WILLIAM BOYD Q&A

(46 Posts)

The delightful William Boyd, author of ANY HUMAN HEART which is set to replace Downton Abbey as Sunday night's must-watch telly, has agreed to do an emailed Q&A exclusively for Mumsnet.

Please post all your questions here, and we'll gather them together by next Tuesday 23 November. We'll aim to post the answers the following Tuesday 30 November (timing to be confirmed).

So to avoid missing out, please post all your queries before 10am next Tuesday 23 November

We also have 10 copies of ANY HUMAN HEART to giveaway, names to be picked out of a hat next Tuesday. So if you fancy a free Christmas present (as recommended here), get your question up here quick and you might get to read it before the TV tells you the ending..

FiveGoMadInDorset Tue 16-Nov-10 20:09:10

I have thoroughly the three books I have read and have another two in the queue. I enjoyed Any Human Heart so much that I googled to see if he existed in real life blush

Now to my shame I can't remember the title of the book which friends say I need to read but mentions, Lulworth Cove Durdle Door and the Weld family I think? Was that because you stayed down here, or have some connection to the area.

FiveGoMadInDorset Tue 16-Nov-10 20:16:24

Brazzaville Beach

Hassled Tue 16-Nov-10 21:53:51

Oh my word! How fantastic - I LOVE William Boyd. Will have to go away and think of a coherant question.

dollius Tue 16-Nov-10 22:32:13

Any Human Heart bears a strong resemblance to The Confessions, by Rousseau, which you also adapted as a novel - The New Confessions. Are you attracted by this "biopic" style, and can you give more insight into your interest in Rousseau? What do you think Rousseau was trying to tell us?

aristocat Tue 16-Nov-10 22:47:42

i was blown away by your book Any Human Heart and i am now reading Ordinary Thunderstorms.

can you please tell me what your favourite childrens book is?

thanks smile

AitchTwoOh Tue 16-Nov-10 23:14:51

oh brilliant. i've seen the first ep of Any Human Heart already and really, really loved it. how hard did you find adapting your own work in this instance?

boudoiricca Wed 17-Nov-10 09:50:30

Oh, what an honour, William I think you are absolutely the best modern novelist and I love your books and recommend them to everyone (esp. Any Human Heart). I think you capture and express the atmosphere and essence of places brilliantly and I personally particularly love all your Africa stories. Anyway, I shall stop gushing.

Am I allowed to ask questions about your other work?

I find your female characters fascinating (Hope in Brazzaville Beach captured me originally, but also Eva (and Ruth) in Restless). I think it's quite unusual for an author to be so utterly convincing when writing in another gender.

Do you pay particular attention to this and have techniques to address it, or do all the characters present themselves to you equally strongly regardless of sex?

Thank you.

lalalonglegs Wed 17-Nov-10 09:59:06

Hi William

Thanks for coming to chat.

Each of your books seems very different in its setting and tone - how difficult do you find it to jump between different eras and countries or is researching a book half the fun for you (I can no longer pass Chelsea Bridge without seeing that scrap of land and thinking that's where Adam lived)?

There are, I think, quite marked similarities between New Confessions and Any Human Heart - were you dissatisfied with Confessions and wanted to revise it or did you find having this quite Zelig-like character a useful device.

(I love Any Human Heart but won't be watching the series because I'm frightened it will spoil the book.)

llll

I think my favourite book of yours is Restless and I have a few 'all time favourite' books by other authors.

What is your all time favourite novel?
what is your all time favourite William Boyd novel (don't be shy now )?

Thank you

GettinTrimmer Wed 17-Nov-10 19:23:35

After finishing Ordinary Thunderstorms I felt there may be room for a sequel - Jonjo seemed determined to return and sort Adam out for good!

Would you consider it? I just found Adam a really interesting and resourceful character.

I have a copy of Any Human Heart and agree with lala to avoid watching the tv series until I've read it.

dinkydoos Wed 17-Nov-10 19:23:59

Hi There,

I have really loved all your books, but got utterly absorbed in Any Human Heart. So much so, that when I had finished it, I was truly devestated that Logan Mountstuart wasn't going to be in my life anymore - it was almost like a bereavement! Do you ever get this feeling - and especially with this book?

Thanks!

Shellbell72 Thu 18-Nov-10 11:46:21

I thoroughly enjoyed Any Human Heart, one of my all time favourites, but I must admit my heart sank a little when I heard it was going to be adapted for t.v.
I am still not sure whether to watch as so many adaptations just don't match up to the book/story - do you recommend it?
Thank you for your wonderful books.

Won't be able to watch this on our telly as we only get BBC channels. My husband adores you (in a manly way of course) and buys all of your books as soon as they come out.
Would you like to come to dinner in Antwerp?

Dear William,
Can you describe the processes you go through to commit a book to script format, especially for TV format?
Secondly does the money made from selling your book for this purpose make the hard work worth it?
Thirdly, I'd also like to invite you for dinner on the Cote d'Azur anytime you are free,( you can find my details on Mumsnet) - we promise to have other interesting dinner guests for you to enjoy non-literary dinner conversation too!

Keep it up we love your work!

Helen

OOOH pick me William, we had Stephen Leather to ours for dinner when we lived in Bangkok. I can cook anything you fancy (he had shepherds pie if it is an inducement).

GettinTrimmer Thu 18-Nov-10 16:24:26

I remember watching Armadillo a few years ago. Hugh Bonneville and James Frain were in it and imo it was a good representation of the book.

greatestaunt Thu 18-Nov-10 21:11:04

Dear William,

What sets apart novelists who also have a facility writing screenplays? Do you have a preference? Do you prefer adapting your own work, or another work of fiction?
Like many others, Any Human Heart is my favourite novel. My sister and I are quite different and I was taken aback to learn it was her's too. Many posters mention it. It's really touched a chord, you must be proud. I hope.

KittyFoyle Thu 18-Nov-10 22:20:01

Thankyou William - you have enhanced my life and I have bought loads of Any Human Hearts for my friends.

My husband ADORES Any Human Heart and is terrified the TV version won't measure up. How much control did you have over this one so he knows who to blame?

Also, I love Earthly Powers by Anthony Burgess. Did that book have much of an influence on Any Human Heart? Both are in my top 10 books.

PS I saw you walking past the Young Vic last year and raised a glass to your back. Cheers!

Punkatheart Fri 19-Nov-10 08:17:32

How far do you plan your novels? Are you a post-it-pad obsessive, chart-maniac or do you leave a certain amount of space for the stories to unravel? How much do you enjoy the magic of a character claiming its own existence, with you taken along for the ride?

OMaLittle Fri 19-Nov-10 14:26:13

For me, The New Confessions and Any Human Heart are a complementary pair - whilst both excellent as standalone novels, they also work incredibly well together as a study of memory and the lenses of time/regret/pride. Both told in the first person, John's book is a memoir, and Logan's is a journal (I think the lawyers call it contemporaneous?), so John's story is told from the point of view of the final John, as it were, whilst Logan's is told from the point of view of the person who is experiencing it at the time. Was this a conscious choice, and did you hope that readers of AHH would be familiar with TNC?

Lio Fri 19-Nov-10 16:21:45

I was also going to ask about whether your ace female characters in Brazzaville Beach and Restless came as naturally as your male characters, but Boudoiricca put it much better.

alicatte Fri 19-Nov-10 21:04:38

I first read Armadillo - a long long time ago (I live near Monken Hadley) and found the whole idea of the 'armadillo - shielding' we put up to define ourselves fascinating - although of course I could have read it all wrong, I often do. I have read a few of your novels and get an impression of 'blind chance' being totally in control of your characters lives - is this one of your themes or am I, yet again, completely mistaken.

My overwhelming favourite from your novels though is Restless which somehow seems to still live with me - even now. I thought Eva was a fabulous character - I don't know how you managed to take a 'spy novel' and write characters that were so believable. Thank you.

chocoholic Sat 20-Nov-10 18:47:25

I haven't heard of this before so should I watch or record and read it first? (I'd be happy to win a copy!! grin)

Before it was filmed, did you have any say in which actors played each character?

Were there any surprises for you as to how the characters were brought to life?

Do you enjoy watching it on the screen?

Looking forward to reading some more of your books

Lilymaid Sat 20-Nov-10 18:57:46

I'm reading Ordinary Thunderstorms and although I am now enjoying the book, I found the beginning realy unconvincing. Others probably disagree. Obviously, to get Adam into this half world of people without real names and identity trails, there had to be a sequence of unusual events, but why didn't he fess up immediately or when he went to the police station? (I haven't finished the book, so it may be that something will be revealed about Adam's psychology which would explain this).

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