'If I Could Give Any Advice to People Here with Literary Aspirations, Don't Do What I Do' WRITER SHARES HIS WRITING TECHNIQUES WITH AUDIENCE

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), May 31, 2011 | Go to article overview

'If I Could Give Any Advice to People Here with Literary Aspirations, Don't Do What I Do' WRITER SHARES HIS WRITING TECHNIQUES WITH AUDIENCE


Byline: CLARE HUTCHINSON

COMEDIAN and writer David Baddiel told aspiring writers looking for advice at the Hay Festival yesterday: "Don't do what I do."

Festival visitors were subjected to a taste of Welsh weather yesterday but constant downpours did little to hold back the welly-clad crowds in search of literary inspiration.

Among the other stars of the day were journalist and food critic AA Gill and children's author Michael Morpugo.

Baddiel, 47, whose father Colin was a Welsh research chemist, treated his audience to a reading from his latest book, The Death of Eli Gold, before speaking in depth about his inspirations for the book's characters, the end of an era of "great men" and the trials and pitfalls of being a successful comedian-turned-writer.

The book follows four characters as they come to terms with the impending death of its titular character, Eli Gold, an elderly writer who is in a coma at a New York hospital.

Baddiel said: "The book is to some extent about greatness, specifically male greatness. The idea was very prevalent in the last century that there could be this towering figure and I think that time of great men has passed.

"To be great in the way that these men were great is impossible today because you will always have people saying, 'no, he's rubbish'.

"The book examines what is left for men once the idea of a swashbuckling hero goes."

Sharing his writing technique with an eager audience, he said: "I tend to write in a very improvisational way. I have an idea and I see how it goes.

"I normally get a sense quite quickly of whether this idea is going to work.

"I'm very, very bad. You hear of people who lock themselves up and avoid all distractions, but I wrote a film last year [The Infidel] and I was writing the book between takes.

"If I could give any advice to any people here with literary aspirations I would say don't do what I do.

"If I get an idea I tend to rush into it because I get a fear that I'm not going to be able to do it because I might not be around or someone else will have the same idea. …

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