5-4-3-2-1: John Fulton

By Jim Dean, November 23, 2015

John Fulton’s spy thriller The Wreck of the Argyll looks excellent! We’re delighted to have him on doing 5-4-3-2-1 today.

Five books you’d save from a burning bookcase

The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien – although I’d be pressed to decide between my Alan Lee-illustrated one-volume hardback or my original, very tatty, paperbacks from 1981.

My signed first edition of The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks – I was an enormous Iain (M) Banks fan as a teen, and The Wasp Factory has always been special to me, not least since the setting was based on the coast around Portmahomack, the village where I lived in the late 70s/early 80s.

Brave and Bold, edited by Miriam Blanton Huber, Frank Seely Salisbury, and Charlotte Huber. This is the earliest book I remember reading (I think I was about seven years old). It contains stories of Thor and his hammer, Finn mac Coull, and Beowulf, and is probably responsible in large part for my literary tastes even now. It took me decades to work out what the book had been called, and then ages to track down a copy.

Life on Earth by David Attenborough – a big, glossy hardback that accompanied the BBC TV series. My Mum and Dad bought this for me for my tenth birthday, and just looking at my Dad’s handwriting on the inscription makes the decades roll back.

The Wolf Wilder by Katherine Rundell – quite simply one of the most gorgeously-produced hardback books of recent years.

Four pieces of advice you’d give yourself if you could travel back in time to before you became a published author

There’s a big leap from writing a short story to writing a novel. You need to do a lot more planning and thinking before writing the first word.

Finish what you start. Don’t leave novels stalled at 4,000 words or 20,000 words. Get to the end.

In about 2006, Scrivener will be released. Buy it. (This will help with points one and two.)

You are not the best judge of the quality of your writing – and this goes double when you’re in the middle of a first draft.

Three classics you wish more people were reading today

The Wolves of Willoughby Chase series by Joan Aiken – I never read these as a child (despite being aware of Joan Aiken through her Arabel and Mortimer books) so I’ve been slowly working through them over the past couple of years. I don’t want to read them too quickly, as once I’ve read them all, I won’t have any left to look forward to. Still popular today, but that’s not enough. I won’t be happy until everyone has read them.

The books of Allan Campbell McLean – his classic The Hill of the Red Fox (a Cold War spy thriller set on the Isle of Skye) is still in print, but his other books, like the mystical tale The Year of the Stranger, are harder to come by.

On a related note, the Skye books of Margaret Macpherson. I first read The Battle of the Braes when I lived on Skye, and the richness and authenticity of her books never fails to transport me back to that time of my childhood. Again, her books are out of print, but worth tracking down.

Two places you love to read

I read in bed every night, even if it’s just for fifteen minutes – it’s the perfect way to end any day.

I also love reading on trains – there’s something about the soothing sounds and motion that make a lovely cocoon for reading.

One author you’d want with you if you were stranded on a desert island

Robert Louis Stevenson – he travelled the world, was very familiar with the South Seas, could handle a canoe, and I imagine he could be relied on to work out that X marked the spot so we’d probably be rich by the time we were rescued. He could also spin a yarn or two to pass the time.

John Fulton grew up at lighthouses all around the coast of Scotland but now lives in Leicester, which is altogether too far from the sea for his tastes. His first novel, The Wreck of the Argyll (Cargo Publishing, 2015), a First World War spy thriller, won the Great War Dundee Children’s Book Prize.

Find out more about him at his website.

What do you think?