I always loved those bits in The Commitments where Jimmy Rabbitte interviews himself in the mirror. ‘Well, Terry, that’s an interesting question…’ Making a page like this is a lot like doing a Jimmy Rabbitte, and is actually great fun as long as no-one walks in on you while you’re nuzzling your imaginary microphone.

So, imaginary mike in hand, this is how my interview with ‘Terry’ goes…

1. How often do you manage to write and how long for?

I gave up my business to concentrate on writing, so I feel guilty any day I fail to apply arse to seat. If I’m deep inside a project, I’ll write every day for eight hours or more, boy-feeding and dog hair be damned (note that elapsed time and word count do not necessarily correlate). Some days, though, the boy-feeding and dog hair win.

2. What’s the worst job you’ve ever done?

The job I was worst at was waitressing: I was sacked on my third day at one place for spilling soup all over the proprietor’s friends. But the job I least enjoyed was account managing the Family of the Year Awards. My role was to maximise coverage for the sponsoring brand, and it felt exploitative and wrong to be draping logos all over these amazing selfless families for the sake of PR.

3. How much research do you do before starting a new project?

I love the research part, and depend on it for inspiration as well as detail. For a novel, I usually need to read and think for six to nine months before the story surges forth, at which point I have to begin whether the research is finished or not! Thereafter, I research as I go depending on where the story and the characters take me.

4. What little things do you get really cross about?

I’m easily irritated, so too many to list here. That’s what Twitter’s for, isn’t it?! Follow me @jobarkerbarks if you like that kind of thing.

5. Do you ever give up on a novel, or do you have to stick with it to the end?

When I was growing up, books were hard to come by and it was a point of pride for me to read to the bitter end no matter what. No longer, though. These days there’s more sand at the bottom of the hourglass than the top, and a veritable firehose of brilliant books easily and cheaply available. I’ll give every book a fair shake, but if I’m not engaged after the first few chapters it’s on to the next one.

6. What was your New Year’s Resolution, and are you sticking to it?

I love the idea of leaving behind an old year and starting afresh with a new one, but I prefer to set achievable goals for the year ahead than make futile attempts at wholesale reform. You know, finish novel, stay on top of dog hair, keep mid-life crisis at bay. Erm, too early to say how that’s going as yet.

7. Who are your favourite writers?

I have favourite books, rather than favourite writers. Having said that I would buy anything by Barbara Kingsolver. Otherwise – A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving, the Gormenghast trilogy by Mervyn Peake, Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake, Life of Pi by Yann Martell, Fingersmith by Sarah Waters, and those are just the ones I can see by turning my head. Don’t make me get up and browse all the other bookshelves.

8. What has been the biggest adventure in your life so far?

Hmm, this is where I should probably talk about motherhood, or committing to writing as a career… but these things have felt more like growing up than actual adventures. The real rollercoaster has been my twenty-year love affair with Spain, a relationship characterised by obsession, rage, incomprehension and passion, much like any other love affair.

9. When was the last time you got the uncontrollable giggles?

Yesterday. It was poo-related, I’m afraid. I have two sons and a dog, so that kind of thing happens a lot.

10. Now share 11 random facts about yourself.

I’m just going to share one, in case I need to be interesting at a later date. Eleven would be giving away the farm, and I haven’t even met the real Terry yet. Here it is: I once went to a party with Joaquin Cortes, Emma Thompson and Kylie, but I have never been as star-struck as when I met Eddie Tenpole from Tenpole Tudor.



(With thanks to the gloriously named Betty McFab for the Liebster nomination which formed the basis for this Q&A – please do pop across to her blog and fill up on her blogly wisdoms. More about the Liebster award below.)



The Liebster Awards: Part of the deal is to pass on the baton and nominate a bunch more bloggers to spangle up their pages with a Q&A. So consider yourselves nominated:


Keep The Faith

Jessica Gilmore

The Literary Pig

And if it please you, answer these questions:

  1. Where do you write?
  2. Who do you write for?
  3. First draft by hand or straight to screen?
  4. Favourite books as a child, an adolescent and an adult?
  5. Do you let your mum (or your kids) read your work?
  6. Who would you cast for the main roles in the film of your WIP?
  7. E-readers or print?
  8. Share something that’s recently made you mad.
  9. And something that’s made you laugh.
  10. And finally, one or more random facts about yourself…

Here are the official rules, for those nominated please copy & paste as a means of forwarding instructions to your own nominees, so they aren’t left totally confused:


  1. Thank the person who nominated you, and post a link to their blog on your blog.
  2. Display the award on your blog — by including it in your post and/or displaying it using a “widget” or a “gadget”. (Note that the best way to do this is to save the image to your own computer and then upload it to your blog post.)
  3. Answer some questions about yourself, which will be provided to you by the person who nominated you.
  4. Provide some random facts about yourself.
  5. Nominate 5 – 11 blogs that you feel deserve the award, who have a less than 1000 followers. (Note that you can always ask the blog owner this since not all blogs display a widget that lets the readers know this information!)
  6. Create a new list of questions for the blogger to answer.
  7. List these rules in your post (You can copy and paste from here.) Once you have written and published it, you then have to:
  8. Inform the people/blogs that you nominated that they have been nominated for the Liebster award and provide a link for them to your post so that they can learn about it (they might not have ever heard of it!)