review page logo
Louise Welsh
This interview is from the Lovereading website. Why do you think The Bullet Trick is suitable for discussion in reading groups?
I was a member of a book group for many years and I guess that what I liked best was the books that everyone didnít agree on. We would have a discussion and I felt strongly about something and Iíd come with my own opinions about it and my friends in the book group would have completely differing opinions. I think perhaps, I hope anyway, that this is a book that people can disagree about. I think William is a strange character and I worked with him for two years so I like him a lot, but I think heís got his problems, heís quite weak in places, he doesnít have enough self confidence and I think that can be an off-putting thing sometimes. I think as the book progresses his confidence grows and perhaps he becomes an easier character to be with. There are obvious points where William takes the wrong path, and I think he shouldnít have, nothing terrible, nothing awful, but thereís a little moment when he makes the wrong decision to my mind. Obviously as the author I hope that everybody enjoys the book, but I think from a reading group perspective itís perhaps something that people can disagree with. I hope that you might have people who like one character more than another. I also think the discussion of sex and our approaches towards the way in which women are portrayed in entertainment is one which readers will have quite strong opinions on. For instance are there differences between lap dancing clubs and cabarets? That kind of milieu which for some people they may not perceive a difference and for others they might perceive a very big difference. There are things that people can hopefully get their teeth into and have a good old rant about.
We have heard that you and six other writers used to meet to discuss each otherís work. How did this help the writing process?
On a very basic level, it was very nice to meet because once you get to the publication process then youíve got a lot of colleagues, publicists and editors that youíre working with but when youíre doing the creative writing part youíre working very much on your own. That meeting up and talking about your work with colleagues who are going through a similar process has obvious advantages. Itís a nice thing to do because I wouldnít ever bore friends who arenít writers, so you have the freedom to talk about your work if you want to, or not as well. I think that itís quite important not to feel forced about talking about something when youíre perhaps not at a stage when you want to discuss it, when youíve got to work things out for yourself. Sometimes you get to a point when youíre writing and you know itís not right yet and youíre not quite sure why itís not right and having a discussion with colleagues that you trust is quite a useful thing to do.
Do you have any tips for the smooth running of a reading group?
I think not to be anxious about it. Just to be relaxed, but I think it depends very much on the people that are there. I donít think that there are particular rules but I think perhaps that itís quite good for the reading group to decide what they want to do, what their particular roles are. Discovering what kind of group you are is quite a useful thing to do. And then just choosing some really good books!
What did you find were the best books or topics to spark discussion in your group?
One of the best discussions actually, was about Flaubertís Madame Bovary, most of the books we did were quite modern, up-to-date books but Madame Bovary was one that people had quite different views on. A lot of us had read it when we were younger and our views had changed since we were younger as well. For some people Emma Bovary was really put upon and had had a terrible time and other people were much less patient with her, they couldnít understand why they should have any sympathy with her. That was quite an interesting one and we hadnít anticipated on it being quite so controversial. The Human Stain again was one that people had opposing views on.
What are you reading at the moment?
Iíve literally just finished The Book of Dave by Will Self which is quite big for a reading group. This is an amazing book and itís one of the best things that Iíve read for a long, long time. For people that know London itís quite an exciting book to read, his evocation of London is great and his style is just superb. I was really excited by it. Iíve got lots and lots of books piled up. Iíve got Kate Atkinsonís new book, One Good Turn, to read. I though that I might go back and read Case Histories before I read it. Something that I loved recently was Zadie Smithís On Beauty, I thought that that would be a marvellous reading group book because I think people could really disagree about it.
Who are you influences and favourite writers?
I think every single Scottish writer you ever speak to if you ask about their influences is probably going to say Robert Louis Stevenson. He was an amazing storyteller. I recently wrote an introduction to his book Kidnapped, so I really love Stevenson. When I first wrote The Cutting Room and I sent in my letter saying please publish it I said Muriel Spark. I really adore her, sheís hard as nails. I said William Burroughs at that time as well because I think heís got that love of language and the ability to have fun with language is a joyful thing.
Are you writing anything at the moment, and if so, can you tell us a little bit about it?
Iím writing a play at the moment, which Iím hoping to finish the first draft by the end of this month. If all goes well it should be a part of the National Theatre of Scotland program. But weíll have to see of they like it or not. Itís about issues of power. At the moment it has two main women characters. Itís partly about aging and itís partly about sexuality and illness. Hopefully itís going to be quite amusing but itís partly about multiple sclerosis which is a huge thing in Scotland. As you go further North the instance of MS gets greater. We have more of it in Scotland and if you talk to people of my age they usually have one friend, maybe two that have MS. Itís looking at that as well. Thatíll be directed by Alison Peebles. It doesnít sound like a bundle of laughs but hopefully it will be. Itís been really interesting to do because this is a condition that you donít know what going to happen with it. You canít predict it, and itís part of the cruelty of the condition that actually you could have this and you could be walking around at seventy needing a stick, or you could have it and be in a wheelchair at forty-five. So you donít really quite know how itís going to manifest itself if youíve got it. Itís a bit depressing at times, as youíd expect, to write, but very, very interesting.
Louise Welsh

Recommend this site to a friend

Find us on Facebook

Follow us on Twitter