Writer's Edit

A newsletter for novel writers looking for inspiration and advice on their creative journey.

Language, Characters & Themes with David Mitchell at SWF

Having read the phenomenal novel The Bone Clocks earlier this year, I knew there was one author at the top of my fantasy Sydney Writers’ Festival draft… David Mitchell. The Bone Clocks is an incredible feat in terms of structure, characterisation and foresight, as well as just a damn good story. I could think of nothing more I’d like to do for this year’s Writers’ Festival than hear Mitchell talk about how he came to create this novel, and what had inspired him to do so.

David Mitchell
Author David Mitchell in conversation with Kate Evans…

‘Bending Time’ took place at the City Recital Hall, Angel Place on the 22nd of May. And it did not disappoint. In the same venue in which I had seen Eleanor Catton talk last year (from the cheap seats in the back), I now sat front row, alongside fellow editor Kyra Bandte.

Speaking with Australia’s Kate Evans, Mitchell sufficiently charmed the pants off everyone in the audience to say the least. Although jetlagged, his answers were carefully considered and laced with a cheeky sense of humour. The evening progressed into a somewhat sporadic conversation covering a range of topics from the characters Holly Sykes and Crispin Hershey (The Bone Clocks) to Mitchell’s tendency for reoccurring characters throughout his overall body of work. However, perhaps the best way to recap the evening is to provide you with a list of highlights (thanks for the idea, Kyra). Here are some of our favourite things that came from David Mitchell himself.

7 Awesome Things David Mitchell said:

1. On characters that appear in multiple books:

Like I have a large piece of paper on which I’m slowly inking a map… The (characters are) connections between my books – walking out of a door in one, and through a door in another…”

2.  On how home influences his writing:

Time spent in another society allows you to see that society is a fairly universal machine used to satisfy our needs… Travel broadens the mind, and stunts the bigot within…”

3. On ruling the world:

If I ruled the world, everyone would be the victim of racism, or would have to work in a bar.”

4. On language:

Language is a machine where humans evolve into being…”

5. On universal themes:

Maybe all novels are about identity because they have characters… There are certain things that all novels are by default about, like memory for example.

6. On why he dabbles in Twitter Fiction:

Because of a drunken lunch with a digital marketing person…”

7. On why he writes:

What looks like a choice is actually the only way through the labyrinth, to the middle, where it’s safe…”


Stay tuned for more Sydney Writers’ Festival coverage from Writer’s Edit.

In the meantime you can check out our Sydney Writers’ Festival Profile as well as the 5 Events You Can’t Miss.

One response to “Language, Characters & Themes with David Mitchell at SWF”

  1. Laura Marshall Avatar

    Agreed – Mitchell was super charming and inspiring; even him saying ‘circles are good’ felt somewhat profound!


Writer’s Edit is a newsletter for novel writers looking for inspiration and advice on their creative journey.