Q&A #3 – Citizens, Superheroes, Books and Antarctica

  • When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

There were a few things. I remember when I was 8 and had just seen Jurassic Park that I wanted to be a paleontologist and was quite serious about it – I’m still very interested in archeology and paleontology and in another life I might well have done something like that. I also wanted to be a tennis player and an actor for a while.

The main thing I remember saying consistently, though, was that I wanted to be a writer. I was writing stories from when I was six and I remember the school librarian asking my class one day if any of us wanted to be writers and my hand going up right away. I loved writing and it just seemed natural.

When I went to high school I started thinking seriously about a career in journalism or possibly teaching English and writing novels on the side. Neither worked out unfortunately but the novel side continued. Which is where I am today. 🙂

  • What do you think it means to be a good citizen?

I’ve discussed this with a few people recently, particularly with all the recent talk about whether people have a moral duty to donate part of their income to help the poor. It’s an interesting topic but I think some people tend to confuse the idea of being a good person with being a good citizen and that’s where I make a bit of a distinction.

I think being a good person is trying to live a good life without needlessly hurting other people. That doesn’t mean living a selfless life, or a life without conflict, because generally speaking I believe that goes against human nature. But someone who works hard, loves their family, tries to stay true to their morals and tries to help other people where they can, I think that is a fair way to describe a good person.

Being a good citizen, though, is not the same thing. You can obviously be both but I think being a good citizen is much more about nationality than personal identity. It’s about how you relate to where you live, about being a good neighbour to people and a good member of your community and potentially about doing what you think is best for your country or community even if that might prove unpopular. I also think it requires a willingness to be aware of what is going on and to stay informed so that you understand what is happening in your country and community.

So I guess I would describe a good citizen as someone who stays informed, votes, tries to be a good neighbour when they can, respects the rights of people and is prepared to stand up when they think something is wrong, even if (perhaps especially if) it is not the popular thing to do.

In that way I would say the person looking after their next door neighbour’s cat or carpooling to help with peak hour traffic is a good citizen, as are many bloggers and journalists who draw attention to issues that the public deserves to know about, and whistleblowers, etc, too for opposing corruption. They may or may not also happen to be good people but I think that’s separate from them being a good citizen.

Personally I’d consider myself more of an informed citizen to be honest, which is somewhere inbetween. Which is probably true for a lot of people, I’d imagine.

  • Do you think there are too many superhero films being made?

It does seem like there are a lot of superhero films being released, doesn’t it? In fact, by the time 2016 is over, there will have been seven all up!

I tend to think of superhero movies as being their own genre now though and if you think of how many dramas or romantic comedies are released every year, seven actually doesn’t sound like that many. I think the problem is more that they need to feel different and distinct and to be spaced out more to help reduce viewer fatigue.

I think eventually superhero films will lose some of their popularity, a bit like Westerns did, but with such large fanbases I think they’ll always be popular. Personally I’d like to see more as series on Netflix – I think that format suits them better and would help to reduce oversaturation too.

  • You’re about to go to Antarctica for a year and can only bring five non-essential items with you. What would you bring?

I’m going to say that a phone, computer and wifi are included as essentials in this day and age, so I won’t include those. So I’d choose a camera with an all-in-one zoom lens, a kindle with a good selection of books, a photograph of my family, peppermint teabags and lots of chocolate. Because I don’t think I could last a year without tea and chocolate.

  • What are you reading at the moment?

Most of my books are in storage but I brought a few with me when I moved. I’m reading The Three Body Problem by Liu Cixin  at the moment, which won the Hugo Award last year. It’s very good. I plan to read Lock In by John Scalzi after that.

  • iOS or Android?

I’ve never really got the fuss about comparing iOS and Android… I know a lot of people are very passionate about one being better than the other and debate it endlessly but I’ve used both over the years and think they’re both great.

Personally I use iOS these days but I don’t think it’s ‘better’ than Android or any other operating system, it just suits the way I use my mobile devices a little better overall.

I do like the Android cameras though – I’d love to see an SLR running it one day.

If you have any questions you’d like to ask for a future post, feel free to leave them in a comment. 🙂

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