The Perse School

Alexander McCall Smith visits the Upper

9 Mar 2012

There are plenty of writers who have the habit of working late into the night but for Edinburgh novelist Alexander McCall Smith, it’s early mornings that are the most productive.  This information was volunteered by the prolific and popular author who was recently the guest speaker at a lunchtime talk in the library. When asked about his writing habits he replied, “I often get up at about half-past three or four in the morning as I find that those couple of hours until about six can be really rather productive.  Then I go back to bed and have a second sleep, which will last until about half-past eight, and that seems to work quite well!”

Alexander McCall Smith gave an entertaining talk to Sixth Form students on Wednesday 7th March.  His life-affirming novels are full of colourful characters and he informed his audience that authors should look at the world, should see people and should wonder about their story – the character of Mma Ramotswe came about when he was visiting in Botswana and was offered a chicken to take home for lunch the next day.  

When asked why his stories were set mainly in Scotland and Botswana, he gave the advice to any budding writers in the audience to write about what they knew.

“I know Scotland and Botswana very well – I don’t think it works if an American author sets his books in the UK – unless they live there, otherwise there are nuances in the speech and language that are missing.”

“An absorbing and stimulating insight into the life of an author” was the reaction from Sixth former Oliver Linehan, while Jamie Gardiner said he found him extremely engaging and that Alexander McCall Smith seemed like a truly self-actualised man, happy in his vocation.


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