采访人：The Letter Press（英国出版社）
Q1. What are your earliest memories of books and reading? For example, did you have a favorite or inspirational book?
I remember my mum’s copies of Lord of the Rings and reading the cover blurb about hobbits and not being sure if hobbits were real or not, you know? I mean, the cover didn’t say “This is all made up”! And I didn’t know… I mean there could have been hobbits, right?
One of my favorite childhood books I still own, actually. It’s called The Wonderful Pumpkin, by Lennart Hellsing, illustrated by Svend Otto. It’s about these two bears who discover a
seed that grows into a giant pumpkin, and they end up traveling the world inside it. I think it’s one of those books that inspired me to go traveling when I grew up, so I could have adventures too. I never quite found a giant pumpkin to ride in but I did ride the trains across Africa and the Trans-Siberian route, went around in small planes and outboard motorboats in the South Pacific and rode camels through the Gobi Desert, so I feel very strongly that books really do shape young minds!
我最喜爱的童书之一是伦纳特·赫尔辛的《美妙的南瓜》（The Wonderful Pumpkin），斯汶·奥托为它绘制的插图。故事讲的是两头熊发现了一颗种子，种子长成了一只巨大的南瓜，它俩就乘坐着这只南瓜完成了环球之旅。我想也许就是这样的书激发了我今后的各种旅行，也让我获得了很多冒险经历。我从来没遇到过这么巨大的南瓜，但我曾乘坐火车穿越过非洲和西伯利亚，乘坐小型飞机和摩托艇环游过南太平洋。我还骑骆驼穿越过中国的戈壁沙漠。我强烈地感受到，书真的可以塑造年轻人的思想！
Q2. What inspired you to become an author?
Probably just a life ill-spent in the library! It always struck me as the coolest thing you could do. I remember trying to write when I was young and doing a paragraph and then, you know, not really being sure what’s supposed to come after that! Then I got into poetry for a while, which is still a huge influence on my writing, went traveling for a few years, you know, then one day kind of made the decision to sit down and write properly, and never really stopped!
Q3. For you, what makes a successful book?
I think a book’s successful if it does what I hoped it would do. If I managed to satisfy myself that it did what I wanted then I’m happy. I try to only work on books that mean something
beyond the story, that have – to me, at least! – a wider relevance, something to say. So I never think in terms of, you know, “Will this sell?”. That seems to be something you can’t control anyway. So I’ve been very happy with my last few books, that they satisfy my own expectations of what I wanted to achieve with them. Everything that comes after that –awards, reviews, foreign sales, TV deals, or what have you – is just a bonus.
Q4. Do you have a specific audience in mind when you write your books?
Not really. The problem is the books I write are pretty idiosyncratic – I’ve even (honestly!)
seen them referred to now as “Tidharian”, which is weird but also wonderful. So I am usually aware that I’m not exactly writing to fit a certain mould, and I might as well just write what I love, for myself, before worrying if anyone else would like it. It does make it difficult in today’s market, with its strict categorization of everything, but you know, it seems to have been working for me so far? So I think I’ll stick with it!
Q5. What future do you think the physical book has? For example, do you think the electronic book will replace the physical book?
I think for children’s books, for sure, print is tremendously important. You can’t really replicate the experience of reading to/with children on a digital device. For adult books, well, clearly the e-book has changed things a lot. I much prefer having a Kindle these days, or even reading on my phone, which I do quite a lot. I still buy research books only in print though. I think really what we’re seeing is the paperback declining because the e-book serves the same function – a quick, cheap read. So I think it’s actually an exciting opportunity to think of print books as much more than just the content, but it’s the physical object itself as an objet d’art, the design and binding, and everything else. It’s an opportunity to treat the physical book as something worthy and long-living, something to be proud to have on the shelf. So I don’t see print books disappearing any time soon! But I do see the mass-market version of them very much declining in the long-term.
Q6. Are you a book collector? Is there a special book you’d love to own?
I am! Less so now maybe than I used to – once I started publishing books they start piling up on the bookshelves and take up too much space… I was lucky enough that many of my adult novels came out in collectors limited editions, mostly from the British PS Publishing, so I do have some gorgeous editions of my own books – the limited of Central Station, in particular is really gorgeous (100 signed in slipcase)…
我是啊！和以往不同，曾经我的新书出版，它们就会堆满我的书架，占据太多的空间……现在我要幸运得多。我的很多小说都出了限量版，尤其是British PS Publishing（英国的出版社）出版的。他们制作的相当精美华丽。那本限量版《中央星站》制作得就相当考究。
My collection is a bit eclectic. One of the most remarkable books I own is a chapbook about the “Titanic Omar” – the priceless hand-bound copy of the Rubaiyat that went down with the Titanic. The second copy was destroyed in the Blitz(!), and the grandson of the original binders finally finished the third copy after he retired. To commemorate it he released a letterpress chapbook with gold tooling on the cover that tells the story. I think my copy belonged to Princess Alexandra. It’s limited to 110 copies if I remember right! The third Rubaiyat itself is now in the King’s Library I think.
我的藏书还是比较杂的。其中最引人瞩目的应该是一本关于“泰坦尼克和奥马尔”（Titanic Omar）的小册子。那版最珍贵的手工装订的《鲁拜集》（Rubaiyat）和泰坦尼克一起沉到了海底。第二版在伦敦大轰炸中毁了。原版装订工的孙子在退休后完成了第三版。为了留念，他还特别发行了一本记录这个故事的鎏金封面活页小册子。我想我的那个版本属于亚历山德拉公主。如果没记错的话，这版总共只发行了110本。而第三版的那本《鲁拜集》我想现在应该在国王图书馆（King’s Library）。
There are too many books I’d love to own (even as I try and fail to renounce material things!) – the one I’d really love is a first edition of To Kill A Mockingbird. I have a UK first I
found years ago, missing a dust jacket. I’d love to have the dust jacket for it! But it’s still a nice thing to have. I’d also love a signed Philip K. Dick. I have a lot of signed books or books inscribed to me, which is nice – I used to have a large Terry Pratchett collection, including some of the early (rare) first editions, but I had to let some of them go (though I still have more than a few of his!).
Probably the nicest thing I own though is a copy of my own book. I won a literary prize a while back (The Jerwood Fiction Uncovered Prize), and instead of a trophy they gave you, well, a cheque, which was nice(!), but also, which was even nicer, a hand-bound copy of your own book. So I have a single copy of A Man Lies Dreaming hand-bound, and it’s nicer than any trophy! And it’s, of course, a limited edition of one… I think I’ll keep that one!
或许，在我所有藏书中最赞的还是一本我自己的书。前阵子我获得过一个文学奖（杰伍德小说奖），他们并没有给我奖金或支票，虽然这也不赖。让我更为惊喜的是他们给了我一本我自己的书，纯手工装订的！所以，我有了一本真正单本发行的《躺着做梦的人》（A Man Lies Dreaming hand-bound）。这比任何奖杯都好！我想我一定会好好收藏这本限量版的书！