Iain Aitch (left) is returning to the Margate Bookie for the second year running, this time leading a walking tour of his Margate.
At last year’s event Iain, author of A Fete Worse Than Death and We’re British, Innit, spent time with creative writing students from Canterbury Christchurch University. He gave an interview to one of the group, Justin Brown, on the ups and downs of embarking on a career in writing and the moments of inspiration that led him to where he is today.
Thanks to Justin (pictured below left, reading at Turner Contemporary at last year’s Bookie) for sharing this with us:
Iain began his career in journalism, which helped him develop an understanding of the different varieties and styles of writing that were more favourable to his particular brand of writing. Having written and shared some of his early pieces with family, friends and colleagues, he was given a good idea that his work was of a good quality and of an interest to a wide variety of people. Iain’s initial introduction into the world of publishing was in the fortunate meeting with soon-to-be agent at a function where, whilst discussing certain book ideas that the agent found interest in, attempted to persuade another intoxicated patron to throw himself overboard. This, in Iain’s opinion, may have been the deciding feature which led the agent to take Iain on.
Iain describes having an agent as a ‘difficult thing to do’, as it involves each of the participants in the relationship liking each other and almost as if each one is working for the other in the pursuit of publishing and publicising the works produced. As Iain says, this is not a problem for himself as the cordiality between himself and his agent works and has worked for many years.
When asked about his oddest moment of inspiration, Iain claims that his initial work in journalism helped shape his mind to the moments of banality that inspires him in his work. His work with a ‘more unusual magazine’ inspired the imaginative idea of writing a book based on pranks and hoaxes, or what he referred to as ‘cultural terrorism’. This idea was soon scrapped with the emergence of the horrendous events concerning 9/11 and the attacks proceeding this time, and the thought of a book even remotely connected with the wording used was considered not to be the greatest of ideas. Other ideas, such as a book written about luck and its effects, was considered to be a great idea in theory, but didn’t really transpire into a viable piece of work.
Iain believes that his favourite books, and those that have stuck with him and inspired him in his career, are those of a more obscure nature, such as Duncan McLean’s Lone Star Swing. The book is essentially a road trip across America by the character in the book, who is on a quest to discover all that he can about the musical genre of swing from its early inspirations through to its evolution as a brand of music. Iain feels that although the book fell from the public eye a long while ago, it remained with him as a source of wonder and creativity. Another book which Iain feels has helped in his quest to write is the ‘obvious choice for writers’ of George Orwell’s best-selling 1984. This is a book which takes you in many different directions, according to Iain, in terms of genre and style of writing, and makes you realise what is possible for writers to discover whilst in the realisation of creating their worlds in paper.
On a final note, Iain reveals that his top tip for any writer, and aspiring author would be to always carry a notepad and pen. He believes that any moment in your life, from walking down the street to waking at 3am in the morning, could be the moment of inspiration for the creation of an amazing idea which could lead you to the success and joys of a life as an author. No greater joy can be found than a momentary flash of an idea at the oddest times of the day when you can turn finding a used rubber glove down a dingy backstreet of Margate into a murder mystery or an epic adventure for a life-saving medic.