Award winning author visits Newcastle Uni

Booker Prize Event Image: Zoe Pye

James Davies reports on Booker Prize Event and offers insight into how it influenced his own perspective as a writer.

Graeme Macrae Burnet was catapulted to literary fame by his novel ‘His Bloody Project’. This Scottish novel was short-listed for the 2016 man-booker prize.

Macrae Burnet visited Newcastle University to talk with Sinead Morrissey, also a well-established writer, about his novel ‘His Bloody Project’.

“This is the eighth year that the Booker Prize Foundation has worked with Newcastle University to gather and engage students from all areas of the university by providing events such as the reading of His Bloody Project.”

Macrae Burnet began with a reading from ‘His Bloody Project’. A talk between the two writers followed before the talk was opened to questions from the floor.

This is the eighth year that the Booker Prize Foundation has worked with Newcastle University to gather and engage students from all areas of the university by providing events such as the reading and conversation of His Bloody Project. The university provided over 4000 copies of His Bloody Project for Students to take for free from various areas of the university.

Attending the event on 23rd November students had the chance to meet Macrae Burnet and gain some more insight into the novel. The talk gave a glimpse into the inspiration behind His Bloody Project. Burnet’s inspiration came 30 years before the book was written, although Marae Burnet didn’t know it at the time.

The novel: I, Pierre Riviere, Having Slaughtered My Mother, My Sister, and My Brother, inspired him by the contrast between violence and elegance, a quality that has been brought forward into this novel.

Burnet was keen to point out his view that “the idea of authenticity is very, very important”. “Even though we know it’s fiction, we want to see the story”. And Hid Bloody Project certainly allows this. The novel creates a clear picture of what Roderick Macrae was like (at least at first, I can’t say more without ruining the story).

He went on to point out that the truth is very subjective. Burnet used the example of ‘Blind Date’ in ‘The Guardian’ newspaper to demonstrate this. When asked what they’d talked about, each person would always list different topics after the date.

Burnet gave more insight into his inspiration when he stated that he never knows why he starts writing, he just writes, and the story comes to him as he writes. Similarly, he doesn’t ever plan. Burnet strongly believes that research into a topic before writing is complete when you feel it’s complete, there can’t be a timer or quota put on it.

Burnet put his fame into perspective however, when he discussed how this newfound lifestyle as an award winning author has impacted his everyday life commenting: “Sometimes when I go to Greggs, I get a Steak Bake instead of a Sausage Roll.”

Overall the discussion provided an exciting insight into not only the world of ‘The Bloody Project’ but Graeme Macrae himself and what it means to be a writer.

”As an English Literature with Creative Writing student; I jumped at the opportunity to be able to attend an event like this and I was lucky enough to be able to attend the event on 23rd November and be able to recount some of the events.

It was exciting to be able to finally meet the author of a novel that I’d spent hours studying and making notes on. Equally though, it is an exciting opportunity for anyone who likes reading, especially to hear a novel in the author’s own voice.

The talk gave a glimpse into the inspiration behind His Bloody Project. His inspiration came 30 years before the book was written, although Marae Burnet didn’t know it at the time.

Sinead Morrissey gave the point that “the novel hands power to the reader” and this is a point that I very much agree on. We make our own view of why Roderick did what he did and whether he’s evil or not. A point by Macrae Burnet was Roderick’s murders are pre-destined, is arguably no alternative outcome.

As a writer, there’s a fair few things that inspired me in this talk. Burnet stated that he never knows why he starts writing, he just writes, and the story comes to him as he writes. Similarly, he doesn’t ever plan. Burnet strongly believes that research into a topic before writing is complete when you feel it’s complete, there can’t be a timer or quota put on it.

Something that amused me (because there’s times I feel the same way), he said he hates writing and will do anything to put it off, but the advice he gave to me when I asked a question, was that “You have to keep writing, the book isn’t going to write itself.”

I thoroughly enjoyed attending the talk, and was happy to have got the chance to learn more about this inspiring author.”

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