fluid-tog fixed-tog

Grand Masterton

An interview by Sandy Auden

AUDEN: What do you think about when you brush your teeth?
MASTERTON: I write impromptu songs in my head when I'm brushing my teeth. I am a frustrated songwriter, as anybody who has noticed various snatches of self-invented songs in some of my books will have noticed. I was particularly pleased with this calypso I thought up the other day:
In de days when I was poor
I was walkin' past de vegetable store
I saw some corn among de beans
And I push it quick down de front of me jeans.
De girl come out and she did say:
'What can I help you with today?'
'You look like you got an outstanding job.'
But all I had was de corn on de cob.

AUDEN: What is your worst writing habit?
MASTERTON: What Harold Pinter called 'the 15 watt light-bulb syndrome.' That is, I would rather go out and buy a 15-watt light-bulb than actually sit down and start writing. Once I start I can't stop, but getting going is always painful. There is always something more demanding, like having crab cakes and lime-marinated fajitas at Luigi Malone's.

AUDEN: When do most of your ideas come to you?
MASTERTON: In bed, just before dawn. But writers suffer the curse of never stopping thinking about new ideas, and I have often thought of a new idea while sitting in traffic or shopping. There is a horrible part of my mind which never stops creating puns, like the Cockney who walks into a French restaurant and they ask him if he wants fruits de mer. So he says, 'Who's this Freda mare?'

AUDEN: How enthusiastic are you at the end of a project compared to the beginning?
MASTERTON: Usually more enthusiastic ... by the time I get to the end of a book I know the characters well and I'm usually sorry to say goodbye to them. That's one of the reasons I get tempted to write sequels ... just to find out what happened to them next.

AUDEN: Do the seasons affect your writing patterns?
MASTERTON: In ye olde days of typewriters I used to write outside during the summer. These days I have sit indoors whatever the weather so the seasons make very little difference. I prefer the summer because my library faces due south toward Kinsale and in the winter the low sun means I have to draw the curtains in the middle part of the day so that I don't have to look at my own face peering at me from the PC screen.

AUDEN: What would you most like to change in your life?
MASTERTON: I would like to be able to make up my mind whether I prefer living in Ireland or England. I'm like the moping sailor whose mother complained, 'Oh, Jack, whenever you're at sea you're homesick and whenever you're at home you're seasick.'

AUDEN: Would you ever stop writing?
MASTERTON: It's not a question of wouldn't but couldn't. I will only stop writing when I stop breathing. Or if I get Alzheimer's and keep writing the same sentence over and over. Or if I get Alzheimer's and keep writing the same sentence over and over.

Originally appeared in The Ultimate Answer (the magazine of Barclays Poole Science Fiction and Fantasy Society) Vol. 5, Issue 2.© Sandy Auden 2002.