Ian McEwan, Cheltenham Literature Festival, Sunday, October 14.
Ian McEwan, author of Atonement, Solar and Enduring Love to name a few, was in town to promote his latest book Sweet Tooth. He took to the Forum stage to discuss his life and works on the last day of the Cheltenham Literature festival.
Set in 1972, Sweet Tooth features a female protagonist called Serena Frome who finds herself being groomed for the intelligence services and is sent on a mission to recruit a young writer called Tom Haley to the cause. During this process, complications occur. The author summed it up perfectly when he said: "this being a spy novel she has to fall in love with him."
The young author is given a large sum of money to give up his work and focus on his writing and for Ian "this was a kind of wish fulfilment," because he never found himself in a similar position.
Ian said: "I was always interested in the spy genre. There is always a game to be played." He listed his main influence as John Le Carre who he said was an "essential figure in post-war fiction."
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He then went on to discuss his other works, including Enduring Love, which has been used in schools across the country, much to his chagrin.
He said: "I would love to be read voluntarily. I would love 17-year-olds to read Enduring Love for pleasure, but they don't." Ian revealed his son Gregory fell into this category, reading it at school rather than pleasure, but his teacher marked him down for getting it wrong. With a wry smile , Ian explained that the reason for this was that he had failed to "understand the author's intentions."
Thankfully the audience could not be accused of failing in such a way and there were many questions posed to him on the book, his life and the process of writing. He left with everyone grateful for having had the chance to meet him and listen to him speak.