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tv   Meet the Author  BBC News  July 29, 2017 11:45pm-12:01am BST

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people who go and watch them. -- their fellow. cycling went through this. they had to do a very big cleanup. huge. lance armstrong, as we ormeau, was using drugs and cheating right the way through. —— as we all know. five years ago we we re as we all know. five years ago we were basking in the glory of everything that the london olympics was. it was great. what is so awful is that for the people who really worked their socks off, they may have missed out on medals and stuff like that, and who wants to compete with cheaters? it's not the same if you work hard and you are stripped of the title, you weren't there on the day to receive the title. the sunday times, let them eat pheasant says be the botham. this is ian botham, cricketing hero, walker extraordinaire and he's a land owner and a pheasant shoot. he hasjoined
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forces with something called the country food trust. there are huge concerns about the number of people using food banks and there's a move within the countryside to provide people with cheap and readily available food, such as pheasant. sue reeve, known as mrs very picky on twitter, reminds us, there you are, reminds us that only non— perishable food is good for food banks but they have a coming plan to turnit banks but they have a coming plan to turn it into easy cook meals. exactly. they don't have to hang them and pluck them. if you can do that it seems ideal. the hunting lobby are going to be pretty furious. why? they don't like shooting pheasants and partridges. you mean the antihunting lobby? they don't like shooting pheasants and partridges. a lot of people go on corporate shoots and they don't even
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ta ke corporate shoots and they don't even take them home. if the food is wasted then put it in a food bank. it's notjust food banks, it is froze n it's notjust food banks, it is frozen pies and curries and things like that. pheasant curry, i've never never tried that! there's a thought, saturday night, sunday lunch, not sure! that's it for the papers this hour. thank you nigel nelson, political editor of the sunday mirror and political commentatorjo phillips. coming up next it's meet the author. you've decided to cast away historical setting and get rid of real characters that we might know and gone into fantasy — if it's a word you're happy with. why? i've always loved historicalfiction. i've always read it and my entire career has been built around it, but i've also always read fantasy and the big difference,
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to some extent, is the freedom. in historicalfiction you have to check every single fact, otherwise somebody will e—mail you — a roman re—enactor, something along those lines. but with fantasy it felt like i had a slightly... the reins were off. i didn't have too stop in the middle of a see them think, "did they have sidesaddle in this particular...?" hang on, she's a woman on a horse, would she have been riding sidesaddle? which is my constant experience in historicalfiction. you make it up. well, exactly, you have that freedom. in historicalfiction, you do feel the constraints because it has to be as accurate as possible, you have to find a story in the real history. of course, you've got an army of readers and they've enjoyed ancient rome, the mongol empire, the wars of the roses, and so on. they've trusted me. they've trusted you. and they've felt at home, they've enjoyed the setting. it's risky, you know, taking them into a city that doesn't exist.
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it is and it's almost like starting again. there is no way to sugar that pill. it is a completely different audience. some people won't touch it. i've always thought that historical fiction and fantasy are the closest genres. there are certain elements — the thrill of a battle, for example, can be very similar. of course. and it depends how you do it. i don't have any dragons in mind, although george rr martin has done very well with them. well, there's a bit of magic in this book. it's not harry potter magic in the sense that lives aren't governed by it, but it's very much there. there's a kind of superstition that becomes real. yes. the point about it really is i wanted to have as few constraints as possible. an awful lot of stories, at their heart, about characters making some discovery about themselves and i wanted to use magic to bring those discoveries about. i wanted characters to be able to move on and through various devices and then bring them all together at the end. we are talking about a city whose great era is passed. i mean, it's a bit like venice with the empire gone. yes, they're worn out. it's all worn out. tired.
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and there is an unhappy figure on the throne. this is a very familiar setting, in a way, for an historical novelist. a miserable young man and various families all struggling for power. to some extent there's always that basis in reality. you can't simply have, i don't know, walls disappearing in the middle of a scene. you have to have it as real as possible and then add that extra element that i've always fa ntasised about myself, which is the ability to do something extraordinary. that's what makes a good story, iwould hope. there's an interesting comparison between this book, which i think is the beginning of a trilogy, is that right? the empire of salt. well, we'll see if you can control yourself and keep it as a trilogy. it will be the first trilogy i've ever done. it might end up being four. you are very prolific. dunstan came out only two, three months ago, and that's an interesting book, because it's set, as it has been you're wont up to now, in a particular historical period, in the england of what people misleadingly called the dark ages. it's told in the first person, which you've never done before. no. to some extent i do like to challenge myself,
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but i came across dunstan when i was reading dickens's a child's history of britain to my children, as i'm sure you do. he described dunstan, who was a saint and archbishop of canterbury, as a complete rogue and involved in the selling into slavery of a queen. so... you thought, "hang on." i thought this is a good character here. i thought if he's both a monster and a saint at the same time, then i've got another genghis khan, if you like, which is too strong. but i liked genghis because he was hated by his enemies and loved by his own family. i look for that sort of humanising quality. i want them to be rich and varied and interesting, as he is. and, of course, it's a very interesting period in english history. it is, is fascinating, because its book ended by athelstan, the first king of england, who also was king of scotland. yes. yes, constantine came down. he had coins made with "rex totius britanniae", and a fair claim to being an actual king of britain. but, of course, that only lasted as long as his short reign, which is 11! years. it's 910—988, something like that. 400 years after the romans had
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been their for half a millennium. and, of course, you've written about caesar and augustus and the rest of them and this is the beginning, really, after a gap, of what happened after the romans had gone. yes, to some extent this is the run—up, of course, to 1066. these are the kings that people probably don't know, but they are the only ones with great stories. and the nice thing about dunstan is his life crossed seven kings, so he went from athelstan at the beginning to ethelred the unready and, through those seven kings, we have the beginning of the modern world. and you've told the story through dunstan‘s voice. yes. a wonderful opening line, i hope i've got it right — what is an opening line but a door being opened by an unseen hand? something like that, sorry if i've got... but opening lines are important. that's a good one. it is, but that's the beginning of the prologue. the beginning of the first chapter is "i think i could have hung there all day if they hadn't broken my hands." which i... you see, for me, i do like that a little more. the whimsical quality of writing in the first person meant that i had this old man's voice.
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and as i was saying earlier, i had to cut some of that out, because you couldn't be too rambling. what's the difficulty of writing in an old man's voice? you're not an old man. no, but i've known a few. my father was 90 when he died and i'm familiar with the way they tell stories, as i heard them so many times. the trouble with that is an old man will tell the same story more than once. i was playing with the fact could i actually do that in a text? and the answer is no, honestly, you can't. if you're writing about a young man, described by the old man, you have to do the young man's voice, you have to to cut out some of the querulousness of the old man. yes. just to keep it tight and fast moving, because i do like the reader to turn the pages. because books aren't a representation of reality, how an old man would speak. no, there's always a simplification. books are telling you a story about what an old man might do. yes, i think someone once said that the simplest real human being was 1,000 times more complex than the most complex shakespearean character.
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that is true. real people are very, very complex, indeed, and all you can ever do with a novel is to try and focus a single facet and try and make them as real as possible. talking about storytelling, i'm interested in something about your mother, who, i think, was of irish descent and came from a tradition of the telling of tales, which is a very powerful bit of the culture. her grandfather was a seanchai, an irish storyteller, who used to go from fireside to fireside and be rewarded with a meal and a glass of ale if he tells a story. it was a community purpose, this business of storytelling. oh, yes, it kept history alive. before it was written down... when i went to mongolia, they talked about the fact that they knew they were the distant ancestors of the north american native american, because they had been there 15,000 years ago, and they had an oral tradition which went back much, much further than anything written down and that's where these stories come from. you were a teacher. if you were trying to explain to children who are a bit leery about history, or indeed novels, but particularly history, why it is that it's fascinating by saying, you know, how do we explain this, what happened, how do we know? my mother always said that, for her,
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history was a series of stories about people, with dates. to me, that's the absolute heart of it. people are interested in people. we are fascinated by extraordinary moments of courage and betrayal and love and despair, and history is absolutely chock full of those, because it's the story of millions of different people. it is an absolute treasure trove and always has been. and in this case, whether it's darien, a fantasy, or whether it's dunstan, based on, you know, a real man and a real historical period, the point about storytelling and where it takes us is the same. yes, i've been at the end of the day, its characters. i think kurt vonnegut says there's this guy, right, and he's a pretty decent kind of guy and then something awful happens to him. that's the absolute essence of all fiction, whether its history
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or heroic fantasy. conn iggulden, now cf iggulden with darien, thank you very much. thank you. hello there, good evening. a slice of fine weather around today but we had rain north and south of the uk but for a while some sunshine across northern england and here it lincolnshire but the rain has now arrived in lincolnshire. it's moved up arrived in lincolnshire. it's moved up from the south where we had a pretty wet day in east sussex at eastbourne. look at the radar picture for the last few hours, you can see how the rain has been moving up can see how the rain has been moving up from the south and south—west in particular, heading up across lincolnshire now but easing off in the south—east where it's pretty windy ahead of this rain as it pushes back east again. we see things improving across wales and the south—west, heavy rain in the midlands and parts of yorkshire, lincolnshire east anglia and the south—east with those strong and gusty winds. further west, showers continuing overnight in western
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coasts, lows of around 12 or 13. the overnight rain clears from eastern england fairly quickly by the morning, by the time most are up it will be dry and not many showers to begin the day, in scotland some sunshine and a peppering of showers in northern ireland. the odd spot of rain perhaps in some parts of northern england but the heavier rain from overnight should have gone and for most of england and wales it will start dry and sonic on sunday morning. showers from the word go in the south—west approaches running through the bristol channel and they should head east through the day. make the most of the early sunshine if you've got it. prospects looking better at the oval for the cricket although there could be some passing showers during the afternoon and maybe into the evening but not many for the south—east but still windy here. the wind is picking up in many areas, gusting winds with these heavy showers which will be blown eastwards. lots of showers to come late morning and into the afternoon widely, heavy downpours and hail and thunder possible as we have seen recently so back into the sunshine and showery mix, not so many showers
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in kent, sussex, essex and perhaps london. more showers to come for the beginning of next week, still low pressure to the north—west of the uk, it's been sat there for days 110w. uk, it's been sat there for days now. around the southern flank of that we've got stronger winds in england and wales where they'll be a few passing showers, mostly in wales and north—west england, drier in the south—east but slow—moving heavier showers in northern ireland and scotland. some of those quite heavy. the showers become fewer and lighter as we move into tuesday. more low pressure m oves as we move into tuesday. more low pressure moves away but another heading in from the atlantic and what we're seeing over the week ahead is a continuation of this very u nsettled ahead is a continuation of this very unsettled weather, if we don't have a mix of sunshine and showers then we'll have a mix of stronger winds and perhaps a spell of rain. not what we hoped for at this time of year perhaps unless this is bbc news. our top stories: the australian prime minister says counter—terrorism police have foiled an attempt to blow upa plane.
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the threat of terrorism is very real. the disruption operation, the effo rts real. the disruption operation, the efforts overnight have been very effective, but there is more work to do. north korea claims its latest intercontinental ballistic missile test proves any target in the us is now within striking distance. tensions in venezuela ahead of a vote that could lead to a new constitution — a power grab, says the opposition. also in the programme, thousands of people are evacuated from a music festival in barcelona, after a fire engulfed part of the main stage.
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