x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Aspiring scribes meet the authors

Louis de Bernières, the author of Captain Corelli's Mandolin, held a meet-the-author session with pupils at The English College in Dubai.

Louis de Bernières signs a book for Rebecca Mackay, 17, at The English College.
Louis de Bernières signs a book for Rebecca Mackay, 17, at The English College.

DUBAI // "Get a shed". It may not have been the advice the city's aspiring authors expected from high-profile writers yesterday, but it may yet prove invaluable. Those words of wisdom were shared by Louis de Bernières, the author of Captain Corelli's Mandolin, in a meet-the-author session with pupils at The English College. He was one of a number of novelists participating in the Dubai International Festival of Literature and who spoke in schools in the emirate yesterday.

Others included Lauren Child, the children's author, and Anthony Horowitz, the writer of the Alex Rider novels. De Bernières captivated his young audience, who were aged between 16 and 18, with tales of his childhood and how he became an author. "It is important to have a nice, quiet place to work," he said. "And it is important to read a lot, if you don't put enough in, then you won't get anything out."

Growing up in a literary household, where his father used to write poetry and recite Shakespeare, de Bernières felt it almost natural to choose the writing path as a career choice. His first novel was published when he was 35, The War of Don Emmanuel's Nether Parts, and was quickly followed by his other works, the most famous being Captain Corelli's Mandolin. The enthralled students fired question after question at him on writing styles and techniques, character formations, plots, inspiration, and so forth.

"Meet-the-author sessions are important for students because they then remember that moment for a long time after," he said. nsamaha@thenational.ae