My guest this week and last interview of the year is Author Ian Parson.
About Writing/Books/Being an Author
1. Do you remember the first book you read that had an impact on you – in what way and what was the name of that book?
The first book that had an impact on me was probably When the Lion Feeds – Wilbur Smith.
It opened up worlds I hadn’t known existed before. It made me realise that books can take you literally anywhere you want to go.
2. When did you first realize you wanted to write?
I first realised I wanted to write whilst still at school. I used to enter competitions and offer articles, just to see my name in print.
3. Who is/are your favourite author(s)?
My favourite author is George Orwell; without doubt his essays are important works.
My favourite novelists are Wilbur Smith and John le Carre. I find nobody describes Africa’s vast open spaces like Wilbur Smith. As a child I fell in love with Africa under his spell. Something that developed into a lifelong fascination. Alternatively John le Carre keeps the suspense in his writing so tightly wound it’s practically claustrophobic. Perfect when describing Berlin during the Cold War.
4. What is your favourite thing about writing? What is your least favourite thing about writing?
My favourite thing about writing is creating something that didn’t exist previously. I consider good writing to be Art. I feel connected to a long line of artists, both those gone before and those yet to come.
My least favourite thing about writing is not being read.
5. Where do your ideas come from?
A lot of my ideas come from true life, particularly the history of London.
6. I’ve often found that creative people have more than one talent, what is yours?
I also play the guitar and used to do gigs in pubs. Some years ago an artist I very much respect said I couldn’t be a writer and a musician, I should choose one or the other. I still play, but only at home.
7. If you could jump inside a book for one day (as an observer) what book would it be?
Inside the Dream Palace by Sherill Tippng. It’s the story of New York’s Chelsea Hotel, surely one of the greatest gatherings of artistic geniuses ever.
8. When you create characters, are they completely made up or do they resemble or remind you of people you know?
They are generally a mixture of more than one person. I take traits from various people to create one character.
9. Have you ever created a character “out of thin air” only to run into someone in real life that reminds you of that character either in personality or their features?
As much as I’d love to say ‘yes’, its a ‘No’
10. How do you come up with titles for your books?
With great difficulty. The title changes constantly as the book progresses, until finally I make a list. It usually takes a few days to whittle down to one. However you always think of a better title when it’s too late.
11. What are you working on now and can you tell us about it?
I’ve recently completed a romantic comedy that I’m quite excited about. That one is in the production line waiting to be edited I believe. Currently I am working on a story about a computer hacker with skills everybody wants and a personality nobody likes. It’s going to be another comedy with a window into people’s secret/private lives.
12. Have you won any awards for your writing/books and if so what?
A Little More Personal
13. What is one thing you haven’t done but would like to do?
I would like to speak at a literary festival
14. Can you tell us about an embarrassing/funny moment?
In the days before mobile phones I was surfing a remote island to the north of Lanzarote. One thing led to another and I got stranded, meaning I would have to sleep alone in a little cave.
I had seen rats on the rocks that day, so knew they were about. I thought I’d be smart and hang my meagre food supplies on a string above me. I thought my close proximity would put them off stealing my breakfast of bread, cheese and ham.
In the morning when I awoke all the food was gone. Meaning I had rats crawling on me whilst I was asleep!
15. Have you ever experienced something weird you could not explain?
I once saw a neon green light rise in the dusk sky and shoot off horizontally at high speed.I went about for the next few weeks telling anyone who would listen that I had seen a UFO.Until I met a third year geology student outside a bar. She told me that what I had seen, and more importantly where I had seen it (above a volcano) was explained by hot gases rising. I’m no scientist but she was (practically) and I believed her. So, I still haven’t seen a UFO.
16. Are you superstitious? Do you have any rituals for good luck?
I do not consider myself at all superstitious. I gently mock those that are. However when I sneeze three times in a row, it means I can make a wish that will probably come true!
17. What is the strangest thing you have ever eaten?
I tend to err on the side of plain with exotic food, although I once ate an ostrich egg. I found it too gamey.
18. Do you have a favourite vacation spot? Where?
Not really. I like to be on the move when in new places. I’m not somebody who can sit by the pool for two weeks, although I am somebody who can sit in the shade in a hot country and write for two weeks and more.
19. Can you tell us about one of your favourite childhood memories?
One of my favourite childhood memories is going to the FA cup final at Wembley in the 70s. It was a rare day out with my dad, and one I’ll never forget. Although my team lost and I cried at the end.
20. What makes you happy?
Writing something that I’m proud of makes me happy. I think achievements make us happy. Not money or possessions, but the things we do. No matter whether it’s a well-swept floor or a fully functioning robot, achievements are good for the human soul.
21. If you aren’t writing (or doing anything associated with writing), what are you doing?
I’m a horticulturist, so I’ll be gardening. In my other free time I like to walk. City streets or country lanes, I’m not fussy, I like to explore.
22. Have you ever met anyone famous – who?
Ann Cleeves, author of the Vera seriesKim Wilde and Paul Nicholas, entertainersNasty Nick from EastendersThe Chuckle Brothers