Your new book is a retelling of the Greek myths. Could you talk about what these stories meant to you as a child?
They always appealed and thrilled me more than any other myths or legend stories from other cultures and countries. I can’t explain why. I think it might have something to do with the deceitful, capricious and unpredictable nature of the Olympian gods. That always struck me as funny, insightful and a perfect way to look at any such divinity as might exist.
And can you tell us what made you decide to bring them up to date for a new audience?
It just struck me that these were stories that could be retold for a new audience. One that didn’t need quite such protection from the more lurid and gory elements of the stories, but also simply because I hadn’t seen it done for some time.
Are there any particular moral lessons you think readers of these stories might take from them?
Nothing sententious, I’m happy to say. the greek weren’t exactly moralistic. The stories certainly reveal the disasters that fall pride (hubris that special Greek kind of presumption and overweening ambition), greed and cruelty, like all the best stories. But they aren’t fables exactly.
Are you writing at present? What kind of book might we see you publish next?
There are far more myths to retell! The heroes (Perseus, Jason, Heracles, Theseus, Atalanta, Oedipus, Orion) and for a third volume, the Trojan War and its aftermath...
We’re a proudly old-fashioned physical bookseller, though we have to acknowledge the convenience, sometimes, of the digital product. How do you read your books and do you think there’s still a chance high street booksellers will be around in 20 years’ time?
I still buy a huge number of books. I’ve always said that escalators and elevators didn’t replace stairs. New technologies complement and live alongside the old. We still ride horses, but cars are better for other things. We still use pens and notebooks (more than ever if Moleskine sales are anything to go by!), so I am supremely optimistic that real books will be around for a long time yet. In fact, have you noticed how the ebook trend has caused a fantastic rise in the quality of traditional book design?