Hi Isobel thank you for agreeing to talk to me can you start by tell us about your chosen author please.
Iain Banks (1954-2013) was a Scottish author who wrote twenty-three novels, half of them under the name Iain M. Banks, when he was penning his science fiction works based in the Culture universe. He was experimental, wrote across genres, and always with sharp wit and an awareness of the zeitgeist of the times. He enjoyed exploring controversies and conjuring whacky and disturbed characters. His writing has a punchy, urban feel. He wrote with economy, deployed the jump cut method and often wrote from multiple viewpoints. I have learned more from studying his style and techniques than I have from any other author.
Can you tell what first drew your interest to his books?
I was drawn to Iain Banks in the 1980s when I read his debut novel, The Wasp Factory. I was living Bohemian-style in a London squat at the time, and Banks provided something fresh that went with everything else around me – the music and alternative culture I was a part of. Above all, it was obvious right then that Banks was not playing to the mainstream. His early writing appealed to certain sub-cultures on the 1980s and to the radical fringes. He was fearless and prepared to shock. The Wasp Factory will shock and is also highly relevant in today’s cultural climate too, for reasons I won’t go into.
A hard question now, of all the novels he has wrote do you have a favourite ?
A very, very hard question! My favourite is Walking on Glass. This is a novel written from three perspectives. Three protagonists tell three distinct stories and the reader has no idea how these three paths will intersect, but they will. I have to say this is my favourite because I have read it three times.
Where there any books that you did not like or could not get into and why ?
No, none. Even his most obscure writing, such as Excession, had me gripped. I read Excession, like all the Banks’ books I have read, before I became an author. Now I can see the artistry and literary skill in Bank’s writing, coupled with an imagination second to none.
Do you own every one of the authors books and if do what formats do you have them?
No, sadly, I do not. I have owned all of Iain Banks’ non-science fiction novels over the years, but I lend them to people and don’t get them back and end up having to buy another copy. So there is always a shortfall of Banks’ books on my bookshelf. I have introduced many of my friends to Iain Banks over the years and will continue to do so.
If there is somebody reading this interview who hasn't read any of Iain Bank's books
what book would you suggest they start with?
For science fiction, I think a good place to start is with Against a Dark Background. Otherwise, The Wasp Factory. That way, you can see what the author is about. Yet each of his books is distinct and tackles a different theme or issue.
What would be the one question you would have like/ liked to ask him?
I would have enjoyed chatting to him about conspiracy theories. If you could be a character from any one of the books, who would it be and why?
None of them! And for very good reason! Read Iain Banks and then you will know why I say that.
Thank you Isobel always a pleasure to talk to you.