Scotland on Sunday Interview

From Scotland on Sunday, March 2004-What books are on your bedside table?

Teach Us To Outgrow Our Madness by Kenzaburu Oe, All Quiet on the Western
Front, James Clavell’s Shogun, and Katie Morag and the Tiresome Ted

-Which books have you been unable to finish?

Kenzaburu Oe has been on the bedside table for about as long as
it takes for something to happen in a Japanese novel. A mysteriously long time.

-What was your favourite childhood book?

Willard Price’s Adventure series, in which a boy’s give-away weakness
was always to have ‘hands as soft as butter.’ The two teenage heroes spent each
book in a different exotic location (South Sea Adventure, Amazon Adventure) in search of, you guessed it, adventure. They always found it.

-Which book would you buy as a present?

I’m currently buying Hagakure, The Book of the Samurai. This eighteenth-century How To guide advises the true warrior to wear rouge, and ‘underwear made from the skin of a badger’. It also justifies random decapitation. Highly therapeutic.

-What literary character would you like to meet?

Any of the caricatured young women in blockbuster novels from the
nineteenth century onwards. Swooning beauties who fall indiscriminately into the hero’s arms. I wouldn’t want to meet anyone realistic. That would be such a waste.

-Which authors do you most admire?

Dead ones, mostly. To really admire an author, it helps to re-invent their personality as well as the events in their books. Less chance of disappointment.

-Bookmark or page fold?

Bookmark, obviously, or what would the librarian say? I currently
have a green and white one knitted by my Mum. It has my name embroidered on it, just
in case.