#edbookfest: Magnus Mills: “I like starting with a blank canvas.”

magnus millsMagnus Mills – Ploughing His Own Literary Furrow – 15th August 2015.

Having eight published novels is something many aspire to, but few can find time to even begin as they plug away at work day after day. Yet, Magnus Mills – as comes up time and time again during his event – is a London bus driver who still finds time to write books. How on earth does he do it?

“It just depends on the shifts,” notes Magnus. “I thought I’d lost my job, lost license because of my eyesight. I thought, ‘the only thing I can do other than driving a bus is write’, so I did that.” He has since got back to work, and has even got another book written and in the pipeline.

This one’s about people obsessed by vinyl records who form a society, and a rival society forms, “But I can’t say any more.” One audience member quips, “Not even off the record?”

But this publication is off in the future somewhere; here, we discuss The Field of the Cloth of Gold. The lengthy reading of various sections that begins the event sees the audience cackling with laughter at his dry wit and the simple back and forth between characters set in a field of tents.

the field of the cloth of gold“When I finish a book I feel quite lost,” he admits. You think all the time about your story, but writing depends on when you can get time to actually sit down and put it to paper. His writing is without fuss, and open to many interpretations. “I like to leave it for the reader to work out,” he says. Eras and settings can be taken in different ways, others take it at face value. “I like starting with a blank canvas.”

When it comes to influences, he can’t say with certainty what makes it into his books. People spot references that he himself doesn’t realise. The books he reads, films he watches, they all “sink in, but I don’t know it influences me.”

His event is one of dry humour and frankness, and it’s exactly what the audience seem to expect, and definitely what they enjoy. The talk turns to his literary technique once more. “When I read someone else’s description, I lose interest.” He often notes what he dislikes as a reader and seeks to avoid it himself. “I don’t like adjectives or adverbs. Adverbs are worse. I hate similes more than adverbs.”

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