Thought I’d answer some questions this week (as I’m supposed to be doing uni work. Taken from here, which may become useful in weeks to come.
1. One book that changed your life?
It’d be hard NOT to say Harry Potter here. It made me want to write.
2. One book you have read more than once?
Many, many of them. In the last few years re-reads have not really been happening, but I used to read The Rotter’s Club by Jonathan Coe every year.
3. One book you would want on a desert island?
It’d have to be either something I had read so I knew I’d love it, or something I hadn’t read but was confident I would like. At the moment, probably the complete Sherlock Holmes short stories as I’ve read a good chunk of them but not all.
4. One book that made you laugh?
Off the top of my head I can’t think of any book that made me howl with laughter all the way through – Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan did produce a belly laugh at one point though.
5. One book that made you cry?
War Horse (and Atonement)
6. One book you wish had been written?
The rest of Strange Meeting! By this I mean that book could have been twice the size. And it just ends. I find the ending so painful because it’s so unresolved. Still such an amazing book though.
7. One book you wish had never had been written?
You could argue all books have value, but I’m not going to. I could go down the easy Twilight/50 Shades route but having never read either that seems unfair. I really disliked The Red Tent, so perhaps that.
8. One book you are currently reading?
One? I have several on the go, but let’s go for Coriolanus by Shakespeare as that’s the uni read of the moment.
9. One book you have been meaning to read?
So many! Really need to get round to Expo 58 by Jonathan Coe and the rest of Isherwood’s stuff and Sassoon’s diaries and so on and so on…
How many books do you have which are signed by an author or illustrator?
Which was the first one you got?
Possibly the biography of Alexander Dumas. It’s hard to remember when I bought some books. May be Famous 1914 – 1918 by Richard Van Emden and Victor Piuk which I got on our battlefield tour because Victor Piuk was our guide! I got one that had been signed already though.
Which was the most recent?
Herge and the Treasures of Tintin, which is one of those books where you pull out the documents and so on, signed at the Tintin shop in October 2013
Have you ever bought a book already signed by an author?
Yes, John Boyne’s The Absolutist and the Dumas biography. The Boyne was sold as a signed first edition, the Dumas biog just happened to have the signature in it when I got it from the charity shop.
Which of your signed books has the best story?
Possibly Jonathan Coe’s The Terrible Privacy of Maxwell Sim. I was the last person in the queue and had spent the entire time in the line trying to think of something sensible to say and of course, as I got up there my brain and mouth decided not to communicate with each other. God knows what I said in the end.
Another good story is when we went to The Festival of History (now known as History Live!) and it threw it down with rain for several hours. We ended up in a dark tent listening to a talk on trench archeology (very interesting, actually!) and I got the book by the people doing the talk and inside one of them wrote “Kelmarsh in the rain, 2011”.
If you could pick one book you own by a living author to get signed, which would you pick?
I read so many dead authors! Maybe Goodnight Mister Tom by Michelle Magorian so I could tell her how much that book means to me.
If you could pick one book you own by a deceased author to get signed, which would you pick?
Any of Sassoon’s, no questions asked. What I wouldn’t give to meet him!
Do you have a signed book which you haven’t read yet?
Yes, the Dumas biography, the Tintin book (though I have looked through it) and the trench archaeology book.
Have you ever gone to an author signing and not had your book signed?
I’ve been to several with my mum for authors she wanted to see, so she has them instead.