This much I know: Louis de Berniéres, author

I wanted to write from the age of 12. I am obsessive, so I don’t need self-discipline. 

I rely on inspiration, and mainly have to work when the children are at school.

I had a series of other jobs before I committed to writing full time. 

Officer cadet at Sandhurst (gave up), groundsman in a mental hospital, hard landscaper, teacher in a ranch in Colombia, motor mechanic, philosophy teacher, schoolteacher, motorcycle messenger, carpenter, bookshop assistant, teacher of truants, writer. 

Absolutely seamless.

I quit teaching when I was earning the same by writing.

I was an avid reader as a child, and still am.

I was quite troubled as a child, I think.

My prep school was absolutely brutal, with a culture of bullying and mental and emotional violence. 

I had to shut down emotionally at the beginning of each term, and then open up again in the holidays.

My earliest memory is of coming to consciousness in a field of yellow flowers, and thinking ‘wow’.

I go mad and angry if I can’t be creative, so I have to do it anyway. 

The balance often slips, but I seem to be reasonably productive.

I’m not disciplined. I am obsessive.

The best advice I ever received was to keep your eye on the ball.

Our most useful invention is paper.

The trait I most admire in other people is courage.

My main fault is having crazes. I have crazes that take up too much time and money.

My idea of happiness is rising from the dead and finding that I am eternally 30 years old, with an infinity of interesting things to do.

My idea of misery is having nothing to do. I hate boredom. It makes me depressed and angry.

If I could be reborn as someone else for a day, that would have to be Zeus.

If money was not an issue, I’d acquire Felixstowe Ferry golf course.

If I could change one thing in our society, I would want to remove the kleptocracy of bankers and financiers who invent ways of magicking money out of thin air at everybody else’s expense, and then ruin our economies because of having to be rescued.

My greatest personal fear is of being disabled by a stroke.

My greatest fear for the world is that we will be reduced to a vegetable state by technology.

I’m both a lark and an owl.

I suspect there might be life after death.

Did fame and success sit easy with me at first, or did it take a while to get used to it, you ask? I was born to it, darling. 

So far life has taught me that you have to make the same mistakes several times before you learn not to repeat them.

My favourite occupation is cooking and eating big meals with friends, because that is what we were born for.

The characters in history that I most dislike are Henry VIII, for being a psychopath, and Napoleon and Alexander for being megalomaniacs, and Cromwell for being a bigot.

The natural talent I’d most like to be gifted with is musical virtuosity, because women find it attractive.

I’ve got used to the publicity side of things that goes with my job. I do enjoy appearing at events, especially the eating out afterwards.

If you have to speak in public, my tip is to develop a persona that is still you. This is particularly important if you are a musician.

My favourite motto in times of stress is F**k ‘em all.

* Louis de Berniéres will read from his new novel, The Dust That Falls From Dreams, and collection of love poetry, Of Love and Desire, at the West Cork Literary Festival which takes place in and around the town of Bantry from July 17 to 23. 

Full details at www.westcorkliteraryfestival.ie or LoCall 1850 788 789


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