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Cheltenham Q & A - Tom Holland

Cheltenham Q & A - Tom Holland

Waterstones exclusive: Tom Holland answers our seven questions

Posted on 7th October 2015 by Tom Holland

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

Ninth in the series: Tom Holland.

Tom Holland is the author of Rubicon:The Triumph and Tragedy of the Roman Republic, which won the Hessell-Tiltman Prize for History and was shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize. His last book, In the Shadow of the Sword, covers the collapse of Roman and Persian power in the Near East, and the emergence of Islam.His newest book, Dynasty, about the first Caesars, has just been published by Little, Brown Book Group.

Tom Holland is appearing at Cheltenham Literature Festival in Dynasty: The Rise And Fall Of The House Of Caesar, on Wed 7 Oct 2015 at 1:45pm - 2:45pm.

What book do you wish that you had written?

Of the books I’ve read recently, Helen MacDonald’s H is for Hawk.

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

The author who made me realise that I wanted to write history was Barbara Tuchman’s, whose book about 14th century Europe, A Distant Mirror, I read countless times in my teens.

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

Yes, I do read my reviews. Good ones, it goes without saying, are always a pleasure to receive; bad ones linger in the pit of the stomach all day. I tend to respond to bad reviews by nurturing and tending my resentment, letting it brew until it has become a full-blown grudge.

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

Boswell’s Life of Johnson, because it is simultaneously so entertaining and so full of wisdom, and David Quammen’s Song of the Dodo, because it would make the experience of being on a desert island so much more enriching.

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

Oh, everyone!

What was the last book you read?

Peter Frankopan’s The Silk Roads – and I highly recommend it too.