Yet again, there are loads of authors who’ll undoubtedly be fascinating company. Quite a few of the local and regional authors catch the eye this year, I don’t think we’ve ever seen such strong regional participation. It’ll be great catching up with old friends and some new faces. Raymond Khoury should be interesting. And, as always, I’m a sucker for the historians.
Which book has inspired you the most?
It’s sort of cheating, really, because it’s actually four books, but probably Lawrence Durrell’s Alexandria Quartet. And TE Lawrence’s Seven Pillars. Lord of the Rings. CS Lewis’ Narnia books. Enid Blyton. Actually, that’s an unfair question. You can’t bring it down to one book.
What is the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning?
I lie, dozing, and play over my dreams and my waking half-thoughts, usually with a book in mind. New characters, situations, scenes and solutions to problems invariably present themselves at this time. I’m a great believer in dreams. Bloke invented the sewing machine wrestled with the problem for ages before dreaming of being stabbed repeatedly by pygmies with spears while he was in a cooking pot. The spears had holes in their tips, which gave him a waking ‘eureka’. That happens to me all the time when I’m writing books.
What is your life’s motto?
My family’s motto is ‘Timor Omnes Abesto’ which is Latin for either ‘peace and love for everyone’ or ‘don’t mess with me, pal or I’ll chib ye.’ depending on how you look at it. The family crest is a chap with his head cut off, so you can be the judge of that one. I was once told my life’s theme tune is the Sesame Street ‘Manamana’ song, which I’ll accept. As for a personal motto? ‘Don’t let the b****** grind you down’ has always served me very well.
Our theme for the 2017 Festival is Journeys. Can you tell us which journeys in your life have been most memorable?
LHR—RUH 1986. LHR—DXB 1993. DXB—LHR 20**.