Many years ago, I had the opportunity to interview Geoffrey Household. I travelled up to his home in Oxfordshire, and had a very pleasant afternoon. He and his wife were charming hosts, there was plenty of tea and cake and biscuits, all went well until I started the interview. No matter what I asked, he answered only ‘Yes’ or ‘No’. He wouldn’t expand on any point. No matter how I tried to rephrase questions so that he would have to say something else, I still got only ‘Yes’ or ‘No’. To cap it all, the local station was just a halt, with no shelter at all; it was winter and I had over an hour to wait for the next train. That was not a happy experience. I managed to get an article out of it, but that is certainly not one of the review I’m likely to reprint here any time soon.
Then at the other end of the spectrum you get Adam Roberts. I was asked to review Jack Glass by Interzone, and at the same time do an interview with Adam. My usual practice, doing an interview by email, is to send off half a dozen broad introductory questions. Then, when I get those answers, I go back with further, more detailed questions to open it all up. With Adam, the answers I got to my initial questions practically filled the word length I’d been given for both the interview and the review together. There was no point going back with supplementary questions, I simply wouldn’t have space for them. And I wasn’t sure I’d have room to review the book.
In the end, I combined the review and the interview, an experiment that I don’t think was a great success but it was interesting to try it. Then I edited the whole thing, edited it again, cut and cut and cut. I tried to make most of the cuts in my own words, though inevitably some of what Adam said had to go. In the end, I was still a couple of hundred words over my word limit, but Interzone, bless ’em, managed to fit it in. The whole appeared under the suitably punning title of ‘Adambrating’ in Interzone 243, November-December 2012. What I’ve included here is the original interview, before the necessary cuts and without the review interpolated. Continue reading