Reading, Writing & All Things Books: What Questions Would You Ask Your Favourite Authors?


One of my favourite hypothetical scenarios is the fantasy dinner party. You know, the one where you get to invite any six people from any time (as in, since the dinosaurs…) to a dinner party of your choosing, deciding who would sit next to whom and what conversations would you instigate. From John F. Kennedy, Marilyn Monroe and Nelson Mandela to Jesse Owens, Margaret Thatcher, Hitler or Babe Ruth.

I think about this scenario quite a lot – more than is probably psychologically acceptable for a properly balanced person of society. But it’s fun and I am fully cognisant of the fact that it will never actually happen – and so long as I know that, then I haven’t quite slipped away fully into the world of La La Land.

My six guests change all the time (and I usually keep a few on a cancellation list 😉 )but if you were to ask me right now, I’d have to say Michael Collins, Martin Luther King, Mary Robinson, Melissa McCarthy and Roger Federer. Utterly random, utterly ludicrous but hilarious. I’d put Mick next to Melissa and I’d seat Roger beside King, and I’d sit between Melissa and Roger. Done.

Not at all the point of today’s post. As you might know, I’m a huge bookwork and have posted a bit previously on here about my love of reading, but more so on my book blog over yonder. Recently, I was approached by Eventbrite to write about my dream panel of authors and being the fantasist that I am (please see above) I had to have a go at this.

Thus without further ado, I give you…



The Panel: Emily Bronte, David Nicholls, Philip Pullman, Margaret Atwood, Roald Dahl and Lisbeth Salander. Limiting myself to just six here.

The Moderator: Graham Norton, of course.

Although I have never met any of these people, I think would happily sit and listen to any of these people talk all day long. A short list of people who brought immense joy and fascination to my life as a child and as an adult, there are so many questions and conversations I’d like to raise with each of these wonderful people.

Emily Bronte – who would not want to sit and talk all things Cathy and Heathcliff with this truly great storyteller? I would want to know everything – where did she conceive of this story and who are the characters really based on? Why is so desperately, desperately sad and was there ever an alternative ending that she realistically considered? Did it have to end up so miserable and heartbreaking for everyone?

David Nicholls – Still in my top 3 books of all time, I completely fell in love with this book and its protagonists Dex and Em. I was with them every step of the way and it utterly broke my heart at the end. I don’t do romance novels, I’m a cynic and I really don’t ever cry over books (at all) but as I read the last section of this book, the tears just freefalled off my dopey face. David, I have to know, did you ever plan to finish the book differently? Did you always see it ending this way?

Philip Pullman – See, I started with all the sad and now I’m going to bring the joy. Pullman wrote some of the most enjoyable, most engrossing novels I have ever read. Lyra and Pantalaimon brought more joy and imagination to my early secondary school days than most any other thing. At a time of change, new school, tough life lessons and growing up, His Dark Materials made for a perfectly timed arrival in my life and these characters will forever hold a dear place in my heart. I’d just want to Pullman that. And sit and have a good long chat over pots and pots of tea.

Roald Dahl – Oh yes, pull up an armchair, light a fire and let’s get to some storytelling from the master himself. Any time I’ve tried to pick one of his wonderful stories as my favourite, I instantly find myself correcting my selection – Fantastic Mr. Fox, no, The Magic Finger – No! – The BFG – No, no, wait… George’s Marvellous Medicine. Oh but then there’s Matilda. Where did he get these ideas? Did he think this stuff could actually happen? Roald Dahl’s stories were never THAT far from reality – just a slight stretch away from adult reality and very much within the realm of possibility from a child’s perspective – you remember The Witches right? Bravo.

Margaret Atwood – brilliant ideas and fascinating (if unnerving) predictions of the future, I’d love to ask her about any number of her books, her vision for the future and the state she thinks humanity will be in in 20 years time. She’d certainly bring a unique and fascinating contribution to the panel.

And as for Lisbeth… no explanation required. She wouldn’t appreciate the publicity or the fanfare so I’ll say no more. If only to say, I miss her very much.

Who are your favourite authors and characters? If you could pick just six, who would they be and what questions would you ask them?





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