I haven’t logged in, in a little while. I’m kinda still in ‘what, what happened here?’ mode. I’ve been wondering what to do – anticipating the rhythm of this site to wane over time – and been considering how best to preserve this living memorial. To the contrary, nothing has waned.  I’m very grateful for what has occurred here – 12,537 interactions, and counting.

It’s no secret that the inspiration for ‘Banksophilia’ came from a site for USA people, caringbridge.org – which facilitates living memorials, interactions and online communication support for people going through hard health times. But what we did here, what Iain did here, was so personal and direct I don’t think anyone has fully gotten their head around it. Meaningfully, beautifully human.

I’m thinking it may be a good idea to take this forward somehow. Too many people struggle with health issues, alone, or disconnected from friends and loved ones as things progress or get tough, and it’s not an income-related or social status related issue. I think a UK-style ‘caringbridge’ would be a great thing. I’ve written the directors of the US site for advice.

Some have raised hands in the guestbook to help out here, and to do anything that’s what will be required: technical expertise, help getting the word out, etc. So if anyone is sincerely interested in contributing to a side-project, send me an email. I also have to recognise the efforts of Paul Macdonald at ifdnrg.com, who jumped in last minute to make Banksophilia happen in time, and also when Iain’s fan site crashed do to the traffic after the announcement.

Be Well,

Martin

 

temporary contact addy:banksophilia@prettybrokenpunks.com

 

I rather loved the way Iain wrote.  He would spend April through June thinking about thinking about a new book, July through September really thinking about it, September through Christmas plotting it out and making a detailed plan and then January through March actually sitting in front of this computer writing it.

While he used to tell audiences he only worked for three months of the year – referring to the actual typing bit – he was quick to add that he spent rather a lot of the rest of the time working it all out in his head, though he knew that to look at him there were few outward signs of actual ‘working’!

The Quarry was conceived in early summer 2012, plotted through the autumn and was pretty much ready to go by December.  Even around Christmas he was often to be found in his study tweaking the plan and often told me he was itching to start writing.

On Monday 4th March this year, Iain was sitting on a corner bed of a Fife hospital ward waiting for a scan result, laptop open, working on the final few chapters of The Quarry.  At that stage, there were about 87,000 words written, less than 10,000 to go.

There were so many moments in our life together when we’d look at something or overhear something and say to each other “you could never put that in a book” quite simply because no-one would believe that it was likely or possible.  Real life can be funny like that.

And at the end, Iain’s story became something you could never put in a book – certainly something he never would have.  He was horrified at the idea of putting a person or event from his real life directly into any work of fiction as it would have been a slight on the power of his imagination.

Had he known he had cancer, he would never have written about it.   The inaccuracies appearing about why and when this book was written make me think of Guy in The Quarry, gleefully misquoting Dorothy Parker when he exclaims, “What fresh bollockry is this?”  Iain knew that had he survived his cancer, he would have spent the rest of his life correcting the facts at every event and in every interview!

The Quarry is beautiful.  It’s a breathless read, laugh-out-loud funny, heartbreaking and fantastically sweary in a way that would definitely meet with Malcolm Tucker’s approval – and all the more devastating because in the end Iain came to know his character’s story just a little too well.  The vicious irony of the situation wasn’t lost on either one of us.

Adele

Dear Friends of Iain,

From Adele “Iain died in the early hours this morning. His death was calm and without pain.”

We will update this site shortly. Please leave messages here, he absolutely loved them.

For now, a fond farewell to our friend.

Martin

 

 

info: http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2013/jun/09/iain-banks-dies

Hello again. Time for another update. I started writing this on (mostly) sunny Barra, at the end of a short holiday. As always happens when we go there, we both relaxed … oh, pretty much at full tilt, really: walking on pristine beaches, listening to the quietness – or distant Atlantic rollers – eating just-caught seafood, chatting to the friendly islanders, going to Cockle Strand to watch the daily plane land on the beach, and either collecting cowries (Adele) or building dams (me). Basically Barra brings out the inner six-year old in both of us. And if I fail to mention the scallop pakora it’s only because I want to make sure there will always be enough for us whenever we make it back here.

We then spent a few nights in the Isle of Eriska hotel, mostly contemplating all our good intentions regarding doing lots of sporty stuff – actual swimming, attempting to play badminton, even just walking round the island – from our hot tub. (Adele points out that this is basically just a bath on the outside of your house, but it seems so much more socially desirable than having a lav at the bottom of the garden.)

The latest medical news is that my bilirubin level continues to fall and I have an appointment for a CT scan at the end of the month. If my bilirubin is below 50 – and if the tumours have behaved themselves – then chemotherapy will be an option, with these new CT results forming the base line for measuring the improvements chemo might provide. If the scan shows the tumours have been over-enthusiastic during the last couple of months, then – as I understand it – chemo would be pointless. Assuming it is an option I’ll probably try chemo and see how I react, but if it wipes me out each time I shan’t be persevering.

Meanwhile, I’ve been reading the posts on the site. So far I’ve reached page 60, which is getting on for a third of the way through. Still knocked out by the love and the depth of feeling coming from so many people; thank you, all of you. A few posts with unlikely-sounding cures get skimmed and an even smaller number skipped, following mention of one or more religious Arooga! terms, but together they account for less than one percent of the total.

I wish I did have the time to reply to everybody individually but I don’t. I think I’ll only comment on any of the posts if there’s something factually wrong mentioned in them, and so far the only point I can remember is one where an ex-neighbour of ours recalled (in an otherwise entirely kind and welcome comment) me telling him, years ago, that my SF novels effectively subsidised the mainstream works. I think he’s just misremembered, as this has never been the case. Until the last few years or so, when the SF novels started to achieve something approaching parity in sales, the mainstream always out-sold the SF – on average, if my memory isn’t letting me down, by a ratio of about three or four to one. I think a lot of people have assumed that the SF was the trashy but high-selling stuff I had to churn out in order to keep a roof over my head while I wrote the important, serious, non-genre literary novels. Never been the case, and I can’t imagine that I’d have lied about this sort of thing, least of all as some sort of joke. The SF novels have always mattered deeply to me – the Culture series in particular – and while it might not be what people want to hear (academics especially), the mainstream subsidised the SF, not the other way round. And… rant over.

And now a word about cars. Six years ago, to the immense chagrin of my then girlfriend, now wife, Adele, who was just getting used to heated leather seats, doors that close with a reassuring thunk rather than a tinny wobble and the sight of the adjacent landscape blurring past in bewildering pulses of extreme acceleration, I decided to get rid of all the flash cars (this is another odd little myth that seems to have grown up; that Adele somehow forced or persuaded me to do all this. Ha ha. I don’t think so. I’m an easy-going individual, but I’m immensely stubborn too, and the instant I think somebody’s trying to get me to do something just because it suits them, I tend to go into High Umbrage mode. Also, Adele thinks it’s hilarious that anyone imagines she could persuade me to do something I didn’t want to do). This was no dramatic conversion to the Green cause; just thirty years of reading New Scientist and finally admitting to myself that regardless of what anybody else thought or did, I had to acknowledge the force of the argument and the evidence behind it and stop trying to fool myself; even if it was just a matter of clearing my own conscience I had to reduce my carbon hoof-print. (I stopped flying, too.) However… in the light of my recent bad news, I decided that – as it looked like I was going to be saving on the next twenty/thirty years of personal carbon output – I could indulge myself a bit. Hence flying to Venice. And also hence, even before we got married, buying a six year old BMW M5. An M5 V10 with 500 of your Earth horsepowers. So I am back to scudding round the Highland roads again with a big grin on my fizzog (well, when I can grin, and the acceleration/braking force isn’t distorting my face like somebody taking part in an early NASA rocket sled experiment). Got heated leather seats, too…

Anyway, it suddenly strikes me that a lot of the above is digressive. Apologies. To get back to the real point of all this, I want to say thank you to all of you for your messages, your memories, your wit, your sympathy and your kind, supportive thoughts. It means a lot, almost more than I can say, and – whatever type or size of screen I read the comments on – I come away from the computer, laptop, iPad or phone with a happy smile on my face.

Oh, and that bit in the last update, about telling the writers and artists you most admire now, before they’re dead? Done it; or at least started the process. I sent what was basically a fan letter to Alasdair Gray a couple of weeks ago, telling him how much his work has meant to me, then last night I got to tell Mike (as in M John) Harrison something very similar. Doing that made me feel good too.

All the best

Iain

Thursday April 18th

Well, what an odd old time it’s been. I’m now a married man – again – and I’ve been truly stunned by the response to the original press release we put out on April 3rd – cunningly timed to hit the outerweb just as we were heading away on honeymoon to mostly-sunny-with-a-touch-of-rain Venice and then mostly-rainy-with-a-touch-of-sun Paris.
Even after we had, technically, arrived back home it was still a few more days before I could lay my tousled locks on our own pillows; I had to get off the train at Waverley station on Thursday and head straight to the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary after feeling distinctly dodgy in Paris that morning. I was kept in until Tuesday (though I did have a day pass that let me come home for a while over Sunday/early Monday … nothing about any of this is simple … ). The upshot is that a partial blockage of the stent that was emplaced earlier appears to have been dealt with in a procedure that took place on Monday afternoon and my bilirubin levels have started to come down again.
Anyway, I’m back home now, after a basically brilliant honeymoon/holiday and a good-as-it-could-be stay at the very shiny and expertise-stuffed ERI.
I had some work to do on the new novel while we were away, both in Venice and Paris, plus I was – mostly – keeping pace with and replying to all the direct emails I was getting. Meanwhile Adele was monitoring all the posts on the Banksophilia site, set up for us by our good pal Martin Belk.
Adele has read out many of the posts and I’ve read a few off the screen. I will read all of them all, in time. Those offering medical advice – especially those with links to tests and trials and published papers and so on – will be looked at seriously; both Adele and I intend to do some proper research here. There are also a few people I’ve lost touch with over the years that I hope to get back to direct.
And I am, of course, deeply happy that I have attracted the attentions of a few of our – how can I put this politely? – more rationality-challenged friends. To have stirred up none at all would have been almost suspicious.
Mostly, though – good grief! – what an outpouring of love, affection and respect. I honestly had no idea. Of course I’ve always known I have a fair few fans, and I’ve always been a fan of my fans – certainly of those who turned up at signing sessions, bookshop events, literary festivals, library gigs and so on. The people I spoke to on these occasions always seemed bright, clever, highly informed and sometimes worryingly more intelligent than me (see – somebody really intelligent would have written “I” there). As well as displaying immense good taste in literature, obviously.
However. Discovering the sheer extent and depth of the feelings people have expressed on the message board over the past two weeks has been truly astounding.
I feel treasured, I feel loved, I feel I’ve done more than just pursue the craft I adore and make a living from it, and more than just fulfil the only real ambition I’ve ever had – of becoming a professional writer. I am deeply flattered and touched, and I can’t deny I’ve been made to feel very special indeed. At the same time, though, I’d like to think that it’s like this for every author, to a greater or lesser degree; we’ve each engendered more love out there than we think we have, and it’s only the fact that I’ve been able to pre-announce my own demise that has allowed me to realise my portion of that love in full while I’m still around to appreciate it. Which has got me thinking; I need to tell other writers how much their work has meant to me while they are (and I am) still alive. Means writing yet more letters, but I feel it’d be hypocritical of me not to, now. I think I’ll start with the amazing Mr Alasdair Gray.
Either way. The point is that I owe you all a huge thanks for the witty, poignant, beautiful, heartfelt, insightful, touching and just funny things you’ve said about my work on Banksophilia. It’s been a delight.
I’ll continue to post the occasional update for as long as I’m able.
Thanks again,
Iain (M) Banks

I wanted to say a huge thank you to every single person who has taken the
time to write something on these pages

To everybody who has shared news of their own encounter with this disease
we wish that that was something we didn’t have in common but we know and
appreciate just how much it takes to spare a little emotional empathy for a
fellow sufferer. Iain is genuinely delighted that some of you got better
news than we did.

Iain is reading every single comment although with something like 105 pages
to get through this might take a little while! That, however, is a very
pleasurable task. It is huge fun to read about all the people whose
relationships started (and survived!) through mutual love of Iain’s
writing; to read about the children who don’t know yet know what stack of
books is waiting for them when parents can be reasonably sure that they
won’t try any of the stunts from The Wasp Factory; to the people who
discovered bands or malts through repeated exposure to Iain’s own passions.
And it’s amazing to hear all the kind and sympathetic words – from Laos to
Hong Kong to Uruguay to India to Dunedin to Dunfermline – it is just
extraordinarily touching to have you all take the time to speak to Iain -
he has roared with laughter and been deeply moved by the love, kindness and
wit in your messages.

Iain’s adding the finishing touches to the new book at the moment but he’ll
post his own update soon. Until then thank you for showing my gorgeous,
wonderful husband how much he is loved and appreciated beyond his own front
door!

After Iain proposed, I was referred to as Mrs-B-To-Be
Now that we’re married, I’m Mrs-B-To-Be-As-Was

At alliterative times like this, I’m grateful or my own teeth and a mop for
the drool :)

Adele
Chief Widow-in-Waiting