Sharon Howard was born in Suffolk in 1967. She left school at 17, did a succession of unexciting jobs, got married and divorced, and then went back to school in 1994. After a year studying at Coleg Harlech in north Wales, she went to the University of Wales, Aberystwyth, to take a BA degree in History, went on to the University of York to study for an MA, and returned to Aberystwyth to do a PhD on crime in early modern Wales, which she completed in 2003. Shortly after that she was awarded a three-year British Academy postdoctoral fellowship to research crime and violence in seventeenth-century north Wales and Cheshire. Sharon blogs at Early Modern Notes and, also, Cliopatra.
Why do you blog? > Because I can't stop. I enjoy writing, I love history, and I like finding interesting things on the Web and telling people about them. Blogging allows me to do all of those things at the same time.
What has been your best blogging experience? > Probably the History Carnival. It was fun to do and discover just how much good blogging about history is out there; and the response was fantastic.
What has been your worst blogging experience? > I can't think of anything very bad so far. (Well, a rather lame troll called me a poop-hole a while back... but that was too funny to count.) The occasions when software has eaten a post that I forgot to copy to the clipboard before hitting 'Publish'.
What would be your main blogging advice to a novice blogger? > Decide whether you want to have your real name on your blog or do it under a pseudonym (or possibly have one of each). It's likely to make a big difference to what you can do there. Then let it take you wherever it feels good.
What are you reading at the moment? > Neal Stephenson, Quicksilver; Garthine Walker, Crime, Gender and Social Order in Early Modern England; Robert Colls, Identity of England, has just arrived in the post; oh, and the first of the Lemony Snicket books is due any day now.
What is your favourite poem? > Wendy Cope, 'The sorrow of socks'. Very funny and very true. (But I don't read much poetry, it should be said.)
What is your favourite movie? > Depends on my mood, but it's quite likely to star Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn.
Can you name a major moral, political or intellectual issue on which you've ever changed your mind? > That history is boring and irrelevant.
Can you name a work of non-fiction which has had a major and lasting influence on how you think about the world? > Carlo Ginzburg, The Cheese and the Worms. I read it as a first-year undergraduate and it was one of the things (along with a great teacher) that started me on the path to where I am now.
If you could effect one major policy change in the governing of your country, what would it be? > Higher rates of income tax for high earners, lower ones for low earners.
What do you consider to be the main threat to the future peace and security of the world? > Destruction of natural environment and resources. Religious fanaticism in all its varieties would come second.
What would be your most important piece of advice about life? > You've only got one. Make the most of it.
Do you think you could ever be married to, or in a long-term relationship with, someone with radically different political views from your own? > No. Tolerance is a virtue, but there have to be limits. Why would I want to live with someone I'd spend much of the time arguing with?
What do you consider the most important personal quality? > The desire to keep learning, asking questions and expanding your horizons.
What personal fault do you most dislike? > Selfishness.
In what circumstances would you be willing to lie? > When the truth is likely to do more harm than the lie.
Do you have any prejudices you're willing to acknowledge? > Obesity. Religion. Tories. People from Essex.
What commonly enjoyed activities do you regard as a waste of time? > Football.
What, if anything, do you worry about? > I don't think there's enough space for all my worries. Global warming. My pension. The state of education. Where I left my keys again.
If you were to relive your life to this point, is there anything you'd do differently? > I would never have got married.
What would your ideal holiday be? > For years, I've wanted to go to Iceland.
What do you like doing in your spare time? > Cooking, reading crime novels, blogging, general sloth.
What is your most treasured possession? > This is sad, but it has to be my laptop.
If you had to change your first name, what would you change it to? > Helen.
What talent would you most like to have? > The ability to learn new languages easily.
What would be your ideal choice of alternative profession or job? > Sausage and mash taster.
Who is your favourite comedian or humorist? > Eddie Izzard.
Who are your sporting heroes? > The young Ian Botham; Mohammed Ali; Tanni Grey-Thompson.
How, if at all, would you change your life were you suddenly to win or inherit an enormously large sum of money? > I'd buy a house with a large kitchen. I'd invest the money to give me a long-term income and pension fund and to enable me to become an independent researcher and writer, study whatever takes my fancy, take long holidays with fit sexy companions.
What animal would you most like to be? > A cat.