allowed in the 60s when Maj and Per were writing their novels.

In all Maj’s novels the person committing the crime is the ultimately the main victim in all the books. This is done in purpose as they are the victim, as they are being badly treated by society.

Maj is famed in Sweden as being a translator, Ian asked if she has ever checked the translations of her books to see how accurate they are?

She replied that she would find the idea boring and best left alone. As ultimately she will find things that she wanted to change. Translation is an art and it is the translators job to find the voice of the writer. Their job is to find the writer’s music and translate this to the world.

Time for some audience questions.

Do you feel like you have missed out on success? With the success of young Scandinavian writers’.

No, when Maj was writing people were not interested in writers. The writers wrote books, the publishers published books and you hardly ever saw a picture of them. Today writers are like film stars and Ian described Maj as an ageing rock star.

How did the Swedish police react to the books, when they were first published?

They didn’t react much, at the time the police was very closed and the novels didn’t receive much criticism.

What did writing as a collaboration bring to you as a writer?

It is not so common nowadays for writers to collaborate. Writing can be the most lonely work in the world. Ian says it is amazing that you can not see the join. You develop a new writing style and try to write in the same way.

The last question was from Ian, are you retired or do you still write or work as a translator?

The Martin Beck series was finished by book 10 and there was no need to continue it or resurrect the characters. Ultimately she misses the character but they would be very old now and she does wonder why they never call her.
Maj does still write but she doesn’t want her work to be published. She writes for herself and not for anyone else. She doesn’t want to be part of the writer circus that is evident nowadays.


With that final thought a very interesting hour was brought to a close. It was an absolute treat to hear Maj speak about her works, she is ultimately the original Queen of Scandinavian fiction.

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EIBF Report: Rick Gekoski

Chaired by Stuart Kelly

Stuart Kelly opened the discussion with the idea of us being more fascinated with the Mona Lisa when it was lost. Rick said that he found the stealing of the Mona Lisa comical as the queue to see the empty space was longer than when the Mona Lisa was actually hanging in the Louvre. Talk then moved on to who stole the Mona Lisa? The Mona Lisa was stolen on a Monday when the Louvre was closed on a Monday, so only staff have access to the painting. All painting on the Louvre hanged on four iron pegs and only a select few would know how to remove the painting quickly. This takes the suspect list down from 800 to 10. The 10 suspects would be people who would hang or frame the paintings. These are the people that should have been interviewed. It was an Italian framer who stole the painting, he unrolled the painting from the canvas and sneaks it out the Louvre. An hour past and people noticed it the Mona Lisa was not there, however painting where regularly removed for a variety of reasons such as to photograph it, to clean it or to reframe the painting. Three hours passed and people began to ask where it was, five hours then passes since it was stolen and people where hysterical and have realised that it had been stolen. At this point the police where called. The Mona Lisa was kept at the bottom of a trunk for the next 18 months by the Italian framer.

Talk then moved to the title of the book, Lost, Stolen or Shredded. Rick mentioned how he was never happy with the title of the book. The book started off as a series for radio 4 and was listened to by around 500,000 people. When the series began to take a literal form, Rick approached his publisher with the idea of changing the title for the book. The publisher thought this was a horrible idea as all those people had listened to the book and knew the book by this point. However where these people ultimately going to buy the book when it came out.

Stuart brought up the point of that we live so much in a digital idea so surely it is more difficult nowadays to lose things. Rick began answering this by stating he was very interested in the ideas of recopies and one day we will have the technology to accurately reproduce a piece of art to the point that no one will be able to tell the difference. When people are presented with the original and the copy they will see no imperfections between the two. It is getting harder to deal with writer’s archives and nowadays it is not uncommon for archives to continue hard drives belonging to the author. This is mainly due to the letter becoming a dead form, problem can be that emails can be duplicated, so how can you value them?

This led onto Stuart’s next point that he believes the literary biography genre is soon going to be on the “endangered list of genres”. Rick disagreed, he stated that we are in an age when we know more about people, through tweets, email and youtube, for example. This means that the biographer has a better deal than ever before and we are going into a great age for the literary biographer. However this has a negative side to it as well, biographers are going to have access too so much information that we could be overloaded in the biography’s that they produce.

Rick then treated the audience to a reading from his book. He explained how there was advantages and disadvantaged to the fact that the book was written for radio. As when writing for radio you have 30 to 45 seconds to capture the listeners attention. You have to get them, then lock them in so they will listen to the story you are telling.

Stuart then asked Rick if he had any advice from going form the long list of the Manbooker prize to the actual winner. (Stuart is a judge on this years manbooker prize and Rick was a judge for the 2005 prize and later went on to be chair of the International Manbooker prize for two years).

Rick started by saying it is an extraordinary thing judging the Manbooker as you have to average a book a day and this takes over your life. You will find that most books don’t gratify you as a reader and ultimately you have to go with whatever book you feel most passion for as only then will you be able to argue your case. He had four pieces of advice for Stuart:
1) Some books are better than others, pick the best book.
2) Know why this is the best book.
3) Be able to say why this is the best book in detail.
4) Make an argument of why it is the best book. You need to be able to state why the others are not good and be able to open them and show why to the other judges.
Ultimately when being a judge on the Manbooker panel you need to be able to think like an advocate.

With that interesting conversation the event was brought to a close. It was a surprising treat that the Manbooker was brought up at the event and it was very interesting to hear the advice Rick had for Stuart. This has been one of my favourite moment of the Edinburgh International Book Festival so far.

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