Nick Macfie is the author of Hadley, a novel set in Hong Kong and Sri Lanka.
Why I write
It is great fun, especially when you are assured of an audience… So the answer is probably vanity.
Do you write every day? If so, how many hours?
Not every day. But when I do write, I write for about two hours at a time. I like taking notes of ideas on buses.
Worst source of distraction?
When I smoked, having to smoke outside.
Best source of inspiration?
It can be when I stop and have a glass of wine or something… An idea may come. A bottle of wine can help even more.
How often do you get writers’ block/doubt your own ability?
Writers’ block is not a problem. What is annoying is that you like a piece of writing for weeks, skip over it each time you re-read because you are sure of its quality – and then to read it carefully and find out it is tedious or pompous.
Contemporary writer in any medium who you never miss?
Favorite Chinese writer?
Best book about China?
Nien Cheng’s Life and Death in Shanghai. It brought the Red Guards into the living room.
Difficult. It would have to be either The Quiet American, A Soldier of the Great War or The Hound of the Baskervilles.
John Fowles. Graham Greene.
The book you should have read but haven’t?
I used to feel mildly ashamed that I was unable to finish One Hundred Years of Solitude. It no longer bothers me.
You look back at the first thing you had published and think…
Hadley is my first novel, but I have been writing or editing for a living for 30 years. The first thing I had published was an article about a karate club in Lewes for the Sussex Express & County Herald. One of the members had a hole in his heart. I remember the thrill of finding that out…
How did you get started writing?
George Hogg’s ‘I See a New China’ was a favorite of my mum’s and was always around the house. It made me want to travel and get into journalism.
Does writing change anything?
At their best, novels can be life changing. I immediately think of Catcher in the Rye and The Magus. But I would steer clear of any novelist who sets out to change things.