George Saunders, Doug Johnstone and Alex Gray interviews
In this edition of Book Talk, host Ryan Van Winkle interviews bestselling American author George Saunders and Scottish crime writers Alex Gray and Doug Johnstone.
Tenth of December, the sci-fi infused short-story collection by George Saunders was recently awarded the inaugural Folio Prize. George reads ‘Sticks’, a story from the collection and talks to Ryan about having the freedom to focus on writing fiction, how he applies lessons from his career as a scientist to develop his characters and how he has learnt to write about family without drifting into sentimentality: “The trick is to try to be honest and say ‘at this moment in the story, what’s the most truthful, bighearted thing to do?’”
The latest novel from Doug Johnstone, The Dead Beat, is a thriller set in an Edinburgh newspaper. As Martha, a journalism student, begins an internship on the newspaper obituaries desk, she takes a call from an ex-employee of the newspaper who appears to commit suicide. This chilling echo of Martha’s own life forces her to unravel the mysteries of her parents’ past. Music and gigs feature heavily in the book, and Doug discusses the future of journalism and music, during a time of increasing uncertainty for both industries.
Finally, we catch up with Alex Gray, whose book The Bird That Did Not Sing, the 11th in the Lorimer series, has just been released. Set in Glasgow at the start of the 2014 Commonwealth Games, Gray describes the novel as “my most ambitious book to date”. The book deals with themes including people trafficking and terrorism, and Alex discusses the inspiration behind the book and her experiences of writing such a complex novel.
00:49-14:50 George Saunders interview
14:50-24:23 Doug Johnstone Interview
24:23-33.49 Alex Gray interview
Listen to Doug Johnstone take part in a discussion about Michel Faber's Under The Skin on this episode of Book Talk
Book Talk is produced by Colin Fraser of Culture Laser Productions