When I was 5 years old I wanted to be… A pilot. Until my dad told me I couldn’t be because I was deaf in one ear. Which in retrospect I think was an unnecessary intrusion of reality into a child’s dream…
If I were to be stranded on a desert island, my one luxury item would be… An espresso machine.
The last song I listened to… ‘Glue’, by Bicep, on repeat. And Lorde’s ‘The Louvre’.
The first album I ever bought… I think it was the Pixies’ Doolittle.
The book I’ve read the most times… I don’t re-read books, as a rule, so by definition it’s HIS DARK MATERIALS, which I’m re-reading in anticipation of The Book of Dust. My daughter’s name is Lyra.
The book I always recommend to others… Is The Transit of Venus, by Shirley Hazzard. I have, in fact, recommended it to one prominent person in the book world EVERY TIME WE HAVE SPOKEN OR MET and she still hasn’t read it. She knows who she is. Well, of course she does, but you know what I mean.
My favourite chocolate bar… I’m not such a fan of bars. Can I have a bag of Maltesers? Or better still, take me back in time to the sadly discontinued Haagen Dazs Choc Mint Choc.
The item I have more of than anything else… Discounting books, probably vintage watches, which I love immeasurably – for their patina, their connection to history, their embodiment of human ingenuity, their relationship to time and the further relationship of time to the earth and the sun and their relative motion; and the fact that they look cool.
The last time I went to the cinema… Was with my daughter, on her first ever trip to the cinema, to see Beauty and the Beast. She sat on my knee because she was scared of the wolves, and because due to some quirk of her height and weight, her spring-loaded seat kept folding her like a wallet. Which was sweet and also really funny.
The thing I could never give up… Coffee.
My choice of superpower… Teleportation. I have a long commute.
The book (by another author) that I wish I had written… Always and forever How I Live Now.
If I could pick any actor/actress to play my latest lead character… Oh, I haven’t thought about that. Tom Holland, maybe.
The one piece of advice I would give my teenage self… Don’t give up on learning the piano.
If I had to choose between saying everything I think or never speaking again… Never speaking again, obviously. Aren’t most authors introverts?
My favourite city in the world… New York. For its verticality and compact plurality. I have a dream of one day owning a key to Gramercy Park.
The person I call when I need cheering up… My wife.
If I could go back to any time in history… The Neolithic, I guess? I like the idea of profound, shamanic connection to the landscape, though the reality would likely be brutal and awful and everything would smell of blood and I’d want to come home.
The best invention ever… The espresso machine. A theme is emerging here. Or perhaps Bose noise-cancelling headphones.
My most used emoji… The winking face. I seem to feel a need, often, to convey irony.
The best thing about being a writer… Picking up a book long after you have written it and finding that there are parts you don’t remember writing, and which don’t fill you with cringe-inducing, lava-hot shame.
The Hogwarts house I belong to is… Gryffindor, according to all online quizzes, but Ravenclaw according to all sense and decency.