Susan Hill was born and bred in Yorkshire where she learned to sit still and watch cricket from the age of four at the Scarborough cricket festival. She went to grammar schools there and in Coventry and then read English at King's College, London. She published her first novel as an undergraduate and has been a full-time professional writer ever since. Her novels include I'm the King of the Castle, Strange Meeting and the ghost novel The Woman in Black. The play adapted from this has been running in the West End and round the world for 18 years. Most recently Susan has written a trilogy of crime novels. She is married to the Shakespeare scholar Professor Stanley Wells. She blogs at her website Susan Hill.
What has been your best blogging experience? > Finding out that over 900 people had visited my blog the previous day.
What has been your worst blogging experience? > Having my blog quoted in The Times, which made me realize how careful I have to be about what I say and the way I say it.
Who are your intellectual heroes? > Keir Hardie and Christopher Hitchens.
What are you reading at the moment? > I always have half a dozen books on the go, not counting books I am reading for my Masters degree in Theology. But as of last night: Personal History by Katharine Graham; Greene on Capri by Shirley Hazzard; Delta Wedding by Eudora Welty; Fleshmarket Close by Ian Rankin - and I'm re-reading A Time to Keep Silence by Patrick Leigh Fermor, and Waterland by Graham Swift.
Who are your cultural heroes? > Benjamin Britten; Marilyn Monroe.
What is the best novel you've ever read? > Dickens' Our Mutual Friend.
What is your favourite movie? > Casablanca and Some Like it Hot - a dead heat.
What is your favourite song? > Anything from Guys and Dolls.
Who is your favourite composer? > Benjamin Britten.
What philosophical thesis do you think it most important to combat? > Religious fanaticism. (I speak as a Christian.)
Can you name a work of non-fiction which has had a major and lasting influence on how you think about the world? > The Bible. I am not a fundamentalist. I do not believe everything in the Bible is literally true. But I do believe that it contains the best counsel for good living (among other things).
Who are your political heroes? > Keir Hardie and H.H. Asquith.
If you could effect one major policy change in the governing of your country, what would it be? > Abolish private education so that the most motivated and powerful parents and the brightest children and the best teachers would be forced to enter the comprehensive system and improve it out of all recognition. And I speak as one who was privately educated and sent her daughters to private schools. But I would not have done if the local state system had been as good as the private sector in which they were so well educated.
If you could choose anyone, from any walk of life, to be Prime Minister, who would you choose? > The Prince of Wales.
What do you consider to be the main threat to the future peace and security of the world? > Iran and other fanatical regimes having nuclear weapons.
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? > I have been for 31 years! I am a Keir Hardiean/Bennite socialist, he is a rather apolitical Conservative. It probably works better now than ever because we both despise New Labour so much.
What do you consider the most important personal quality? > Generosity.
What personal fault do you most dislike? > Meanness, both financial and of spirit.
In what circumstances would you be willing to lie? > I was always willing to lie to my children when they were under five, mainly to reassure them. (Is that lightening going to hurt us? No, of course not, it's just God sharpening the scissors.) There are lies and lies. It is the motive that is the important thing. When the doctor told me my mother had advanced cancer he suggested I decide whether to tell her or not - he would fudge the issue. She asked me if she had C; she would not even utter the word. I said 'No, you have a lot of ulcers in your colon and they have been removed.' In consequence she perked up and lived another three healthy years. I have never regretted that lie. But public lies, by politicians and leaders, are quite different. They are always and everywhere unacceptable. The motive is never good.
What commonly enjoyed activities do you regard as a waste of time? > Getting drunk.
Where would you most like to live (other than where you do)? > Anywhere in the UK in front of the sea.
What would your ideal holiday be? > In the above, but with room service.
If you had to change your first name, what would you change it to? > Up to the age of about 12 I wanted desperately to be called Rosemary. Now... I hate Susan but I have learned to live with it. Suze is better. Never Sue. Scherezade would be nice, if only I had an exotic surname.
What talent would you most like to have? > To be able to play anything on the piano, by ear. Best way to entertain people or yourself.
What would be your ideal choice of alternative profession or job? > To be an old fashioned pub pianist – see above.
Which English Premiership football team do you support? > Manchester United.
If you could have any three guests, past or present, to dinner who would they be? > Virginia Woolf, Marilyn Monroe and Christopher Hitchens.
[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.]