List some of your favorite words:
Lugubrious. Tintinnabulation. Crenelation. Serene. Hum.
What’s your favorite maxim or proverb?
It's not really a maxim, but "don't get your knickers in a twist"
What’s your favorite quotation?
I am certain of nothing but the holiness of the heart's affections and the truth of the imagination Keats.
What’s your favorite first line of a novel?
Apart from the ones that everyone knows (P&P, Anna K, Rebecca), one of my real favourites is the first line of a Charles Williams novel, I believe it was War in Heaven, which, of course, I don't have and can't remember to quote except it was something about the corpse in the room not hearing a phone ringing.
My favourite last line of a novel is
And what I most want to conceal from you you've always known: That I went up into the world and left her there, in the prison camp beneath the ocean, with the ruined mind of the new Iscariot and the body of the whale.
Bonus points if you know what it is.
Give an example of a piece of description that’s really pleased you in your reading lately:
Bother. I lent my copy of The Road to a friend and she hasn't given it back, but all the things McCarthy didn't say in that novel, but also the amazing way he conveyed the terrible wasteland the man and his son are travelling through. Ashes rustling in the wind.
Which five writers do you particularly admire for their use of language?
Virginia Woolf, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Cormac McCarthy, Ursula Le Guin and, believe it or not, Reginald Hill the mystery writer.
And are there writers whose style you really dislike?
Hemingway. JK Rowling (sorry - an easy target)
What’s the key to really fine writing, in your opinion?
Word choice that is appropriate and exact without being over-done. A feel for the rhythm and patterns of speech. Musicality.