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DBC Pierre – Vernon God Little

December 2nd, 2011 | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on DBC Pierre – Vernon God Little
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On the 14th November DBC Pierre came to speak at the university about his Man Booker prize winning novel Vernon God Little. This event was organised as part of the Booker Prize Foundation; whose aim is to promote high quality fiction and encourage debate among students. Stirling was one of just five universities in the country selected to take part in the initiative.

Vernon God Little won the Man Booker prize in 2003 and has been described as ‘original, engaging and fantastically well constructed’ by Sarah Waters from the Daily Telegraph’s Books of the Year.

The novel is told from the point of view of Vernon Gregory Little who is accused of a high school massacre which killed sixteen students. As the blame increasingly falls on him his plan is to run away to Mexico.

DBC Pierre was born in Australia before moving to Mexico where he spent most of his later childhood years. He would often travel across the border to the US where he saw ‘the same divides applied to the richest country on earth.’ He was inspired to write the novel after seeing an American teenager on TV, being put into a police car after a potential high school shooting. It made him feel angry about our culture and society and made him question if this ‘kid’ could really be fully responsible.  For Vernon God Little his starting point was ‘what kind of fucking life is this?’ He used his experiences as a teenager in Mexico; growing up at a time when the US still seemed innocent and how children with guns shattered this illusion.

During the talk DBC Pierre read a short extract from his book in a slow South American drawl and then opened up the floor for questions.  Are we supposed to believe everything Vernon says? Yes, he is writing from the point of view of most teenagers where the world is black and white, either fantastic or dire, there is no in between. Growing up in a media saturated society, fed on Jerry Springer and Oprah – Vernon is a product of his society. When thinking about the voice we must be mindful that Vernon is an adolescent – parents are the enemies, or at that age they should be.

In terms of how he constructs a plot; his method is to make a huge meticulous plan which he lays out in an Excel spreadsheet, with carefully constructed sub-plots, and then goes away and does something completely different. He ‘jumps in the deep end and tries not to drown.’ His advice to writers is to write without structure, without proper spelling and grammar even, to just write in all kinds of moods and frames of mind, and even though most it will have to be edited out, there will be something there to work with. It is easier to edit than to write great things first time round – ‘go in and do carpentry.’ And whatever you do, do not show a first draft to anyone. Does he feel he has become a writer since winning the Man Booker? DBC Pierre left this open to debate proclaiming ‘you learn to write the book you are writing – it doesn’t mean that you have learnt to write.’