10 Questions: Anthony and Ben Holden

10 Questions: Anthony and Ben Holden

Sum up your book in three words.
Poems. Tears. Men. In that order.

Where did the initial idea come from?
Some 20 years ago Anthony was very struck when two of his literary friends, a week apart, choked up while reciting poems. He began to contemplate an anthology, but got distracted by another commission.
Ben: A brilliant idea of Dad's which stayed with me over 20-odd years, like all the best ones. I called him up some 2 years ago and said "How about we try to turn this into a book together?"

How was the title chosen?
Easily, other than a debate about the merits of "grown" versus "strong" (Ben won). We wanted something that would be straightforward, catchy and get people talking.

What's your writing routine?
A full-time writer for 30+ years, Anthony can be very disciplined, but needs a deadline.
Ben: I try to write whenever I can, around my day job in film.

Which book do you wish you'd written?
Anthony: Madame Bovary
Ben: The Magus - I go to the island that inspired Fowles to write it every summer on holiday (my wife is Greek) and so feel an added affinity with it.

What's your favourite word in the English language?
Anthony: Serene
Ben: Mellifluous

Who's your favourite fictional character?
Anthony: The aptly-named Holden Caulfield from The Catcher in the Rye.
Ben: Pip from Great Expectations is right up there.

What was your favourite book as a child?
Anthony: Just William
Ben: The Happy Prince and Other Stories by Oscar Wilde. My novelist godmother, the late Janet Hobhouse, gave it to me. I recently read it to my own children. It's exquisite, and crying happens to be integral to the story.

What book are you recommending to everyone at the moment?
Anthony: The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid.
Ben: Can I have 2? Aimless Love, the latest selection of poems by Billy Collins and The Testament of Mary by Colm Toibin. We are slightly late to the party with them but always find ourselves playing catch-up with our reading. We are very proud that all three of these writers are contributors to our collection.

What do books and reading mean to you?
Neither of us ever goes anywhere without a book.