Readersforum's Blog

June 10, 2013

Author Iain Banks: In his own words

Filed under: Obituaries — Tags: , , , , — Bookblurb @ 8:14 am

"And I just took it as bad luck, basically. It did strike me almost immediately, my atheist sort of thing kicked in and I thought ha, if I was a God-botherer, I'd be thinking, why me God? What have I done to deserve this? And I thought at least I'm free of that, at least I can simply treat it as bad luck and get on with it."

“And I just took it as bad luck, basically. It did strike me almost immediately, my atheist sort of thing kicked in and I thought ha, if I was a God-botherer, I’d be thinking, why me God? What have I done to deserve this? And I thought at least I’m free of that, at least I can simply treat it as bad luck and get on with it.”

Best selling author Iain Banks has died shortly after announcing he had terminal cancer.

The author of The Crow Road and The Wasp Factory revealed he was dying two months ago.

Last month, in his only TV interview since the news, the 59-year-old spoke to the BBC’s Kirsty Wark about his life and work.


“It (my reaction) was along the lines of ‘oh bugger’. It’s one of these things I guess, in a sense, you rehearse in your head. You sort of game it, you play it, you think how would I feel, and how would I react if a loved one dies or is delivered of a verdict, a prognosis like that. If you’re writing about people who are facing death, you automatically have to embody that, you have to take that in quite seriously.

“And I just took it as bad luck, basically. It did strike me almost immediately, my atheist sort of thing kicked in and I thought ha, if I was a God-botherer, I’d be thinking, why me God? What have I done to deserve this? And I thought at least I’m free of that, at least I can simply treat it as bad luck and get on with it.”

Click here to read the rest of this story


November 6, 2011

How a secret manuscript became a global bestseller

Mandela's writings were transcribed by Mahararaj behind bars (National Archives of South Africa, courtesy NMF)

By Karen Allen

Nelson Mandela’s biography The Long Walk to Freedom became an international bestseller and is being made into a film. But the famous book may never have seen the light of day if it wasn’t for the bravery and persistence of another Robben Island inmate.

“We were housed in individual cells, each cell had a window looking out into the corridor. Warders patrolled day and night, lights were on 24 hours a day.”

Mac Maharaj was one of four long-term prisoners on Robben Island secretly collaborating on the first draft of the autobiography of Nelson Mandela – along with other Africa National Congress activists Ahmed Kathrada and Walter Sisulu.

“Mandela had to write every night. He wrote on average 10-15 pages with very little reference material – he wrote by discussion and recollection,” says the 76-year-old.

“The next morning it would circulate to Kathrada and Sisulu for their comments, which would come back to me to transcribe. And the next night he would write another 10-15 pages.”

Both men would sometimes feign illness so they could stay in the grounds and spend their time working alone in the prison quadrangle. Writing was strictly a night time affair, but this was their opportunity to discuss the copy and the edits.

Their determination to write overcame the fear of being caught.

“We were living in a society where the history of our struggle was not covered anywhere – not even in academia. Everything in history was the history about the white man.

“So that in itself was an exciting exercise to put down on paper the life of one man who was so central [to the struggle], and whose autobiography was really a political autobiography. One had a sense that Mandela had already become a national and international figure and that it would be an inspiration to read our history.”

read more

September 7, 2011

London 2012: Shakespeare Festival leads cultural events

The Globe Theatre is hosting 37 plays in 37 languages

By Helen Bushby

The World Shakespeare Festival is the “trump card” putting “art at the heart of the Olympics”, the head of the Cultural Olympiad has said.

Ruth Mackenzie said the event, which is part of the London 2012 Festival – will put “culture back up there with sport” during next year’s Games in London.

It will include thousands of performers in 70 productions, with global artists acting in their own languages.

The British Museum will host a show on London during Shakespeare’s time.

Festival director Deborah Shaw said at the launch of the festival, which is being produced by the Royal Shakespeare Company, that it would “redefine what’s possible in creating a festival in a global age”.

read more

September 5, 2011

Bronte sisters: Why their stories still enthral

Director Andrea Arnold chose James Howson to play Heathcliff after open casting sessions

By Ian Youngs & Neil Smith

This week, major film adaptations of Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights and Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre will be in the spotlight, along with a play about the lives of the literary sisters.

After 160 years, the power of the Bronte sisters’ ferocious imaginations has not dimmed at all.

On Tuesday, the world premiere of a screen adaptation of Wuthering Heights takes place at the Venice Film Festival. Its director is Andrea Arnold, who won a Bafta last year for best British film for the critically acclaimed Fish Tank.

Skins actress Kaya Scodelario plays the headstrong Cathy, while the part of Heathcliff is taken by James Howson, from Leeds, in his first film role.

It is believed to be the first time the famously passionate Heathcliff, described in the book as a “dark-skinned gypsy”, has been played by a black actor.

read more

July 26, 2011

Songs from Clockwork Orange musical to make UK debut

Previously unheard showtunes composed by author Anthony Burgess are said to recall West Side Story.

By Sean Michaels

The droogs don't work ... Still from A Clockwork Orange (1971). Photograph: Ronald Grant Archive

Songs from a musical adaptation of A Clockwork Orange are to be performed for the first time next year. Written by author Anthony Burgess, the ultraviolent showtunes will premiere in Manchester next summer.

Burgess, who died in 1993, started working on a stage version of A Clockwork Orange a decade after Stanley Kubrick’s controversial 1971 film adaptation. “The reason why Burgess wanted to make his own stage adaptation, quite a long time after Kubrick made the film, was to assert his ownership of the story,” Dr Andrew Biswell, director of the International Anthony Burgess Foundation, told BBC News. Although the Royal Shakespeare Company premiered a production based on Burgess’s script in 1990, his songs were replaced with compositions by U2’s Bono and The Edge. more

July 13, 2011

JK Rowling ‘writing hard’ on new work

Filed under: Authors — Tags: , , , , , , — Bookblurb @ 7:16 am

Harry Potter author says the end of the film series is ‘a new beginning’

By Alison Flood

JK Rowling: 'I've done quite a lot'. Photograph: Andy Rain/EPA

Start all the clocks and plug the telephone back in: JK Rowling has provided a shred of comfort to the millions of mourners lamenting the release of the final Harry Potter movie with the revelation that she has written “quite a lot” of new material and has plans to publish it.

Speaking at the premiere of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part Two, Rowling told MTV News that “I’m writing, and I’ve done quite a lot since finishing Harry Potter”. She expanded further to BBC News, saying “I think I always felt I didn’t want to publish again until the last film was out because Potter has been such a huge thing in my life. I’ve been writing hard ever since I finished writing Hallows, so I’ve got a lot of stuff and I suppose it’s a question of deciding which one comes out first. But I will publish again. In a sense it’s a beginning for me as well as an end.”

read more

February 9, 2011

Poetry, the creative process and mental illness

Filed under: Authors — Tags: , , — Bookblurb @ 2:41 pm

   By Alex Hudson

Byron was “mad, bad and dangerous to know” according to one lover, Keats was driven to distraction by obsessive love and Sylvia Plath ended her own life.

Depression, madness and insanity are themes which have run throughout the history of poetry.

The incidence of mood disorders, suicide and institutionalisation was 20 times higher among major British and Irish poets between 1600 and 1800 according to a study by psychologist Kay Redfield Jamison.

In other words, poets are 20 times more likely to end up in an asylum than the general population.      …read more

December 28, 2010

Italian crime looks into dark heart of society

European crime fiction, particularly Scandinavian noir, is enjoying a huge boom with novels such as Stieg Larsson’s The Millennium Trilogy and Henning Mankell’s Wallander. But Italian noir is emerging as a force inspired by the dark side of Italian society.

Andrea Camilleri says that crime fiction writers fill a void in society

Faced with the grim reality that many murders go unsolved, Italian writers are drawn to stories that offer no simple resolutions or happy endings.

“We write more noir in Italy than traditional thriller. This is because we are more pessimistic about human nature,” says Giancarlo De Cataldo, who became a crime fiction writer after serving as a judge.

His experience of meeting members of the infamous Rome gang, the Banda Della Magliana, has inspired his novel Romanzo Criminale….read more

      Expand your bookshelf 

Create a free website or blog at

%d bloggers like this: