I’m really looking forward to seeing some friends of mine – like Bettany Hughes, Christina Lamb, Ben Miller, Anthony Seldon, Sabrina Ghayour and Kanishk Tharoor, all of whom are brilliant. There are lots of writers and publishers I am looking forward to meeting – like Parag Khanna, Mohammed Rabie, Noura al Noman, Yasmina Khadra and lots more besides!
Which book has inspired you the most?
The Alexiad of Anna Komnene. This text was written in beautiful and complex Greek in the 12th Century by a princess in imperial Constantinople, capital of the Byzantine Empire. It’s a work I know almost backwards; but even so, I take real pleasure opening my copy and reading a few pages whenever I have a spare moment!
What is the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning?
That’s easy: I greet my wife and children with my eyes half closed and head to the coffee machine. We installed one that makes better quality coffee than most cafes. It provides me with rocket fuel that I need for lift off.
What is your life’s motto?
My family has a few mottoes that go back quite a way in time; but my favourite is Win or Die.
Our theme for the 2017 Festival is Journeys. Can you tell us which journeys in your life have been most memorable?
I think probably a plane journey I took to Milan aged 8. It was the first time I’d ever flown alone, without my parents. I don’t remember being anxious about it; but I do remember thinking how easy it was to fly and to travel. That has been one of the themes of my life. My wife and I, and now our children, are well-seasoned travellers and take every opportunity we can to explore the world around us – from Laos to Tamil Nadu, from the forests of Central Sweden to Hanoi. I could write several books about our most memorable journeys; and who knows – maybe one day I will!