SPECIAL INTERVIEW: Sir Vince Cable visits Sidmouth to talk about new book
PUBLISHED: 07:00 04 November 2017
Leader of the Liberal Democrats Sir Vince Cable visited Sidmouth to talk about his debut fiction novel Open Arms.
Sir Vince visited Kennaway House as part of the venue’s running series of Meet the Author events.
Open Arms hit the shelves back in September and tells the tale of Kate Thompson, a glamorous housewife-turned-MP, who gets caught up in a personal scandal while working in India as a trade minister.
What inspired the story?
“There were strands I always wanted to write about. I have spent quite a lot of time in India and wanted to bring together some of the strands of what is happening there and here.
“I also wanted to write about some of the ethical issues in politics, particularly around the arms trade.”
Why did you decide to venture into writing fiction?
“After the 2015 elections and I was looking to a new life, I didn’t realise that two years later I’d be back with my old life.
“I’d always wanted to do some fiction and my wife organised a holiday.
“In the two weeks I managed to bash out 30,000 words and it turned out to be not as bad as I thought and it encouraged me to keep going - ideas just started coming to me.”
What do you prefer, writing or politics?
They both have a role, I have quite an important political role - I’m a leader of a party and before that I was a senior cabinet minister – so you have the feeling that you are doing something important but writing is something I enjoy and have done for many years, I think I’m quite good at it.
What is your writing kryptonite?
I’m quite a fast writer, I write at speed - the problem very often is when you get blocks and the plot doesn’t add up and you have to revisit it.
Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?
“No not really. It would have destroyed, from my publisher’s point of view, much of its purpose because people are interested in it partly because it’s written by me I think.
“There is nothing I’m trying to hide.”
What is the most difficult thing when writing a character from the opposite sex?
“Well that was the challenge of the book actually. My leading character was a woman and that was what I wanted to do.
“In a way it’s easy to write about man as a man.
“I thought it was a real challenge to try and get under the skin of a woman.
“It doesn’t probe too much into her emotional life in that sense, it glides over the surface. There were two women with leading roles and I have tried to portray both of them sympathetically and as interesting characters.”
What if anything did you edit out this book?
“I had to take a view about sex - so it’s portrayed in quite a subdued way but it was a bit more colourful at the start.
“The other thing I had to be careful of was that half the book is set in India and I was describing in more graphical terms the nastier aspects of politics in India. As you know there are some religious parties which have been involved in very nasty violence. I was advised by my editor to not name any of the parties.
Were you trying to send any messages through the book?
“I suppose so.
“We often see politicians in terms of ideology and scandal but actually most are people doing their best, often in difficult circumstances. I’m trying to describe the real world of politics .”