What are you most looking forward to at the 2016 Festival?
I can’t wait to return to Dubai, which is one of the 15 cities of the Muslim world I am looking at for a new book on the Middle East – from Mecca in the seventh century to Gulf cities in the twenty-first. I’m honoured to be invited to Dubai and very much looking forward to joining the Middle East’s best and biggest literary festival, meeting old friends and making new ones.
When did you realise you wanted to be a writer?
I think by the time I was 18 I realised it was the only thing I wanted to do
What book do you find yourself re-reading most often?
I love rereading books. My favourites include Le Grand Meaulnes, One Hundred Years of Solitude and Catch-22.
If you weren’t a writer, what would you be?
If I weren’t a writer I would be unemployed and probably unemployable. Failing that, a Test cricketer for England or a zoologist.
And finally, we have a number of aspiring writers attending the Festival. What one piece of advice would you give them?
I would stay stick with it at all costs and never give up because there is nothing better under the sun.