Behind The Blue Door

Afternoon Tea | December 13, 2015 |

Fantasy book club:

who would you invite?



Whether your book club maintains a laser-like focus on the task in hand, or is a barely-disguised excuse for a glass of wine and a gossip, you were at least drawn together by a love of the literary.

But what if you could invite anyone to your book club? Would you quiz your favourite writer on the intricacies of her work? Or perhaps you’’d chat to an actor about characterisation or dialogue? Here are a few suggestions to get you started:

Charlie Higson on Ian Fleming

As author of the Young Bond books, former Fast Show star Charlie Higson has a unique connection to Fleming.

In an article for the Guardian, Higson outlined the surprising contrasts between Fleming and his most famous creation, 007. Fleming hated guns, was a cautious gambler and although he did enjoy fast cars, his most exciting prang was when he reversed into a milk float.

He was a womaniser though – Ben Macintyre’’s biography, For Your Eyes Only, quotes a former lover as saying:

“For Ian, women were like fishcakes. Mind you, he was very fond of fishcakes, but he never pretended there was any mystique about eating them.”

We’’d love to hear Higson discuss his view of Fleming as “almost a sort of Dorian Grey figure, with Bond as the perfect, unblemished side of him” and to find out more about Fleming’’s time in naval intelligence, which inspired him to write the nation’’s favourite spy stories.

David Bowie on A Clockwork Orange

Bowie – and bandmate Mick Ronson – were heavily influenced by the film version of A Clockwork Orange, having seen it soon after its release in 1972.

He references the book in the lyric of Suffragette City (“’Say droogie, don’’t crash here’”) and opened most of his Ziggy Stardust shows with central character Alex’’s favourite piece of music, Beethoven’’s 9th.

Unsurprisingly, Bowie was also influenced by the film’’s costumes, which helped to shape the Spiders from Mars stage outfits.

So far, so filmic. But Bowie also took much joy from writer Anthony Burgess’’ ‘‘nadsat’’ made-up language, explaining: “’The whole idea of having this phony-speak thing – mock Anthony Burgess/Russian speak that drew on Russian words and put them into the English language, and twisted old Shakespearean words around—-this kind of fake language… fitted in perfectly with what I was trying to do in creating this fake world or this world that hadn’’t happened yet.”’

Kate Mosse on Wuthering Heights

Mosse discusses Wuthering Heights in Waterstones’’ beautiful YouTube series What Book Made You?, explaining: “’it was the book that taught me how to be a reader, but more importantly, it was the book that taught me how to be a writer’”.

She describes elements of her own writing as an echo of what she read in Emily Bronte’’s masterpiece, including having strong female central characters as heroes, writing with a strong sense of place and mixing time periods.

Her assertion that ‘’a good novel is finished by the reader’’; that we all bring our own experiences to a book, is fascinating and we’’d love to talk to her about inspiration and admiration.

Vivienne Westwood on Cormac McCarthy’’s The Road

To be honest, we’’d welcome any excuse for a chat with Vivienne Westwood. But the former teacher is a huge book fan and doesn’’t shy away from referencing historical and philosophical works in her collections, so we’’d like to think she’’d come along to the book club.

Westwood has gone on record to say one of her favourite books is Cormac McCarthy’’s The Road – with a grim, post-apocalyptic setting, it’’s certainly consistent with her long-standing climate change campaign.

According to an interview in the Sunday Times Style magazine, The Road was one of the books Westwood exchanged, perhaps surprisingly, with former Baywatch star Pamela Anderson (another was The Gods Will Have Blood by Anatole France).

It’’s sure to spark plenty of comment from Dame Vivienne.

Who would you invite to your fantasy book club? Join the conversation using #FantasyBookClub.


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Enjoy your favourite reads alongside a fresh brew and biscuit, served from the elegant Cuckoo collection.

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