And September's Sebastian Faulks novel is....A WEEK IN DECEMBER (discussion 8pm, Thurs 30 September)

(104 Posts)

September's poll is now closed and we have our winner: A WEEK IN DECEMBER steamed ahead with 49 votes, putting BIRDSONG in second place with 41.

Sebastian will join us for discussion night on Thursday 30 September, kicking off at 8pm and finishing at around 9.30pm.

We also have two tickets to give away for the London theatre production of BIRDSONG - we'll pick a name out of a hat at the end of the evening.

For those that missed it, here were the choices and the September poll results.

And for anyone new to Bookclub, here is how it works.

yUMMYmUMMYb Fri 17-Sep-10 18:11:01

Just to say that i have just been in Tesco and they have this book on their buy one get one free offer. Works out at £4 per book, i also managed to get an easy reading Jodi Picoult. Looking forward to the discussion.

Medee Sun 26-Sep-10 23:07:59

just read this on holiday, shall be interested to see how the discussion goes.

(sainsbury's also has it on a 2 for £7 offer)

Hope everyone's got their mitts on a copy...

As usual, we're sending a few questions over in advance so that the chat can kick off immediately, so please do pop one or two up here and Sebastian will answer those first. And don't forget they can be about any aspect of his career, or any of his books, so don't hesitate (even if you're only halfway through our bookclub winner...)

manfrom Wed 29-Sep-10 10:34:46

Here's a question seeing as no-one else has posted one.

I loved "A week in December."

My question is about mental illness - and its treatment. It features quite heavily in your recent books. What is it that draws you towards this theme? And how do you research it?

Thanks manfrom, I'll pass it on to Sebastian now.
Just a quick reminder to everyone to put any advance q's here today...

Looking forward to tomorrow, see you at 8.

yUMMYmUMMYb Wed 29-Sep-10 11:34:29

I have not quite finished the book yet, have the final day to read before tomorrow.
I am really enjoying it so far, particularly love the concept of how the characters lives link.
My question is similar to manfrom. The detail in the book is exceptional and lots of it is very technical knowledge, for example around financial services. How long did it take to research and then write?
Sure i will have further questions once i have finished reading.

Wheelybug Wed 29-Sep-10 12:42:02

I finished the book a couple of days ago and really enjoyed it although felt I'd maybe missed something at the end so will look forward to being enlightened during the discussions.

I too was going to ask about the research that went into it - there seems to be a lot of different areas which have been thoroughly researched. So I too would be interested tohear about this.

I had another question too but can't remember it so will be back later !

champagnesupernova Wed 29-Sep-10 18:40:03

<marking place>

Saw this thread and went out and bought the book this afternoon So probably won't have finished by tomorrow evening, but children are at school all day so maybe I will just sit and read grin.

ornamentalcabbage Thu 30-Sep-10 00:41:58

Great, marking my place too.

onadietcokebreak Thu 30-Sep-10 09:05:44

<marking place even though I have only managed about 10 pages in 2 weeks blush>

thekidsmom Thu 30-Sep-10 09:48:56

Forgive my ignorance but how do I join in?

I bought (and read!) the book but I don't know how to 'do' the technology bit. Do I just log on to this thread at 8 oclock tonight and bingo! I'll see the posts live?

That will be how it works smile.

Erm I have read one page blush.

Housework/mumsnet/book <considers>

GeraldineMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 30-Sep-10 11:29:43

NoahAndTheWhale - book, book, book!!!

And yes, thekidsmom, just log in as normal and post as normal on this thread.

redandgreen Thu 30-Sep-10 15:39:17

I haven't managed to finish it yet, very much enjoying it.

Not sure I want to hang around tonight because I haven't quite finished (and am not really looking forward to finishing, I would be happy if it were twice as long) and don't want spoilers but I do have a question.

Why did you chose to use made-up versions of things like Facebook, Big Brother, bands, celebrities, computer games, etc?

I can think of loads of possible reasons but am wondering if there was one in particular.

grandmabet Thu 30-Sep-10 16:30:12

I loved the book but had to skip some of the banking and football stuff. And what is it with the cyclist with no lights who kept appearing - did I miss something there? And did you know what the ending was going to be when you started writing in 2005 - did you see the banking crisis coming and if so, are you in the right job?

hocuspontas Thu 30-Sep-10 17:31:23

I'm torn. I'm only up to 'Monday' and don't want to know what happens later! But I do want to talk to SF but I don't have any questions yet! Will bookmark for later I think. Enjoy the discussion everyone.

SebastianFaulks Thu 30-Sep-10 17:34:59


lankyalto Thu 30-Sep-10 18:20:33

I skipped some of the finance 'n' footie too. But I have never read a SF book that I didn't like, although sometimes I really take agin some of his characters, which I think shows how well-drawn they are. My absolute favourite is Charlotte Gray, which I could read and re-read forever. And I loved Engleby, too.

I would like to ask SF what he thinks of film adaptations of books, I loved Cate Blanchett as Charlotte Gray because she fitted in with how Charlotte was in my head. But there have been film adaptations (not of SF) that have made me weep.

How do authors feel? are they often asked to write the screenplay?

PotKettleBlack Thu 30-Sep-10 18:25:23

Hello Sebastian, thanks for coming!

I'm new to bookclub so hope no-one minds me barging in.

I haven't read your new book but have read everything else (I think!) and love your work. Like many people I found you through the Birdsong trilogy, and had you down as a war author who could write exception characters. Then I found On Green Dolphin Street (which made me cry a lot)- again amazing characterization but a big chance in country, period, background.

However I pretty much fell at the hurdle that was Human Traces and I have to admit to having skipped large parts of the more detailed sections - you seemed to have got very into a certain subject and wanted to get down on paper everything you knew. Did you look back at that book and wish you had had a more ruthless editor? Or do you stand by every word?

PotKettleBlack Thu 30-Sep-10 18:26:35

argh -



Evening everyone

Champing at the bit to start, just want to remind anyone who may not have finished A Week In December all that all questions (about previous books, writing life, etc) are welcome, don't hold back.

So... without further ado, I'm thrilled to introduce our Author of the Month, Sebastian Faulks.

Sebastian, thank you very much indeed for joining us tonight. I thought we might kick off with a few of the first advance questions, and then I'll leave it to you:

yummymummyb: The detail in the book is exceptional and lots of it is very technical knowledge, for example around financial services. How long did it take to research and then write?

manfrom: My question is about mental illness - and its treatment. It features quite heavily in your recent books. What is it that draws you towards this theme? And how do you research it?

(and one from me)
TillyBookclub: As many reviewers pointed out, A Week in December is very much a contemporary, state-of-the-nation novel, in contrast to your previous books set in the past. Do you believe novelists have a duty to grapple with the present, to show the way the world really works now?

SebastianFaulks Thu 30-Sep-10 20:00:23

To Yummymummyb:

The book came out in September 2009. I began reseraching in about 2005. I wanted it to be bang up to the minute but things in the finanical world moved very fast. It was at first meant to be about the boom, but then everything went bust and I decided to set it in Dec 2007 which was the last time any half sane person could still think the boom would carry on. I didn’t know much about finance, but I was aware that investment bankers neither banked nor invested. They just gambled. The utter uselessnessof most of what they do cannot be overstated. It is a tragedy that they conned Blair, Brown and so on into thinking they were admirable, to extent that poor Brown said when he opened Lehman Bothers London office, ‘What you have done for the City of London I hope to do for the British economy.’
And he did. He bankrupted it.
Bankers like to pretend that mere mortals can’t understand what they do. That is how they maintian the mystique. But most of it is very easy to understand. They gamble. They keep the winnings with minimal tax and if they lose you and I and Mrs Bloggs with her small savings pick up the tab. Not good. It is the greatest con trick ever perpetrated on the British public.
In all it took about three years to research and write. I made it much shorter than I first intended by squeezing it down into a week. But that was a good decision.
By the way, please forgive my awful typing. A long day.

SebastianFaulks Thu 30-Sep-10 20:01:15

To manfrom:

Mental illness is just the most interesting thing because we are the only creatures to suffer from it. Dogs don’t hear the vocies of other dogs loud in their ears telling them what to do. If we could undertand why one in 100 people is psychotic, broken, we would understand a great deal more about what makes us human, different from other creatures. I did a lot of research for Human Traces and it is all documented at the back of that book.

SebastianFaulks Thu 30-Sep-10 20:05:02

to redandgreen

I chose invented names for all those things because otherwise it sounds too much like journalism. By inventing slightly exaggerated names I hope to point up how absurd the real names are. I mean when and how did it become fine to have a group called Girls on Top?

It also gave me freedom to invent things that happen rather than stick what literally happens in Big Brother or whatever.


atswimtwolengths Thu 30-Sep-10 20:05:39

My question isn't a question, really...

When I was married, my husband and his lover used to swap books, and the ones they loved the most were yours.

He and I used to read the same books, and it was when he was reading Birdsong, but with no interest in my opinion, that I realised something was up.

The thing is, I want to read them, but I can't, because they resonate with memories of that time.

What can I do? Can you help me get past this!

grandmabet Thu 30-Sep-10 20:08:29

I really would like to know why you kept bringing in the cyclist without lights but aM BEGINNING TO THINK IT HAd no significance at all!

champagnesupernova Thu 30-Sep-10 20:09:57

Don't worry about your typing, we're SO excited to have you here. grin

Do you ever give consideration to how your books work in audio format?

Dh and I loved Devil May Care which worked brilliantly in CD

You'll be pleased to hear that I had to buy TWO copies (audio first then paperback) of A week in December as it was q complicated to follow in audio format and I didn't want to run out of time to finish it before tonight. For e.g. I totally missed the lone cyclist that grandmabet refers to blush

atswimtwolengths Thu 30-Sep-10 20:11:36

Re-reads are always great, champagnesupernova.


Didn't end up getting that much reading done but I am looking forward to carrying on with the book

Am trying to decide which is my favourite of your books - probably either The Girl at the Lyon D'Or or Endleby. My question is

Where do your ideas come from? And do you have some ideas that start off but don't end up as books? And are you working on anything at the moment?

SebastianFaulks Thu 30-Sep-10 20:12:27

to yanklato:

Where do you get these names????

Re films:
I thought Cate Blanchett was wonderful as Charlotte Gray but sadly the script did not work and changed a lot of the detail and the story. It was filmed in a way like a David Lean Technicolor pic, like Zhivago, but that style did not suit the material, which is very character-based -- quite internal. There were a couple of scenes they could have filmed in that way -- when the little boys are deported to Auschwitz, but they chose to leave those out.
On the whole film people prefer not to have novelists write the screenplay. They like to keep some mystique about the whole movie business!

A stage adaptation of Birdsong has jsut opened in London at the Comedy Theatre. i recommend it. SF

Another from me..

The style of the book feels Dickensian. But where Victorian London had hulking great factories belching smoke, or hordes of ragged orphans, 21st century London has problems that are so much more ephemeral - social networking, high finance, drugs. They are all detached from reality, rather than actually spewing filth in front of your face. Was it a challenge to describe/satirise these things that are so intangible? Did it differ wildly from your experience describing, say, The Somme, in Birdsong?

MayorNaze Thu 30-Sep-10 20:13:54

evening all, sorry i'm late, there is a blocked drain crisis in the Naze household that i am dealing with solo angry

hello Sebastian

can i just jump in and draw the mn attention to p333 (in my copy anyway), a description of Sophie grin esp the part thus:

"Having brilliant...or charming children was vital. The number also counted in your favour - four or more showed confidence, an unruly sex life and impressive organisational skills."

total mn grinwink

ok back to the literary chinwag grin

zerominuszero Thu 30-Sep-10 20:15:31

SF: If you don't mind, I'd like to ask a question about Engleby. I was wondering what your feelings towards the main character are. Personally, I find him wonderfully endearing and in fact one of my favourite literary characters of all time. And yet, almost everyone he meets in life dislikes him and, of course, he murdered a girl who was totally innocent.

What are your thoughts towards him? Did you want readers to like him? Do you think that readers like him too much?

SebastianFaulks Thu 30-Sep-10 20:16:32

to grandmabet and others

the cyclist!!

it is a fact of living in London that cyclists believe they a re immortal. They never stop at lights, they ride the wrong way up one way streets, they make mobile phone calls while zooming on the pavement (Fine: £80, though never imposed).
At first I put him in as just a detail of London life. Then I thought that maybe I could use him as a symbol. He is what in opera is called (I think; I am not an opera buff) a Leitmotif.
He is meant to show all these very different characters in different parts of the city are somehow connected.

That may not help, but that's the truth of it!

champagnesupernova Thu 30-Sep-10 20:16:58

MayorNaze - I read that Sophie passage aloud to my DH too!

SebastianFaulks Thu 30-Sep-10 20:18:10

To atswimtwolengths

This is beyond my competence!

But I wish you very well in your reading and your loving lives.


JustineMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 30-Sep-10 20:18:44

I'm loving the book though blush am not quite finished. I worked in the City for far too many years in my youth and you've got the culture of the place and characteristics of some of my ex-colleagues spot on. They really are like that, honest. How did you research it - did you hang out in Corney and Barrow drinking champers of an evening?

lankyalto Thu 30-Sep-10 20:19:02

Thanks SF.
I haven't seen the film for some time, and all I really remember is the look of Cate Blanchett, so I take on board what you say.

Wish i could get to the Birdsong play - what do you think of it? how does it transfer to the stage?

And if you think our names are bad so far, you'd better hope AnyFucker doesn't roll in soon...... grin

atswimtwolengths Thu 30-Sep-10 20:19:08

Thanks! I wasn't actually expecting you to resolve it in one fell swoop!

PotKettleBlack Thu 30-Sep-10 20:20:04

hello again. I have another question, of a more general nature. I sometimes manage to hear you on Radio 4 (the literary quiz programme). It always sounds like you're all having fun - is it enjoyable? Would you like to do more radio and TV?

I found the film version of Charlotte Gray frustrating, having read the book first as the book was much better I thought. Had I watched the film first then I probably would have been content.

grandmabet Thu 30-Sep-10 20:21:35

Hi Sebastian

Thanks for your reply. I did think you were probablt having a go at London cyclists but hadn't cottoned on to the drawing together of the characters - very clever!

SebastianFaulks Thu 30-Sep-10 20:21:47

Dear champagne supernova

Wow, these names!

I have not heard all the audios tho I listened to Charlotte Gray this summer and thought it v good. i did one myself, on Green Dolphin Street. I got a v sore throat. I found it a bit annoying when the director broke in and said, 'No, no, Mary wouldn't take that tone here. She's be much more hopeful. Onc e more, please . From the top.'

But I invented the wretched woman!

I am enjoying talking to you all, though my dinner is probably burning.
Still it often is. WE call it 'house style'...


MayorNaze Thu 30-Sep-10 20:21:50

i really liked the relationship between Gabriel and Jenni - kinda sorta a bit like Educating Rita...sort of...

I have to confess that other than A Week...I have not read any other of your books, Sebastian - I did think, however, that your style reminds me a little of David Lodge - have you read any of/do you like his work?

MayorNaze Thu 30-Sep-10 20:24:27

Also Finn's descent into psychosis was brilliant - if all these silly teenagers who think that a "bit of weed" is cool and harmless could be made to read that I bet it would make them stop and think a wee while...

SebastianFaulks Thu 30-Sep-10 20:25:48

To Potkettleblack

Yes the quiz The Write Stuff is great fun. I especially enjoy winding up my dear friend and lethal opponent John Walsh.
We are recording a new series right now and ti will start again soon.

I have spent last year making a four part TV series for BBC2 called Faulks on Fiction, It's about famous characters in novels and it should be shown in Feb 2011.

I am not really a TV person. I look a bit like a frightened rabbit. But it made me admire the Dimblebys and Paxmans of the world a a great deal.


SebastianFaulks Thu 30-Sep-10 20:26:53

To Mayornaze

Not sure I understand all your emoticons but think you liked it.
If not, please don;t burst my bubble now.... S

yUMMYmUMMYb Thu 30-Sep-10 20:27:03

Sebastian, thanks for answering my question. I had always considered bankers held some sort of mystique - now i know that they all just gamble our cash away...
I have infact finished the book and loved it. Thank you mumsnet for introducing me to such a great author, i am ashamed to say i have not read any of your other work.

The cyclist - i found this hugely symbolic and was a great thread running throughout.

John Veals - what a character. It really made me think about my own priorities in life and how he barely noticed his son.

ginghamgiraffe Thu 30-Sep-10 20:27:45

Hello MrFaulks, Am I allowed to interrupt with a non-literary question?

I am 34 weeks pregnant and have no boys' names inspiration and I really like Sebastian. blush

Do you like your name?
What were you called growing up? (I'm guessing not KnivesAnd? <groan>grin)

<bit more back on track>
I've not read any more of your previous books (enjoyed film of C Gray) but did read AWID - blush
Also, R Tranter anguished over Alexander Sedley's biogs and his own - do you?

MayorNaze, I'm with you - I thought of Lodge too. Reminded me of my favourite, Nice Work. They both have that very British type of satire, which Jonathan Coe does very well too.

Sebastian, you mentioned in one interview I read, ages back, think it was Sunday Times, that British novelists are incapable of writing a serious state of the nation novel, because they always fall back to satire/mockery. Whereas Americans take themselves very seriously.

Do you think that's ever going to change? (and I guess this ties in with my first question, about whether you think British novelists have aduty to try and grasp contemporary life)

Wheelybug Thu 30-Sep-10 20:30:07

I was intrigued by the research on the muslim fundamentalists - how did you go about this, or was it best guess as I can't imagine its easy to research !

Also, what happened to Hassan, did they catch up with him or did he live happily ever after ? I was desperate to know !!

SebastianFaulks Thu 30-Sep-10 20:30:49

To zerominus zero

This is a v interesting point.

Engleby is lovable in a way. he says things that some of us may feel but dare not say.
He is unbelievably honest.
But, as you say, he is a murderer.

A friend of mine said how much she liked him. And i said, 'Sure, until you found out what he had done.'
She sighed, looked into the distance, and said, 'No, I still liked him.'

the standards we apply to people in books are different from real life. In books the only sin is not to be interesting. If a character is vital you can forgive him almost anything.

I love Mike Engleby. He is so not me; yet he is like the shadow side of me.
I love him because he worked so well for me.
Antoher character who did that and whom I love to death as a result is Kitty in Human TRaces.

ginghamgiraffe Thu 30-Sep-10 20:31:21

ooh good question wheelybug!

PotKettleBlack Thu 30-Sep-10 20:31:35

To be cheeky and ask yet another question ... who is your favourite character of your own? and who is your favourite character created by any other writer?

MayorNaze Thu 30-Sep-10 20:32:30

Yes Tilly that was exactly the book I was thinking of!! Great minds...grin

Sebastian - please be assured I really enjoyed the book

i am in general a bit emoticon-happy though - sorry blush

Wheelybug Thu 30-Sep-10 20:33:01

A general question too -

Everyone raves about Bird Song (quite rightly) and I would imagine, for many, it is the book that most people think of when they think of you. It is probably my favourite although I read it ages ago. Engleby is a close contender.

Do you have a favourite and why ?

chocoholic Thu 30-Sep-10 20:34:21

I arrived late so still catching up but in the meantime: Whose books do you like to read, what is your favourite and which of yours would you recommend I read next?

SebastianFaulks Thu 30-Sep-10 20:35:13


My research into Islam was mostly reading books. I went to Copenhagen with a suitcase of books, including the Koran, and said I would not emerge until I had understood it al. It was very very interesting.
And sad.

Hassan is fine. he is redeemed by love and by Shahla. And by the fact that his parents, good loving Muslims, look after him.
Unlike the awful financier, John Veals, who doesn;t care about his son.

yUMMYmUMMYb Thu 30-Sep-10 20:36:44

Just wondering if there was any part of the book you could re-write, which would it be?

I may be odd, but i kind of found myself wanting Hassan to proceed with his task?? Not that i would ever think this in real life, but i thought it would be the ultimate link for all the characters...

Wheelybug Thu 30-Sep-10 20:37:21

Thank you - and thank you for setting my mind at rest about Hassan grin. I found the Islam/political thread very interesting and informative.

zerominuszero Thu 30-Sep-10 20:38:26

SF: Many thanks for answering my question, I suppose it can be filed up there with the 'Pat Bateman from American Psycho' discussion.

Afraid I haven't got round to buying your latest yet, hence my question on Engleby, but I will make sure I do soon. And as a completely irrelevant aside, my father in law apparently vaguely knew you when you both worked at the Independent. He says you were a nice guy. So there you go.

Thanks again

Wheelybug Thu 30-Sep-10 20:38:38

I agree Yummy - I think that's where it felt it was all heading so was - in a peverse kind of way - a let down when it didn't happen. But a good twist (and nice to have a happy ever after....)

SebastianFaulks Thu 30-Sep-10 20:39:46

Wheelybug and others

My favourite book of mine is Human Traces, though I love Birdsong and am grateful to it for the way ti changed my life.
I want to write one more that I think it on a par with those two. I think Charlotte Gray, Engleby and The FAtal Englishman were my next best shots.

My favourite character is Kitty in Human Traces, though I do love Charlotte too. And Mike Engleby.

My favourite characters b others include Joe Gargery in Great Expectation, Emma in "Emma" and John Self in Martin Amis's novel "Money". A monster but a vital one!

Wheelybug Thu 30-Sep-10 20:41:33

Actually Human Traces is the only hole in my Sebastian Faulks repertoire. I am sure I have it but for some reason haven't read it. I shall rectify that very soon !

Sebastian, you are doing sterling work - just thought I'd flag up a few questions from further up the thread, in case they get lost (apologies if you're already answering them):

JustineMumsnet: How did you research the bankers- did you hang out in Corney and Barrow drinking champers of an evening?

Noahandthewhale: Where do your ideas come from? And do you have some ideas that start off but don't end up as books? And are you working on anything at the moment?

ginghamgiraffe: What were you called growing up?
And R Tranter anguished over Alexander Sedley's biogs and his own - do you?

SebastianFaulks Thu 30-Sep-10 20:42:50

to Tilly

Yes it is a state of the nation book. It could be called The Way We Live Now, if Trollope hadn’t nicked that one. I’m not sure about ‘duty’ but I thought it would be interesting. The book turne d out much more angry than I expected. I think the flight from reality into electronic escape is really worrying. We have access to knowledge, but we don’t have knowledge in our heads any more. It’s too much like hard work. The generation now in its twenties and thirties is the first for perhaps two hundred years in Europe who will end up knowing less in aggregate than its parents. This is the opposite of education. It is appalling.
Knowing things in your own head, full understanding them, is important. If Tony Blair had known much history he would not have invaded Iraq.
The question about why English/British writers can’t write like Bellow, Updike or Roth is a very complex one. But Gabriel has some thought s on it in AWID!

I also go into it in Faulks on Fiction, the book that will accompany the TV progs in FEb

JustineMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 30-Sep-10 20:43:00

Re John Veals and his son, I worked with a guy who absolutely refused to leave the office before 6.30 however bored he was because he didn't want to get home before bedtime in case he had to interact with his son. As an aside, he also referred to the female administrator as Woof Woof. Nice fellow.

ginghamgiraffe Thu 30-Sep-10 20:45:08

shock Justine - that's awful about your ex-colleague.

Sebastian Did you play lots of SecondLife?

SebastianFaulks Thu 30-Sep-10 20:45:09


Being called Sebastian was a bit of a trial when you were trying to get a game of darts in a pub aged 17 and everyone else was called Bill and John and Nick.
\But I have grown to like it. And it is now much more usual. Lots of Europeans are called it.

And it is my younger son;s second name, so I must have come round it it.

Seb was the usual shortening, especially on the football field...

ElectricSoftParade Thu 30-Sep-10 20:46:13

Swoons Sebastian! Am so excited to actually type at you! Right, will stop with the exclaimation marks!! Now.

My all time best book is Birdsong. Cannot tell you how much I adore the book. Have you been very involved with the theatre production? Am looking forward to seeing it soon.

Scampers off with a spring in her tail and to continue reading A Week in December ESP

ginghamgiraffe Thu 30-Sep-10 20:46:54

Thank you grin

SebastianFaulks Thu 30-Sep-10 20:47:44


I would probably cut a bit more of the financial detail -- though I cut it by half from the first draft.

When I planned the book, Hassan did succeed in his bomb plot.
But I realised half way through that although it is any angry book, it is also a comedy at heart -- or a satire at least.
And comedies must end not with the deaths of individuals but with a sense that society as whole will somehow carry on.
Also, it gave me a good twist, I felt.

ElectricSoftParade Thu 30-Sep-10 20:50:00

Remember when I commuted to London every day and always used the same carriage. There were several people reading Birdsong and we used to look, with a knowing nod to each other, saying "Oooohhh, which bit are you up to?"

Haven't read Engleby but will. Blooming children, they do get in the way...

SebastianFaulks Thu 30-Sep-10 20:50:12

gingham giraffe
I played second life for a bout an hour.
it made me want to shoot myself.

yUMMYmUMMYb Thu 30-Sep-10 20:52:24

Very good twist.
Have you ever thought about becoming a politician? Seems you have a better understanding of society than most.

carriemumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 30-Sep-10 20:53:46

I listened to this as an audio book over the summer and thought whoever read it did a great job with some cracking material - worth a listen if anyone wants to catch up and multi task - I could make sandcastles and watch child/ren in pool while "reading" a fab book... Anyway MN top tips aside.....

Contrary to others I was so happy that Hassan didn't go through with it - but everyone knows I'm a sucker for a happy ending Did you speak to anyone who had had contacts with Muslim fundamentalists - and - at the risk of getting you into a fatwah situation do you think fundamentalism is a form of mental illness?

Also want to know if you've been challenged by any bankers since you wrote this (not going to comment on their mental state) grin

Loving Engleby at the moment - tho now of course know whodunnit....

snice Thu 30-Sep-10 20:54:49

Its interesting that Human Traces is your favourite of your books-would you agree that its maybe the least accessible? i enjoyed it but found it harder work then say Birdsong and Engleby.

I really enjoyed On Green Dolphin Street which hasn't been mentioned much

SebastianFaulks Thu 30-Sep-10 20:55:04

potketle black

On Human Traces. WEll there was tons I knew and id not put in.
It was very very hard to decide how much details people could bear. I took a lot of advice and much of it was contradictory!
I could perhaps go over it again and take out five per cent of Jacques' lecture and five per cent of Thomas's.
but that's about it.
What I tried to do was to reward the reader. so once you finishe done of the medical bits you had a nice comic or loe scene to relax with.
i do think about my readers a lot.
I try to find a balance between what I want to ell you and what I feel you can take -- if you see what I mean!

Thank you. I think you are right to be angry, everything that is created now is so short-termist, whether government policies or internet companies. It all seems to glorify the fast buck or the famous 15 minutes.

Went to see Tamara Drewe at the cinema last night, some similar points in there, especially with the bored teenagers full of celebrity gossip. Wondered if you'd seen it, and what you thought of Nicolas Hardiment and the writers retreat... made me laugh a lot.

Looking forward to BBC series very much, will keep eye out for the book.

PotKettleBlack Thu 30-Sep-10 20:57:31

Thanks for all your answers Sebastian - hope my question didn't offend. I am a big fan. I will revisit Human Traces - I suspect it well deserves a re-reading to take in more of the detail.

SebastianFaulks Thu 30-Sep-10 20:58:16


yes Human Traces is the hardest to read. But I think the rewards are correspondingly greater.

Glad you like Dolphin Street. It was a transitional book for me. I had almost run out of things to say but could not look into that abyss.

I could not understand what it was about until quite late on. it is about dying. Mary's mother. And how love feels or can feel almsot indistinguishable from dying.

Once I understood what it was about, I liked it more. It was a nightmare to write as I had to keep going to New York for ideas. Cost a fortune!

grandmabet Thu 30-Sep-10 20:58:52

I'm glad you think about your readers so please, i n your next book, cut down on the football. Being surrounded by football fanatics as I am, I really didn't want to read about it in a novel, however well it was written.

SebastianFaulks Thu 30-Sep-10 21:00:31


I had a hard time when the book came out and some horrible man (not a true muslim, a rabble rouser now I think expelled form this country) tried to make trouble.

As for bankers, there has been no come back. Few of them read. Also they don;t understand what the problem is. They operate in a closed world where profit is the only Good.

\If you raise ethical question they do not understand them.


SebastianFaulks Thu 30-Sep-10 21:02:32

To everyone:

This has been very good fun. i have loved talking to you all.
But unlike the characters in A Week in December, I have a love of Real Life.
I must now re-engage with it -- with my wife, my daughter, little boy and charred dinner.

Thank you very much for having me on your site.

Happy reading to you all.


Wheelybug Thu 30-Sep-10 21:03:16

Thank you !!

runningfast Thu 30-Sep-10 21:03:19

I really enjoyed the book, the characters were so well written that I began to feel that I knew them and would like to know what happens next. Any chance of a sequel?

SebastianFaulks Thu 30-Sep-10 21:03:43

PS Grandmabet

No more football. EVer . Promise!

JustineMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 30-Sep-10 21:05:18

Thanks so much for coming on, Sebastian - great chat. I won't take it personally that you skipped my question, not least because Birdsong is one of my fave books ever smile.
Come back soon!

Sebastian, thank you so much for a brilliant night - you have made it highly informative and entertaining. I'm about to hunt down Human Traces (only book of yours I haven't read) and can't wait to see what you write next.

And congratulations again on a fantastic book.

Many thanks.

ginghamgiraffe Thu 30-Sep-10 21:06:33


bebee Thu 30-Sep-10 21:07:04

I struggled with some of the financial stuff and afraid it just went over my head - but didn't spoil my enjoyment of the book - got the gist that what he was doing was wrong! But did you not find it hard to come to grips with? I loved the relationship between the lawyer and the train driver (sorry haven't got book with me and have no memory these days). I also really loved the dinner party - made me howl. I can see why folks ask you about research for muslim and city bits (and second life ) but did you have to research other bits or were they based on folks/situations you knew or just imagined.

Goodbye - hope your food isn't charred

bebee Thu 30-Sep-10 21:08:24

whoops - typical - lurk for ages then just too late... ah well

Thanks anyway!

ElectricSoftParade Thu 30-Sep-10 21:09:23

Thanks Mr Faulks. Always a pleasure. grin

bebee (and any other lurkers) - that's probably my fault: I advertised the chat ending at 9.30 but Sebastian could only do an hour.

Apologies to anyone whose questions remain unanswered - I reckon we might have to ask Sebastian to come back when his telly series is on, and he can finish off then...

Thanks to everyone for a great evening.

MayorNaze Thu 30-Sep-10 21:17:27

sorry i disappeared - drain issues angry

thank you Sebastian (and Tilly!) - really interesting chat and will definitely work my way through the rest of your books

yUMMYmUMMYb Thu 30-Sep-10 21:20:42

Thanks for a great evening, much more interesting than watching tv!

Medee Thu 30-Sep-10 21:33:57

that was an interesting discussion, and certainly added to my appreciation of the book. I felt that the fake names rather left a false note for me - it was obvious what they were meant to be rather than just a satire on a genre. Plus, I am not sure I understood why a long stay mental hospital was the target of a bomb plot. But otherwise I really enjoyed its pace, and characters, handily summarised on P5 so I could keep referring back when I forgot who was who!

When do we find out who won the tickets please?

rebeccamumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 01-Oct-10 09:23:35

blush better late than never, the winner of the two tickets to see Birdsong is .. ElectricSoftParade

Congratulations! check your inbox.

ElectricSoftParade Sat 02-Oct-10 08:39:28

THRILLED! You have made my day and weekend!! HURRAH!! THANK YOU!

lude2 Thu 05-Apr-12 05:54:49

please help!!!! write the summury of the chapter 4 and 5 this book!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now