old david mitchell notes

Turns out I scrawled this on the back flap of the fic notebook. From a talk he gave.

“And this is just a primitive, gorgeous, beautiful magic.” — re: the act of writing novels

“Fear on the page tends to turn to disturbance, that insulates you like plastic over copper wire” — re: the difference between words on a page vs. the way he reads them out loud. Page as sheltering, a toning-down of fear.

Q: How come fiction works?

A: An unintended consequence of the vitality of our imaginations that showed up way way back to give us the evolutionary advantage. Tools  = the imagination being used to alter reality. [insert many exclamation marks here about DA:I and the fear of mages / alterers of reality] We’ve needed stories for as long as we’ve been humans. In different forms, but still they’re there. Story: we can watch these things unfold, see these events unfold, learn from them, without having to risk experiencing them firsthand.

Q: Teenagers in fiction? Why?

A: [At that age] we still half-believe in the phantoms of childhood, without yet being old enough of an adult that we can excise the demons of childhood. But some of the petty stuff of adulthood has started to bear down on you — “you don’t yet know what you can’t do” — don’t yet know what you don’t know. Don’t yet have the kevlar armor of maturity.

Q: Why the age 13 in particular?

A: It’s the youngest age when you can conceivably have “metaphor-spewing meta sarcastic observant youth.” You can’t go younger unless you really go the child genius route.


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