Author’s Cayman inspiration

He lives in Edinburgh. He’s won numerous awards. He’s got nine honorary doctorates from universities in Europe and the United States.

He’s Alexander McCall Smith, CBE, and he’s coming to Cayman today (Friday, 14 January) to discuss his newest novel.

The Charming Quirks of Others is the latest outing for Isabel Dalhousie, the inquisitive heroine of a very popular series. The character’s becoming famous in her own right – not that she’d necessarily welcome the attention, says the writer.

“Isabel Dalhousie is quite a private person – I think she would not make a great deal of her growing fame! I suppose, too, that she would imagine that she will get many more requests to help people with mysteries in their lives now that she is better known.”
Some things, we venture, are better left uninvestigated.

Sailing and raining

The bestselling author is no stranger to the Cayman Islands, and he says he’s very much looking forward to returning.

“I have visited on quite a number of occasions and I always enjoy being on the island. I am looking forward to spending my mornings writing, and then I am also looking forward to swimming. I am a keen sailor and so if anyone at the event asks me if I would like to go sailing, the answer would most certainly be yes.

“I have written a number of these Isabel Dalhousie books while staying with friends in Cayman. I distinctly remember how I thought of the title for one of them, The Right Attitude to Rain, when I was driving along the road in George Town and it began to rain. As I watched the windscreen wipers move, I thought of that title.”

Despite having more than 60 fiction books and 12 academic texts in his oeuvre, he denies being ‘prolific’. Which is a little like calling the sea ‘a bit damp’.

Really Terrible Orchestra

Aside from his writing, he’s also a co-founder and member of The Really Terrible Orchestra, which has the mission ‘to encourage those who have been prevented from playing music, either through lack of talent or some other factor, to play music in the company of similarly afflicted players.’ For something that began rather tongue in cheek, they’ve not done too badly, with a documentary and performances at Cadogan Hall, London and New York Town Hall under their belts already.

“We do not have any plans to tour Cayman in the near future, but we are always open to invitations! People would have to stock up on ear plugs in advance though,” concludes the author and sometime bassoonist.

The evening’s proceedings will begin at 7pm in Gardenia Court, Camana Bay, where Alexander McCall Smith will give an intimate presentation and read excerpts from his new novel, The Charming Quirks of Others, before taking questions from the audience. The discussion will be immediately followed by a book signing at Books & Books. Ask him nicely, and he might refrain from playing you a tune, too.

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