Twelve Questions

Sarah Daniell poses 12 questions to well-known faces

Twelve Questions with Emily Perkins

Novelist Emily Perkins keeps company with Virginia Woolf in her latest book, The Forrests, according to reviews. Perkins is to promote NZ literature at the Frankfurt Book Fair with other Kiwi writers next month.

Novelist Emily Perkins. Photo / Richard Robinson
Novelist Emily Perkins. Photo / Richard Robinson

What literary figure do you most relate to?

It used to be Jo March in Little Women but now ... Well, I don't suppose I can really say Patrick Bateman - the anti-hero in American Psycho.

What book has most influenced you?

Probably a retelling of Greek myths by Leon Garfield, The God Beneath the Sea, with amazing and terrifying drawings by Charles Keeping. I couldn't say it's influenced me in any obvious ways (I haven't eaten my children or spent time in the Underworld, unless you count high school) but the deeply strange magic of those stories got under my skin from an early age.

Do you share books or do you covet them?

Share, unless I know the author, in which case I'm like, "please buy your own, Mum!"

What makes you afraid?

Nameless dread at 3.37am. And bats. I think there's something very wrong about bats.

Describe your first kiss.

No, thank you. But here's my first curse. Four years old, stubbed my toe: "Ow, my bloody toe!" Nearby adult: "Oh no, is it bleeding?"

That's how I learned about dual meanings and that grown-ups don't always know what's going on.

Your focus - what derails it?

Sorry, what?

What has you laughing hysterically?


What makes you miserable?

When politics stops being funny.

When were you last all at sea, and over what?

I'm frequently at sea, especially when I'm writing.

Uncertainty and doubt are essential to writing ... maybe?

The only thing that changes, in my experience, is the more you write, the more accepting of that uncertainty you become.

If you could swap writing for another discipline, what would that be?

Being musical, which is not a straight swap for anything. It's the art of the gods.

What's the most humbling job you've ever had?

Pirate. That's all I'm saying.

What's the worst film adaptation of a book you have ever seen?

Not sure about worst but one of the best is Patrick Marber's script for Notes on a Scandal by Zoe Heller.

- NZ Herald

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