Anthony McCarten - novelist, playwright, filmmaker - has the franchise on creative multi-tasking. He writes the screenplay to the novel simultaneously. His play Ladies Night has been translated into five languages and remains, 25 years later, New Zealand's most commercially successful play. The film of his novel Death of a Superhero has just had its US premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York. The sequel to that novel, In the Absence of Heroes, has just been published. McCarten lives in Britain, but will return to New Zealand next month for the Writers and Readers Festival in Auckland.

What word best describes you?


What word or phrase do you over-use?


Excuse me for thinking ...

Can you describe your writing ritual - anything peculiar we should know about?

A steaming cup of tea must always be somewhere nearby.

What are your vices?

The only Commandment I seem able to keep perfectly is the one about killing people.

Last order, before you slip off this mortal coil?

A Morphine Martini, dirty.

What do you like least about New Zealand?


Its pride in its anti-intellectualism. The "rugged individual" thing is a bit of a bore.

Where is the most interesting place you've had sex?

Alone, or with someone else?

Have you ever thrown a book across a room in disgust?

A novel by Sydney Sheldon. It was a snuff scene; the murderer seduced a woman then, during sex, throttled her. Putrid writing and an odious idea. Let's call the whole thing 'badly executed'.

What is your favourite opening sentence or paragraph in a book?

From memory: "It was a soiled and slightly sleazy piece of paper-green crepe and it clung to her behind as she danced with the lingering sterility of an ageing lover." Something like that. William Faulkner.

What's so great about getting older?

A growing fearlessness.

Do you ever lie? In what circumstance?

Yes, and in too many circumstances to list. The reason? Because the truth would do damage to someone innocent.

What would you like to say to your critics?

Come on, I'm not that bad.