Rachel Carter was born Rachel Wood in 1969 in Hull, where her father was teaching. Then after eight years in the West Midlands, her family moved to and remained in her mother's family home of North Devon where her parents taught modern languages at a local secondary school. She considers herself a fine example of an opsimath, having taken until the age of 29 to become interested in her education. After various Open University courses Rachel feels she has spent her whole life avoiding being a writer and now spends most days happily mucking about with words. She blogs at Creative Writing.
Why do you blog? > To give and receive feedback with other creative writers, share experiences of being a writer and air general thoughts about many aspects.
What has been your best blogging experience? > Connecting with others. As a shy person this has been invaluable.
What would be your main blogging advice to a novice blogger? > Expect it to take time to get established. Think about whether you really want your posts open to all comments or whether you want to moderate them first. If you write controversial material don't be surprised if other people's opinions upset you.
Who are your intellectual heroes? > Virginia Woolf, E.M. Forster, Richard Dawkins, my parents, Raymond Carver, and F. Scott Fitzgerald, who dropped his education to be a writer. (I wish I'd thought of that sooner!)
What are you reading at the moment? > Great Short Works of Leo Tolstoy, How to Write and Sell Short Stories by Della Galton, Rose Metal Press's Field Guide to Writing Flash Fiction, Hilary Mantel's Giving up the Ghost, Rose Tremain's The Road Home. I always have a lot of books on the go.
What is the best novel you've ever read? > Elizabeth Gaskell's Mary Barton. Ah - or Anne Brontë's The Tenant of Wildfell Hall.
Who is your favourite composer? > Haydn is fantastic but I don't do favourites. Beethoven if I'm playing the piano, Louis Drouet if I'm playing the flute. I have exteremly broad taste in music. Henryk Gorecki is wonderful, as were John Lennon, Freddie Mercury, Simon and Garfunkel.
Can you name a major moral, political or intellectual issue on which you've ever changed your mind? > Nothing major, no. No overnight swings. I have always had pretty sound views, no need to change them - [smile].
What philosophical thesis do you think it most important to disseminate? > Can I choose two? Enlightened self-interest: having a better life by doing good for others. I believe we can achieve enormous satisfaction through the knowledge that we may have improved someone's life in some way, however small. And Anthroposophy: the importance of including more imagination, inspiration and intuition within education. We don't seem to be very good at it in this country - which is heartbreaking because children should be playing and laughing and not part of league tables.
What philosophical thesis do you think it most important to combat? > Academic elitism. (Is this also known as Credentialism?) This is partly a humorous comment, because I'm not well educated and haven't studied philosophy, but I find all types of stratification make me uneasy. I know people that are extremely well qualified in terms of academic achievement and others that were failed by the British education system. Their opinions are equally valid as members of society but sets of artificial criteria as to what makes a person valid or insignificant can destroy confidence and status. Bring back education that includes training for specific essential jobs.
If you could effect one major policy change in the governing of your country, what would it be? > Quite simply, I would make provisions for children significantly better. I would implement an enormous and significant specific childhood department and fund. A lot of problems in society would eventually disperse if children were less bored, more motivated and given the choices and consideration they deserve. More teachers, better diets, more and better play areas, evening activities, etc. Focus on individuality, on praise, on community, on awareness. Forget the stick. Bring on the carrots. Give young people a reason to give back. It would be money in the bank. An interesting, intelligent future is the result of a stimulated, cared-for childhood.
What do you consider to be the main threat to the future peace and security of the world? > The inability to see that difference is a good thing, an inability which leads to religious hatred.
What would be your most important piece of advice about life? > Avoid pesticides.
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? > Depends how dogmatic they were. I couldn't live with someone who was racist, sexist, or capitalist, or judgemental, but if they were simply misguided and I could change their opinions then it would be bearable.
What do you consider the most important personal quality? > A social conscience (within a home, a group, a workplace, a neighbourhood, a town, a country, a planet). Not necessarily carrying any particular social commitments, but simply always thinking of how what you do could influence others. I find people that stop to think how their actions would affect others are the best company.
What personal fault do you most dislike? > Unmoveable, dogmatic people tend to be the least forgiving and most judgemental.
In what circumstances would you be willing to lie? > To protect someone's safety.
Do you have any prejudices you're willing to acknowledge? > I hope not. I think that people in the public eye and with influence should have a purpose and a lot of people don't seem to. Is that a prejudice?
What commonly enjoyed activities do you regard as a waste of time? > Theme parks.
What, if anything, do you worry about? > I worry about everything. I am terribly worried all the time.
If you were to relive your life to this point, is there anything you'd do differently? > I don't know if I could. I think my hormones took over and I had no choice! I would love to be better educated but I think the teenage Rachel had had enough.
What would you call your autobiography? > If Dad Could See Me Now.
Where would you most like to live (other than where you do)? > West Ireland.
What would your ideal holiday be? > I'd like to travel on The Orient Express.
What do you like doing in your spare time? > I'm not sure what spare time is. I treat myself to an hour of TV every night but I usually end up getting cross because it's so rubbish.
What is your most treasured possession? > My family.
If you had to change your first name, what would you change it to? > Ruth.
What talent would you most like to have? > I would like to hold an intelligent conversation.
Who are your sporting heroes? > My husband, who was British surfing champion in 1984. Other than that I don't give a monkey's about sport.
How, if at all, would you change your life were you suddenly to win or inherit an enormously large sum of money? > I would move our family home a mile down the road so that we had a sea view and then I would be a writer and nothing else.
What animal would you most like to be? > I wouldn't. Humans are the only animals that can find some sort of contentment in old age or illness because they have such brilliant, active brains.
[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.]