Q. Which other EAFOL 2016 participant are you most excited about?
I’m looking forward to seeing Lauren Child who I judged a poetry competition with last year, she’s very cool. And also Jim Kay, who I’ve not met before. His work is amazing (look at A Monster Calls), and the new Potter is a Good Thing. And I did enjoy Jenny Colgan’s Dr Who meets the Vikings novel, Dark Horizons, so I don’t doubt she’s ace too.
Q. Which book(s) are you reading now?
Right at the moment I’m reading the letters of Iris Murdoch, who’s one of my favourite adult novelists, I’ve also started rereading The Lord of the Rings, which I’ve not reads for a long time. I enjoyed the films, but it’s good to get back to the real thing once in a while. I just finished reading a lovely funny kids’ novel called Fleeced by Ellie Irving, about a sheep with special markings that make it worth a lot of money, unpaid debts, a prodigal son, a new start and a farm in Scotland. Also a poetry collection by Robert Garnham called Nice from Burning Eye Books, which isn’t for kids but is very funny.
Q. Which literary character would you invite to dinner? And why?
Most of them I’m quite happy to leave between the pages of their books, because that’s where they belong and I’m not particularly nosey or sociable: it was nice to share what they’ve shared, but if they wanted me to know more they’d have had a sequel, is sort of my feeling. But if you pushed me, then maybe Lyra Belacqua from Phillip Pullman’s His Dark Materials just because.
Q. There have been some interesting additions to the dictionary over the years. Which word would you remove?
I wouldn’t remove any of them. That’s censorship and a destruction and denial of the past. That way only Bad Things live. If a word falls out of use then by all means add an (obs.) for obsolete or an (arch.) for archaic. By removing old words you remove your own past. Of course the only complete dictionary is full of obsolete and archaic words that no one uses anymore because language, English and all others, has been growing and changing for centuries. One of my favourite words that’s missing from most modern dictionaries is just the old past participle of to climb, which used to be clomb (to rhyme with comb, I’ve always thought, but which might rhyme with bomb now I think about it – I haven’t checked).
Q. Who would write/ illustrate the story of your life?
Whoever they are I would ask them to stop, because, frankly, nobody (least of all me) wants that. Just say ‘He wrote some books’ and pass them around, that’s all you need to know.