Recently I posted a list of six books I owned that I would recommend others to read. One of these six books was Espedair Street by Iain Banks, who was one of my favourite Scottish contemporary authors and one whose style has been an influence on my own. His writing is a masterpiece of story telling (I’d recommend his books to any budding author as examples of a good writing style), and he always came across as an extremely nice bloke. I’ve been to several author events where he was reading from his books and answering questions, and I always found him extremely entertaining. He had such a presence that I’m sure he could have made it as a stand-up comedian if he’d tried, or indeed an actor.
I was lucky enough to meet him in person just once at Weegie Wednesday (a group all those involved in writing and publishing which I attend in my home city of Glasgow whenever I can), but was so star-struck I managed to make a complete fool of myself. This was mostly because I had to drink quite a lot before I could pluck up the courage to speak to him (this is in Glasgow and it’s a meeting for writers so naturally it takes place in a pub!). He was very charming about this, and was very polite and engaging despite the state I’d got myself into before I felt confident enough to talk to him. This was only a few months ago.
Tonight came the sad news that, only two months after being diagnosed, Iain Banks has died of gall bladder cancer just a week before the publication of his final novel (which had been brought forward in the hope that he’d live long enough to see if published).
RIP Iain Banks, 1954 – 2013.