4thcoming: Craig Brown

The 4thcoming series is all about introducing you to our authors.  If you’ve ever wondered what your favourite 4th Estate author is currently reading, listening to or what their writing ritual is, then we’ve got all those answers for you.

Name: Craig Brown

What’s it about?  A biography of Princess Margaret, the royal who made John Lennon blush and Marlon Brando clam up; who cold-shouldered Princess Diana and humiliated Elizabeth Taylor. Combining interviews, parodies, dreams, diaries and essays, Ma’am, Darling is a breezy meditation on fame and art, snobbery and deference, bohemia and high society.

What you’re reading: I’m about to finish Matthew Weiner’s first novel Harriet, the Totality, which is so short and so tense that the moment you start it you dread finishing it. Then I’m going to read John Evelyn’s diaries, which for some reason I’ve never got round to.

What you’re listening to: At this very minute, an album called The McGarrigle Hour, which features the whole family (Kate and Anna, Martha, Rufus and Loudon, plus many more – Emmylou Harris, Linda Ronstadt, etc – besides). Far too distracting to write to, though.

What you’re watching: The trouble with box sets is that they’re never quite as good as Mad Men or Breaking Bad, but nevertheless one struggles on in hope. I very much enjoyed the first series of Legacy, though.

Favourite word: I like words ending in ‘o’, particularly fiasco and akimbo.

Favourite song: At the moment, Dy-Na-Mi-Tee by Ms Dynamite but it’ll be different tomorrow. It’ll be a bit sad if it isn’t.

The book you wish you’d written: The Education of Hyman Kaplan by Leo Rosten. Funny, clever, touching. I can do the first two, but not the last.

Writing ritual: First boredom, then fear, as Philip Larkin once said, though for me it’s often the other way round, or both at the same time. Top tip: don’t take off your pyjamas, so that you can’t leave the house and have fun until you’ve finished.

Best advice ever received: Books don’t write themselves. In fact, even sentences don’t write themselves, whatever people may say. I never actually received this advice, but it’s true.

The most memorable sentence you’ve ever read: “The natural inheritance of everyone who is capable of spiritual life is an unsubdued forest where the wolf howls and every obscene bird of night chatters.” – William James

Who would play the main characters in a film adaptation of your book? Princess Margaret: Kathy Burke. Lord Snowdon: Kenneth Williams. Roddy Llewellyn: Julian Clary. Queen Mother: Miriam Margolyes.

Best place to write: Anywhere without the internet.

Ma’am Darling is out on the 21st September. 


If you enjoyed reading this, why not check out our other 4th Comings by Michael Frank and Tom Jackson.

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