From an illustrated adaptation of Jekyll & Hyde by Andrzej Klimowski and Danusia Schejbal
The programme for this year’s Edinburgh International Book Festival is now published/online and tickets went on sale last Sunday. Moreover I’m delighted to report that me and Kevin MacNeil will be the very first act up on the opening Saturday of the whole shebang
; the link between the two of us being our respective published re-workings of Stevenson’s Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde
. And since Kevin’s has been described as ‘heartfelt’ and ‘bloody funny’ and mine as ‘horrific’, ‘seductive’ and a ‘romp’, I feel like together we’ve covered the bases. You can be the judge, dear reader.
The event is billed as follows:
Richard T Kelly & Kevin MacNeil: THIS IS 21ST CENTURY GOTHIC
Saturday 13 August 10:15am – 11:15am Spiegeltent (£10.00, £8.00)
If gothic fiction is usually associated with the 19th century, then two British authors have brought the genre bang up to date. Richard T Kelly’s novel The Possessions of Doctor Forrest and Kevin MacNeil’s A Method Actor’s Guide to Jekyll and Hyde use the classic gothic rejection of rationality to craft contemporary stories that are paranoid, deliciously dark, sometimes erotically charged and often downright terrifying.
So. Maybe I’ll see you…? I anticipate a happy return to EIBF for me as I was very pleased to be invited up there with Crusaders in 2008. Previously I’d not been in Edinburgh at Festival time since 2001, the last of four years I served as a consultant to the Film Festival – also Lizzie Francke’s last as Artistic Director, and the year when Sean Penn came to town, which was certainly the start of something special for me…
Previous to that? I’d tried out the whole Edinburgh thing in a few different categories. I was an invitee to the Young Programme-Makers sidebar of the Television Festival in 1996 (a fairly ghastly experience for various reasons). Further back, in 1993, I directed a stage production of David Mamet’s Edmond on the Fringe, with a team of young performers from Bristol University far more talented in that field than myself (among them Neil Cole, Claire Wille and Samantha LeMole, to speak only of those whom I know to have carried on performing.)
And then more recently, the 30-minute film I wrote for Channel 4’s Coming Up strand entitled Jennifer (but otherwise known as Eclipse) played at the Film Festival in 2010.
So, looking back, all in all I will be able to say that at least I gave it a go, didn’t I missus…?
An enjoyable write-up for The Doctor in today’s Scotland on Sunday, this one by Hannah McGill, formerly the director of the Edinburgh Film Festival who was, like myself, a guest on the Book Cafe radio show last Monday and, if I heard rightly through my headphones, is herself now writing a novel…:
“Richard T Kelly cuts loose with this Gothic thriller – and obviously has a great deal of fun… Kelly doesn’t rely on a twist or a stagey reveal, but rather lets his central plot device seep slowly to the surface so that the reader has the pleasure of gradually gathering the story’s nasty truths. The author has also adeptly incorporated modern horrors that might well have intrigued Stevenson, Hogg or Bram Stoker: plastic surgery, celebrity rehab, body dysmorphia, psychiatric manipulations. The world he creates is vivid and seductive… The Possessions Of Dr Forrest is a successful romp, and will make a pleasing addition to any bookshelf already darkened by Audrey Niffenegger’s Her Fearful Symmetry or Glen Duncan’s The Last Werewolf. A movie adaptation would be fun; perhaps Sean Penn should be practising his Edinburgh accent…”
(That last bit obviously a reference to my credentials as Mr Penn’s authorised biographer; and in itself an amusing thought, though anyone who’s read that book will recall that Sean doesn’t do genre films…)