As the child of bookshop owners, Simon Rae grew up knowing that running a bookshop might be his destiny. But the revelation that he would rather write books than sell them took him along a different path…
Once I start on a novel I write every day and become captivated by the way the story unfolds. Although as author I am notionally in charge, in fact I write to find what happens next.
Enchanted by the seductive music of this poem, its strangeness but also its powerful sense of reality; I didn't know exactly what it meant in the sense of its paraphrasable content, but its potency was unignorable. Imagine if one could write like this!
I don't know exactly when I gave up pretensions to being a serious reader, but the crime and children's books scattered around my bed indicate my current diet; I justify them on the grounds that I write both.
Chinua, an Igbo from Nigeria of my father's generation, who wrote Things Fall Apart with its title by an Irishman and its split focus between a pre-colonial West African people and culture and a British colonial administrator; it was, when I read it, the best thing I had ever read.
There are poets I love but will hesitate to read if I am in the middle of writing a poem because I know their style is infectious; Ted Hughes for instance, or Seamus Heaney. There's something Heaney-esque in every male poet of a certain age.
After an accident left him with a broken arm, Roy Bainton had to learn to manage without the use of one hand, discovering how difficult ordinary tasks, such as driving – and typing – had become. His experience left him chastened, and with a new insight into the lives of other writers whose disabilities were more permanent.