Cheltenham Q & A - Greg Whyte

Posted on 30th September 2015 by Greg Whyte
Waterstones exclusive: Greg Whyte answers our seven questions.

We here at Waterstones put our heads together and came up with seven snappy author questions. We then put them to the authors appearing at Cheltenham Literature Festival (runs from the 2nd - 11th October). The result? Read for yourself.

Second in the series: Greg Whyte.

Greg Whyte is Professor of Applied Sport and Exercise Science at Liverpool John Moores University and Director of the Centre for Health and Human Performance in London's Harley Street. An Olympian and both European and world championship medallist in modern pentathlon, he was awarded the OBE for his services to Sport, Sports Science and Charity in 2014.

Greg appears at The Times and The Sunday Times Literature Festival on Friday 2 October from 6pm-7pm in Average Man to Iron Man


What book do you wish that you had written?

Life at the Extremes by Frances Ashcroft

Just as your books inspire readers, what authors inspired you to write?

Much of my reading has been in scientific and technical texts with the occasional sojourn into fiction. Whilst much of the scientific and technical works have informed my knowledge and skills as a scientist it is the popular science texts that have informed my writing. Authors including: Steven Rose (The Chemistry of Life); Brian Cox (The Human Universe); Gavin Francis (Adventures in Being Human); Atul Gawande (Being Mortal); and Yuval Noah Harari (Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind) have all provided inspiration and insight. 

Once you've had the initial idea for a book, do you create the plot first or do you begin writing straight away, looking to discover the story and characters along the way?

Within my genre there is not a traditional plot line or character(s) however; the need to tell a story is as important in order to maintain the readers interest and attention, particularly surrounding complex concepts. To that end, I tend to create a plot much like a fiction writer would do prior to starting writing. I like to think of the plot as a skeleton to which I add the organs (the meat!) - there's no getting away from science!

Do you read your reviews? How do you respond to them, good or bad? Any advice on how to deal with the bad?

I would like to say 'no' but, sadly, it does matter to me what people think about my books. The trick is remembering that the comments of others are rarely personal but rather an opinion on the body of work. To that end, most reviews can and should inform you as to your next project if they are constructive praise or criticism. 

If you were trapped on a desert island, which two books would you want to have with you and why?

Wilderness Survival for Dummies by Cameron Smith - for obvious reasons! 

Lecture Notes on Human Physiology by Bray, Cragg, MacKnight & Mills - whilst you may get tired of reading the same book over and over again the same cannot be said for science. In this book learning, re-learning, understanding and committing to knowledge the science of human physiology will keep you going ad infinitum!

Who else do you wish to see while at the Cheltenham festival?

Steve Backshall, Reginald D. Hunter, Caitlin Moran, Martha Lane Fox, The Doctor Won't See You Now (and many more, so many great events to see!) 

What was the last book you read?

Fiction: Time and Time Again by Ben Elton, Non-Fiction: Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari 


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