Monday, 14 September 2009

Bernard Beckett: Genesis

When Bernard Beckett isn't teaching high school pupils in New Zealand he is an author of young adult fiction and has had many books published in his native country. His latest novel Genesis has been published in the UK. We were lucky enough to have Bernard as part of our Outreach tour this year. His events were excellent - Heather and Jasmine thoroughly enjoyed being challenged to think about human consciousness and the development of artificial intelligence, as did all of the pupils Bernard spoke to in Perth and Kinross. We asked him to tell us about his brief but incredibly busy visit to Scotland...

I arrive in Edinburgh feeling slightly beaten up by a flight which somehow ends up taking thirty hours from airport to airport with the added bonus of queuing for an hour for the friendly and heavily armed folk at LA airport. My first time on US soil and I don't even get a 'have a nice day.' Clearly television has been lying to me. Two hours after arriving in Edinburgh I do a reading for the Amnesty International event, and rather hope my jetlag mistranslates into gravitas.

Next morning and my senses are sufficiently sharpened to notice Edinburgh is one of the world's great cities, just so beautiful and with the slightly manic air of festival land stretched over it all, it's quite the sight. I begin to wonder if I might not be able to live here one day, but four words of warning echo in my head (this is their summer, this is their summer). I suspect I would miss the beach life.

My first event proper at the Book Festival is, in theory, me addressing a school group. Only the school cancelled (or there never was such a booking and the organisers are just trying to make me feel better). We're saved by home schooling. One young chap, his parents, a couple of ring-ins with New Zealand connections and the woman whose job it is to hold that microphone make for an intimate wee audience. We have a fine time nonetheless, as one must.

Get to record a video entry of 'The Book That Changed My Life', choosing the book in question as I walk into the fairy tale world of the Scottish Book Trust. Charming building and charming folk, and there's a fudge shop across the way, this city just gets better.

My evening event draws a crowd, thanks to the fact that I'm sharing the stage with Patrick Ness who is, you know, well known. I'm beginning to feel like I'm trapped in an episode of Flight of the Conchords, only I can't sing. We talk about talking dogs, as you do, and bright lights. A girl at the front has the most excellent laugh I have heard in a long time.

My favourite part of the Scottish adventure is the chance to travel north with two of the Scottish Book Trust wonders to visit and chat with students from a couple of high schools. The first is Blairgowrie and it's my great privilege to address two Religious Studies classes. I feel a slight pang of jealousy, we don't have much in the way of philosophy based education back home. The teens are smart and engaging, and capable of feigning polite interest throughout for which I am truly grateful. We talk about humans and machines and what the differences might be. It's fun for me; what it's like inside their heads I have no idea. Fantastic though to think some of the ideas in Genesis have traveled this far. A hugely gratifying thought, the biggest buzz of being a writer for me.

Next up is Perth, what a pretty town. It's hard not to feel a little aggrieved at whoever is responsible for not spending a little more on the school buildings. Again an audience brimming with an alert optimism, the sort only teenagers really manage to pull off. They deserve to be learning in palaces these young folk. What's more they arrive in their lunchtime which shows uncommon commitment I think. Two delightful students have read Genesis over summer (do you still use that word?) which makes me inordinately happy. As my talk begins the school band rehearse energetically overhead. Were I the rhythmic type I might try to keep time, as it is I bumble along to my own drum and once again the questions from the students are insightful and generous. My feelings towards Scotland grow still warmer.

Three nights in Edinburgh and it's back on the plane to Wellington New Zealand, another whimsical windswept city. And back to teaching. The more alert amongst my students have at least noticed I was away, bless them.

Here is Bernard's video entry for The Book That Changed My Life. You can read more entries on our website.

Other News:

Stephanie Myer and J.K. Rowling are set to have their biographies published in comic-strip form later this year.


aa said...


gaohui said...

It doesn't make a lot of Moncler Boutique sense to throw on whatever shabby coat you have in moncler veste the closet at the last minute. Be moncler doudoune sure to take into consideration moncler hommes the environment when shopping for your doudoune moncler femmes new coat. You want the coat moncler femmes to look good but you also want it to keep you warm as doudoune moncler hommes well. You'll probably need a different coat for running errands doudoune moncler femmes and another for attending business meetings doudoune moncler hommes or social gatherings. You can also find certain types of coats moncler gilet that are very versatile and will work for many different types of occasions.

chunxue said...

During the pandora charms World War II, Art Deco jewellery was pandora sale a very popular style among women. The females started pandora Jewelry wearing short dresses and cut their hair short. And pandora bracelets such boyish style was accessorized with Art Deco jewellery. They used pandora bracelet long dangling earrings and necklaces, multiple bracelets and bold pandora bracelets sale rings.Art Deco jewellery has harshly geometric and symmetrical theme instead pandora bangles of free flowing curves and naturalistic motifs. Art Deco Jewelry pandora necklaces today displays designs that consist of arcs, circles, rectangles, squares, and pandora beads triangles. Bracelets, earrings, necklaces and rings are added with long lines and curves.One pandora earrings example of Art Deco jewelry is the Art Deco pandora sets ring.Art Deco rings have sophisticated sparkle and bold styles. These rings are not intended for a subtle look, they are meant to be noticed. Hence, these are perfect for people with bold styles.