David Mitchell Speaks at Edinburgh International Book Festival

David Mitchell Speaks at Edinburgh International Book Festival

INVENTING universes, film adaptations and turning Twitter tweets into a novel were among the subjects dealt with by author David Mitchell at the Edinburgh International Book Festival this evening.  Addressing a packed audience, the writer revealed that his forthcoming novels would all inhabit the same Newtonian-law bending universe that exists in Bone Clocks.

The Cloud Atlas author said that though he intended each of his novels to be a “distinct, stand-alone, discrete entity in its own right” they would share the same world. “It was an exercise in world building and cosmology,” he said. “I like making stuff up, it’s my job. If you make stuff mimetically, there’s a possibility of being wrong... With cosmology of fantasy, you get to make it up. I just like the challenge of writing a kind of constitution of the world, where if you violate the laws of physics you better make damn sure you do it consistently and actually replace the Newtonian and Einsteinian laws of physics with convincing, internally consistent laws of physics that work together.”

He added: “Everything I will do will be in this universe. Even if it’s the book after the next one I do, which will be set around the turn of the first millennium.”

Mitchell said that his next novel, Slade House, had its origins in a story that he had originally put out on Twitter in individual tweets last year.  Though happy with the outcome, he said that it “asked more questions than it answered”, and so it was “retranslated out of Twitterese into English” to become a full-blown novel.

He also talked about the translation of Cloud Atlas into a Hollywood movie, stating that he felt that the producer’s adaptation had not “betrayed the trust he placed in them.”   Addressing the changes to plot, he said that was absolutely necessary to do that to make the plot fit the medium.  He said: “I felt the changes that they did make, I understood the filmic logic of them and I felt that they were kind of licensed by the spirit of the book. All adaptations are translations, and the question is was it a translation with honour and I felt it did it justice.”

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