Louis De Bernierés @ Edinburgh International Book Festival

Moyan Brenn, Edinburgh Festival / CC
Photograph: Moyan Brenn / CC

As part of Edinburgh Book Festival BBC producer Sara Davies talks to Louis De Bernierés, the prolific writer most well known for his novel ‘Captain Corelli’s Mandolin’ which was later adapted into a, much debated about, film starring Nicolas Cage and Penelope Cruz.

His new book, ‘The Dust That Falls From Dreams’, centers around Rosie and her three sisters growing up with war on the horizon, and dealing with life after it. Love, war, and honour are big themes in the majority of his books and this one is no exception. Bernierés speaks of how he likes to focus on home and society during wars and with ‘The Dust that Falls from Dreams’ he trusted his instincts and focused on it even more than usual. He admits that he once loved to write graphic violence but now he writes more of the aftermath of violence, letting it bleed into his writing in a more insidious manner.

The story of this newest book is inspired by the story of his grandmother although states “the whole point of writing fiction is to tell wonderful lies” so it is only loosely based on this. He reads a beautiful passage of someone recounting how horses died in battle during the war which is highly emotive and clearly moves Bernierés himself. As he speaks knowledgeably about all things tied to the war, and of that particular era, the novel appears to be well researched.

Bernierés speaks briefly about his own stint in the army which lasted only four months as he says “not only did I have no leadership qualities but I didn’t want to be told what to do either.” which is a very relatable attitude. His father was not too happy at the path his son seemed to be taking and told him he would generic keflex no prescription never be successful in life – how wrong he was. On his way to his current author status, Bernierés was a teacher in Columbia at one point as well as a cowboy giving him an impressive CV.

Unlike many writers Bernierés has no writing routine he just becomes obsessed with what he is writing and forgets about all else, infact he is convinced most writers lie about the tight schedule they write to. How many would agree with that assumption? When asked about his planning process he divulges that he plans to create a trilogy with ‘The Dust That Falls From Dreams’ being the first book of this and admits to having already completed the last chapter of the final installment of this.

Of course the subject of the ‘Captain Corelli’s Mandolin’ film was raised as it is no secret that he has had some very strong views on that adaptation however it seems he has been misquoted quite a lot on this score. Though he is clearly not happy with how it turned out he does not hate it quite as venomously as has been portrayed. He enjoyed his time on the set of the film and spent nights partying with the Italian extra’s and even had coffee with Penelope Cruz who he confirms as a wonderful person, Nicolas Cage on the other hand hid himself away in his trailer which is disappointing – though maybe not surprising – to learn.

Bernierés has many anecdotes which he tells with humour, his intelligence and fun personality coming through to the packed out room and aiding a pleasant atmosphere in which to enjoy the talk and come away feeling like it was well worth your time.

The Dust that Falls from Dreams published by Harvill Secker is available now.


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Christine Lawler 42 Articles
Christine has a passion for literature and has been a closeted writer since childhood. Other passions include theatre, film, and all things geeky. She lives in Glasgow with a cat named Molls and a tortoise named Haruki Kabuki.

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