Thursday 9th July brought with it an exciting and much anticipated event run by Mr B’s Emporium of Reading Delights.
‘An evening with author; Louis de Bernière’, was held in Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution. Whilst waiting for everyone to arrive we went into a side room in which they had set up a mini bookshop, here of course we bought de Bernière’s newly released novel ‘The Dust that Falls from Dreams’ (and got £5 off the price with the ticket).
Beckoned into the main room we took our seats ready for it to begin. After a short introduction from Mr B, we were introduced to The Bookshop Band, who play at many book events and write songs inspired by authors and novels. They appeared with a special guest… Louis de Bernière himself, on a homemade Mandolin!
Following this opening performance, de Bernière sat down with Mr B to begin their discussion. The chat began with how he got into writing, His first love was poetry, but he turned to prose after being told by an agent that he would have more success writing prose, however more recently he has written a collection of poems called ‘Imagining Alexandria’.
The discussion then moved onto the author’s latest book, ‘The Dust that Falls from Dreams’, about war and its outcomes. The novel was somewhat inspired by de Bernière’s family history, but this is a very loose base, and the story itself is far from the truth as Louis said, stories are meant to be well written lies.
Continuing to talk about his new book, de Bernière explained that the novel begins in Edwardian times to give a back story, then moves on to the war and after the war in a chronological order. He revealed that he originally wrote it with flashbacks but this way did not work.
When asked how he plans for what he writes, Louis described a ‘post-modern’ writing technique, in which he first writes the parts he “is most looking forward to”, then writes the rest and finally re-arranges it all until the story flows. On top of this the writer jested that no matter how detailed your plan is, the characters becoming more real, may begin to change the plot. Louis confessed his love for the character Dr Iannis from Captain Corelli’s Mandolin and his want to put him in all his books. He then joked that he was toying with the idea of putting all his other characters in cameo roles throughout the new trilogy.
The books original working title was SNAFU however it was decided that the acronym was inappropriate. As a friend of Ralph Mctell, de Bernière had gone his concert in Great Yarmouth and had been drawn to the lyric ‘I am writing with my finger in the dust that falls from dreams’. As an Iambic Hectameter, Louis thought The Dust that Falls from Dreams was a great name for his new books. So with a pint in the local pub as bribery, Mctell allowed de Bernière to use the lyric. The line also comes up in the novel itself, in the passage Louis de Bernière read out loud, the character Sophie says ‘This is the dust from last night’s dreams. I’m writing our names. I’m writing in the dust that falls from dreams’. Although this scene is set on a couple’s honeymoon, de Bernière revealed that he rarely writes sex scenes as the vocabulary is “small and gross” and doesn’t make good writing. He also joked that his mother was shocked at a sex scene he’d written in Captain Corelli’s Mandolin and although she’s no longer around it still feels wrong.
The plan for this novel is for it to be a trilogy, but Louis de Bernière hopes each book should still stand alone. The author also divulged that he has already written some of the 2nd book as well as the last chapter from the 3rd. I look forward to reading The Dust that Falls from Dreams, and of course the two novels that follow.
The discussion came to an end and already a little star-struck I lined up to get the book signed by him. Checking the spelling of my name with me (yes I’ve got one of those awkward names), Louis de Bernière signed the page and thus ended an amazing evening.