Ten Random Facts About E. J.
1. My first crush was on Harrison Ford, mostly as Indiana Jones.
Between the ages of 12-14, my bedroom was plastered with Indy pictures and posters, I went to the cinema to see the Last Crusade seven times, I knew the scripts off by heart. Discussing it with a friend a little while ago, I realise now how innocent it was; I wanted him to whisk me off on an adventure, nothing more – I don’t even remember fantasising about kissing him (I do now, I hasten to add). I simply adored him.
2. The most influential idol I had as a teen was Doc Emmet Brown from the Back to the Future trilogy.
When I moved from Indy onto Back to the Future (it was seeing the third one in the cinema that clinched it) I loved the Doc more than anyone else. He was my ultimate hero – whilst all of my friends were swooning over Marty, I was worrying about whether Doc Brown was okay. Yeah, I was weird (still am) but I think the thing I loved most about him however was his passionate drive to achieve what everyone said was impossible. His phrase “If you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything” became my mantra. Only now in my mid-thirties do I realise how deeply that seeped into my teenage heart, and what an excellent role-model he was.
3. I have to wear my socks inside out.
I’d better explain that, hadn’t I? Well, it’s all to do with that seam that runs across the toes; I can’t stand the way it feels, but when the socks are inside out the seam is on the outside and all is well with the world.
4. The book that made me fall in love with the post-apocalyptic setting was…
Empty World by John Christopher. We read it in English class when I was about 13 I think. Scenes still haunt me, I’ve managed to hunt down a copy but I’ve been putting off reading it, just in case it isn’t as marvellous as I recall.
5. I was born just outside a tiny fishing village in Cornwall, England.
Between Penzance and Mousehole (pronounced maowzall) there used to be a tiny community hospital called Bolitho. I grew up a few miles away and miss being so close to the sea. Whenever I feel lost, I close my eyes and imagine myself standing on top of one of the granite cliffs, the Atlantic crashing against the rocks below and I always feel better.
6. I have a healthy suspicion of mushrooms.
I’m sorry, I just can’t eat anything that looks like a sliced and fried slug. Enough said.
7. Tea is very, very important.
It’s not just the taste, it’s the ritual. There is something so deeply comforting about standing next to a boiling kettle, swirling the tea bag (can’t afford loose leaf at the rate I consume it), pouring in the milk. It makes everything better, those five minutes away from the screen can unlock a paragraph I’m stuck on or resolve a bit of plot that’s clunky. Honestly, if you want to invade the UK, cut off our supply of tea (and coffee, I need two cups of that to get going in the morning) and within three days we’ll either be killing each other or just huddling in corners weeping.
8. I don’t have a favourite film
I can never narrow it down to one. The best I can get it down to is my top five, and even that makes me squirm. The current top five are (in no particular order): Master and Commander: Far Side of the World, Aliens, Watchmen, The Dark Knight and Brazil. Oh, and The Thief of Bagdad and Sideways. No wait, that’s seven – oh I just can’t do it!
9. I record audiobooks in a booth made from two wardrobe doors.
Recycling at its best; my very clever step-dad made me a booth out of bits of wood and two old wardrobe doors when I became a professional audio book narrator and couldn’t afford that lovely egg-box foam. I use velvet instead which is perfect for soaking up bouncy sound waves. It also makes my recording booth look more like something a dodgy fortune teller would use at a fair, which makes me happy.
10. When I was seventeen I wrote a short story that got me into university and…
… gave me a ten year long writer’s block. I was so blocked, I even forgot I used to write stories all the time. It was not the nicest experience, I bounced from job to job whilst in retrospect, I realise I was just trying to find somewhere to put all of the frustrated writing energy. I was a designer-dressmaker, a magazine publisher, an A-level psychology teacher and an SEO copywriter during that time but you know, whilst I’m sad that I lost ten years of writing time, I lived a lot and experienced aspects of life that still feed into my books. Teaching in central London and commuting in every day certainly helped with the post-apocalyptic setting of 20 Years Later and the energy of teenagers not yet jaded by the world fed into the book too. Having been a designer-dressmaker is very handy now I am getting into Steampunk and my experience of being a copywriter makes me appreciate just how lucky I am to only write fiction for a living now.