The second victim in my series of Proust questionnaires is the Glasgow-based author and novelist Catherine Hokin. Not only is she a fabulous writer but she is extremely generous and supportive of the rest of us who are trying to do the same thing. In her debut novel Blood and Roses, she draws on her fascination with medieval history, political propaganda and hidden female voices to bring a new perspective to the story of Margaret of Anjou (1430-1482, wife of Henry VI) and her pivotal role in the Wars of the Roses.
The theme of Catherine’s blog posts and articles is often dangerous women and I suspect that, under her apparently gentle exterior, she may be a pretty dangerous woman herself. Her answer to my first question is evidence enough.
Here she struggles with that age-old dilemma—whether to go for a gravy-based or custard-based meal—and reveals a slightly bizarre situation involving hats with animal ears (a situation that cannot possibly be hypothetical as it has clearly left her traumatised).
1. What was the first music you ever paid for?
Telegram Sam by T-Rex—it was a red vinyl 45. I was impressed [Ed: Me too. Impressed, that is].
2. What was the most recent music that you paid for?
Does shifting to Premium Spotify on the basis of severe guilt count? If so it would be Positive Songs by Negative People by Frank Turner.
3. What was the most recent book you read?
The Devil’s Feast by Miranda Carter—delicious.
4. What is your favourite novel?
Wise Children by Angela Carter.
5. Who is your favourite poet?
I’m meant to have one of those by now but it hasn’t quite happened. I’m a bit more of a prose person.
6. What is your favourite work of art?
Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks.
7. What is your favourite museum?
The Kelvingrove in Glasgow.
8. What would you spend your last tenner on?
I’m assuming this is an apocalyptic scenario so a large glass of Jamesons and a chocolate orange.
9. What talent would you most like to have?
10. What trait do you most deplore in yourself?
Impatience. Others deplore the once-in-a-year bring on the vat of red wine car-crash that starts with, ‘I’ll just have the one‘… I personally find it highly entertaining.
11. What trait do you most deplore in others?
Unkindness. And not finding the above scenario as funny as me.
12. On what occasions do you lie?
When the truth is pointless and painful.
13. What’s your idea of perfect happiness?
He’s called Robert. He’s an American but you can’t have everything.
14. What’s your idea of the depths of misery?
Being forced to watch Gogglebox surrounded by adults wearing hats with animal ears.
15. What is your biggest fear?
Bees and wasps—they seek me out. The last Black Mirror actually made me cry.
16. What is your favourite journey?
The Amalfi Coast.
17. What is your most treasured possession?
A signed copy of Arthur Rackham’s fairy tales—the American’s a keeper.
18. If you could only eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Is there a limit to the number of courses as I can’t choose between gravy-based and custard-based options? You can take the girl out of the North…
19. Which living person do you most admire?
Pretty much no one at the moment—all the good ones keep dying!
20. What was the last gig you went to?
Biffy Clyro at this year’s Glasgow Summer Sessions. It was brilliant.
21. If you had to be an animal, what would you choose to be?
A black panther.
22. Do you believe in ghosts?
No. At least I keep telling myself that.
23. Is there anyone you would trust with your biggest secret?
Me and the American—half the time he has no idea what I’m saying.
24. Where would you most like to live?
I’m pretty happy here but I could imagine Berlin would work rather nicely.
25. Where would you go if you needed to hide?
Somewhere very busy.
As well as being a novelist, Catherine also writes short stories—she was a finalist in the Scottish Arts Club 2015 Short Story Competition and has been published by iScot magazine—and blogs monthly for The History Girls. She is represented by Tina Betts of the Andrew Mann Literary Agency.