'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Tuesday 2 May 2017

12 Curly Questions with author James Bradley

1. Tell us something hardly anyone knows about you.
I hate vegemite. Like, really hate it. I even hate the smell of it. Which, given I’ve eaten fried grubs and spinal cord soup and liked both of them, is saying something.

2. What is your nickname? 
I don’t have one (thankfully!), although my brother sometimes calls me Bird Man because I’m interested in birds. I don’t think it’s meant to be a compliment.

3. What is your greatest fear?
That we won’t turn climate change around before it’s too late. And that I’ll run out of time to write all the things I want to write.

4. Describe your writing style in 10 words. 
I aim for spare, unsettling and intimate. Hopefully it is.

5. Tell us five positive words that describe you as a writer.
Passionate, versatile, distractible, hopeful, unafraid.

6. What book character would you be, and why? 
Ged from A Wizard of Earthsea. Because he has a boat, and gets to see dragons, and visit the land of the dead. Also the magic. Alternatively, I’d like to be Iorek Byrnison from The Golden Compass. Because who wouldn’t want to be an talking polar bear with soul-armour made from a meteor?

7. If you could time travel, what year would you go to and why? 
I’d either like to go back to 2000BCE and see the world when it was still wild, or into the far future of 10,000CE to see what becomes of the human race. Are we still human? Are we living with intelligent machines? Do we reach for the stars and terraform Mars? Or do we destroy the planet and ourselves?

8. What would your 10-year-old self say to you now? 
You’ve really let yourself go.

9. Who is your greatest influence? 
As a writer I’ve always been guided by writers and poets who strive to see the world as truthfully as possible, and to use words to reveal that truth. Some of those are nature writers, like Barry Lopez, but others are science-fiction writers like Ursula Le Guin. But in a weird way it’s possible one of my biggest influences was David Bowie, who taught me a lot about how important it is to be being true to your own vision (and to be prepared to fail) and to keep trying new things.

10. What/who made you start writing? 
Although I always read widely, the idea of being a writer was never on my radar until I was at university and I read Michael Ondaatje’s novel In the Skin of a Lion. I remember being amazed that I was reading something that said all the things I thought and felt, but had never been able to articulate. Somehow, that made me wonder whether I might be able to write something. I began with poems, and after I’d written a few I found an address for Ondaatje in Canada and sent them to him, and he wrote back to say he liked them. I have no idea whether he really did but it’s possible that postcard is the most exciting letter I’ve ever received.

11. What is your favourite word and why? 
But. Because the simple answer is usually wrong. And because I’m constitutionally incapable of agreeing with everybody else.

12. If you could only read one book for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Life wouldn’t be worth living if I could only read one more book.

James Bradley is an award-winning novelist and critic. His books include four novels: Wrack, The Deep Field, the international bestseller, The Resurrectionist, and Clade; a book of poetry, Paper Nautilus, and The Penguin Book of the Ocean. He lives in Sydney with his partner, the novelist Mardi McConnochie and his two daughters. The Silent Invasion is his first book for young adult readers.