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‘I’d be an explorer with a huge beard’
A Q&A with John Ironmonger

John Ironmonger is the author of The Coincidence Authority and Costa Award-shortlisted The Notable Brain of Maximillian Ponder. We wanted to get to know him a bit better, so here he answers some of our questions ahead of the paperback of his new novel Not Forgetting The Whale. Listen to an audio extract of Not Forgetting The Whale here.

Who is your favourite author?

John Irving. Or Damon Runyon. Or sometimes Donna Tartt.

What book do you most often recommend to friends?

Address Unknown by Kathrine Kressmann Taylor

Do you have any writing rituals?

Not really, but a marmite sandwich often helps.

If you weren’t a writer what job would you liked to have gone into?

I’ve always felt peeved that there’s no demand for explorers these days. I’d be an explorer with a huge beard.

What is the best thing about being a writer?

Waking up in the morning and thinking, ‘I’m a writer!’

What one item could you not live without?

Reading glasses.

Tell us something that will shock your readers?

Forty thousand volts

What makes you happy?

Long country walks with my family and our dog

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

Don’t take life too seriously.

The members of my dream book club would be . . .

My friends

What one item could you not live without?

Reading glasses.

Tell us something that will shock your readers?

Forty thousand volts

What makes you happy?

Long country walks with my family and our dog

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

Don’t take life too seriously.

The members of my dream book club would be . . .

My friends.

Not Forgetting The Whale is out on 10th September in paperback, ebook and audio.

Listen to an audio extract now.

Not Forgetting The Whale is out on 10th September in paperback, ebook and audio.

John Ironmonger

John Ironmonger was born and grew up in East Africa. He has a doctorate in zoology, and was once an expert on freshwater leeches. He is the author of The Good Zoo Guide and the novels, The Notable Brain of Maximilian Ponder, which was shortlisted for the 2012 Costa First Novel Prize and the Guardian’s Not the Booker Prize, and The Coincidence Authority. He was part of a world record team for speed reading Shakespeare, and once drove across the Sahara in a £100 banger. He lives in rural Shropshire with his wife, Sue, and has two grown-up children.