banksint11.htmlTEXTMSIE,:,:mBINǿ Interview Launch of Complicity at James Thins in Edinburgh 1992

Complicity Book Launch


IN 1992 I FILMED THE LAUNCH OF IAIN BANKS' NOVEL COMPLICITY. THE LAUNCH WAS HELD IN EDINBURGH AT JAMES THINN'S BOOKSHOP. PEOPLE MINGLED AND WINE FLOWED. GLASS IN HAND, IAIN ADDRESSED THOSE PRESENT :

Iain: It's going to be another of those very boring speeches but basically boils down to saying I'm not too sure about this book adding value to anyone's life. (Laughter from Audience) Yes those of you that are laughing are obviously the ones that have read it. Deeply unpleasant, horribly shocking, its a bit like The Wasp Factory except without the redeeming happy ending really. One of my friends who read it said it made The Wasp Factory look like Enid Blyton. Basically all I'm really saying is thank you very much for coming and thanks to the publishers for doing a great job and doing another classy cover and all the rest of it. And thanks to all the people on the sharp end who have to sell the damn thing - the really hard job! And thanks to all of you for coming here. Let's Party !

Iain then read an extract from Complicity to the crowd. As his mother was present I asked him later if he had to censor his reading...

Iain: Ha ha! Um. Well yeah, in the case of Complicity it doesn't make much difference as it's all deeply horrible. That was one of the lighter bits... I tend to try and use funny bits to read out because you get a reaction from people. You can sort of read out deathly prose and it might be the most wonderful poetic prose ever written but people don't sort of stand there going "Ooh, ah! What an image! Wow! Yes! Oh that synonym really smacked !" So it has to be funny which makes it easier in the sense that in the case of Complicity it's not going to be a really nasty bit. It's not going to be one of the more gory bits, physically unpleasant parts, but often at the same time means it will include swear words. And my Mother's first comment on reading The Wasp Factory was "Iain. Intelligent people don't have to use swear words you know!" And I was going "Yes Mother." But there we are. So I did actually censor that bit actually rather a lot partly because my Mother was there actually, yes. (Look to camera) Isn't that pathetic!

I asked Iain what he thought of promotional tours. Were they a chore?

Iain: It's kind of a chore but it's something that you have to do because a) without trying to sound too pretentious about it you do kind of owe it to the people that are actually buying the books to go out there and say "Yes, hello, this is me. I am the guilty party." And the other thing is it does also help ... the publishers - that kind of thing. I talk to the sales reps who in a way have got the worst job of the lot, actually going out and trying to sell the books to bookshops and wholesalers whatever. They are so grateful when you say "O.K. I'll go along and I'll appear and all the rest of it." and they say (Puts on different voice) "Oh great! Thanks a lot Iain." So you feel really bad if you don't do it. It makes a difference to the way the books sell as well. In the end - forget about the mortgage and all the rest of it - any writer basically wants the books read by as many people as possible and so you want to do what you can to make the books sell better. So apart from the financial aspect, if you want to try and change peoples' minds or change the world by even the tiniest wee degree you want more people to read it and if going on a tour helps more people to read the book then that's what to do. (Has a sip of wine).

Regarding the crowd of people milling around I asked Iain if he had the same people turning up at every launch.

Iain: Well yes. My friends and family but also - I guess about sixty percent of this lot here for example are people I don't know. Mostly customers of the shop who have come along because they've seen the signs put up and so on. But the good thing about having a launch in Edinburgh is that it's fairly unusual..., whereas in London where most of the book launches are they're ten a penny... so it makes a difference to have a launch here and it's just more fun. And also I just hate London. (He laughs.)

After the interview Iain mingled with his guests and I was able to talk to a variety of people from all aspects of the publishing industry. Thanks to Michelle Hodgson from Little, Brown for the invite and of course thanks to Iain Banks.


Thanks to George A. Cairns. for the interview.

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