Q & A

1. Grew up in?

“A quite notorious place in Leeds Yorkshire; it’s often featured in documentaries as a place NOT to grow up in. I didn't know that at the time so consequently really liked it. I lived in a three bedroom house with my mum and dad and aunt and uncle and cousin, my grandparents and one of the those free form uncles that hang around. Also my grandmother was an Irish catholic and my grandad was a Yorkshire Jew so I leave it to you to imagine the weddings and funerals. There was a lot of fighting and crying and mad dancing.”

2. Childhood ambition?

“Erm, I thought (wrongly) I might be a famous Irish dancer, or one of those people who is just famous for being themselves. From a very early age I imagined there was a camera following me everywhere, which was a bit embarrassing when I went to the loo...but that is the price of fame.”

3. Favorite sports team?

“Leeds United football club or ‘Our brave lads’ as I call them. Noble men all of them ...with lovely shorts.”

4. Book to take on a desert island?

“Something big and fat. Or possibly a ‘Guide to ship building.’"

5. Favorite city?

“Well not be too sycophantic, oh go on then I will be, I LOVE New York, sadly because they seem to like English people there so much I am inclined to turn into Mary Poppins by the time I have been there an hour and a half...”

6. Favorite CD?

“Oh, these are too hard!!! I like LOADS of stuff, lately I am playing Gomez, The Smiths, Fatboy Slim, Chemical Brothers, The Beach Boys and Lenny Kravitz with just a hint of early Motown so God knows what that says about me.”

7. Where do you write?

“I write in a very eccentric place in the middle of town called ‘the Natural Health Centre’ its a centre where they run classes in yoga and shiatsu and dancing, 5 rhythms, belly dancing, tai chi , everything so if I get bored...er...no I mean...creatively blocked, I can nip down and watch odd blokes in caftans trying to dance and thrust their pelvises around to belly dancing music. Very uplifting. Oh and also, next door to the Natural Health centre is a whole food shop called ‘Infinity foods’ so if I am feeling very amusing I will say to my best friend Jeddi who runs the Health centre, ‘I'm just popping to Infinity’ which even after years of saying it still makes me laugh.”

8. Qualities you most admire?

“Sense of humour and cheerfulness with just a touch of extreme wealth.”

9. What do you do to relax?

“Dance and behave badly in an engaging and charming way.”

10. What classic/contemporary author would you most like to have dinner with?

“I would have liked to have had dinner with Wilkie Collins and Dickens and also probably, if he was in a good mood, Evelyn Waugh. I had a breakfast chat with Sebastian Barry who is up for a Booker prize this year and he would have been a cracking dinner companion ... oh and also Richmal Crompton who wrote Just William.”

11. What classic/contemporary fictional character would you most like to date?

“Philip Marlowe from the Raymond Chandler novels or...hmmmm... maybe even Darcy from Pride and Prejudice... I know, I know, I am sorry.”

12. Place you were/are happiest?

“I still love Yorkshire but I love adventure, I have been very happy travelling, on the QE2, on the overnight train to Florence, waking up in Venice, one of my enduring memories is of driving across America with my friend and after 6 days of non stop driving all the way across from New York to the West coast we started to look out for surfers, only to discover that our useless so called friend who had supplied the maps had missed out Colorado so we were still in the Rockies.”

13. Most embarrassing moment?

“Many, many, many most embarrassing moments. Not recognising that I was being given a lift by Led Zeppelin until someone yelled out, ‘Hi Robert, Hi Jimmy’ ranks quite high.”

14. What adjectives might you use to describe your latest book?

“Fabby, groovy, tragic, yet full of hilariosity.”

15. Life motto?

“I came, I saw, I conga-d.”

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