My shiny little online spot to help y'all keep track of me while I galavant around London.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Sharpe's Bath

Bernard Cornwell , the author of the Sharpe series, is doing a mini book tour (mini tour, not small books) of England to promote his newest, Sharpe’s Fury.

While he did come to London on Monday, it was only for a signing. I wanted to hear him speak, so last night, I skipped out on work early to travel to Bath.

I arrived with a few hours to kill, and having already done what touristy shiznit interested me on last year’s Jane Austen pilgrimage, I just walked around, taking pics, as usual (more here ).

When I got to the bookstore for the talk, I was surprised it wasn’t packed. The one in Southampton the night before was sold out.

Rather than read from the book, as was advertised, Cornwell rambled on in amusing fashion, describing his hobby of touring historical battlefields, and making jokes about how we should all buy all of his several dozen books.

Because the series was not written in chronological order, parts don’t always make sense, which seems to really amuse him. He finds himself having to kill off any new characters he creates, as they obviously don’t show up in the “next” book. And why does Sharpe never mention he fought at Trafalgar? Oh, because he was traumatized he just can’t speak of it. Um, yes.

Cornwell spoke a lot about Sean Bean – who plays Sharpe in the TV series – and told some amusing stories about how grumpy Bean is in rehearsal. Apparently, he rehearses like shit. Comes in grumbling, grumbles through his lines, but when it’s time to shoot, he’s spot on.

Also rather amusing… Bean was not the first actor cast, but rather a last minute replacement. Lucky them. But the first actor was much smaller than Bean, and they didn’t have time to get new costumes for the first few weeks. So all those shots of Sharpe with his shirt unbuttoned in the first episode, those were because he actually couldn’t do the shirt up.

Cornwell said that when he’s writing, the characters sometimes “speak to him”, in his head. But with Sharpe, that voice has since turned into that of Sean Bean’s, so now Cornwell sometimes wakes up to Bean’s voice. Some guy in the front row took the cue: “My wife would like that!"

The TV series was the focus of much of the discussion; for many people, they’d have been much happier if Sean Bean had been there and not Cornwell.

While that would have depressed the hell out of me, Cornwell didn’t seem to mind. He told us his least favourite episode – and this is no surprise – is Sharpe’s Gold, which is insane and features Aztecs… in France. “What were the writers smoking? Aztecs? It must have been good stuff.”

And when asked if there’d be another show (not if he would write another Sharpe book…) he told the early-20s girl that even if they don’t make another film, she’ll always have Sean-Bean-as-Sharpe in her dreams.

Ahh, won’t we all. Well, maybe just me. And Nat.

. . .

On the walk from Waterstones bookstore to the train, I happened to pass a landmark from another book-to-film: the columned walkway next to the Pump Rooms where Captain Wentworth and Anne finally kiss in Persuasion (they're making a new TV version ...with Anthony Stewart Head as Sir Walter!).

Such a romantic scene, in a lovely adaptation. But in real life, the spot was full of hoodied teenagers, smoking cigarettes and yelling and flirting with each other.

No wonder I like books so much.



Blogger Nat said...

Holy crap that would have been cool. Watching Sharpe movies under the guise of learning about the Napoleonic War was the only cool thing about Social 20.

Mmm... Sean Bean.



Post a Comment

<< Home