Exclusive Interview with Peter Higgins

Peter HigginsWe are delighted to welcome Peter Higgins back to the Gollancz Blog for a special interview. Peter Higgins is the author of the forthcoming Wolfhound Empire. Find out what books Peter has been reading recently, his favourite author, his writing rituals, most recommended book and much more!

Who is your favourite author? David Bowie. Jack Kirby. Robert Holdstock. Hidetaka Miyazaki. Susan Cooper. Joan Aiken. Graham Sutherland. Peter Redgrove. Ted Hughes. T S Eliot. Dylan Thomas. Angela Carter. Joyce Carol Oates. Charles Dickens. Tolstoy. Ivon Hitchens. Scott Walker. That’s today’s list. Tomorrow’s might be different. At the moment, the current writers whose new books I always buy immediately on publication and read the same day are Lee Child and Robin Hobb.

What book do you most often recommend to friends? Little, Big by John Crowley. The only book I know where the inciting incident is the protagonist’s surprise discovery of tremendous happiness.

What is your favourite SF or fantasy world? Gene Wolfe’s Book of the New Sun. Strangely familiar. Endlessly astonishing. Fantasy and SF together and at once.

What is your favourite SFF creature or character? Ents. Not Treebead, not when he starts talking, but the idea of Ents.

Do you have any writing rituals? Loads. I write in cafés a lot. Always the same seats if I can. I get a bit disgruntled if someone is sitting in one of my spots, and positively distressed if the furniture has been moved around.

If you weren’t a writer what job would you like to have gone into? I always wanted to be a photographer: dark landscapes, the interiors of old houses, overgrown gardens. Someone like Fay Godwin or Edwin Smith.

What is the best thing about being a writer? My choices, my decisions, my risks, and no rules except the ones I choose to follow.

What one item could you not live without? See below – what makes me happy! And, to be practical, my glasses, I suppose.

Tell us something that will surprise your readers. The surprise is the book itself. Nothing else I could say comes close. The most astonishing thing about any book, any work of art, is that it exists at all. It shouldn’t work, but somehow, occasionally, amazingly, it does.

What makes you happy? The love of my family, clean clothes, a bacon sandwich, a cup of coffee, a notebook and pencil and a library card. I need no more, and if I have all of these and I’m still not happy that day, it’s my own idiot fault.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given? If someone tells you you’re doing too much of a particular thing, then do more of it, because that particular thing is your own personal voice.

If you could have a drink with one of the characters from your book which character would it be and what would you drink? Raku Vishnik. He came as a surprise to me. I wasn’t looking for him, he just walked in. He’s the scholar, photographer, psychogeographer, dispossessed aristocrat and brave victim of my world. I think he’d make a good friend. And we’d drink Ligas Dark Balzam, a liquor I invented for Truth and Fear. I think I know how it tastes – horrible, but richly, wonderfully horrible – and I’d like to see if I’m right.

What book are you currently reading? I always have several on the go at once. At the moment I’m moving between Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier, Dhalgren by Samuel R Delany, and Bleak House by Charles Dickens.


WolfhoundEmpire (2)Wolfhound Empire brings the Wolfhound Century trilogy together in one volume for the first time. Wolfhound Empire is out tomorrow in trade paperback and ebook.