Writing Crumbs

EIBF Saturday: Kate Atkinson [KA] and Salman Rushdie [SR]


speaking on Life After Life as part of the ‘Memory and Imagination’ theme

Kate Atkinson (c.) EIBF
Kate Atkinson (c.) EIBF
  • rarely has the ending planned out
  • writes a ‘symphonic crescendo of endings’ until it emerges
  • Life After Life isn’t about living over and over to get it right
  • doesn’t think the narrator is unreliable
  • Life After Life doesn’t have psychic moments but some things ‘leak through’ into another time
  • felt a responsibility when writing about wartime experiences to get it right
  • different novels have different shapes: – Life After Life is a wave, written sequentially whereas the Jackson Brodie crime novels are carefully plotted pyramids
  • KA doesn’t think of the Jackson Brodie novels as crime novels so much as novels
  • enjoyed the freedom from thinking about plot when writing Life After Life


speaking as part of the ‘Best of Young British Novelists’ theme & interviewed by John Freeman [formerly of Granta]

Salman Rushdie at EIBF 2013

  • wrote Joseph Anton in third person because a) gave a different dimension b) it felt right c) he is a different person now d) it’s about ‘making the self’
  • the novel is a vulgar medium, by which he takes the Latin to mean ‘of the people’
  • enjoyed writing a novel set in 16C as readers/critics tend to ignore the incorrect facts; amused that things he made up were taken as reliable
  • writers need to be ‘fully engaged in life’ to write; ‘go there’
  • prose needs to match the context of the time – read the books your characters would be reading to situate tone and style of prose [syntax and sentient]
  • when asked ‘how new writers develop a voice’ – ‘should they read?’ – he said, ‘real writers have an interesting relationship to language’. SR was reading Zadie Smith’s NW before he came on and used it as an example of how her life experience seeps into the text; from life to page