Tuesday, October 11, 2011

McCall Smith charms one of our librarians!

Popularity and prolificacy are two words that spring instantly to mind when thinking of the hugely successful Scottish author, Alexander McCall Smith. To coincide with the Australian TV debut of the popular No 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, the Age in conjunction with Dymocks, provided a wonderful opportunity for McCall Smith's fans to be even further charmed as he spoke in conversation with Jason Steger in Melbourne last week.
Alexander charmed and entertained an audience of several hundred loyal fans - perhaps 97 percent being "women of a certain age".   He spoke with great affection for his characters and told hilarious stories of how he incorporates his real friends into his novels and then brings them together at "real-time" dinners. Despite the gentle tone of his many novels, McCall Smith is an astute and deep philosophical thinker. The recent riots in the UK have caused him to re-examine much of his thinking in regard to the morality and values of modern society. He spoke with great insight about the problems he saw facing our society today.

A writer of over 90 books to date, Alexander discussed a typical day in his writing life - rising at 3.00am to write for about 2 hours before popping back to bed before breakfast - further hours of writing each afternoon and early evening - producing between 3,000-4,000 words per day!!! He has so far this year published 6 new novels, featuring all of his popular characters - Mma Ramotswe, Isabel Dalhousie, Professor Dr Moritz-Maria von Igelfeld and the characters from the Corduroy Mansions and 44 Scotland Street. He is at present working on another half dozen. On a recent 10 day trip thought the Australian outback with his wife, Elizabeth, he managed to produce 6 short stories - a feat that must cause despair in the hearts of other writers!

It was a privilege to listen to a man of such integrity and humility; a man with so much to share and a man who gives so generously to his readers and friends in both the developed world and the developing countries of his beloved Africa. I wait with eager anticipation for his next book - The Unusual uses of olive oil.

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