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Surfing champion Shaun Tomson on writing, music and how Ulysses is his favourite fictional character

The CodeThe Code
Shaun Tomson (Pan Macmillan)

Which book changed your life?
The 1946 book Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl.

What music helps you write?
I enjoy listening to ’70s psychedelic rock, especially Traffic, Yes and The Doors.

What is the strangest thing you’ve done when researching a book?
I enrolled for and completed a master’s degree in leadership.

Who is your favourite fictional hero?
Ulysses. As a young boy I loved Homer’s stories of Ulysses conquering monsters and overcoming incredible challenges on his long voyage home across the seas to return to his love. They represent the indomitable will of a person to finally achieve what he or she sets out to do, no matter the risk.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
What you will, you will become. I will always paddle back out. I will take the drop with commitment.

What’s more important to you: the way a book is written, or what the book is about?
Both the tale and the craft create the art.

Has a book ever changed your mind about something?
All books I read seem to change my mind about life to greater or lesser degrees. Great books are like great leaders — they influence and inspire.

You’re hosting a literary dinner with three writers. Who’s invited?
Roald Dahl for something unexpected. Antoine de Saint-Exupéry for something magical. Arthur Conan Doyle for something mysterious.

What novel would you give a child to introduce them to literature?
I’d choose Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.

Do you finish every book you start?
Starting a book is as much a commitment as finishing one. I decide to stop reading each book I start when I come to the full stop on the last line.

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