Cloud Atlas and Bone Clocks author David Mitchell hard at work

  • Culture
  • Wednesday, 22 Jul 2015

Writer David Mitchell is a busy man.

His new novel, Slade House, is due in October and he has sold rights for a small-screen serial of his 2014 book The Bone Clocks.

The British author of Cloud Atlas also has one year to write a novel for Future Library, a project that aims to collect one original story by a writer every year until 2114.

Mitchell already has ‘four or five ideas for fairly hefty books’ in mind. — AFP
Mitchell already has ‘four or five ideas for fairly hefty books’ in mind. Photo: AFP

Mitchell, 46, spoke to us about how Slade House began on Twitter, expanding his so-called “uber novel” or several interlinked works spanning his fiction writing, and plans for The Bone Clocks, now out in paperback.

Why has this year been so productive?

Slade House, I haven't had to do from scratch. I tried Twitter fiction (writing chapters of 140 characters or fewer) last year, and part of what has turned into Slade House was translated into tweets. I’ve kind of re-translated it back into page prose.

Would you do Twitter fiction again?

If I had an idea best served by that format. The (Slade House) protagonist, a 13-year old boy who we’d probably describe as at the Asperger’s end of the spectrum, has got into using his mum’s Valium. He’s essentially thinking in tweets.

Will your fictional universe keep expanding?

Yes. In the last books, I’ve been starting to plan forwards a little bit. I've got a rough idea for my next three, four, five books. It’s like a highly defective crystal ball. I can see the foggy outlines of the uber book. It’s not a series.

What pressure do you feel from earlier successes?

I did a piece of media. The journalist wrote “David Mitchell, author of The Bone Clocks....” I could have punched the air! Great! Until then, it's always been “the author of Cloud Atlas”.

How will the Future Library book fit into your work?

I might put into (it) something important to the uber book, a key.

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Will there be more movies?

Small-screen form is where things are at the moment. For The Bone Clocks, that’s the format that would be better suited, a series of one-hour episodes. I signed the deal recently.

Where are you on your creative arc?

I’ve got four or five ideas for fairly hefty books. It takes me to my early 60s. There’s a couple of novels set in future, a couple in the past. One or two in the present. – Reuters

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