Alan Gibbons is a full-time writer. Winner of the Blue Peter Award 'The Book I Couldn't Put Down', he has won nine literary awards and has twice been shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal. He has also been twice shortlisted for the Booktrust Teenage Award. A former teacher, he is a passionate advocate of reading and libraries, and he organizes the Campaign for the Book. He is at the centre of the present campaign against library closures. Alan lives in Liverpool with his wife and four children. He blogs at Alan Gibbons' Blog.
Why do you blog? > I want to put my personal views, passions and idiosyncracies into the public arena.
What has been your best blogging experience? > Launching the Campaign for the Book conference through the blog and drawing over 200 delegates to a national conference in 2009.
What would be your main blogging advice to a novice blogger? > Be honest. Tell it straight. Be obsessive.
Who are your intellectual heroes? > J.B. Priestley, John Berger, John Pilger, Mary Wollstencraft, Sylvia Pankhurst, Frederick Douglass, George Orwell.
What are you reading at the moment? > We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver.
Who are your cultural heroes? > Shelley, Blake, William Morris, Charlotte Brontë, Emily Brontë, Ken Loach, Sergio Leone, Francis Ford Coppola, Rodrigo, Diego Rivera, Bob Marley, Dusty Springfield, Sam Cooke, Aretha Franklin, Joe Strummer and many more.
What is the best novel you've ever read? > My three favourites are Jane Eyre, Great Expectations and To Kill a Mocking Bird.
What is your favourite poem? > 'Piano' by D.H. Lawrence.
What is your favourite movie? > Spartacus.
What is your favourite song? > 'A Change Is Gonna Come' by Sam Cooke.
Who is your favourite composer? > Tchaikovsky.
Can you name a major moral, political or intellectual issue on which you've ever changed your mind? > I was a convinced Labour Party supporter until the fall of Allende. It made me wonder whether social change could ever be achieved without mass struggle.
What philosophical thesis do you think it most important to disseminate? > Question everything. Trust no organisation 100 per cent.
What philosophical thesis do you think it most important to combat? > That any philospher or organization has the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
Can you name a work of non-fiction which has had a major and lasting influence on how you think about the world? > The writings of Frederick Douglass because they told me words could, in certain circumstances, help change the world.
Who are your political heroes? > Frederick Douglass, Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman, Muhammad Ali, Louise Michel, Sylvia Pankhurst, Karl Marx, Paul Foot.
What is your favourite piece of political wisdom? > 'The worker and the thinker are mankind's only true kings.' (James Connolly)
If you could effect one major policy change in the governing of your country, what would it be? > The recall of MPs by popular petition.
If you could choose anyone, from any walk of life, to be Prime Minister, who would you choose? > Ricky Tomlinson.
What do you consider to be the main threat to the future peace and security of the world? > A lack of empathy.
Do you think the world (human civilization) has already passed its best point, or is that yet to come? > These are the best of times, the worst of times. Which way the scales tip is in the balance.
What would be your most important piece of advice about life? > Paxman said it. Always ask yourself: 'Why is this bastard lying to me?'
What do you consider the most important personal quality? > Empathy.
What personal fault do you most dislike? > Self-obsession.
In what circumstances would you be willing to lie? > Being in fear of my life.
Do you have any prejudices you're willing to acknowledge? > Yes, I think the North of England is the gateway to Heaven.
What commonly enjoyed activities do you regard as a waste of time? > Watching X Factor.
What, if anything, do you worry about? > My children's future.
If you were to relive your life to this point, is there anything you'd do differently? > Meet my wife 10 years earlier.
What would you call your autobiography? > Daft bugger!
What is your most treasured possession? > My Apple Mac.
Who is your favourite comedian or humorist? > Nick Clegg.
Who are your sporting heroes? > George Best and Muhammad Ali.
Which English Premiership football team do you support? > Manchester United.
How, if at all, would you change your life were you suddenly to win or inherit an enormously large sum of money? > Buy my kids a house.
[The normblog profile is a Friday morning feature. A list of all the profiles to date, and the links to them, can be found here.]