I made myself a pact a few years ago that I would never write a book about a writer trying to write a book and I would also never write a book that resembled anything I had written before, to try to keep pushing myself onto new territories. I was thinking a lot about science fiction actually. A dilution can happen when a writer is working in too many different forms. I think non-fiction and fiction have a great deal in common. But fiction and poetry are extremely different.
You're long-listed for the Man Booker Prize. You must be really excited. If you really want to shock a gathering, to stop forks in mid-air at a dinner party, I have a failsafe trick. Announce to the liberal, intellectual group.
I am often quite suspicious of writers who deal in different forms, especially when it is fiction and poetry. It seems to me that the natural remedy to that would be to keep reading. Inspiration from reading precedes all else.
The experience of reading for me is very much an experience of loving the experience and wanting so much to figure out how it works. And usually the ideas of novels are born there. Not actually in reading fiction, but in reading philosophy, which is where the ideas for fiction for me come from. Inspiration happens often in reading imaginatively. How could I appropriate this, improve upon it, take it to a different context. New Zealand has the misfortune in not having a lot of confidence in the brains of its citizens.
There is a lot of embarassment, a lot of discrediting that goes on in terms of the local writers. I, for example, grew up just having a strange belief that New Zealand writers were automatically less great than writers from Britain and America, for example. The matter of having this kind of cultural embarrassment about your place in the world, we really need to actively resist that and be brave.
The last thing you want is a whole country of embarrassed writers slinking around. You kind of need a snobbery for those kinds of things to happen. And I do think the problem we face in New Zealand is that we are reluctant to express firm beliefs in anything.
Eleanor Catton wins Booker Prize. The Luminaries is gripping and virtuosic. The Luminaries — extract. Booker prize winner reads from book.
She explains that astrology is the guiding principle of the book: the 12 men each correspond to a zodiac sign, and the seven others to the classical planets. Mercury governs our logic and verbal communication. Mercury is visible for only two months in New Zealand and so in the novel, correspondingly, Moody comes in at the start and then exits. I ask how seriously she takes astrology. I try bringing her back down to earth by asking how being a New Zealand writer has affected her work. She pooh-poohs that title.
Neither are women — something she says she is discomfited by. As Moody gets ready to tell his story, he reflects on how much it might be worth. Will such a fortune change her? The adventure narrative and atmospheric world of The Luminaries make it ripe for an HBO-style television series. Just as we seem back on normal author-interview territory, though, I mention the name of another tricksy writer — Vladimir Nabokov.
Catton tells me her birthday was last month and her star sign is Libra. Each of the twelve men who comprise the council in the first chapter of the book is associated with one of the twelve signs of the zodiac. The title of a chapter in which one of these men plays a major role invariably bears that man's sign. The associations are as follows:. The conventional characteristics associated with each sign serve as a skeleton upon which Catton builds to create fully fledged characters.
Aged 14, Catton and her father went on a tandem trip from their home in Christchurch over Arthur's Pass to the West Coast.
This inspired her interest in the s West Coast Gold Rush , and she started thinking about a story. Catton returned to Hokitika in March for the first time since December With Balfour an unusual name during the time of the gold rush, it is assumed that Catton adopted the surname of the marine engineer James Balfour who did an assessment of the possibility for a port in Hokitika during the gold rush.
British producer Andrew Woodhead has optioned the novel for television, to be written by Catton. The book has been met with critical acclaim   and has been described as "a dazzling feat of a novel" by The Observer.
Justine Jordan, writing for The Guardian , also noted positively that Catton deftly organised her novel:. As of August , The Luminaries had sold , copies, of which , were sold in New Zealand. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. The Luminaries First hardcover edition. BBC News. Retrieved 11 September