You can't teach writing—I think writing courses and MA degrees are procrastination techniquesby Prospect Team / June 9, 2020 / Leave a comment
What is the first news event you can recall?
The JFK assassination in November 1963. I had just turned nine. I was watching Take Your Pick! with Michael Miles, and there was a newsflash in part one saying he had been shot, and a second newsflash in part two saying he was dead. My parents were moderately anti-American and hysterically anti-Catholic, but even so were still very upset.
What is your most embarrassing moment as a writer?
I had an awkward moment on the radio once. I took a Denver station’s call in bed, and heard the DJ say, “After the news I have one of my absolute favourite authors, Lincoln Child… coming up in a minute.” I had 60 seconds to figure out how not to embarrass either the DJ or myself. As it happened, I knew Lincoln Child and I knew his books… so for three minutes on Denver radio, I simply impersonated him.
If you could spend a day at one moment in history, what would that be?
The question seems to imply a safe, swift and certain return, so I would choose something really extreme in its intensity—maybe Stalingrad in December 1942.
What is your favourite quotation?
Franz Kafka: “The meaning of life is that it ends.” Appropriately dark and sardonic, and therefore consoling in some moods, but equally I take it to mean this ain’t a dress rehearsal.
Are things getting better or worse?
There’s no conclusion other than getting worse. I grew up in a stable postwar democracy, with full employment, moderate politics, a functioning cradle-to-grave welfare state, dread diseases conquered, no bombs falling on my house, no 4am knocks on the door, and a superb free education from the age of five until I no longer wanted it. No generation in history ever had all that before, and later generations are seeing it taken away, little by little, and squalidly.
If you were given £1m to spend on other people, what would you spend it on and why?
Random acts of kindness: you see an old lady struggling with her wheelchair, you push her to the store and buy her an electric model. You rent a suite at the Savoy and invite the homeless in for a soak in the tub. And so on. Whatever increases the sum…