What I’m reading: I just finished Robert Elsmere by Mrs Humphry Ward. It was one of the most popular novels of the Victorian era – a huge international bestseller – but is now virtually unknown. The novel details a young Anglican clergyman’s gradual loss of orthodox faith and the conflict that subsequently ensues between him and his strictly evangelical wife. It’s very clever and dense and thoughtful. Quite romantic.
What I’m listening to: Anything by Glenn Jones, Euros Childs or Franco. My current country/gospel compilation is Work Hard Play Hard Pray Hard. I love Yasmine Hamdan, Advance Base, The North Sea Radio Orchestra. And I listen to the World Service. Constantly. I’m an international news junkie
What I’m watching: Millionaire Matchmaker, Nashville, the first series of Parks and Recreation, again.
Favourite song: It’s a tie between ‘Bad Education’ by the Blue Orchids and ‘She was waiting for her mother at the station in Torino and I know you love me baby but it’s getting too heavy to laugh’ by Shawn Phillips.
My hero – literary or otherwise: Denis Mukwege, a Congolese doctor who works with the victims of rape, and all the LGBT activists who live in a state of constant terror in Africa and the Arab world.
The book I wish I’d written: The Little Prince by Antoine St. Exupery
The book that everyone should read: I don’t think anyone should be obliged to read anything, but I really loved Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s Infidel.
The book I would like republished: WNP Barbellion’s The Journal of a Disappointed Man
Writing ritual: I try not to get bogged down in rituals. Work when you can, where you can, for as long as you can. The world doesn’t stop turning if a novel doesn’t get written.
Best advice ever received: In your patience possess ye your souls.
If I could change one thing about the world: I’d need to change absolutely everything or absolutely nothing.
Think of something beautiful and describe it: A little fox comes to sleep on our balcony sometimes. He has exquisite, black-tipped ears, a black-tipped bushy tail and a pair of tiny, white fur-tinged testicles. He curls up into a small, ginger ball like a cat, wrapping his tail around him and burrowing his moist black nose into the fur. I think he finds comfort in the proximity of people.
The most memorable sentence I’ve ever read: In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. John 1:1
What would I be doing if I wasn’t writing? If I wasn’t writing I like to think I’d be being way more socially useful.
Listen to and download an extract of In The Approaches below