Award winning author Andrew Crumey

THIS week reporter Katy Whitelaw talks to author Andrew Crumey, winner of the UK's largest literary prize – the £60,000 Northern Rock Foundation Writers Award – and former literary editor of the Scotland on Sunday.

Andrew (46) is originally from Kirkintilloch and now lives in Newcastle Upon Tyne with wife Mary and his two children.

Where did you grow up in Kirkintilloch?

Harestanes. I attended Oxgang Primary and Kirkintilloch High.

Were you an avid reader at school?

Not really, but I started reading seriously in my teens.

How often do you come back to the area?

Quite regularly. My mum and dad still live in Kirkintilloch.

You studied theoretical physics at university – have you ever used the qualification?

I did university research (and some university teaching) but haven't used it professionally elsewhere. I studied physics because I loved the subject, not because I had any particular career in mind.

How did it feel to win the Northern Rock Foundation Writers Award?


Have you won any other awards?

My first novel won a Saltire Society Award, which was very thrilling. Another novel, Mr Mee, won the Scottish Arts Council Book Award and was long-listed for the Booker Prize.

How many books have you written?

Six novels published so far, and they've all been translated into a variety of foreign languages, so I've got enough editions of my own books to fill a shelf. Too bad I don't have a spare shelf!

Where do you get your inspiration from?

Everywhere. But I try not to start out with too many ideas in my head – I like the ideas to come spontaneously as I write.

What was your favourite book to work on?

My latest, Sputnik Caledonia. It's my longest book, but also took me least time to write, because I had so much fun with it.

What are you working on at the moment?

I'm just starting a new novel, about a musician. Early days yet.

You are currently lecturing – do you find it hard to juggle writing and teaching?

I enjoy teaching creative writing – it makes me think about what can and can't be taught.

How did you get the job as literary editor at the Scotland on Sunday?

I was interviewed in the paper when one of my books came out, and after that I started writing and reviewing for them regularly.

When the job of literary editor came up I applied for it and they said yes.

You used to be a social worker – why did you change jobs?

I realised it wasn't for me.

What do you enjoy most about being a writer?

Freedom, solitude, independence, creative fulfilment. I love working at home, in my own time.

What are the worst parts?

Going into a bookshop and finding that they don't stock your book and have never heard of you. Which is nothing compared to the worst parts of other jobs.

Do you have any hobbies?

I'm a self-taught classical pianist and hopeless, but enthusiastic fly-fisher.

My main hobby is astronomy – I go out into the wilds with my telescope, far from city lights, and look at galaxies.

What is your biggest achievement?

I hope it's something I haven't done yet.

What are you most proud of?

My kids.

Tell us something no-one knows about you?

I'm a secret chocaholic (actually, maybe not so secret).

Getting to know you

First car: Nissan Sunny

First record: The Monkees

Book currently reading: The Invention OF Everything Else, by Samantha Hunt

Favourite holiday destination: Greece

Favourite TV programme: Lost

Famous person most like to meet: Dalai Lama