The five questions meme

I’ve seen this floating around, but part of the problem is catching it at the right moment and also finding someone whose questions you think you would like to answer! Thanks to for these; I had to think quite hard about some of them. Even though he actually asked seven questions rather than five…

1: If you were to be doing a job radically different to the one you’re doing, what would you like it to be?
I enjoyed my time as an academic working on medieval astrology and would go back to that like a shot if the money and job prospects were better. I also quite enjoyed my stint as an archaeologist at rather low level. But neither of those is radically different from what I do now. What I’d really like to be is a science fiction writer. I don’t know if I have the talent, I suspect I don’t have the application, but that’s what I’d really like to be.

2: Has doing the website, Science Fiction and Fantasy set in Ireland: a checklist had any unexpected results?
Well, getting to know you and was one of them! Also at the moment I’m reading an obscure book called Memories of the Irish Israeli War which I had put on the list because the title seemed appropriate. Someone emailed me a few months back to ask if I had ever seen any reviews of it so far; when I replied that I knew nothing about it other than the title, she revealed that she was in fact the author and sent me a copy. I’ve nearly finished and will post a review here in due course.

3: Your job seems, at least to me, to be enormously exotic and fascinating. What are the best and worst things that have happened to you because of it?
That is two questions for the price of one!
i) The best thing: Difficult to choose. I get a real kick out of the high-level meetings I go to, and that despite my relative youth and non-governmental status I am mixing it with foreign ministers (as I did ten days ago) and so on on equal terms. The biggest one in terms of the hidden circles of power was a World Economic Forum panel I chaired on organised crime and corruption last year, with the Serbian finance minister and the Macedonian deputy prime minister among the panelists (as well as my two favourite Balkan commentators). I was very nervous in the run-up to that event but it went OK.
ii) The worst thing: I was very sad when Zoran Djindjic was assassinated and it was clearly a “bad thing” for him and his country, but it seems excessive to classify it as also a “bad thing” for me personally. The worst things about this job are the management headaches, rather than anything political. Long-running and pointless sagas like how to dispose of vehicles which were acquired by field offices in, er, less formal times and could not then be sold because we had no proof that we owned them. Editing poorly-written reports. Telling staff that we are laying them off.

4: If you could bring back two people from the dead, one of whom you knew and of whom you didn’t, who would they be?
Again, two questions for the price of one!
i) someone I knew: without question, this would be my father. He would have been fascinated by my work and also by his grandchildren. Also I keep on finding out more about the family history, much of which I am sure he knew.
ii) someone I didn’t know: More tricky, but I think it would be Roger Zelazny. OK, his later books were not as consistently good as his earlier ones, but he was only 58 when he died, and was on form sufficiently often (like, for instance, the first half of Lord Demon which must have been the last thing he wrote) that one really wants to send Lucien hunting around the library stacks to see what else is there.

5: What makes you happy?
Going out for dinner with my wife. Playing with the children. Reading a really good book. Travelling to a new country. Talking to/communicating with people who share my interests. Listening to good music. Lying in bed at the weekend with the children crawling over me. (Seven answers for one question!)

If you want me to ask you 5 questions, just comment here asking me to do so.

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