4thcoming: Will Smith

Name: Will Smith 10913504_10153022931593584_1209454771_n

Twitter: @willsmithuk

Occupation: Screenwriter

Book: Mainlander

What’s it about: ‘Jersey 1987, and the storm clouds are gathering over Colin Bygate. Sitting on a headland stewing over the discovery that his wife used to date Rob de la Haye, a brash hotelier who is everything that Colin is not, he spots a pupil near the edge of the cliff. Worried that the boy may have intended to jump, he drives him home, hoping that his gloomy imagination was playing tricks. But when the boy fails to turn up to school the next day, Colin feels duty bound to track him down, pitting him against the Island establishment who would rather there was a little less noise around this particular absence. A web of characters is spun around this mystery, each with their own secrets. For living in Jersey, where everyone knows everyone else’s business, you must become your own island.’

Why we’re excited: You can tell when a screenwriter pens a novel, because the way that characters are written and developed presents them as almost right in front of you. And with these characters in Mainlander you twist and you turn, you feel the stress, the anxiety, the pain, the longing. With Mainlander, you’re not reading the book so much as you are watching, in your mind, an experience as televisual as it is literary.

What he’s reading: ‘Michel Faber’s “The Book Of Strange New Things”, which I am absolutely loving.’

What he’s listening to: ‘The last album I had on repeat was U2’s “Songs Of Innocence”. They’ve been a huge part of my life (and their songs found their way into the book) and so I was delighted to be given a free album. I felt a special connection to this particular album because it’s an investigation of their past, which is something that Mainlander is for me.’

What he’s watching: ‘I’ve just started “Transparent”, which is as amazing as everyone says, and am keenly awaiting the final season of “Justified” as well as season five of “Game of Thrones”.’

His favourite word: ‘Hallelujah.’

His favourite song: ‘I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For – U2.’

The living person he most admires: ‘I’m going to narrow this down to writers and choose Jonathan Franzen. He and Philip Roth completely reignited my faith in literature.’

The trait he most deplores in himself: ‘Impatience.’

The trait he most deplores in others: ‘Selfishness.’

The book he wishes he’d written: ‘Middlemarch.’

The book that everyone should read: ‘Anna Karenina.’

The book he’d like republished: ‘I’d love someone to produce the complete works of Balzac in translation.’

His writing ritual: ‘All I need is a chair, a table, a laptop and some music.’

The best advice he’s ever received: ‘I read an interview with David Mitchell recently which crystalized something I’d always felt with regard to working out the background to your characters and story, which is that there is a lot that should be “unread, but not unwritten”.’



Mainlander is published by 4th Estate on 12th February 2015

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