Okay, so thanks to the inestimable Iain Rowan, I’ve somehow got roped into one of those meme-things that spread like herpes around the blogosphere. What you have to do is…
Give eleven facts about yourself, answer eleven questions set by the person who’s prompted you, then set another eleven questions for eleven more people. Eventually, as Iain says, everyone in the world answers it and then the world ends, or something.
Well, I’m not so sure about roping in another eleven victims, but here’s my attempt to answer…
Eleven facts, all true, apart from the ones that I made up. And if anyone identifies which are true and which not, I’ll send a copy of my Philip K Dick Award nominated alt.human (confusingly called Harmony in North America) to the first to get it right.
1. I nearly became a chartered accountant, but chose not to because… well do I really need to give all the reasons?
2. I’m a distant relative of Walt Disney.
3. I used to play in a band and one of my songs was used as the soundtrack for a Carpet Warehouse TV ad.
4. I was arrested for shoplifting with friends when I was nine years old; one of my friends, whose name I can’t recall, got off with it because he cried when we were caught, but Gavin and I didn’t buckle and got a good telling off, and then we ran away from home to live in the woods.
5. I once stood for election to the local council, but was heavily beaten.
6. My fingers used to bend far enough backwards to touch the back of my hand, but now they’re too stiff.
7. I had an operation to remove an extra toe when I was about 18 months old – it had to go because it curled under my foot and made walking painful. If you get me drunk enough I’ll show you the scar. Whether you want to see it or not.
8. I am not from Norfolk.
9. Beetroot, yum.
10. I have a PhD in creative writing.
11. It has done me no good at all.
And eleven answers to the same number of questions.
1. What is the single thing you are most proud of having written?
Ooh… tempting to give a flippant answer, but if I’m serious it would have to be The Unlikely World of Faraway Frankie – a short fantasy novel where I think I get the closest I’ve ever managed to writing what I set out to write.
2. If your latest novel or story had a soundtrack by one artist, who would that be?
Bizarrely, the first name that comes to mind is 80s electro-popster Howard Jones. I think he’d nail it. Radiohead would be good, too, or Muse (although I’m not a huge fan of theirs these days).
3. Flight, or invisibility? Choose one.
4. Have you ever secretly based one of your characters on a real-life person, just so you can kill them off?
Oh yes! In alt.human/Harmony there’s one guy who gets eaten alive by tiny alien bugs. Slowly. And another guy who gets badly beaten up by some bigger aliens. They had it coming.
5. Do you get more upset when one animal is harmed in a film than a hundred people?
Depends on the animal, depends on the people.
6. What’s the worst film version of a good novel that you have ever seen, and why?
Do you know, I’m struggling to think of one? The two worst films I’ve ever seen are the second Sex and the City and Did you Hear About the Morgans? I dread to think what the novels of those would have been like, if they’d ever existed.
7. What is the single thing that scares you more than anything else? I don’t mean the essential futility of life, fragility of family and all the real things, I mean the embarrassing thing that still completely creeps you out? My wife has repeatedly run into a clown collecting money recently, and that is a very good example.
I’m terrified of heights and water, but that’s perfectly normal, isn’t it? Ventriloquists’ puppets have always terrified me, ever since I had one of those far too realistic dreams as a kid where I opened my eyes and watched one of the damned things walking, all stiff-limbed and red-cheeked and grinny, across my bedroom floor towards me. I woke up just as it reached me and fully expected it to be there, and that I’d just blinked.
8. What’s the one book that you wished you had written?
For art’s sake, almost anything by Ian McEwan. For materialist, living in comfort’s sake, Fifty Shades of Grey. For mischief’s sake, the first four Harry Potter books, and then I’d have left everyone dangling and refused to carry on because I was bored.
9. If you owned some variety of sports team, and had to design your own strip, what would it be like?
I’d own Manchester United and make them play in mankinis and high heels.
10. A choice: big money and sales as a ghost writer, or cult figure but poor under your own name?
Both. Or that’s the plan!
11. Dolphin or manatee?
With mayo or ketchup? It makes all the difference.