Part one of an interview of Alan Bradley by Paul Speller, that first appeared in the Manx Advertiser.
A best-selling author, who has been described by media in his homeland one of Canada’s most successful cultural exports, has made the Isle of Man his home.
Alan Bradley said he and his wife Shirley knew they wanted to come to live here before the plane touched down for their first visit, writes Paul Speller.
‘We came on our holidays several years ago and just fell in love with it,’ he said. ‘Before the wheels touched the runway we were gaping out of the windows saying “this is where we want to live”.
‘It is just so beautiful.’
So, after five years living in Malta, they arrived in Peel about nine months ago.
A couple of hours in the company of Alan – creator of the best-selling Flavia de Luce books – is one of the better ways to spend a windy September morning in Peel. Anyone attending the events he features in at Manx Litfest is in for a treat (see page 9).
Having found himself on the New York Times bestseller list, he’s a pretty big name in the literary world already. However, he’s set to become known to a much wider audience.
Sam Mendes – the James Bond director – has bought the rights to make a television series based on his novels.
‘I had always said I would not permit anyone to make a TV series unless it was someone who came along who had credentials so good that I couldn’t say no,’ said the author.
Not surprisingly, after hearing Sam Mendes had read the books and was interested, he didn’t have to think for much longer.
Alan thinks the Isle of Man is perfect for writing.
‘The two things that a writer needs is quiet and high speed internet and we have both,’ he said.
He has given thought to setting a future novel in the Isle of Man.
Alan’s knowledge of Manx literary history stretches far back; to the extent that he was able to tell me that he understood that Hall Caine, author of The Manxman, and his contemporary Arthur Conan Doyle were not the best of friends.
‘They revolved in in the same circles. You can’t research very much biographical material on Conan Doyle without coming across the name Hall Caine.’
He said he believed Conan Doyle was ‘somewhat disapproving of Hall Caine and his lifestyle’.
Alan is a bit of an expert on Conan Doyle and all things Sherlock Holmes; and a controversial one at that.
Prior to having novels published, he was best known for his collaboration with friend William Sarjeant to publish Ms Holmes of Baker Street, which put forward an argument that the world’s most famous fictional sleuth was in fact female, forced to live as a man to get on in Victorian society.
Alan laughs when this is raised.
‘It generated a firestorm of controversy, I think the phrase goes,’ he said. ‘It was a mixture of people who were very supportive and people who were very dismissive and people who were very angry.’
This was a precursor to his incredibly successful Flavia de Luce series of novels.
Debuting with The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, the novels tell of the adventures of an 11-year-old school girl, living in an English village, who has a penchant for solving mysteries and scientific experimentation.
With the sixth in the series of books due out next year, he revealed his main character enjoys self-determination.
‘I don’t have much, if any, influence over Flavia,’ he said. ‘She is her own character and she writes herself.
‘I can be writing a scene with Flavia and she will suddenly suggest an outrageous chemical formula. I don’t know anything about chemistry, those ideas come from somewhere beyond me.’
He added that, when it came to checking back on such formulae, after writing out the idea, they were usually right!
Read Alan Bradley’s advice to writer’s here
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