Vanessa Gebbie is a writer, editor and teacher of Creative Writing. She founded and edits the specialist ezine Tom's Voice Magazine. She also founded and runs The Fiction Workhouse, an online collective for writers. Her short fiction is well published and she is the first writer to win awards in both the Bridport Prize and the Fish Short Story Prize (both in 2007). Many of her award winning stories are brought together in her debut collection, Words from a Glass Bubble. Vanessa blogs at Vanessa Gebbie's News.
Why do you blog? > Because writing is essentially a lonely business. Blogging helps me keep in touch with what other writers are doing. I also think it is important to record not only the good times but the less good, to give an accurate picture to newer writers.
What has been your best blogging experience? > Hearing about books I might not otherwise have met.
What would be your main blogging advice to a novice blogger? > Do your own thing.
What are you reading at the moment? > Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri (for pleasure and to review it for The Short Review), Jesus of Nazareth by Joseph Ratzinger (research, for the 'novel'), and The Enchantress of Florence by Salman Rushdie.
What is the best novel you've ever read? > Austerlitz by W.G. Sebald.
What is your favourite poem? > Dylan Thomas: 'Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night'.
What is your favourite movie? > The Day of the Jackal.
Who is your favourite composer? > Mozart.
Can you name a major moral, political or intellectual issue on which you've ever changed your mind? > The abortion issue. As a 1960s teenager, I went along with the freedom of it all. But the older I get, the more I find it morally wrong. Abortion has its place, but I find the casual approach to it, and the extraordinary numbers recorded in the UK and the USA shocking. It underlines our loss of wonderment at what life is. I was adopted in the 1950s. Had I been conceived a few decades later, I would not be typing this. I'd be in an incinerator.
What philosophical thesis do you think it most important to disseminate? > That free will has to assume acceptance of moral responsibility.
If you could choose anyone, from any walk of life, to be Prime Minister, who would you choose? > Sister Rosemary SLG, erstwhile Mother Superior of an Oxford-based Anglican contemplative order of nuns. Wonderful lady. She'd sort it all out just fine.
What would you do with the UN? > Abolish the power of veto.
What do you consider to be the main threat to the future peace and security of the world? > Sadly, the major organized religions, especially where they become embroiled in politics.
Do you think the world (human civilization) has already passed its best point, or is that yet to come? > Culturally, the best has gone. Technologically the best is yet to come.
What would be your most important piece of advice about life? > Get on with it. Stop complaining.
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? > Yes. I am. We have argued for 32 years. Our votes have always cancelled each other's out, apart from once, when he joined me, fleetingly.
What do you consider the most important personal quality? > Integrity.
What personal fault do you most dislike? > Meanness.
In what circumstances would you be willing to lie? > When writing fiction.
What commonly enjoyed activities do you regard as a waste of time? > Watching television.
What would you call your autobiography? > Much Ado About Nothing.
Where would you most like to live (other than where you do)? > On a smaller island.
What would your ideal holiday be? > Two months on The Falklands. Wonderful wildlife, fascinating history. Solitude.
What do you like doing in your spare time? > Wondering.
What is your most treasured possession? > My complete birth certificate. Adopted kids of my generation have a truncated version, and have to jump through hoops of fire to get the real thing.
What talent would you most like to have? > I'd love to play a musical instrument to perfection. The 'cello, or the pianoforte, or the French horn.
Who is your favourite comedian or humorist? > Spike Milligan.
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 small island.
If you could have any three guests, past or present, to dinner who would they be? > Emmeline Pankhurst, Simon Peter, Salman Rushdie.
What animal would you most like to be? > A barn owl.
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