Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
I remember reading an Alfred Hitchcock "Three Investigators" novel. The kids were in an old, (supposedly) empty house and were terrified but didn't know why. It turned out that someone was playing a note on an organ that was so deep, it was outside their conscious hearing range - but they didn't know it at the time and neither did I. They could hear it, but didn't hear it. The description of their irrational fear made me drop the book. I only picked it up again after my tea, when I realised I wouldn't be able to sleep unless I knew what had happened and why. It was the first time I recognised the power of the written word.
How do you approach cover design?
I know what I want to convey, but I rely on experts to translate that effectively. There is a sad story related to the cover of "You! A Golf Guru!". It was meant to be created by Julie - an exceptional artist and graphic designer who also happened to be a very close friend of my partner. We had just started work on the concept when Julie was taken ill. She died shortly afterwards. I could have asked someone else to develop those initial concepts into a finished design, but it wouldn't have been Julie's design and I'd have been reminded of that fact every time I looked at the book. I have ended up with a cover that's very different from the original plan, but it still conveys effectively what I want it to convey, so I'm very pleased with it.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
"Heart of Darkness" by Conrad - because of the author's ability to create terror in the mind of the reader.
"Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" - which is a bit of a cheat as one book, but I love Douglas Adams' humour.
"Notes from a Small Island" - because Bill Bryson has an easy style and a great eye for description.
"Lord of the Rings" - I bought the first book when bored in Oman. Six hours later I went back to the bookstore and bought the other two. I read all three in just over a day and a half and felt bereft at the end. What a story!
There are ten books above, which is a bit of a cheat, so I think I'll leave it at that.