Born in England, Joe Bennett has lived in New Zealand since 1987. His newspaper columns are syndicated throughout the country and on five occasions he has been judged New Zealand Columnist of the Year, most recently in 2011. He is the author of four travel books published by Simon and Schuster UK, and 13 collections of his columns have been published in New Zealand and three world-wide. Where Underpants Come From: From Cotton Fields to Checkout Counters — Travels Through the New China and Into the New Global Economy was the Whitcoulls Travcom Travel Book of the Year in 2009.
Why I write
Do you write every day? If so, how many hours?
Most days. Average perhaps five hours. Most of that time is rewriting.
Worst source of distraction?
Best source of inspiration?
How often do you get writers’ block/doubt your own ability?
Do plumbers get plumber’s block? As for doubting own ability, constantly. Which drives me back to craft.
Contemporary writer in any medium who you never miss?
Justin Cartwright. Novelist.
Favorite Chinese writer?
I’ve read only Ma Jian’s Red Dust. Grinding stuff.
Best book about China?
Rayne Kruger’s All Under Heaven. Comprehensive history of China from the beginning.
The book you should have read but haven’t?
War and Peace, of course. But have read the first chapter three times.
You look back at the first thing you had published and think…
No, I don’t.
Does writing change anything?
Mine doesn’t. Some people’s may, eventually.