Published in the Sunday Times
Whose sentences are your favourite, and why?
My favourite first line in a book is from Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton. “There is a lovely road that runs from Ixopo into the hills. These hills are grass-covered and rolling, and they are lovely beyond any singing of it.” It was the first time I understood the difference between typing and writing.
The last book that made you cry?
The Kindly Ones by Jonathan Littell.
You’re hosting a literary dinner with three writers. Who’s invited?
An eclectic bunch. Hermann Hesse, Milan Kundera, Hilary Mantel.
What is the strangest thing you’ve done when researching a book?
Two weeks ago I was in Hillbrow with my daughter, taking photographs for a potential new book. A man in a beanie came up and asked Jade if she’d mind not pointing the camera at him. He explained, very politely, that this was because he was a drug dealer.
What is the best piece of writerly advice you’ve received?
What books are you embarrassed not to have read yet?
I’m very embarrassed to admit I’ve only read one of Nadine Gordimer’s books (Burger’s Daughter).
What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned from a book?
I’ve read all the Kurt Vonnegut books. I love the simplicity and warm heartedness of his writing. He reminds us to stay human and connected. Life is short. Don’t take yourself too seriously.
Who is your favourite fictional hero?
I have many, if I have to choose one, it would be Holden Caulfield from JD Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye.
Which current book will you remember in 10 years’ time?
The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan.
Do you keep a diary?
I always carry a Moleskine around with me. Less a daily diary and more for recording specific observations.
What do you snack on while you write?
I try to eat healthily while I write and start off with fruit and rooibos. It’s not long though, before I succumb again and again to the evils of coffee.
John Hunt is the founder of advertising agency TBWA Hunt Lascaris and is worldwide creative director of TBWA. His debut novel is The Space Between The Space Between.
Photo credit: Jurgen Marx-Badenhorst