The No 1 Ladies’ Man

Alexander McCall Smith is visiting the Kolkata Book Fair and paused for a brief chat

Written by Anushree Majumdar | Published: February 1, 2009 4:01:50 pm

Alexander McCall Smith is visiting the Kolkata Book Fair and paused for a brief chat

How has your trip to the Kolkata Book Fair been so far?
It has been extremely interesting. The opening ceremony was a highlight — there was a feeling of celebration,as there often is at a good book fair.

Why did you write about a female detective? Since Christie’s Miss Marple,there haven’t been any “lovable” detective ladies.
It just seemed natural to me to invent a lady detective. I had no feeling that I was creating a new Miss Marple!

You have mapped your characters across several continents. How important is location for you?
Location is extremely important. I think that a strong sense of location enables characters to thrive.

Precious Ramotswe is extraordinary in her ordinariness,although she deals with dishonesty,malice. How do you retain the humour in your novels?
I don’t think that these books are real detective books — Mme Ramotswe deals with the problems of people’s lives rather than actual crime. I think that this enables me to adopt a humorous,light tone.

Is it true that you write a 1,000 words an hour? How do you simultaneously write for your books and your daily column? Also,there’s your job as a professor of medical law at Edinburgh University.
I can write a thousand words an hour — and that is my normal speed. I am aware of the fact that I am very lucky in this respect. I have resigned from my post as Professor of Medical Law in order to concentrate on writing.

In this age of the multimedia and the Internet,is there space for the slower narrative?
I think there is. I think that people like the slower narrative as a place to retreat from the pressures and noise of modern life.

Is India going to be the setting for a book?
I would love to write about India one day,but I fear I do not know the country well enough. However,if I had the opportunity to spend more time in this wonderful country I might try!

Which of your books do you think would make a good movie?
The No 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency has been filmed. I also take the view that the Scotland Street series would adapt well.

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