Kirsty McHugh was born in 1982 in Glasgow, where she lived and studied until she was 23. Since then she has lived in Oxford, where she works in academic publishing. Evidently having too much time on her hands, she spent 2007-9 also studying part-time for an MA in Victorian Studies, paying particular attention to The New Woman writers and feminist movement in the late 19th century. Kirsty's interests include books, feminism, and social media. She lives with her musician fiancé and two deeply neurotic black cats. She blogs at Other Stories and contributes regularly to the OUP blog.
Why do you blog? > I've always been a bit of an internet geek. I built a succession of very basic websites as a teenager (mostly about the goth and metal bands I was obsessed with) before discovering blogging while I was a student. Online diaries eventually metamorphosed into Other Stories, my blog about books and feminism, or occasionally both at the same time.
What has been your best blogging experience? > Not a particular experience, but the most rewarding aspect has been the new – and genuine - friends I have made through my blog. When I started I didn't really care whether I was just talking to a brick wall, but now it seems people actually read what I have to say, and even better, talk back.
What has been your worst blogging experience? > Hateful emails from an anti-feminist.
What are your favourite blogs? > Dovegreyreader is surely the doyenne of book bloggers. The F Word is the best UK feminist blog out there in my opinion. It's hard to choose just one other book blog, so today I shall select Reading Matters. There are many more, though.
What are you reading at the moment? > I'm just about to start Sheila Rowbotham's new book, Dreamers of a New Day: Women who Invented the Twentieth Century, dealing as it does with women's rights in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. I've also been reading my way through the Orange Prize shortlist, and I have my final book, The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver, ready to go.
What is the best novel you've ever read? > Jane Eyre might be one of those books that everyone's read, but I truly adore it. It has everything: great characters, plot, pace, and the proto-feminist aspect to Jane ('I am not a bird; no net ensnares me...') keeps me coming back to it time and time again.
What is your favourite song? > 'Wish You Were Here' by Pink Floyd. Because it's both brilliant and very meaningful for me.
What philosophical thesis do you think it most important to disseminate? > Feminism. We need the feminist movement now as much as ever: women are still on average paid less than men; domestic and sexual violence is still the number one cause of women's deaths worldwide.
What philosophical thesis do you think it most important to combat? > Creationism. That, as well as the rise of the extremely religious political right, genuinely frightens me.
Who are your political heroes? > Robert Bontine Cunninghame Graham. In the 19th century he campaigned for the abolition of the House of Lords; Scottish independence; the nationalization of land and mines; the disestablishment of the Church of England; free school meals; and universal suffrage. All that and he still found time in his life to be a Mexican gaucho.
If you could effect one major policy change in the governing of your country, what would it be? > Libel reform, especially in the light of the recent Simon Singh case.
If you could choose anyone, from any walk of life, to be Prime Minister, who would you choose? > Robert Bontine Cunninghame Graham (see above).
Do you think the world (human civilization) has already passed its best point, or is that yet to come? > The optimist in me very much hopes it hasn't passed its best point. The pessimist in me isn't quite so sure.
What do you consider the most important personal quality? > Tolerance.
What personal fault do you most dislike? > Lateness.
What commonly enjoyed activities do you regard as a waste of time? > Football. Particularly the watching thereof. It's the tribalism that goes with it – I find it terribly off-putting.
What, if anything, do you worry about? > Everything and anything, particularly tiny, insignificant things. My mother always says that I worry about having nothing to worry about.
If you were to relive your life to this point, is there anything you'd do differently? > I'd have done a joint English Literature and History degree, rather than just English Lit. I feel like there is too much I don't know.
Who would play you in the movie about your life? > Thora Birch from American Beauty.
Where would you most like to live (other than where you do)? > Edinburgh. Other than that I genuinely can't think of anywhere I'd rather live than Oxford.
What would your ideal holiday be? > Either museum and gallery viewing in a European city, or a week on a remote Scottish island. No more than a week though, especially if there were no wireless.
What do you like doing in your spare time? > I'd love to say that I have some sort of weird and wonderful hobby, but I don't. I read, I mooch around the internet, and we're regulars at our local CAMRA-approved alehouse.
What is your most treasured possession? > A portable writing desk from the late 19th century, which belonged to a relative of my great aunt. My great aunt was a tremendous woman who, sadly, died this year, and this gift from her serves as a wonderful reminder of her.
If you had to change your first name, what would you change it to? > As a child I resented my mother for telling me that she and my father had considered the name Eilidh for me, as I thought it a much better name than Kirsty. Now I'm glad I don't have to spell it for all and sundry.
What talent would you most like to have? > To be able to draw.
What would be your ideal choice of alternative profession or job? > I know it's a terrible cliché, but I'd love to be a writer. Trouble is, my writing's not good enough!
Who is your favourite comedian or humorist? > Marcus Brigstocke. I know he's everywhere, but I think he's funny and I generally agree with him.
If you could have any three guests, past or present, to dinner who would they be? > My fiancé, who is a repository of random trivia on seemingly every subject. Robert Bontine Cunninghame Graham. Mona Caird, the New Woman novelist.
What animal would you most like to be? > A cat, especially if it had the ability to read and drink wine. Otherwise, I think giraffes are really cool.
[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.]