Sharon Spiteri was born in Malta where she worked as a journalist for the first 12 years of her career. She left what she fondly calls The Rock in 2003, coming to the UK to read for an MA in International Journalism at Cardiff University. She is currently researching for her DPhil at the University of Sussex and aspires to become the eternal migrant by staying no longer than five years in any one place. When she tires of moving around (which is possible but unlikely) she would like to live in Bruges with at least three cats, and write. Sharon blogs at Lost in Thought.
Why do you blog? > Many reasons but mostly to stay in touch with people back home; also to jot down notes somewhere I won't lose them and to get feedback on work in progress. I think I became hooked on the feedback, which is sometimes brilliant and almost always very useful.
What would be your main blogging advice to a novice blogger? > If you can write, people will read you and if you can think, people will engage with you.
What are you reading at the moment? > I have just finished Witches Abroad by Terry Pratchett and plan to start on The Globalization of Racism edited by Donaldo Macedo and Panayota Gounari, which I have to review for a newspaper, and Race and Nation: Ethnic Systems in the Modern World edited by Paul Spickard, which I have to review for an academic journal.
Who are your cultural heroes? > Roberto Benigni, Philip Pullman, Charlie Kaufman.
What is the best novel you've ever read? > It pains me to have to narrow this down to one but I will go for Eleven Minutes by Paulo Coelho.
What is your favourite poem? > It is an untitled poem by e. e. cummings with a first line which reads 'since feeling is first'.
What is your favourite movie? > La Vita e Bella, The Hours, In the Mood for Love. (How am I meant to narrow this down to one?)
What is your favourite song? > This changes periodically. Right now it is 'Come Here Boy' sung by Imogen Heap.
Who is your favourite composer? > Philip Glass and Shigeru Umebayashi.
Can you name a major moral, political or intellectual issue on which you've ever changed your mind? > As a teen I dabbled briefly with racist ideas including anti-miscegenation. I may just spend the rest of my life trying to make up for it.
Can you name a work of non-fiction which has had a major and lasting influence on how you think about the world? > The Elements of Journalism by Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel. I credit it with rekindling my passion for journalism after the disillusionment that is bound to occur after 12 years working the daily grind. It should be made a compulsory manual for journalists the world over.
What would be your most important piece of advice about life? > I am still struggling myself, so I do not really feel I am in a place where I can give advice to others!
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, unfortunately.
What do you consider the most important personal quality? > A willingness to understand that different cultures have different priorities. A couple of weeks ago, I would have said honesty but I have since learnt that in Rwanda, for example, it is more important to keep a person happy and a relationship going than to be honest. I might not agree with the Rwandan way of doing things but I hope I would not be the type to go around saying Rwandans are liars just because they do not subscribe to my way of doing things. An ability to laugh at oneself would probably be a close second.
In what circumstances would you be willing to lie? > This is such a difficult question. I used to insist on telling the truth, but learnt the hard way that it is sometimes better to lie or to remain silent to avoid causing people unnecessary pain.
What commonly enjoyed activities do you regard as a waste of time? > None. It actually irks me when people think some of the things I do are a waste of time. There are activities I may take or leave but I refuse to consider anything anyone can be passionate about as a waste of time.
What, if anything, do you worry about? > Ha ha ha, this is so sad. I worry about everything. My writing mainly. Make that a lot. I even talk about it in my sleep apparently.
If you were to relive your life to this point, is there anything you'd do differently? > I would want to be brought up as an atheist, so I can work out who I am independently of the Catholic doctrine which formed such a big part of my early life.
Where would you most like to live (other than where you do)? > In as many different places as possible.
What would your ideal holiday be? > I went to India for the first time this year and I have a great hankering to go again and see more of it.
What do you like doing in your spare time? > Reading, writing, watching film.
What is your most treasured possession? > My books.
If you had to change your first name, what would you change it to? > I would love to but don't think I can. I hate my first name but it is now part of who I am. Also, I am so absent-minded that I doubt I would answer to any other name. People would be going Matilda, Penelope, Lorraine, and I'd be like eh, what, are you talking to me?
What talent would you most like to have? > Learning languages easily.
What would be your ideal choice of alternative profession or job? > Theatre or film director.
Who is your favourite comedian or humorist? > Dawn French.
If you could have one (more or less realistic) wish come true, what would you wish for? > The opportunity to make a difference through my journalism.
How, if at all, would you change your life were you suddenly to win or inherit an enormously large sum of money? > As a full-time student, the mere mention of money makes my eyes glaze over and my mind wander off into dreamland. I guess the first thing I would do is to let go three of my four jobs, even though I like all of them. I need to dedicate more time to my DPhil research. Money would also mean I wouldn't have to worry so much about how the heck I am going to manage to fund my fieldwork!
If you could have any three guests, past or present, to dinner who would they be? > Alan Rusbridger, David Goodhart, Moazzam Begg.
[The normblog profile is a weekly Friday morning feature. A list of all the profiles to date, and the links to them, can be found here.]