This looks like fun…
1. Favorite childhood book?
The Machineries of Joy, a short story collection by the master, Ray Bradbury. Not even his best collection, but the first one I read when I was about ten. Also one of the very first books I ever owned.
2. What are you reading right now?
I’m about a third of the way through David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas. It is seriously not bad. I’m also part way through the short story anthologies Best New Horror 21 and Best New SF 23.
3. What books do you have on request at the library?
None. My mother got me an adult library card when I was about ten or eleven and I read everything I could until I discovered ‘Salem’s Lot by Stephen King, which was the first book I wanted to own to read whenever I wanted. Now I buy books and keep them safe.
4. Bad book habit?
If you ask my wife, it would be buying more secondhand books than I’m ever going to be able to read in this lifetime. If you ask me, I would tend to agree with her…
5. What do you currently have checked out at the library?
6. Do you have an e-reader?
No. As a science fiction nerd, I think they’re a brilliant contraption. But they’re a poor second to a room full of books, each spine a doorway to a literary wonderland.
7. Do you prefer to read one book at a time, or several at once?
I can only read one novel at a time, and I intersperse each novel with some short stories from a different genre.
8. Have your reading habits changed since starting a blog?
9. Least favorite book you read this year (so far?)
I recently read Adam L G Nevill’s Banquet for the Damned which, despite glowing reviews from all quarters, is painfully dull and seems to be missing its entire second act (unless you count all of the characters hemming and hawing about what to do - and then essentially doing nothing - as an act, which I don’t). Luckily, it’s out of print and going for about thirty quid on Amazon, so I’m getting compensation.
10. Favorite book you’ve read this year?
Well, it’s early yet, but the best thing I’ve read so far this year has been Paintwork by Tim Maughan, which is a self-published collection of three short SF stories. If you like science fiction, graffiti, augmented reality and video games, you’ll like Paintwork.
11. How often do you read out of your comfort zone?
I’m old enough and ugly enough to know what I like, and occasional ventures into ‘classic’ and ‘mainstream’ fiction have only reinforced my views. Show me any book with love and death and weighty discourses on politics and the human condition, and I’ll show you any number of books that have all that and great big fuck-off spaceships tearing holes in one another.
12. What is your reading comfort zone?
My leather armchair with flip-up footrest.
13. Can you read on the bus?
I don’t go on the bus because they let just anyone on.
14. Favorite place to read?
Anywhere I can get a bit of peace and quiet. When I was a kid, in a house with parents, two siblings, a dog and a cat, I used to go to the bottom of the garden and climb a tree to read in.
15. What is your policy on book lending?
If I lend someone a hardcover (and I say ‘if’) I remove the dustjacket - for two reasons: one, so that I remind myself that I lent the book out; and two, because people seem to think that dustjackets are there to be destroyed in protection of the book, or to be folded in between pages and used as bookmarks. This is wrong thinking. If I lend someone a paperback, I expect it back in exactly the same condition - no dog-eared pages, no creased spine, no folded back covers: no damage whatsoever. Don’t read it in the bath, or hold it one-handed. Don’t place it facedown on the table to mark your place. I mean, if I took your dog for a walk and fucked it up the arse, you’d have something to say about it, wouldn’t you? (I don’t - for these reasons - often lend books. Or walk dogs.)
16. Do you ever dog-ear books?
I flatten out any dog-eared pages of books in secondhand bookshops! Even if I’m not buying the book. I will actually gasp at the sight of people doing this. My wife says I physically wince when people fold the covers back on paperbacks. I mean, a bookmark is a scrap of paper. Who can’t find a scrap of paper to mark their page? What savagery is this?
17. Do you ever write in the margins of your books?
18. Not even with text books?
19. What is your favorite language to read in?
20. What makes you love a book?
Surprise me. A twist I’m not expecting, an emotion I’m not anticipating. Sustain whatever makes the book so good throughout.
21. What will inspire you to recommend a book?
If it’s a book I would reread, I would recommend it. I rarely get the time to reread a book, mind you, but that would be the criterion.
22. Favorite genre?
Can’t choose between science fiction and horror. Most modern horror is rubbish, so SF.
23. Genre you rarely read (but wish you did?)
If there was a genre I wished to read, I’d read it. What’s to stop me?
24. Favorite biography?
Never read them. Real people tend to be dull.
25. Have you ever read a self-help book?
Does Max Brooks’s The Zombie Survival Guide count?
26. Favorite cookbook?
27. Most inspirational book you’ve read this year (fiction or non-fiction)?
Paintwork made me want to write short stories and publish them myself.
28. Favorite reading snack?
29. Name a case in which hype ruined your reading experience.
Most of Stephen King’s recent output of the last twenty years has been hyped. Most have been shit.
30. How often do you agree with critics about a book?
Critics make me aware of a book or an author. Beyond that, I’m not at all bothered by their opinions.
31. How do you feel about giving bad/negative reviews?
32. If you could read in a foreign language, which language would you choose?
Russian. Because there is a ton of Russian science fiction that’s never been translated into English.
33. Most intimidating book you’ve ever read?
Intimidating? I bought Stephen King’s IT in hardback. That gives you pause for thought, starting to read a book so big and heavy you could feasibly use it to kill a man.
34. Most intimidating book you’re too nervous to begin?
There are a couple of Jack Ketchum books I’m wary of, because Jack Ketchum goes all the way and gives not a fuck what you or I think.
35. Favorite Poet?
T S Eliot.
36. How many books do you usually have checked out of the library at any given time?
None, because I thought we’d covered this.
37. How often have you returned book to the library unread?
May have done it when I was a kid, but that was a thousand years ago.
38. Favorite fictional character?
Crikey. Probably the entire cast of good guys from Stephen King’s The Stand. That’s probably the best job of characterisation anyone has ever done. I love Mary Katherine ‘Merricat’ Blackwood, the narrator of Shirley Jackson’s We Have Always Lived in the Castle (which might be my favourite ever book).
39. Favorite fictional villain?
Randall Flagg, the Dark Man, the “Walkin’ Dude” - the bad guy from The Stand.
40. Books you’re most likely to bring on vacation?
An assortment of unread books.
41. The longest you’ve gone without reading.
Maybe a day. If I don’t sit down and read something every day I get irritable. More irritable than usual.
42. Name a book that you could/would not finish.
I used to refuse to not finish a book. Not sure why - some sort of ideal, I suppose. But life is too short. The last book I abandoned part way was John Steakley’s Vampire$.
43. What distracts you easily when you’re reading?
My phone. Also, the postman delivering new books.
44. Favorite film adaptation of a novel?
Lord of the Rings, because they adapted it brilliantly by accentuating the good stuff and losing the bad stuff (and there is a lot of bad stuff!).
45. Most disappointing film adaptation?
Almost all of them. Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes I managed fifteen minutes of. No point buying the licence if you’re just going to shit all over it.
46. The most money I’ve ever spent in the bookstore at one time?
About £70 (though that’s in a secondhand bookshop).
47. How often do you skim a book before reading it?
I don’t, because that’s an idiotic thing to do. You’re cheating the author and you’re cheating yourself. If I catch you doing it I will slap you up your head.
48. What would cause you to stop reading a book half-way through?
My trousers catching fire.
49. Do you like to keep your books organized?
I keep all my books on shelves, ranked by author. Other than that, it’s totally random, books on top of books, books behind other books, and only I can find anything.
50. Do you prefer to keep books or give them away once you’ve read them?
I prefer to keep them. I have a room that looks like the book version of the warehouse from Raiders of the Lost Ark.
51. Are there any books you’ve been avoiding?
I’ll tell you what I hate - picking up an interesting-looking horror book only to find it’s one of those ‘paranormal romance’ novels for fucking housewives. All lovey-dovey vampires and cuddly werewolves. The sort of reader who’d take one look at a Joe Lansdale book and shit down their leg and right into their shoe. I avoid those books because I like horror where shit gets fucked up (also I’m not a sad and loveless lady whose last good orgasm came courtesy of Duracell).
52. Name a book that made you angry.
Twilight. Because my 11-year old daughter wanted to read it and I had to tell her no. I shouldn’t need to do that, but those books don’t have any message I want my daughter believing.
53. A book you didn’t expect to like but did?
Many years ago, back in the ’80s, I really liked a horror and SF author called George R R Martin, but he went and made some television shows and didn’t return to fiction until some fantasy rubbish called A Game of Thrones. I balked at it, because I hadn’t touched fantasy since reading The Hobbit as a kid. But then I found the first three books in a remaindered bookstore and got all three for a fiver. That was the best five pounds I ever spent. A good writer is a good writer, no matter what they write.
54. A book that you expected to like but didn’t?
The afore-mentioned Banquet for the Damned.
55. Favorite guilt-free, pleasure reading?