It’s behind you!

Our merry band of young writers, The Scribblers, posed some particularly brilliant questions to some of the artists appearing at Hay this year.  Over the next few weeks we’ll be bringing you their answers. Time for ANDREW HAMMOND

1. Describe your latest book (pictured) in 5 words.

Don’t – look – it’s – behind – you.

or:

Gory – horror – meets – crime – thriller.

2.If you had to pick one of your characters to spend the day with, which one would you choose?

I’d pick Jud Lester. He’s fascinating: brave, determined, moody and mercurial. I like complex people like that. But I don’t know how much of a conversationalist he is. I sense it takes a while to befriend Jud. Still waters run deep, as they say. But I’d get him to talk about some of his close scrapes with ghosts (and try to avoid talking about his family). 

3. Which writer, dead or alive, you would like to collaborate with?

Arthur Conan Doyle, no question. He’s the real deal. No one writes with such attention to detail or subtlety or command of language. He was a great man. The Hound of the Baskervilles remains my favourite book. Once I rented a cottage on the fringe of Dartmoor and read the book there. Reading a story in the exact place in which it’s set can be thrilling – you can almost sense the author is there with you.

Mind you, a collaboration with Bill Shakespeare would have been good wouldn’t it.

4. What’s the best thing about writing?

Giving vent to your imagination. Having an outlet for the weird and wonderful thoughts that enter your head can be rewarding. But beware, once you allow your brain to spin those ideas into stories, you cannot easily turn the storytelling button off. I now find myself spinning most thoughts into stories – even the most mundane ones – and that can play havoc with your sense of reality and your memory. Did I go to the supermarket yesterday, or did I build a supermarket of sand, line it with deck-chair trolleys and watch the tide wash it away until all that was left was a lonely ‘Buy one get one free’ poster floating on the water. I can’t remember…

5. What’s your top tip for budding young writers?

Have an idea. Don’t get too obsessed with trying to create great, literary prose from the outset. That will come in time. It’s not so much about forcing a story with a worthy narration, but more about revealing or ‘showing’ ideas to the reader. It’s ideas that count. Look at Harry Potter: Rowling’s books are filled with the most exciting and unique ideas, like Diagon Alley or Quidditch or Gringotts or moving staircases and talking pictures. Remember: the best idea for a novel begins with novel ideas.

Catch up Andrew Hammond at the festival on Saturday 2nd June, 10:30 am

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