Darlene Foster's Blog

A brush with greatness

Posted on: September 6, 2011

Alexander McCall Smith

I had the pleasure of meeting one of my favourite authors this weekend. Alexander McCall Smith is the author of many books, and is best known for The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency Series set in Botswana. I have read all but the 12th edition which is on my TBR list. After hearing him speak, I am tempted to read some of his other works as well.

No 1 Ladies Detective Agency

Mr. McCall Smith chatted with a large group at St. Catherine’s Church in North Vancouver and read from his latest work-in-progress, the 13th No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency. The short piece he read, a conversation between Mma Ramostwe and Mma Makutsi, had us all laughing as if he were telling us about good friends or people from our own family. Apparently he writes part of his next No 1 Ladies Detective book every summer here in West Vancouver, where he has family.

The author said he tries not to put too much excitement in his books as they are often read by folks with a nervous disposition and he wouldn’t want to get them too anxious. He admits he is a serial, series writer and gave some background on his other series, the
Isabel Dalhousie Series, the 44 Scotland Street Series, the Corduroy Mansions Series and The Portuguese Irregular Verb Series. He has also written some children’s books as well as a stand alone book, La’s Orchestra Saves the World.

He graciously signed books after the presentation and chatted with each person. As he signed my book, I said “You write faster than I can read.” He replied, “And I apologize for that.”

I found Mr. McCall Smith to be very John Cleese like in his delivery. He is charming, witty and a delight to listen to. He mentioned that everyone has a book in them and we can now be X-Rayed to find it. With today’s modern technology, a full body scan will not only show us the book, but will indicate what kind of book it will be.

He advised the authors in the audience to keep our ears open. It is important to listen to what people are saying, on the bus, on the street, in restaurants and coffee shops. It is amazing how much material you will get. He mentioned he hears so much on the bus that he could never use in his books as he is not “that kind of writer”. He had us all in stitches and at the end of the one hour session my mouth was beginning to hurt from laughing. At one point he was laughing uncontrollably himself.

It was an afternoon well spent and I thank 32 Books in Edgemont Village for putting this event together. When I think of all the things Mr. McCall Smith does in his life, including playing the bassoon in a band called “The Really Terrible Orchestra”, I realize I should be able to manage producing one book a year if I put my mind to it.

Have you ever met someone famous that you admired? Was the meeting everything you expected?

http://www.alexandermccallsmith.co.uk/
http://www.32books.com/

15 Responses to "A brush with greatness"

My grandma reads his books and loves them. Sigh…the reading pile just grows higher and higher. Maybe next summer…

And I actually have had my own little brush with greatness this weekend. Apparently the author of “Berlin At War” not only read by review of it, but also liked it enough to Tweet a link! How cool is that?

Steven

That is so wonderful Steven. It was an excellent review!

Alas, I am waiting to meet one of my favorite authors in Wichita in a couple of weeks and am hoping she is as kind as she appears. Thanks for the post. I think it’s always great to admire people and then have them turn out better than you had hoped.

I hope it turns out to be a pleasurable experience for you Heather. These are moments we never forget.

I love hearing writers who are so entertaining, as it seems Mr. McCall Smith is. Thanks for sharing your experience.

He certainly is entertaining and the humour comes through in his writing, sometimes subtly. I just started reading his stand alone book, La’s Orchestra Saves the World and am enjoying it.

How exciting Darlene – I think I have read all The #1 Ladies Detective Agency books. I read the first one years ago when one of our book club members choose it. She had lived most of her life in Botswana and treated us to mugs of bush tea and the hard biscuits at our meeting. I remember she was so pleased at how we all enjoyed the book and the treats. as She felt that the book was represented her country well. I too will look for his other books.

When I am reading his No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency books I feel like I am in Botswana. It is good to hear that someone who actually lived there, felt the same way. Thanks for stopping by my blog Jean.

My grandma reads his books and loves them. Sigh…the reading pile just grows higher and higher. Maybe next summer…
Exactly. Not the bit about grandma but all the rest!
Will I live long enough I ask myself.

This is a constant dilema for us avid readers who write and do many other things as well. “So many books, so little time” Thanks for stopping by Barbara

I wish I had been there. Not only are his books on my ‘To Read’ list, but he is an author on my ‘To Meet’ list. Not only is he a geat author, but judging from your description of his talk, he is also a great speaker.

I wish you could have been there as well. I know you would have enjoyed meeting him. I just finished La’s Orchestra Saves the World and enjoyed it. A departure from the No 1 Ladies Detective Agency books but quite enjoyable. Perhaps next summer.

I am so envious Darlene! Yes, I have read some of his books; they are all good. I have also heard him on CBC radio, and he is very funny and down to earth. The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency was broadcast on TV here a while ago; it was great. Also it helped me to know how to pronounce their names, which, having never been to Botswana, I found a bit tricky. Thanks for sharing this experience.

I haven’t seen the movie/TV adaptation yet but I have heard it was good. Mr. McCall Smith indicated he was happy with the result. Perhaps you may encounter him in the UK. He is certainly active for his age. I would have trouble keeping up with him I think. Thanks for stopping by my blog Brenda.

I haven’t seen the movie/TV adaptation yet but I have heard it was good. Mr. McCall Smith indicated he was happy with the result. Perhaps you may encounter him in the UK. He is certainly active for his age. I would have trouble keeping up with him I think. Thanks for stopping by my blog Brenda.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

click to purchase

click to purchase

click to purchase

click to purchase

Click to purchase

click to purchase

click to purchase

Pig on Trial

click to purchase

Join me on Twitter

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 5,912 other followers

Archives

Goodreads

click to read review

%d bloggers like this: