I am thoroughly interviewed.

Oh, now this is a very cool meme. Bloggers are interviewing each other. And instead of waiting to be tagged, which can mean waiting like the speccy fat kid in games who nobody choses and ends up in a team by default (me! That was me! Not bitter!), anyway, instead of waiting to be tagged, you can march up and demand to be interviewed. So Charlotte interviewed Aphra, and I got Aphra to interview me. And Aphra is a complete fiend with the questions, and it’s all gone revelations here chez Reed. So! Are we ready? No? Never mind.

1) If you could have your particular childhood over again, would you change any of it and if so, what, what to and why?

Yes I would, most of it, to just about anything else, because it sucked.

That’s not exactly illuminating, is it?

There were some wonderful things in my childhood. The farms in the mountains of Italy I grew up on, the huge and crazy family we luckily did not have to live in the same country as, the books (oh, the glory of having immensely bookish pack-rat parents who don’t care what you’re reading as long as you’re quiet), the excitement of travelling back to Blighty for summer and Christmas, the whole bilingual enhanced perspective thing. Any other child, a less neurotic, hyper-sensitive, awkward child would have probably got a very happy childhood out of it all. Me, I was a rotten kid – sickly, grouchy, prone to out-bursts and crying jags, hugely bad at getting along with other children, a complicated mix of academically gifted and supremely dense. Having the words ‘outsider, please mock’ embroidered onto all of my pinnies probably didn’t help.

But what can I change? I honestly think it was a good thing my parents got divorced. I think my mother’s choice of second husband was, err, not a choice made with any of her brain, perhaps, but even though I loathed my step-Dad, I love my little sister, so how can I wish her away by wishing him away? And in any case, I think I am getting to understand him and his bazillion hang-ups and also just what a difficult kid I was. After a great deal of introspection [Damn you, Aphra! - Ed] I have decided I’d like to change the following things:

  1. Our father should have never played favourites with me and my sister (the middle sister, not the littlest one, who, see above, had a different father). I was the favourite, his clever little princess, and it wounded my sister again and again. Also, when I grew up and moved from Adoring to Opinionated, Dad pulled a Monsieur de Beauvoir on me. So now I also have a somewhat awkward relationship with my Dad, and ditto with my sister, who understandably has never quite forgiven either of us. ‘You mean… all this time, we could have been friends?’
  2. I wish I had learnt to be more sociable and cuddly at a younger age, and less of a thin-skinned smartypants know-it-all wise-arse. I might have made more and better friends, and been less bullied. I was well into my teens before I worked out how to socialise nicely.
  3. I wish my chronic ill-health had been better attended to. I have had seriously major emergency surgery in my teens, and am now going under the knife again, and you know? I think it might have helped if adults hadn’t assumed I was a raving hypochondriac from the age of thirteen onwards.

2) What is the coolest thing you’ve ever knitted?

tumblejumper.jpgHmm. After much thought – surely everything I knit is trés cool? – I have chosen this. It is too big (I think I had a mathematics slippage), so heavy one can only happily wear it as an overcoat, and took me nearly two years, and an ungodly amount of bad language, unpicking, untangling, weeping and strong drink. My husband chose the pattern. I am still not entirely sure I shouldn’t have slapped him upside the head with the pattern book and moved swiftly on at the time, but it does look cool, doesn’t it? Also, people come up to him on the street on those rare arctic days when he does wear it and comment. Often favourably.

3) What is your favourite anecdote about a family member, and what sort of reaction do you usually get when you tell it?

Eh heh heh heh heh. So many to chose from, so little time. There are hundreds about my obstreperous and arrogant grand-dad, who threw glasses at the wall to attract the attention of waiters, and his many many lady-friends and many many wives. His current wife is younger than his first three children, but even more amusingly, they met while he was a lecturer – an atheist, extremely divorced jew with a strong german accent – and she was his student – an american catholic nun of ‘good family’. Indeed. People usually boggle at that a little. And the whole ‘my parents were demented hippies, no running water, we chopped firewood, you know, have you ever milked a goat?’ saga amuses people. Who are always, always, obsessed with how we went to the loo (answer – we had plumbing. Just, no water in it. So we kept a bucket of river water in the bathroom and sloshed some of it down the pan as and when. See? Very civilised. Unless you were the person on bucket-refill duty).

4) What made you choose your particular Masters, and what do you hope to get out of it?

My Masters is very sensible. It is in Librarianship. I am doing it so as to get a slightly more interesting career in libarianing, preferably one that involves being allowed to avoid the general public. It’s a career move. It’s practical.


Oh, who am I kidding. I am a raging nerd and can think of nothing lovelier than spending the rest of my life classifying things and knowing how to find anything out about anything. I love the logic of library systems, and equally I love the emergent chaos they fall into after a hundred years or so (what with a great many things never having been thought of, such as Media Studies, Computing, aluminium shelving, and the human inability to stop writing books), and the pragmatic inability to change said systems regardless, and the ensuing development of Guild Secrets, in that we know, and we can find it for you, but you will be driven mad if you venture down to the stacks. Hah hah.

5) If you could have only one thing published, what would it be?

Oh, very sneaky question. [She disappears to think and also, I regret to say, get a finger of whiskey].

Right. The poetry. Yes. Because the novels, the half-written and the not-yet-written, well, anyone can write novels. Especially rather for fun detective and SF&F. I don’t think any of my novels are about anything seriously useful, whereas poetry is useful ipso facto. I can’t explain why I think this. It is not a logically thought out position based on anything sensible or anything I was taught in school/ university. It is a tenet of faith, born when I was given a copy of The Golden Treasury of Poetry at the age of four. Therefore my poetry, the fact I wrote it and hated it and abandoned it and came back to it, is the bit worth keeping. [I think that's the whiskey talking. No, I know that's the whisky talking. Ask her tomorrow, and she'll be ranting in defense of her II World War novel].


  1. Leave a comment saying, “Interview me.”
  2. I will respond by emailing you five questions. Please make sure I have your email address.
  3. You will update your blog with the answers to the questions.
  4. You will include this explanation and offer to interview someone else in the same post.
  5. When others comment, asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.
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9 Responses to I am thoroughly interviewed.

  1. I can see why that sweater gets stopped in the street and gets positive comments! It really is seriously cool. And beautiful too. How many colors were you working with at once on one line? Eight, ten? More? No wonder there were tangles, etc.

    This was a very enjoyable interview. Thank you for participating.

  2. Charlotte says:

    That sweater is outrageous! I am in awe. I liked all your answers and the insights they provided. This meme is great for eking out a little more information about people than one generally finds on their blogs.

  3. Aphra Behn says:

    Well, what did you expect. You know my nosiness is only restrained by social convention.

    Fascinating answers and fabulous jumper. I am glad I managed to tease both out of you.

    *Wanders off, grinning evilly*

  4. Lilian says:

    That jumper is an amazing feat of knittingness! I enjoyed this post because I like to know about people. I think this probably means I’m nosey. Oh, well.

    Does nosey have an ‘e’ in it? Erm….

  5. That knitting is amazing, but I wouldn’t have blamed anyone for rejecting that pattern and running away screaming. And I hope you’re not contemplating giving away all the Guild Secrets?

    I’ve been watching the meme wander around for a while, so I really ought to participate. Please may I have some questions, o wise and erudite Reed?

  6. Sol says:

    Love the jumper.

    And I’m hyperventilating a bit at the thought of actualy having to choose to limit your available writings to one thing myself.

    What I like about your family is that they make mine seem exceptionally humdrum. I realise this is not a very helpful comment, of course.

  7. Archie says:

    hiding in the back of the room so as not to be questioned What a wonderful jumper. And an interesting insight into your judgement of your writings. I find myself in agreement. Poetry is useful! It may not pay, but it is useful.

  8. As ever with such things, no pinging seems to have gone on. Your questions have duly been answered, Ms Reed.

  9. paddyK says:

    The sweater is great. But poetry IS useless – and that’s what makes it so great. It serves no purpose except to exist in a sparkling and perfect shape. It’s wonderful, sharp, poignant and utterly useless.

    But then again, _all_ the best things are useless.

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