1 What would your superhero power be?
I would like to be able to make people laugh even though it’s the last thing they could ever imagine doing.
2 What was the last text you sent?
It was the number of the taxi company through which I’d booked my wife a cab. All of my texts are brutally factual.
3 You are wallpaper. What is your pattern?
My father loves wallpaper; I have never seen its point. I do love a diagonal stripe though, so diagonal stripes in black and white. A bit Bridget Riley-ish, I suppose.
4 Who is your favourite TV dad?
Joe DuBois from I-see-dead-people crime show Medium. Joe is the moral centre of the DuBois family: he loves his wife and three kids, holds down a job and has to deal with Alison’s gift – she solves murders via clues presented by murder victims – while rarely complaining that he and the rest of the family are merely adjuncts to her working life. It’s a strange show in lots of ways: on the face of it, it’s a lurid repoint of the traditional cop show; but it’s actually quite an astute examination of family life when one member of that family perpetually puts those outside of the family first. That the show manages to present this in a subtle way is why it is one of the best popular crime shows of the last thirty years.
5 Bacon VS Tofu – who wins? Why?
Bacon is essential in coq au vin. A world without coq au vin is not worth living for.
6 Have you ever had a nickname?
Before I came to London sixteen years ago, I had never had a nickname. I now have lots, none of which I particularly love or loathe. I won’t say what they are. I can’t imagine Samuel Beckett telling anyone that he’s known as Becky by the blokes down at the chess boards in the park; or Virginia Woolf admitting that Vita Sackville-West always called her Foxy, and you should always aspire to follow the lessons of the greats.
7 You have to swap places with one other writer for a week. Who and why?
AS Byatt. I hear she has an excellent swimming pool.
8 What is the oldest piece of clothing in your wardrobe?
I have a suit that is comfortably twice my age. The cut and material of old suits are vastly superior to contemporary counterparts. Even old suits from Burtons make you feel like Terence Stamp waiting for Julie Christie.
9 Did you find Bob Monkhouse funny?
Monkhouse wrote the best clean joke I know – When I said I was going to become a comedian, they all laughed. Well, they’re not laughing now – and often he had a gift for piercing self-laceration. But I always found him slightly sinister, slightly sad, rather than really funny.
10 What’s your favourite swear?
At the moment I like piss-wristed.
11 What’s your favourite thing from childhood that you’ve still got?
Crippling self-doubt and a colossal ego.
12 Who is your favourite Neighbours character?
I think it was Jim Robinson’s sister who on arriving for Scott and Charlene’s wedding gave them a gift of baby clothes. Everyone looked shocked and she said, well what did you expect me to think? Whoever she was, she was a highlight whenever she cropped back into it.
13 Have you ever seen a ghost?
No. They do, however, tend to crop up in my fiction a lot.
14 What would your motto for life be?
The same as is embroidered on Malcom Tucker’s tea-towel.
15 Do you have any writing rituals?
I don’t have the time for rituals, which is a shame. I’d love to be able to say I can only write after eating a nectarine, or walking through mulchy fields, but it’s more of a case of where- and whenever.
16 What sandwiches would you make for a picnic with Dave Eggers?
I tend to avoid making sandwiches for picnics, what I’d really like is some garlic roast chicken thighs and some cold sausages. If Dave is unhappy with that, he can provide his own.
17 What colour is fatherhood?
It’s the same shade of blue I see as I listen to side two of the Beatles’ Abbey Road LP.
18 What is your default pub drink?
I like pale ales, so will order one of those. Guinness if not.
19 Do you talk to yourself?
All the time. It is an ongoing narrative of increasing desperation.
20 What question should I have asked you?
Why do you love Columbo? One day I will answer this question in over 40,000 words.
Thank you so much for taking part in Smash Lits. I now want to watch Medium and read your Columbo essay more than you could guess. Those of you who’d like to know more can head over to Twitter @StuartEvers