Wednesday 24 July 2019

Tom Hanks reveals his love for the novels of late Irish author Maeve Binchy

He was speaking about his move into writing fiction

London Literature Festival
London Literature Festival

By Francesca Gosling, Press Association

Tom Hanks confessed his love for the novels of late Irish author Maeve Binchy as he discussed his transition into the world of fiction writing.

The two-time Oscar-winning actor, best known for his leading roles in classic films such as Forrest Gump, shared an insight into his creative influences as he gave a talk on his new compilation of stories, Uncommon Type, at London’s Southbank Centre on Wednesday night – his only public appearance during his current trip to the UK.

Asked which authors he would like to pick the brains of, he remembered picking up a copy of Binchy’s Light A Penny Candle by chance while on a dreary holiday.

“I fell in love with it,” he said. “We all went nuts for her and I read Tara Road, Circle Of Friends – I ended up going on a massive Maeve Binchy thing.

“I actually wrote her a fan letter and I got a letter back. I thought I should get myself to Dublin and have a nice cup of tea with Maeve.”

Tom Hanks

Describing his dream dinner party scenario he listed Binchy and sci-fi writer Arthur Clarke, and joked: “What a kid they would have”.

The father of four, 61, gave readings from some of his tales, partly inspired by his own family experiences including his parents’ divorce and his relationship with his children.

He continued: “I have three boys and one daughter and I get along with each of them very differently. But I know absolutely for certain that they will need other people in their lives to spur them along.

“I just need to be the one to tell them, “You will figure this out, you will be okay’.”

Speaking of his own influences, he remembered having a good relationship with both his late father, who encouraged him to take typing lessons, and his late and “glamorous” mother.

Comparing his work as a novelist to life on the big screen, Hanks explained: “When you are an actor you have to have a back story for your character, with everything that has happened to them before the movie takes place.

“That’s a construct you have to build from the moment you get the part and you start writing it in the tablet or your head.

“You invest everything you can in it and then someone else (filmmakers) presents it. You give them the bones of your character but it’s their decision.

“But this (Uncommon Type) came out of only one place, and that’s my fingers.”

Hanks also told how he ambitiously attempted to write part of the book on a traditional typewriter.

But despite his passion for the old-fashioned machines, which has led him to amass a collection of more than 160 of them, he admitted that it was a complete “disaster”.

After pulling together story ideas that he had developed over the last two decades for Uncommon Type, he advised the audience: “You should never throw anything away that you have written. It may become worthwhile.”

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