Martha Williams was born in the UK, studied biochemistry at KCL, and spent 20 years working as a scientific writer. She writes fiction and blogs at Martha Williams.
Why do you blog? > It's my literary incontinence pad.
What would be your main blogging advice to a novice blogger? > Never blog with your back to a child. Use a font that is big enough to read.
What are your favourite blogs? > Writers' blogs? Tania Hershman's blog is great for writing events, and her stories are exceptional; Valerie O'Riordan's blog is hilarious and links regularly to Bookmunch reviews; or for an eclectic mix of editorial update, flash fiction and travel journal, there's Michelle Elvy's blog, Glow Worm.
Who are your intellectual heroes? > Darwin, Einstein and Newton, plus Florey and Chain for their work on antibiotics, Alan Turing for his code-breaking at Bletchley Park, Marie Curie for her work on radioactivity, Ernest Rutherford and Niels Bohr for the atom, Galileo for Jupiter's moons, William Shakespeare for his plays, Leonardo da Vinci for his art and inventions, Isambard Kingdom Brunel for his constructions, John Harrison with his dogged determination to build a marine chronometer, David Attenborough for his work at the BBC and for sharing his knowledge of the natural world and environment, Brian Cox for his enthusiasm about the stars and ability to communicate the principles of physics, and hundreds more.
What are you reading at the moment? > We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver, Madeleine by Kate McCann, and Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell. Also Reeds Almanac and various Roald Dahl and J.K. Rowling books.
What is the best novel you've ever read? > The Color Purple by Alice Walker.
What is your favourite poem? > 'Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night' by Dylan Thomas.
Can you name a major moral, political or intellectual issue on which you've ever changed your mind? > I was a vegetarian for years before eating meat to alleviate anaemia during pregnancy. Now I cook meat and fish occasionally, preferring sustainable, local, wild food; we fish in the bay.
What philosophical thesis do you think it most important to disseminate? > Pejorative group labels, such as 'illegal immigrants', do not describe people nor help us to understand them, they just put them out of reach.
Can you name a work of non-fiction which has had a major and lasting influence on how you think about the world? > Stryer, Biochemistry. After I read it, I saw myself as a skin sack full of proteins, membranes and juice, with a tuft of hair on top. To grow from chemical soup and a twisted code is too odd to take for granted, it's both funny and sacred, a kind of magic.
If you could effect one major policy change in the governing of your country, what would it be? > I would restrict food advertisements, packaging and processing.
What do you consider to be the main threat to the future peace and security of the world? > Greed.
Do you think the world (human civilization) has already passed its best point, or is that yet to come? > This is it, now.
What would be your most important piece of advice about life? > Be kind, demand kindness.
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 tolerate a lot of different opinions but as for respecting them, that would depend on the views. I'd need to be able to respect them.
What do you consider the most important personal quality? > Integrity.
What personal fault do you most dislike? > Cruelty and hypocrisy in almost equal measure.
In what circumstances would you be willing to lie? > I use pen names, I write fiction... I'm a professional liar.
What is your favourite proverb? > Actions speak louder than words.
What commonly enjoyed activities do you regard as a waste of time? > Computer games.
What, if anything, do you worry about? > My children, other people's children, sick people, lost people, old people, endangered species, war, the environment, disease, fire, climate change...
What would you call your autobiography? > Who On Earth?
Who would play you in the movie about your life? > Maggie Smith.
What do you like doing in your spare time? > Family walks.
If you had to change your first name, what would you change it to? > Bert.
What talent would you most like to have? > I would like to be a fabulous parent.
What would be your ideal choice of alternative profession or job? > Private investigator or journalist.
Who are your sporting heroes? > The explorers who looked after people along the way, e.g. Ernest Shackleton, and sailor Pete Goss.
How, if at all, would you change your life were you suddenly to win or inherit an enormously large sum of money? > I'd laugh like a drain, call my mother-in-law, and we'd distribute it in the space of an afternoon. It would be fabulous fun. I'd keep enough to put the kids through college, that's what I'd want for myself.
What animal would you most like to be? > Me, thank you.
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