‘Handsome and informative.’ So says a quote on David Long’s website, and who am I to disagree? Anyway, a man who can write so well about Apollo 13 is obviously a man worth knowing more about. Right? So here he is, spilling the beans on Swedes and other secrets:
How many books did you write before the one that was your first published book?
None, although I ghosted half a dozen for other people before one came out with my name on it. These were not celebrities but interesting, successful men and women who had an interesting story to tell, but lacked the time or temperament to sit down and write it themselves.
Best place for inspiration?
To be honest it can strike anywhere (but I once had a great idea for a title when I was in the bath).
Would you ever consider writing under a pseudonym? Perhaps you already do?
See above. I also spent 25 years as a journalist, when I think about 5% of my pieces were written under one of several pen names.
What would you never write about?
I wouldn’t rule out anything, although I find all sports incredibly boring.
Through your writing: the most unexpected person you’ve met, or the most unexpected place you’ve ended up in?
I’ve shaken hands with two of the twelve men who walked on the Moon, which is one of the reasons I wrote Survival in Space.
Which of your characters would you most like to be?
Do you think that having a film made of one of your books would be a good or a bad thing?
A bit of both, but I have written a script – and won an award for it – so clearly I’d like it to happen
What is the strangest question you’ve been asked at an event?
“Were there any rabbits in the war?” (during a reading at Edinburgh Festival).
Do you have any unexpected skills?
My handwriting is even worse than my father’s was, and he was a doctor. Does that count?
The Famous Five or Narnia?
Easy. Famous Five.
Who is your most favourite Swede?
Carl Linnaeus, the botanist-zoologist who worked so hard to make the world understandable.
How do you arrange your books at home? In a Billy? By colour, or alphabetically?
Alphabetically! I’m not a barbarian.
Which book would you put in the hands of an unwilling eight-year-old boy reader?
Emil and the Detectives, by Erich Kästner
If you have to choose between reading or writing, which would it be?
Writing, but that would be a really, really tough choice.
David sounds like a sensible man. Definitely not a barbarian. But I would have liked to know more about the rabbits.