Interview | Peter Kalu, author

Meet Peter Kalu in person at the BookBlast 10×10 Tour event, Waterstones, Bristol Galleries: 11A Union Galleries, Broadmead BS1 3XD 6.30 p.m. Thursday 18 October. Theme: Trading Places: Bright City, Dark Secrets. In conversation with Rosemarie Hudson, HopeRoad Publishing, (chair), and author Qaisra Shahraz. Book Tickets

What is your favorite quality?  Brevity.

Where were you born, and where did you grow up?  Earth. Ditto.

What sorts of books were in your family home? Paper ones.

Who were early formative influences as a writer? Tom & Jerry.

Do you write every day, and do you write many drafts? Yes. Yes.

As an author, what are you most proud (or embarrassed) of writing? Words. (Words).

Books that changed your life? Cicero: Murder Trials.

Your views on book publishing? Vague.
Continue reading Interview | Peter Kalu, author

Interview | Qaisra Shahraz, author

Meet Qaisra Shahraz in person at the BookBlast 10×10 Tour event, Waterstones, Bristol Galleries: 11A Union Galleries, Broadmead BS1 3XD 6.30 p.m. Thursday 18 October. Theme: Trading Places: Bright City, Dark Secrets. In conversation with Rosemarie Hudson, HopeRoad Publishing, (chair), and author Pete Kalu. Book Tickets

 Where were you born, and where did you grow up?
I was born in Pakistan and arrived in the UK at the age of nine. I grew up in Manchester.

What sorts of books were in your family home?
All sorts. In my childhood days, there was a book shelf stacked with volumes of Encyclopaedia Britannica  that my father bought to educate his children along with books by famous Pakistani poets, for example the work of Allama Iqbal.  Near my bed I had Enid Blyton’s Malory Tower series of six novels and the Famous Five collection. In my teenage years, quite a few Barbara Cartland books entered my bedroom. In our ancestral home in a wooden cabinet in Lahore I came across two of William Shakespeare’s plays. One was my father’s student copy of Hamlet, with margins lined with notes neatly scribbled in his elegant handwriting. As I pursued my studies of English literature, I proudly lined my bookcase with volumes of world literature, including numerous classics. I developed a literary appetite for the works of Leo Tolstoy, Henrik Ibsen, Ruth Prawar Jhabawalla,  Molière, Emile Zola, the ancient Greek tragedies, as well as the work of many popular Victorian novelists, including that of Elizabeth Gaskell. It was a proud moment when I was invited to read in her house at 84 Plymouth Grove here in Manchester.
Continue reading Interview | Qaisra Shahraz, author

Interview | Paul Ewen, author

Meet Paul Ewen in person at the 10×10 Tour event, Waterstones, Castle Street, Norwich 6.30 p.m. Thursday 11 OCT. His latest novel Forbidden Line,  Francis Plug: Writer in Residence is published today, 4 October. Theme: All Hail the New Modernists! Experimentalism & Contemporary Literature. With Sam Jordison from Galley Beggar Press, chair, and authors Alex Pheby, Paul Stanbridge.  Book Tickets

Forbidden Line,  Francis Plug: Writer in Residence is published today, 4 October.

Where were you born, and where did you grow up?
I was born in Blenheim, New Zealand. I grew up in various places around the South Island, like Christchurch and Lyttelton, but I spent my formative years in a town called Ashburton (nicknamed Ashvegas).

What sorts of books were in your family home?
All sorts. Art books, NZ fiction, and lots of library books because my Mum was a librarian.
Continue reading Interview | Paul Ewen, author

Interview | C. D. Rose, author

Meet C. D. Rose in person at the 10×10 Tour event, Waterstones, Leeds 6.30 p.m. Thursday 20 SEPT. Theme: Birmingham & Leeds: A Tale of Two Cities. With Ra Page COMMA PRESS chair, authors  C.D. Rose (The Book of Birmingham) and Ian Duhig (The Book of Leeds). Book Tickets

Where were you born, and where did you grow up? 
I was born in a small semi-detached house in south Manchester, and there I grew up. While I still love Manchester, I have an inexplicable fear of semi-detached houses. Continue reading Interview | C. D. Rose, author

Interview | Ian Duhig, author & poet

Meet Ian Duhig in person at the 10×10 Tour event, Waterstones, Leeds 6.30 p.m. Thurs 20 SEPT. Theme: Birmingham & Leeds: A Tale of Two Cities. With Ra Page COMMA PRESS chair, authors  C.D. Rose (The Book of Birmingham) and Ian Duhig (The Book of Leeds). Book Tickets

Where were you born, and where did you grow up? 
London, the eighth of my parents but the first not born in Ireland, so I grew up in the London-Irish community of Paddington.

What sorts of books were in your family home?
Not many books but my mother knew a lot of poetry by heart as that’s how they learned it in Ireland in her youth; this with all her songs were very important to me.

Who were early formative influences as a writer?
I liked poetry at school but when I worked in Belfast in a hostel for young offenders before the Good Friday Agreement, discovering the Northern Irish poets like Heaney, Longley, Mahon, Muldoon, McGuckiand and more recently Sinead Morrissey was electrifying. Continue reading Interview | Ian Duhig, author & poet

Interview | Dan Micklethwaite, author

Meet Dan Micklethwaite in person at the BookBlast® 10×10 Tour discussion at Waterstones, Newcastle, 6.30 p.m. Wednesday 12 SEPT. Theme: The Northern Influence on Culture. With Kevin Duffy BLUEMOOSE BOOKS chair, authors Dan Micklethwaite (The Less than Perfect Legend of Donna Creosote) and Colette Snowden (The Secret to not Drowning). Book Tickets

Where were you born, and where did you grow up?
I was born and brought up in Brighouse, West Yorkshire. 
Continue reading Interview | Dan Micklethwaite, author

Interview | Colette Snowden, author

Meet Colette Snowden in person at the 10×10 Tour event, Waterstones, Newcastle, 6.30 p.m. Wednesday 12 SEPT. Theme: The Northern Influence on Culture. With Kevin Duffy BLUEMOOSE BOOKS chair, authors Dan Micklethwaite (The Less than Perfect Legend of Donna Creosote) and Colette Snowden (The Secret to not Drowning). Book Tickets

Where were you born, and where did you grow up?
I was born and brought up in Manchester and found myself back here after university and working abroad. I live in a different area of the city from where I grew up but I have stayed here ever since. Continue reading Interview | Colette Snowden, author

Interview | Quinton Skinner, author

The publication of Amnesia Nights in the UK is a first for Quinton Skinner, the critically-acclaimed author of three novels and non-fiction books on fatherhood and rock ‘n’ roll. A former critic and magazine editor, he has written for publications including Minneapolis Star Tribune, Huffington Post, Variety, Glamour and Literary Hub. He lives in Minneapolis, USA.

Where were you born, and where did you grow up?
I was born and grew up in a working-class area of Columbus, a university city and the capital of Ohio in the U.S.

What sorts of books were in your family home?
There were quite a few. I remember The Ascent of Man, based on the BBC Series of the same name, because it captured my imagination conceptually. My father had a lovely bound series of all the Sherlock Holmes stories. I was preoccupied with an astronomy book in the home and spent a good deal of time as well with the encyclopedia and the world atlas. I also read mountains of age-appropriate stuff from the library down the street. I was the child always with his head down in some kind of printed matter.

Who were early formative influences as a writer?
Virginia Woolf for her vivid interiority. Saul Bellow for compassion and ambition. Denis Johnson for the dark alleys and the byways. Martin Amis for materialism and humor. Of course the first was Dr. Seuss, who obsessed me with his knack for the sideways hidden dimensions both in language and the visual world, a sense of the uncanny that I recognized as familiar to me, and essential to the way I saw (and heard, and spoke) things. There was also a series of crime-solving books revolving around a character called Encyclopedia Brown, which may not be read anymore but which were essential crime procedurals for the under-10 set.
Continue reading Interview | Quinton Skinner, author

Interview | Boyd Tonkin | Author of the Week

Where were you born, and where did you grow up? 
In suburban North London near the end of the Northern Line, in a small maternity home at the top of Hampstead Heath which later became a NHS nurses’ residence.

What sorts of books were in your family home? What did you read as a child?
Plenty, and an eclectic mix, but not entire walls or rooms of them. Always a fresh haul from the local library. My mother’s shelves had one of the very first Penguins: André Maurois’ Ariel (about Shelley). My father’s included rows of Pevsner’s Buildings of England, which always accompanied us on country walks and holidays. He knew German, went to German conversation classes until the end of life, so there was also some German literature in the original.
I vacuumed up the contents of the library (my first was Friern Barnet, not long ago saved from closure by a community campaign). I was a scattergun bookworm although I did early on develop a taste for classic science fiction (Verne to Bradbury). Also piles of books about cricket (again, always from the library). Somehow I fell in love with a collection picked up for a few pence from a jumble sale: Best Modern American Humour, in effect an anthology of the great New Yorker wits: Parker, Thurber, Benchley etc. I loved them then. Still love them now. Continue reading Interview | Boyd Tonkin | Author of the Week

Blogosphere Interview | Jackie Law, Never Imitate, @followthehens

Where were you born, and where did you grow up?
I was born and raised in Belfast during The Troubles. My parents grew up in working class families and were determined to ‘better themselves’. When my older brother was eight they bought a newly built, three bed semi-detached house and moved from the central area of the city to what was then its outskirts. They still live there today.
My sister and I were born after this move. My brother left home when I was six so I never really got to know him – he now lives in Australia. My sister and I both passed the 11+ exam and attended an all girl state run grammar school before going up to the local university. We continued to live with my parents, although I did move into student digs for around six months after yet another row about my behaviour – aged twenty I was staying out beyond my curfew and drinking alcohol. I suspect we all wish I could have afforded to stay away, but my part time job wouldn’t cover the rent longer term.
Belfast felt parochial, cut off from what we referred to as the mainland due to the violence. We were expected to attend church and conform to a code of conduct that demanded we put on a front to the world of chastity and sobriety. It always felt that what I was seen to be mattered more to my parents than what I was or aspired to.
Despite this I look back on a largely happy childhood. Certainly at the time I felt loved. My determination to leave Belfast and to be myself stems from the frustration of being guilt tripped into conforming to a wide range of strictures I didn’t agree with. Continue reading Blogosphere Interview | Jackie Law, Never Imitate, @followthehens