Small talk: Neil Jordan

Novelist and film director Neil Jordan was born in Ireland in 1950. A graduate of University College Dublin, he went on to publish a collection of short stories, Night in Tunisia (1976) and five novels including Sunrise with Sea Monster (1994) and Shade (2005). After acting as script consultant for the film Excalibur (1981), he began to write for the screen. He won an Oscar for best screenplay for The Crying Game in 1992, while Interview with the Vampire (1994) starred Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt. Jordan is married and lives in Dublin.

Who is your perfect reader?

Pat McCabe.

What is the last thing you read that made you laugh out loud?

Thomas Pynchon’s Inherent Vice.

What book changed your life?

The Collected Poems of WB Yeats.

When did you know you were going to be a writer?

In 1972, when I couldn’t get a job anywhere in Dublin.

What is the strangest thing you’ve done when researching a book?

Less a book, than a movie. While researching Interview with the Vampire, I had to meet the warring voodoo priestesses of New Orleans.

Which literary character most resembles you?

Don Quixote.

Who are your literary influences?

Flann O’Brien, James Joyce, Graham Greene, Jean Genet.

Who would you like to be stuck in a lift with?

I was stuck in a lift once with Marlon Brando. He asked me to his house. I asked him to play King Lear. He said he’d never remember all those words.

Who would you choose to play you in a film?

Stephen Rea.

What are you scared of?


How do you relax?

I drink.

What is the best piece of advice a parent gave you?

Don’t drink.

What is your current favourite word?

Dinnsheanchas. An Irish word, meaning “the lore of place”.

What would you go back and change?

My posture.

What book do you wish you’d written?

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

How would you earn your living if you had to give up writing?

I would play the classical guitar, in dimly lit restaurants.

What does it mean to be a writer?

Everybody writes, in some form or another. But to have others read you is a great and rare privilege.

Neil Jordan’s latest novel is ‘Mistaken’ (John Murray)

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