James Meek

This article is from 2008.

James Meek

Johnny Depp-friendly author and journo

As well as writing novels, James Meek has spent a lot of time as a journalist reporting from conflict zones, and this experience fed into his latest fictional work, We Are Now Beginning Our Descent. A global book, it ranges from London to rural America, but the most significant action occurs in Afghanistan and Iraq as the novel’s protagonist, the jaded, cynical reporter Adam Kellas, struggles to find love and a purpose. ‘It’s based on personal experiences, but that sounds lame and simplistic,’ says Meek. ‘It’s a novel, so I have license to make things up and they are thoroughly mixed in with actual events, so it’s not possible to disentangle.’

The book takes a swipe at war reporting as well as the publishing industry, Kellas is trying to write a trashy airport thriller to cash in. ‘I couldn’t write a book like Kellas does, not caring about it,’ says Meek. ‘Trying to write a book to deliberately sell as many copies as possible: I couldn’t do that.’

Nevertheless, Meek is a bestselling author. His last novel, The People’s Act of Love, was a breakthrough success translated into 20 languages, and now there’s a film in development produced by Johnny Depp. With all that, Meek admits to feeling the pressure to maintain his success. ‘You can’t get away from the sense of expectation, but you just have to block it out and do what you want to do, do it as well as you can, for better or worse.’

13 Aug, 5pm, £9 (£7).

James Meek

'We are Now Beginning Our Descent' charts the story of a cynical journalist. Meek himself isn't quite so jaded, claiming to seek artistic integrity rather than sales. It hasn't stopped him becoming a best-seller though. 'Part of the Edinburgh International Book Festival'.

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