Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
At the tender age of seven I read the sometimes frightening Pink Fairy book by Andrew Lang with its pictures of the evil queen who spat out a toad every time she opened her mouth. However the picture which most impressed me was of a slender, Burne-Jones style lady holding a wheel - the wheel of destiny she said - do you want happiness in your youth and unhappiness in old age? I made my choice there and then - and so it came to pass.
How do you approach cover design?
Oh dear - amateurishly. The cover i have chosen for my book was the most apt and exotic I could find on the Internet - the Ananda temple in Pagan, Burma. Another consideration was that Ananda was the Lord Buddha's most loyal disciple. 'Though I am not a Buddhist I do try to follow his unrivalled advice on how life should be lived..
What are your five favorite books, and why?
The Alexandra Quartet for its invitation to travel, exoticism and reflection; Raise High the Roofbeam Carpenter for its verbal fireworks; The dragons of Eden for its alternative to a religious meaning to life; the books of John D McDonald for their satisfying construction but light weight content; anything by Stepen Fry for his painful honesty and inclusivity
What is your e-reading device of choice?
Touch 2 - only because I sat on my Kindle and couldn't find a replacement
Describe your desk
My desk is my dining table and my computer rarely leaves it. Odd bits of paper scattered all around with passwords, URLs and other bits and pieces I always forget. As a translator I often have two or three dictionaries and at least one thesaurus - though I'm increasingly using the MS word version which is improving all the time.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
My childhood was spent in the seaside towns of Deal and Dover, on the English Channel. Indirectly they influenced my writng for two reasons - firstly they were so cold with a bitter east wind ("only the North sea between Deal and Siberia"0 that I couldn't wait to travel to warmer climes which gave me most of the experiences described in People and Places. The second reason was the seaside for a small boy was a delight. and Dover, a port, gave me even more to write about.
When did you first start writing?
I first started to write in late adolescence - poetry and descriptive pieces when I was studying in Paris. The my career in the Diplomatic Service where my style and content was honed by a series of talented taskmasters. However it was only very late in life, at the age of 71, that I began writing my book - and then only after many hesitations
What motivated you to become an indie author?
The reason for my writing the book were many - initially my sister, the family historian, asked me to set out the story of my life - but the main personal motivation was to exorcise my internal devils and to make a journey of personal discovery. Althogh the excercise has been rewarding I worry that it may been seen as the self-indulgent meanderings of an old fart.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
For this very personal memoir - it has been to discover the values of the real friendships made over the years and which I had only partly understood.
What are you working on next?
Sorry - I am a one book man. However it is said that an autobiograpy is never finished because life just keeps on getting in the way. As my mind constantly reflects on the lessons of my experiences and as these experiences, even late in life, are enriched day after day, I will probably be revising the book until my last breath.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
I wish I knew, but one strong reason is to respect the memory of my late wife. And of course the life force which energises all of us
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