Speaker – Roddy Martine, 28th March, 2012

Headline news! “Whisky saved my life” says author, journalist, editor and Keeper of the Quaich Roddy Martine.
As the club’s guest speaker last night Mr Martine had the whole audience eating out of the palm of his hand with a humorous and interesting talk and a revealing question & answer session. His talk covered his career from entering the publishing industry as a printer through to editing and writing for magazines and newspapers and authoring a wide range of well-received books. He may have also mentioned taking on some work in and around the world of whisky.
He spoke knowledgeably on both life as a writer and a journalist and on the subjects he has covered in his long and varied career. With anecdotes ranging from meeting Compton MacKenzie as a 16 year old ‘hack’ for his school newspaper, to being gifted a signed golf ball from none other than President Reagan, to childhood memories of his father being held in a Japanese POW camp it was inspiring to just sit back and listen to him. I seem to remember some talk about whisky too.
He spoke fondly and in depth about other writers he had come into contact with over the course of his long working life, many of whom had become good friends. He was generous with his praise of many of them.
He was generous with his advice too. His take on the difference between a career in journalism and writing fiction was interesting; as a journalist you can take on any subject, regardless of how familiar you are with it, so long as you have the instinct to know who to get the goods from, information-wise. On the other hand, he stressed that as a fiction writer you are better to stick to subjects you know well.
He spoke passionately about needing a passion to write, and highlighted the importance of meeting deadlines in today’s high tech and competitive world.
Whether talking about his peers, his subject matter or his actual career his vividly recounted descriptions of events both major and minor gave an indication of his ability to observe details and communicate them powerfully to his audience.
Mr Martine clearly relishes his life as a writer but was honest about the downsides. Altogether an evening very well spent, much like an evening spent with a few glasses of a good single malt, but without the hangover…
Flora Napier

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