Meet the 2016 Authors James Waterson


James-WatersonWhat are you most looking forward to at the 2016 Festival?

Almost too hard to say but… the chance to meet John Julius Norwich, John Man and Justin Marozzi is probably the thing I am most looking forward to.

John Julius Norwich has consistently written histories in the grand manner and it is a style that is far easier to admire than to emulate. John Man has written two forewords for me in the past and I owe him a vast debt, he is also one of the most ‘page-turning’ history writers I know of and he has done so much to bring the history of Central Asia to western readers. Justin Marozzi’s study of Tamerlane is a superb biography and it will be interesting to discuss the nature of tyrants with John and Justin especially as I have just completed a study of the ‘real’ Dracula.

When did you realise you wanted to be a writer?

After reading Edward Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire [All Six Volumes!]

What book do you find yourself re-reading most often?

Oddly enough, it’s fiction not history – Catch 22. But I have also read Ulysses by Joyce some 8 times and always find something else in it each time, with Finnegan’s Wake however I have never got past page 33…

If you weren’t a writer, what would you be?

Essentially what I am a lot of the time; a (sometimes) practical academic.

And finally, we have a number of aspiring writers attending the Festival. What one piece of advice would you give them?

In ‘Slow Learner’, Thomas Pynchon says the new writer should ‘write what you know.’ I can think of no greater piece of advice.