Small Talk: William Gibson

Steampunk, cyberpunk, postcyberpunk: William Gibson’s fantastical novels reach across some of science fiction’s most spectacularly named sub-genres. Neuromancer (1984), the first volume of his Sprawl trilogy, went on to win the Nebula, Hugo and Philip K Dick awards. Born in 1948 in south Carolina, US, Gibson attended boarding school in Arizona. Orphaned by the age of 18, he avoided the draft by emigrating to Canada in 1968 where he studied English. Other works include The Difference Engine (1990), numerous short stories and the Bridge and Bigend trilogies. Gibson lives in Vancouver, Canada, with his wife and two children.

Who is your perfect reader?

Someone with an eclectic knowledge base, an anthropological point of view, and a sense of humour akin to my own.

What books are currently on your bedside table?

Zoo City by Lauren Beukes, Kill the Dead by Richard Kadrey, and Darwin’s Bastards, a book of short stories that I contributed to.

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

First at age 12 or so, but I decided that it had been a false alarm. Then it happened again after my fifth or sixth novel.

What is your writing routine?

10am to 5pm, an hour for lunch and weekends generally off. I’m not uniformly productive by any means.

Where do you write best?

At home for the most part but when stuck I resort to a laptop in a coffee shop – the busier the better.

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

The strangest are life experiences that turn into research. For Zero History I participated in the brainstorming of a new brand, for a clothing manufacturer involved in military contracting.

What are you scared of?

Racism, sexism, nationalism, tribalism, fundamentalism (about anything at all), the excesses of religion, self-satisfied ignorance.

How do you relax?

I slack – masterfully. Slacking is my default position in all things.

Where is your favourite place in the world?

Mercat de la Boqueria, the culinary market on La Rambla in Barcelona.

What does it mean to be a writer?

To have been a reader first. Readers and writers are the two halves of something, the whole mysteriously greater than the sum.

William Gibson’s latest novel is ‘Zero History’, the final volume of the Bigend trilogy (Viking).

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