What are you most looking forward to in 2016?
Having attended the 2013 Festival I know that I’m in for a warm and gracious welcome and I well remember the very special aura of excitement that seems to swirl around the events and bookselling areas. But for me the icing on the cake is the enthusiasm and happiness of the audiences. A happy audience means a very happy author – let’s make it happen in 2016!
When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?
I can’t give you an exact date as it happened when I was very young. It was about five milliseconds after I discovered that books are made by people called writers who enjoy writing and then realized that I could be one of them when I grew up. Writing is all I have ever wanted to do and all I ever want to do – and although at times in fits of practicality I have contemplated alternative careers they always involve writing.
What book do you re-read most often?
I rarely re-read books because I don’t have enough time to read all the new books that I want to. Having said that, I often re-read some of my favorite science books for research and I can always find time for a joyful dip into Shakespeare, or to rekindle my pleasure in Wuthering Heights or Dr Zhivago.
If you weren’t a writer what would you be?
An unemployed writer. In other words I would be like all the other people who have a drawer-full of manuscripts and a headful of dreams. In fact I think I am that person because I certainly haven’t published all the books I want to publish.
And finally, we have a number of aspiring writers attending the Festival. What one piece of advice would you give them?
So you’re an aspiring writer, are you? Great – now get more determined, get more practiced and get lucky. You’ll need all these qualities – determination so you’re not put off by the inevitable rejections from publishers and the regrettable comments by those who should know better; practice because writing is at least as much skill as talent and without practice there is no skill; and lucky because professional writing and professional gambling are curiously alike – although, in my opinion, professional writing is far more fun.