As part of the Tandem Paris-London 2015 collaboration, Nick Hornby was at the Maison de la Poésie last night to give an interview and to promote his new novel “Funny Girl” – recently out in the UK, the translation soon to arrive on the shelves in France.
In front of a full house Hornby was asked about how his books came into being and how he manages to wear two hats – as a novelist and as a screenwriter. In fact he has several as he is also an essayist and music critic.
Fever Pitch is an autobiographical account of being a long-standing Arsenal fan but what he realised was that the games he remembered being at most were shared experiences on many levels and as such a social commentary worth exploring.
Not knowing much about the world of work but being a massive music fan he gave his protagonist for High Fidelity a job in a record shop – an environment he was very familiar with, unlike America where the subsequent and very well-received film was set, starring John Cusack in 2000.
He evidently loves the collaborative nature of working in film, having written the screenplays for this as well as for Fever Pitch, About a boy and an An Education – the autobiographical memoir of journalist Lynne Barbour, Carey Mulligan’s second starring role.
Hornby was refreshingly down-to-earth as he talked about the torturous nature of the writing process and the distractions of social media and the temptation to be constantly on-line. He obviously likes working with film directors and actors and compares it favourably with the lonesome job of coming up with his target of a 1,000 words a day. He sets himself this but in fact accepts 500, doing the maths for us on how long it takes him on average to write a novel, wondering what he does with the rest of the time. It should be one a year but actually it’s about one every five.
Funny girl is set in the 60’s about a girl from Blackpool desperate to leave and make it on TV. Inevitably she comes to London and embraces the freedom and creativity of the swinging sixties. It’s very cinematic, you can picture her with a bob walking around Chelsea and Carnaby Street dressed in a mini skirt, mopheads gawping at her with The Kinks as the soundtrack, minis and E-type jags driving by.
When asked if he thinks about the potential adaptation for cinema as he writes a novel he said no, that he focuses only on the novel but he must know he’ll get backing to showcase London, set in the sixties with a script he’s adapted. I wonder if he gets a say in who plays her in the film, surely to follow.