Author David Nicholls discusses reading abroad and the similarity between the Greek islands and Brittany.
PHOTO © ANITA AFFENTRANGER
INTERVIEW: LUCILLE HOWE
“I NEVER TRAVEL WITHOUT A BIG PILE of books, or my iPad – especially the iPad because I can pass it to the kids and they go very quiet for half an hour. Like everyone else I know, I’ve just read Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom and I’m about to start Nemesis, the new book by Philip Roth. I also never travel without wearing these really expensive, sharp shoes – that are really, really painful!
“Yes, there are definitely cultural differences I notice when I travel to book events. In Germany, you have to read for an hour or so – it’s more like a performance. They also ask really thoughtful questions. In Britain, it’s usually ‘Where do your ideas come from?’ and ‘How many words do you write a day?’. In Germany, it’s more likely to be: ‘What’s the definition of happiness?’ (answer: having me read for less time?).
“Shooting has just wrapped on the film adaptation of my book One Day, starring Anne Hathaway, and early on we were looking for locations for a holiday that the main characters take to Greece. The schedule didn’t allow us to go to a Greek island, so we relocated to Brittany and spent a fun few days working from these incredible, secret beaches either side of Dinard. We needed three days of sunshine, and we got most of that, though I had written an alternative version where they hide under an umbrella in a never-ending downpour, wondering when it will stop.
“The Parisians on our Paris shoot were really helpful, contrary to the usual stereotyping of stroppy sorts. I go to Paris about three times a year and set myself absurdly long walks from north to south, or east to west. It’s a city that feels much more ‘lived in’ than London, where most people seem to get pushed out to the suburbs.
“We also filmed in Edinburgh, where I attempted to climb Arthur’s Seat after a curry. It really is the home of crazy food and monstrous kebabs. The first time I was there I was 21, and it was during the Festival. You’re meant to go see all the stand-up and cabaret, but mainly I just ate a lot of spicy foods.”
ONE DAY (HODDER & STOUGHTON) IS AVAILABLE FROM AMAZON AND ALL GOOD BOOKSHOPS, PRICED £7.99 (€9).