Reading Confessions: Andrew Symon

Jack Shian author Andrew Symon
Category: Reading

Andrew Symon is the author of the Shian Quest Trilogy. He was born in Athens to Scottish parents, then moved to Tokyo and then London. After his first job as a Labour Ward porter, he trained as a nurse, then as a midwife, working in a variety of hospitals in Scotland and England. Symon is a Street Pastor, an unofficial padre in the Tartan Army, and a senior lecturer at Dundee University but where does he stand on spinebreaking and what's his guiltiest reading pleasure?

We caught up with Andrew on the release of book two in his Shian Quest Trilogy Jack Shian and the Mapa Mundi (Black & White Publishing) to find out...


Do you ever mentally edit someone else’s work while you read?

I have found myself doing this occasionally, when I find writing that isn’t tight.


Do you judge books by their covers?

I’m increasingly aware of how some covers work and others don’t. A poor cover wouldn’t put me off if I wanted to read a book. That said, a really intriguing cover might make me peruse a book I hadn’t intended to buy. Does that count as ‘judging’?


Have you ever cried in public because of a book?

I’ve cried with laughter, if that counts. I was reading Spike’s Milligan’s first war memoir – Adolf Hitler: My Part in his Downfall – on a train from Salisbury to London, and I just cracked up.


What’s your opinion on reading in the bath?

A wonderful way to relax, especially with a glass of wine. What’s the problem?


Have you ever said no to sex because you just had to finish your book?

I think that only happens in bad sitcoms.


Where do you stand on spinebreaking?

I can’t stand it – it’s offensive. Books should be treasured.


What’s your guiltiest reading pleasure?

I suppose it’s cartoon books, because here they’re seen as childish. Sempé and Charles Schulz had wonderfully economic ways of showing how children behave and what they think. Other favourites would include Hoffnung for the sheer fun he depicts and Searle for the way he managed to translate his own horrific experiences into humorous (although often grisly) school life. I love the museum of cartoon art in Brussels – they honour this art form on the continent.


How do you arrange your bookshelf?

Alphabetically for the main fiction bookcase in the living room. Other bookcases are mostly sorted by specialty – Scotland, religion, cartoon books, travel, reference, and books-to-read. I don’t lose sleep if a book’s in the wrong place, but I love delving into old books and like to know where they are.


Do you ever turn to the back of a book and read the end first? If not, what would you say to such people?

No, and I can’t see why anyone would want to spoil the ending like that. So that’s what I’d say to them.


Is there a book you have never been able to finish?

Finnegan’s Wake (like everyone else). Several others I’ve put down for long periods and finished eventually, sometimes wishing I hadn’t bothered. I’ve got three ‘partially read’ at present, with little inclination to pick them up again.


Enjoyed these Reading Confessions? Check out the confessions of other top authors Kirsty Logan, Debi Gliori, Caro Ramsay, Christopher Brookmyre and more in our Reading Confessions blog.

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