What is your favourite book and why?
The Scots Quair by Lewis Grassic Gibbon (of which Sunset song is the first part). I read this first when I was living in Scotland and the language is so beautiful and original. I also adore the short stories of Katherine Mansfield and would call that my favourite book, too, in all possible editions and variations. The opening pages of "At the bay" are near to heaven on earth as I have found. Florrie the cat - you'll see.
As a child, what was your favourite book and why?
I read Jane Eyre when I was 10 and have re-read it several times. I don't think I could tell you the story, but if I open the book at any page, the writing and the style are totally electrifying for me. Every sentence. Now it reminds me of childhood and reading under the covers.
What book would you take on holiday this year?
I have been reading the novels of Georges Simenon. Not the Maigret stories, which are wonderful, but the novels he wrote that do not feature Maigret. They are high class novels of the 30s, 40s and 50s to match anything American of the same time. I have been searching second hand stores for them and take them everywhere.<!--more-->
Do you have a favourite political book/biography?
I learned my politics from two writers: Jaruslav Hasek and Kurt Vonnegut. Both are deeply sceptical of politics and administration in a very funny way. They have influenced me enormously. Many people don't like Hasek and I'm sure he was reprobate, but royal families should be seen as he saw his. Kurt Vonnegut is a total genius.
Which book published in the last ten years do you think is the most significant?
Delane's War... In it I tried to tell the story of how politics is now currently as a metaphor in history. I hope it gets wider readership.
Which literary character would you most like to be and why?
Beethoven. I know he wasn't a literary character, but he is the person I would most like to have been. Ridiculous, but it is my daily wish to have been him, or even like him.
Tim Coates' latest book Delane's War: How front-line reports from the Crimean War brought down the British Government is available now for £19.99 here.