The Bookish Life of Robin Laing
Who are you, how do you know Claire and why does she think you’re cool?*
I'm Robin Laing and I'm an actor and voiceover artist. I first met Claire in the early 2000's when I went to see a piece of part-improvised, immersive pub theatre that she'd created, which my friend, (the then fairly unknown) Michael Fassbender was in! We then reconnected a few years ago, with us both having moved back to Scotland and have collaborated on a few different things of Claire's, chiefly online due to the strange nature of the past few years.
I reckon Claire in-part thinks I'm cool as I've been fortunate enough to work on some pretty cool things over the years, with some pretty cool people: The Lakes, Band of Brothers, The Slab Boys, Shetland, Outlander and Guilt to name a few. I'm hoping she'll also enjoy The Gold, which will be appearing on the BBC in the near future. It's a heist caper inspired by the real-life events of the Brinks-Mat gold robbery in the 1980's. It's going to be a wild ride…
I also hope she thinks I'm cool because I'm a decent human with a penchant for helping out where I can!*
*note from Claire: she does!
What was the first book you remember? (Either reading or being read to you)
The Enchanted Wood by Enid Blyton. My mum would read a chapter to me every night from a hardback copy that she had from when she was a child. I absolutely loved it: the sense of adventure, of sneaking out at night, the bizarre characters that live in the tree, the swirling clouds at the top that would reveal a new, different land each time and the real sense of jeopardy that came from getting "stuck", of not making it back to the tree before the land "moved on"! I read it to both of my boys, who also both adored it. We still have my mum's copy of it in the house somewhere.
What are you reading right now?
Indianapolis by Lynn Vincent and Sara Vladic. It's a chronicle of the sinking of the USS Indianapolis in the Pacific just before the end of World War Two and the subsequent (wrongful) court-martial of the Captain. I was lucky enough to meet Sara at a schools event we'd both been invited to in Normandy and she was kind enough to give me a copy. Other than the famous speech in Jaws that Quint (played by Robert Shaw) gives, I didn't know anything about it but it's such a compelling, tense book. They spent over a decade interviewing survivors and other eyewitnesses to piece together what is considered the definitive account of this piece of American history.
Before that, I read a quite bonkers piece of fiction called The Southern Book Club's Guide To Slaying Vampires, by Grady Hendrix, which I loved!
Plan a dinner party with six fictional guests
Elinor Oliphant, Philip Marlowe, Levi Dougherty, Oscar de Léon, Offred and Sally Bowles. If the chat isn't varied at this party, I don't know where it will be!
If you had to live in the world of one book (or series), which would it be?
Probably The Faraway Tree! I mean, it has endless worlds contained within it, plus lashings of gingerbread and lemonade. What more could anyone want?!
You can read/reread three books for the rest of your life. What’s going on the list?
Definitely Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry. I only discovered it a few years ago but it is, for me, one of the great books of the 20th century. It's essentially the story of a group of cowboys moving a herd of cattle through America - that it won the Pulitzer prize when it came out tells you that it's about so much more than that!
Pompeii by Robert Harris. It's a proper page-turner. One to absolutely devour in a day.
By contrast, One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez is one to savour and revisit, knowing that each time you do you'll likely discover something or be hit by a new realisation.
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