interview with Alexander McCall Smith

The Writers Write Interview – Alexander McCall Smith

Read our Writers Write Interview with Alexander McCall Smith.

Alexander McCall Smith is one of the world’s most prolific and best-loved authors. He was a professor of Medical Law before turning his hand to writing fiction.

He has written and contributed to more than 100 books including specialist academic titles, short story collections, and a number of immensely popular children’s books.

With the publication of the highly successful The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series, Alexander became a household name. The series has now sold over twenty million copies in the English language alone.

His various series of books have been translated into forty-six languages and become bestsellers throughout the world. Follow him on Twitter: @McCallSmith

The author was our guest in 2006.

The Writers Write Interview -With Alexander McCall Smith

1. Who is your favourite hero of fiction?

Lucia from the Lucia books.

2. What is your most treasured possession?

My collection of paintings – I particularly enjoy the works of William Crosbie.

3. Which living person do you most dislike?

We have to forgive our enemies.

4. What is your greatest fear?

Being eaten by a shark.

5. Who or what has been the greatest love of your life?

The poetry of W. H. Auden.

6. What is your greatest regret?

Not having understood the world earlier.

7. If you could choose to be a character in a book, who would it be?

One of the better characters in an Iris Murdoch novel.

8. Which book have you read the most in your lifetime?

Collected Poems of W. H. Auden.

9. What is your favourite journey?

The first part of the train ride from Edinburgh to London.

10. What do you most value in a friend?


11. What quality do you most admire in a woman?


12. Which book that you’ve written is your favourite?

Dream Angus – not yet released.

13. What advice would you give to aspiring authors?

Persist, have courage, write from the heart.

14. What are your favourite names?


15. What do you do as a hobby?

Play wind instruments.

16. What are your top three books? 

  1. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
  2. The Conservationist by Nadine Gordimer
  3. A Fortunate Lover by Albert Stacy

17. Where do you get your greatest ideas for writing?

They come to me – perhaps I hear a chance remark. And there’s something vivid about Botswana – the little human decencies, perhaps. They are here in South Africa too.

Interviewed by Amanda Patterson, 11 June 2006

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  1. Peter Chabanowich

    Another great interview.

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