Emerging British novelist, Ned Beauman, was in Kathmandu this week for the Nepal Literature Festival. In his second book, The Teleportation Accident, which was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize, the 28-year-old takes readers on a journey through history with the help of his German protagonist. Nepali Times met with Beauman to talk about his inspirations and writing style.
Nepali Times: Tell us about your writing habits? Do they change when travelling?
Ned Beauman: I deliberately didn’t bring a laptop on this trip because I felt like if you have a laptop, you’ll spend more time in the hotel room. I’ve been commissioned to do a short story for a newspaper in the UK, so I’m going to do that all by hand. Normally I just write with the laptop at the kitchen table in my apartment in Brooklyn, New York.
I am travelling to the Riau islands in Indonesia soon because I have an idea for a book set there. That’s the first
time I’m travelling to a distant place specifically to look around and see what it’s like. To be honest, though, I get a lot more ideas in a library than I do from travelling. Travelling is useful only to the extent that you get plenty of idle time in the backs of cabs or waiting for planes. All of that is good for developing ideas. But in principle, you could replicate those conditions at home.
Your first two novels were praised for their vivid evocations of the past, be they 1930s Los Angeles or Weimar Germany. What is your research process like?
For the first two books, it was just hours and hours in libraries and exploring some locations as well. My third book, which is coming out next year, is set in London in 2010, so I didn’t have to do much research. But with the book I’m working on now, because it’s a historical setting again, I was faced with the prospect of a lot more library time and I couldn’t really face it, so I’m trying to develop a method now where I want to write a book that feels like it’s been meticulously researched, but I haven’t actually had to do anything. I’ve done all that work for the first two books and they have really given me a sense of how an interesting historical footnote or detail is shaped, so now I feel like I can fabricate them plausibly.
Your thoughts on South Asian literature?
Honestly, I haven’t really read any South Asian literature that I can think of. But after attending the festival here and meeting so many writers from the region, I am going to make sure to get my hands on some when I get home. I also want to read the works of Nepali writers. I am taking back a copy of La.Lit, the literary magazine, so I’m looking forward to that.