Wednesday, November 3, 2021

My liver will never cope... by Cathy Ace

READING: Borrowing from the NYT Q&A with authors: You’re having a dinner party. Which four authors living or dead do you invite?

I have to say, off the bat, that all my picks will be dead ones…because there are too many living authors I love and miss to include them all, and I can’t bear the idea of having to pick just four! So let’s assume there’s a GIANT knees-up planned for all my author-chums still this side of the grass, to be held at the venue pictured below (one of my favourite places to be - the bar on the top deck at the stern of a cruise ship)…then let’s get onto the rest of the question.

Welcome one and all...

Me, at16...
going on 17
First pick: without question, William Shakespeare. I’ve had a thing about Shakespeare since Mrs. Hammond and Mr. Lee led the English Literature classes at Llwyn-y-Bryn Senior Comprehensive School, in Swansea, as we read the Great Bard’s plays aloud. The way his words feel as you speak them? Magical. And – of course – whenever there’s the chance to hear them spoken by talented actors, they sound even better. My favourite role was Iago – which I read with gusto at the age of seventeen with Mr. Lee reading Othello. I still love those long, poisonous speeches. I performed Lady Macbeth’s “unsex me” speech as part of my audition for the Welsh College of Music and Drama (yes, I got in, but my parents’ view that acting was something one did for fun, as opposed to it being a potential career, won the day, which meant I elected to go to university instead).

On November 5th the eleventh Cait Morgan Mystery is published (interesting, if puzzling segue, you’re thinking…right?) and I have finally brought my love of all things Shakespearean into the light…you see, the book concerns the family of a recently deceased Shakespeare aficionado, so there are allusions, references, the shape of one of his sweeping tragedies, and even quotes as chapter titles (with a list of sources at the end of the book). So, if you like the idea of a classic, closed-circle Whodunnit, at a country house outside London, just before Christmas, with more than a smattering of Shakespeare…this could be the book for you! (BSP over, now!)

Second pick: Dylan Thomas. Another writer who knew how to get words onto the page so they sing when you speak them. I’d love Shakespeare and Thomas to meet…I suspect massive amounts of drinking would ensue, and I suspect they’d get on like a house on fire. I’d also enjoy listening in to their conversations about their wives because – let’s be honest – their lives were…shall we say “complicated”, and leave it at that?

Almost loved to death!

Third pick: JRR Tolkien, because I’d want to ask him so much about Middle Earth, and how he managed to keep the worlds he invented straight in his memory. He’s another wordsmith who crafted tales which stir the blood, though his academic background would be something I’d also like to talk to him about, as well as his use of runes (I used to take all my notes in geography class in Elven Runes…let’s just say I was heavily into Tolkien at the same time I was heavily into Shakespeare, okay!).

Fourth pick: difficult, because there are still dozens of authors on my list, and it’s a toss-up between Graham Greene and Emile Zola…but I’ll go with Emile Zola (and let’s assume he can speak English, because my French wouldn’t be up to it). His novels are epic. His ability to create a scene in the mind is second to none. His characters – who I met when I was in my teens – are so realistically drawn, they still exist in my mind’s eye as through they were real people. If ever there was a writer who could conjure flawed characters, yet allow the reader to understand why they had become the way they were, this is your man. Just the character of Nana (in Nana) alone has enough depth to her for me to be in awe of his abilities. And his plots? Complex? Just a bit. Love them…and hate them, too, because they highlight humanity’s inhumanity all too well.

These have all been with me since my teen years...

So there you have it – all men! Which makes me sound as though I don’t read works by women, which is untrue…but I can’t decide which of the men to get rid of on the list, so may I get around this little difficulty by inviting each of these men to bring a plus one? And those will be: Agatha Christie, Ngaio Marsh. PD James, and Ruth Rendell…which balances not just the genders, but also the dearth of crime fiction (though I’d argue that Shakespeare and Zola wrote a great deal about crime, and criminals).

Oh – and I’ll bring my husband, because I wouldn’t want him to miss this for the world!


The 11th Cait Morgan Mystery will be published on Friday 5th November!


1 comment:

Susan C Shea said...

I just got back online to read this and it's terrific. Yes, inviting writers whose work begs to be read aloud is a wonderful idea. I too enjoy reading Shakespeare aloud because he was writing for that, but not Iago, whom I despise for his evil! I squirm when I see his success on the theatrical or operatic stage. I want to stand up and yell, "Don't believe it, Othello!"