A couple of weeks ago I posted eleven facts about me, all of which were true, apart from the ones that I made up. Unfortunately no one guessed all of them correctly, so the prize goes unclaimed. Here are the answers:
1. I nearly became a chartered accountant, but chose not to because… well do I really need to give all the reasons?TRUE. After graduating, I accepted an offer of a job with a big accountancy firm, but then backed out in order to take a year out and write what would become my first published novel.
2. I’m a distant relative of Walt Disney.
TRUEish. As was rightly pointed out, we’re all distantly related. I should have been more precise. What I meant to say was that tracking back family history showed a very possible link to the old animator, making him an umpteenth cousin several times removed. I don’t know if it’s true, but there’s a family story that two employees of the Disney Corporation turned up on my Gran’s doorstep one day many years ago to check out the link.
3. I used to play in a band and one of my songs was used as the soundtrack for a Carpet Warehouse TV ad.
NOT REALLY: I have played in a few bands (bad lead guitar and atrocious backing vocals), and I have written a bunch of songs, but none of my material has been taken up by CW. Their loss.
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.
TRUE. I just treated it as a big adventure. Gav couldn’t face his parents so we ran away and built a camp in the woods. Then Gav got the nerves again and wanted to go home and face the music. We were picked up by the police on the edge of town. Apart from the telling off, nothing really came of it as we were too young to be prosecuted.
5. I once stood for election to the local council, but was heavily beaten.
TRUE. I stood for the Green Party in Colchester High Woods and got something like 87 votes.
6. My fingers used to bend far enough backwards to touch the back of my hand, but now they’re too stiff.
TRUE. I tried to take a photo, but that’s quite difficult to do when you’re bending your fingers back to nearly touch your wrist…
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.
FALSE. Afraid not. I did once run a half-marathon with a broken toe, though. Not that that’s at all the same thing.
8. I am not from Norfolk.
TRUE. I did live there for four years, though, and love the place.
9. Beetroot, yum.
FALSE! Food of the devil. Why would anyone eat something that tastes like slightly sweet, sickly mud?
10. I have a PhD in creative writing.
TRUE. I do indeed. My thesis was on the writing of, and critical response to, my novel Genetopia, which also formed part of the submission. I actually enjoyed the process, and ended up recycling part of the thesis for my chapter in Strange Divisions and Alien Territories: the sub-genres of science fiction. (And I’m still gutted that that book never really got any attention: with excellent chapters by Kristine Kathryn Rusch, James Patrick Kelly, Paul di Filippo and others, I really thought it stood a chance of at least shortlisting for a BSFA award, but its publication seems to have slipped past most of the SF world.)
11. It has done me no good at all.
TRUEish. As I say, I enjoyed it, and I managed to make use of some of the material in a book chapter, but it hasn’t really done me any good. The intention was to boost my academic credentials (I taught undergraduate and postgraduate creative writing for several years, including what I believe was, at the time, the UK’s only undergraduate course in writing SF), but since getting my PhD I’ve been screwed over for the one lectureship I wanted and haven’t had the opportunity to make any other use of it. It’s quite handy signing into places as Dr Brooke, though: makes me seem all grown up.