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tv   Meet the Author  BBC News  December 18, 2016 10:45pm-11:01pm GMT

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that nick skelton and the brownlees is in keeping —— tremendous victory. very quickly, do you have your christmas jumpers? are you wearing them? he got one. no, i haven't! he said he had a really good one. the front of the daily telegraph, asking what colin firth's christmas jumper did to land us a pub ban. what's the story? pubs and restaurants, it seems to be in yorkshire, actually. there you go! apparently saying people who are wearing them are too boisterous, creating a nuisance and so boisterous, creating a nuisance and so they are keeping them out. sounds like my husband, he's from yorkshire. people are delicate, on the way here i was accosted. horrible, no, stop it! we need a tweet of both of you in your jumpers. no! fluffy, is it? laughter is wonderful, thank you very much.
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that's it for the papers for the moment. we'll be back at 11.30 for round two. but if you can't stay with us for that, all the front pages are online on the bbc news website where you can read a detailed review of the papers, seven days a week at bbc.co.uk/papers. next, though, it's meet the author. a man is adrift after a storm at sea. lost, convinced it's the end of him. we don't know who he is, how exactly he came to be there, and nor, for much of the time, does he. that's the story of cove, the latest short novel from the pen of cynanjones, who's developed a highly distinctive style in books like the dig, that lets him turn his characters inside out. like this man, drifting alone in his kayak, looking
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for land and safety, who says that his memory is now like a dropped pack of cards. welcome. in a way, cynan, this book is a simple description of absolute terror, isn't it? it is. it's a man blinded by a flash of light, if you want to call it that, and in the thrall of that with an underlying idea that there is much more than his own encapsulation in that sudden moment, sort of thing. it's a really difficult thing to try and transmit in writing. he loses everything. he thinks he's going to lose his life. he loses his mind in some ways, there's a wonderful moment
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where he sees the label on a bag in the kayak. and he says, with his name on it, and he says it's like looking into an empty cup. it's all gone. how difficult was it to imagine what that feeling is like? i think a lot of what i do comes from the process that i have of building a story in my mind before going near the desk. so i like to start writing after i can see something, and i write as if i'm remembering. i don't want to discuss what we learn at the beginning of the book too much, because it might spoil it a little bit for people who are going to read it. but i think what we can say is that it's a picture of someone who is utterly alone for the whole story, in practice. that's a very difficult thing for most of us to imagine, isn't it? it's difficult for people to imagine. it's a very difficult thing to write, which i realised as soon as i started trying to write it. why? because there's no reference points. previously my books have been about people with very solid
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ground under their feet. and what i wanted to do, because i believe you should always be learning when you write, was to take that ground away, take the relationships away, take the location people had in previous novels away, and write about a character who was, as you say, utterly alone. at that point, how do you bring the otherness into a narrative? it does ask the question, i think, are we ever alone? which sounds slightly cliched, but is it possible, with the consciousness that we have, to ever really be alone? and the book really asks that. and his contact, for example, with a sunfish that comes along and is about as big as his boat. it turns out not to want to attack him but to be with him, and possibly steers the thing in a helpful direction. now, is that an example of what we all do when we do think we're alone, we create patterns in a random universe to try and make sense of it? absolutely. and i think it's also a result of growing up where i grew up, when you're constantly surrounded by the natural environment and the things in nature.
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and you do, regardless of how cynical you always sound about not having a spirituality, you simply create narratives through them. you see a lot of the world play out, a lot of human conditions play out, in cameo, in small ways, in the world around you. and i think something like the sunfish device, yes, you'd give it meaning, wouldn't you? and the other thing that you get from these natural descriptions, which are wonderful in the book, is that sense of unchannelled power that is just going to have its way with you, whatever you do? you're much smaller than it. that's something which you recognise as soon as you're out on the water. there's a sort of safe zone where you feel quite comfortable, quite connected, but there's a distance from land when that platform of the kayak, which is the only land under yourfeet, becomes very obviously frail. have you ever had, at sea, a moment of terror that touches on this story? i mean, have you felt that moment
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of being, as it were, adrift? yes, and it's very sudden. you can be entirely calm, but at the next moment there's just a lurch in the boat, a tip in the boat. your line catches on something, and the boat sort of halts. the only reaction is an animal one. i've had a long time growing up being on the sea in different ways. the experience that he goes through with the dolphins happened when i was 16, night fishing. a friend of mine essentially passed out with the cold, and they came and they played around the boat. i've been in the sea when it has hailed, and you hear the hailstones hissing around you. i've been tipped out of the kayak in a very sudden squall. you amalgamate these experiences. they last for a very long time. they simmer for a very long time before they find route into a novel, i think. it sounds from what you say, about the way you come to a story through memory after you've been through the idea in your own head meticulously, that you pair it down
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almost like a sculptor starting with a bit of stone and getting down to its essence. is that how you see it? yes, to throw away any what i call "passenger writing". and i think that's driven by a great trust in the reader. i write because i love to read, it's a side effect of that. so trusting the reader to have that creative ability themselves to build the rest of the picture means i then pair it back to a point where you're just triggering their mind. one of the things you've done as a writer, long before you got to this book, is to dispense with quotation marks in the normal way in which people speak. and you represent the man here from the third person — he is he, but it's quite often you. he becomes somebody who is out there, but is also inside of us. i mean, you find that mechanism useful? i think it's a great myth of narrative that you have to pick one or the other. we don't live like that.
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we're constantly panning and closing up to ourselves, i think. shifting perspective? shifting perspective constantly. and what i wanted to do, with the tense changes, those devices you talked about, was to create a sense of ebb and flow, of left and right paddle, of peak and trough. i needed the whole... i needed the surface, the narrative layer, to be shifting like the water. and if you want the reader to be inside the kayak, not to say inside the man, then that all helps, because it declutters the way you tell the story. i think so. i mean, ithink, having written it, the way i feel about it is quite filmic. i see it visually. i can see the camera spilling out from the boat, i can see the close—up of the hands. but not necessarily through the eyes of the character, if that makes sense. no, indeed. sometimes you are, but in the way that the camera can do that. it's a shifting focus. read us a little bit, including that natural description. maybe the moment which is
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a crisis in the book. and this is not giving anything away, i mean, he's clearly somebody who believes he's going to come to grief as a result of a storm, an amazing flash of lightning. just read that passage to us. the first lightning strikes out somewhere past the horizon. at first, he thinks it's some sudden glint. the thunder happens moments later, and he feels sick in his guts. a metallic sheen comes to the water, like cutlery, like metal much touched. and you've seen that yourself? i've been there, and not gladly, not hit by lightning. but i've certainly been on the water when the electricity about you changes. and it's this extraordinary collective process, you go beyond thought, in some respects. the hairs on your arms go up. you feel that you are, as you said earlier, in the thrall of something far bigger than you. do you think that what we should feel, as we get to the end of the story, is relief at the strength of,
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you know, the human spirit, whatever we call it? or is it one of, i don't know, terror at the forces that we're never going to be able to tame? what i was trying to do, because there is neverjust one ending, you always choose the one that's strongest after you've written several. what i was trying to do was to put those questions to the reader, for them to answer, depending on the characters or the state of mind after the book or the general state of mind. so i think there is very much room for both, and that was hard fought for in the writing. cynanjones, thank you very much. thank you. looks like the christmas weather will be more windy than white and that means next weekend will be very different from this weekend. some problematic fog but fairly quiet and a fine view from the rspb reserve
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in east yorkshire. parts of england and wales have had fog and will get more tonight, some dense patches, especially south—east wales, the midlands and southern england. north—west scotland with some rain arriving. maybe a few pockets of frost but it the fog we are concerned about in the morning, especially in england and wales, patchy but dense in places. it has impacted travel over the last few days and it may be problematic on monday morning, so check the situation near you. here's a snapshot of eight o'clock in the morning, misty and murky, even if you aren't in the fog and temperatures at this stage close to what they have been all weekend, five, six, seven but plenty of dry weather. for scotland and northern ireland a weather front is edging in from the atlantic. weak but reducing outbreaks of rain especially to the western highlands. that is going to spread
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south—eastwards through the rest of scotland and northern ireland through the day. not a huge amount of rain left but damp for a time. behind it some of us may brighten up for the end of the day. england and wales, emphasis on cloud rather than sunshine, some patchy rain through parts of the east and south—east. if you start with fog, visibility slowly improving but temperatures still in single figures. as we go into monday night, clear skies mean a night for scotland and northern ireland, so more could have frost. plenty of cloud in england and wales. patchy rain around. brighter skies developing elsewhere in england. then quite a change on the way to the far north—west, parts of scotland and northern ireland turning windier, getting heavier rain moving in, pushing south—eastwards during the day on wednesday and that is the first of a number of weather systems coming our way later this week. we are starting the week with high—pressure, mainly dry, quiet. from midweek onwards,
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turning wetter and windier at times and it looks like that sort of weather will take us right through to christmas. this is bbc news. the headlines at 11: in syria, reports that the evacuation of trapped civilians in eastern aleppo has resumed. buses and ambulances are reported to be taking people out of the city. it comes as the un security council agrees a draft resolution ensuring un officials can monitor the evacuation of the city. members will vote tomorrow. gun attacks injordan kill at least nine people, including a canadian tourist. ahead of another strike by southern rail conductors tomorrow, the rmt leader, mick cash, dismisses claims his union is using the dispute to take on the government. and the bbc sportsperson of the year
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