Feature: 20 Random Questions with … S F Said

20 Random Questions is a feature on Sisterspooky that will show you a different side to authors you may already know and introduce new ones.  I ask 20 very Random Questions and they answer them.  Simple as that.  The idea was inspired from a mixture of things in my head and a random question asked by Jim over at YA Contemporary

Today on the blog, I’m very happy to bring you S F Said, author of Phoenix and a pretty cool bloke.  So pleased he was willing to answer my Random Questions and give Random Answers! Over to S F


If you were ruler of the world what laws would you make?
There will always be books for everyone who wants them – as many as they want, at all times!  Libraries will receive huge subsidies, and so will bookshops.  Writers will be paid to write, artists will be paid to make art, musicians will be paid to make music.  Whatever else happens in my world, there’s going to be good stuff around!

If you were a super hero what powers would you have? Limit to three powers!
Super-fast reading! And super-fast writing!  Beyond that, while I’m fascinated by superpowers, I’m wary of them too.  Characters in my books often get powers, but these don’t necessarily make their lives better.  In Varjak Paw, Varjak’s fighting power gets him and his friends in a lot of trouble.  The main character in my new book Phoenix is a boy with a spectacular power that he can’t control – and the stronger it grows, the harder it gets for him…

What’s your favourite cheese and why?
I have to admit, I’m not crazy about cheese, so I’ll say Wensleydale, as a tribute to Wallace and Gromit, who I am crazy about!

If you were an animal what would you be and why?
I’d like to be a tyger.  That’s tyger with a ‘y’, as in the William Blake poem.  In fact, ‘Tyger’ is the working title of the new book I’m writing now…  (although I’m only on the second draft, and my books always go through a lot of drafts and change enormously as they go.  Phoenix took 13 drafts, and almost everything about it changed in that time!)

If you could ask your future self one question what would it be?
“Have you learned how to write books any faster?!”  I always wanted to write a book a year.  But Varjak Paw took five years, and Phoenix took seven.  On the plus side, I can honestly say that each book I’ve written is as good as I could possibly make it.  And Phoenix is a great big epic, set across a whole galaxy, so maybe it’s not surprising that it took all that time to get right…  Also, I believe George Lucas wrote something like 100 drafts of his Star Wars screenplay before making the first film, so my 13 drafts seem painless by comparison!

Have you ever entered a talent contest?  What was your talent and did you win?
I’ve never entered a talent contest, but I used to enjoy busking with friends, on the tube and on the streets.  I used to play the guitar and scream a bit.  We sometimes made enough money to buy ourselves breakfast, which I guess is a kind of winning…

What’s your favourite type of Pie?
Chocolate, of course!

If you could steal one thing without consequence what would it be and why?
Ditto

Who’s your favourite Villain and why?
I think Doctor Horrible (of Doctor Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog) is a fantastic villain, because we end up caring about him so much.  Joss Whedon is such a brilliant creator of characters.  Buffy, Angel, Firefly… I can’t wait for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. to begin!

What’s the most unusual thing you’ve ever eaten and what did you think of it?
I ate lots of unusual things when I stayed with some Inuit film-makers in the Canadian Arctic, back in 2005 (link).  I ate raw walrus, seal, and polar bear… The walrus and seal were delicious, but I wouldn’t recommend the polar bear!

If you had a warning label, what would yours say and why?
‘Don’t be afraid of the strange man muttering to himself in the corner of the library – he is actually a writer, working on a book, and most of them act like this when they think no-one is looking’

What’s your preferred playing piece in monopoly and why?
The tiger. 
What?  There isn’t a tyger in monopoly?  Ridiculous.

What was the last thing you ate?
A banana.  I totally agree with Christopher Eccleston’s Doctor, who tells us that “bananas are good.”

Who would you want to be trapped on a desert island with? Pick no more than five people!
Katniss Everdeen has proved how useful she is in a survival situation, so she’s definitely in!  Harry Potter would be handy too; with a spell, he could magic us up anything we needed.  I don’t think I’d want any vampires or werewolves on this island, but I wouldn’t mind having Iorek Byrnison, the armoured bear from His Dark Materials, just in case we needed any fighting done.  And we’d better have Lyra Silvertongue too, to entertain us all with stories.  Finally, Willy Wonka can be in charge of feeding everyone, as long as he brings his chocolate factory with him!

What was the last thing you dressed up as for fancy dress and what was the occasion?
It wasn’t exactly fancy dress, but I did dress up for the awesome Waterstones Kensington ‘Geesksploitation’ evening, where I met Sister Spooky!  I came as the Death Star from Star Wars… but felt a little under-dressed compared to Andy Robb’s Doctor and Sean Cummings’s hobbit!

What was your first job?
I worked in a second-hand record shop for a while.  I thought it would be brilliant, but the customers could be incredibly rude!  Ever since then, I’ve always had a lot of respect for people who work in shops.  They have to put with a lot.

Sisterspooky: Yes, yes we do!!!

What’s the scariest thing you’ve ever done?
Probably going to boarding school when I was 13.  It was more like Lord Of The Flies in there than Harry Potter: it was total anarchy!  But ever since then, whatever I’ve had to deal with, I could always say to myself, “Well, I survived boarding school, and this isn’t half as bad as that…”

What’s the best piece of advice anyone has ever given you?
Something JD Salinger once wrote, about the writing process: 
“If only you’d remember before you ever sit down to write that you’ve been a reader long before you were ever a writer.  You simply fix that fact in your mind, then sit very still and ask yourself, as a reader, what piece of writing in all the world would you most want to read if you had your heart’s choice?  The next step is terrible, but so simple I can hardly believe it as I write it.  You just sit down shamelessly and write the thing yourself.  I won’t even underline that.  It’s too important to be underlined.  Trust your heart.”

Thanks for taking part S F, really interesting answers and really pleased you could take part too!  For more info on S F Said, do check out his website.

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