57. Doctor Forrest returns to Edinburgh: A short BookFest Q&A in ‘The List’

This succinct interview with me is from The List (Issue 686, 9 August 2011), and was written up by Brian Donaldson:

Give us five words to describe The Possessions of Doctor Forrest
The ones I’d borrow from reviews would be ‘gothic’, ‘gripping’, ‘spine chilling’ and ‘seductive’.

Which author should be more famous than they are now?
James Lasdun has a fine reputation, but everyone ought to read his superb stories in the 2009 collection It’s Beginning To Hurt. Lasdun has a masterly way of leading his characters from innocence to experience, and his prose shines (and cuts) like a diamond.

What do you love about book festivals?
Meeting and talking to readers; that’s what book festivals are all about, a refreshing antidote to what writers spend the rest of their time doing …

What was the last book you read?
The Unsettled Dust by Robert Aickman, one of the finest writers of the supernatural. Without fuss, Aickman’s stories conjure a recognisable world that feels wholly foursquare; until you realise that the narrative has been built as a cage, a personal hell, and the protagonist is walking toward death as if in a dream.

Which dead author do you wish was still alive today?
To speak of a writer who went before his time: Gordon Burn was a superb stylist, a keenly questing mind, and a true northerner, who brought real artistry to bear on raw (sometimes terrifying) true-life subject matter, be it politics or poverty, football or serial murder. Whenever there’s a controversial story in the news now, I always think, ‘What would Gordon have made of this?’

13 Aug (with Kevin MacNeil), 10.15am, £10 (£8).

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