Iain M. Banks interview

Big Dumb Object – BDO, a science fiction blog, summarized an interview with Iain M. Banks at a meeting of the British Science Fiction Association or BSFA :


Iain Banks was interviewed by Farah Mendlesohn at the BSFA meeting last night and I made a lightning raid into London to see it.

First up she interviewed both Iain Banks and Iain M Banks, and in fact one of Farah’s first questions was how Iain saw the division between his books if not by genre.

As a reader I found Banks highly entertaining, and as a writer I found him immensley inspiring. Entertaining because he rambles off at tangents with anecdotes and rants. It’s the sort of stuff you could sit in a pub, with a pint, and listen to all night. Inspiring, to me, because a lot of his answers were very straightforward, very simple in that he obviously doesn’t analyse his work too much. He said things like (and I paraphrase because I can’t remember exactly):

  • I don’t know, I just write it, it’s up to you to analyse it.
  • I just write what I think is cool.
  • I try to write original ideas.
  • A lot of it is wish-fulfilment.
  • I just throw complexity at stories.

They are the sort of answers that reassure me! (Of course it should be noted that he does have a degree in English Literature so maybe it’s a case of all the technical stuff is bedded so deep he doesn’t have to think about it?). I also liked his discusison about how everyone reads a different novel, maybe it’s obvious but sometimes it seems to be forgotten.

Other snippets:

  • Matter is meant to read like the first part in a trilogy. There are no parts two and three!
  • The Algebraist had three months of brainstoming (worldbuilding!) before he started on the plot.
  • He thought Brasyl was amazing.

Very enjoyable.

He also read some of chapter 5 of Matter and then signed books, annoyingly I hadn’t taken any of mine. Should have taken the proof copy of Matter. Grrr.

Also said a quick meatspace hello to Niall and Paul, saw Paul’s post-it festooned copy of Matter (which made me feel very unorganised) and caught up with Robin, before finally getting the bus home just before it turned into a pumpkin

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