Describe your latest book/project/work.
Another Great Day at Sea is an account of my experiences aboard the USS George H. W. Bush. It's a masterpiece of the form, widely hailed as the best book ever written about my time on the George H. W. Bush. Also, I have two early novels, The Colour of Memory and The Search, which are only now being published in the U.S., even though they're masterpieces, too.
Describe a recurring dream or nightmare.
Trudging and trudging with my legs getting heavier and heavier and not getting anywhere. I have this dream all the time. Fortunately I don't have nightmares.
Have you ever made a literary pilgrimage?
Lots, many of them D. H. Lawrence related (Taormina, Taos, Eastwood). But yeah, I'm always up for a bit of the old lit pilg.
What scares you the most as a writer?
My brain packing in. Even more than that, the suspicion that it already has.
What do your bookshelves look like? Are you a book hoarder? Do you embrace chaos, or are you a meticulous organizer?
I hoard books, but my beautifully organized stash is in London and I'm living in America at the moment.
What is your idea of absolute happiness?
My afternoon nap.
Name the best television series of all time, and explain why it's the best.
The World at War. Because of the quality of the research, the scripts, the archive footage, the narration by Laurence Olivier, and the score by Carl Davis. And because it was made in the early 1970s, the perfect distance in time from the events it recounts.
How do you relax?
Listening to Indian classical music, especially, just now, N. Rajam, the violinist. She is heavenly.
Five big nonfiction books of American history, dealing in one way or another — either specifically or amongst other things — with race:
All on Fire: William Lloyd Garrison and the Abolition of Slavery by Henry Mayer
Ecstatic Nation: Confidence, Crisis and Compromise, 1848-1877 by Brenda Wineapple
Parting the Waters, Pillar of Fire, At Canaan's Edge (the three volumes of the King trilogy) by Taylor Branch
Common Ground: A Turbulent Decade in the Lives of Three American Families by J. Anthony Lukas
The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration by Isabel