5 Questions with Peter Moore

16 September 2015

1. What are you most looking forward to at this year’s festival?

First off, I’m looking forward to being back in the area. Last year, when I was finishing The Weather Experiment, I spent a week living in a wooden lodge on the banks of Loch Ken. In an enormous stroke of luck I’d won a week’s holiday in a raffle. When I came it was April and I could hear cuckoo calls echoing across the loch. That was when I first visited Wigtown and roamed among the bookshops. So to be back when the festival is on is terrific. Another of my memories is of the total darkness of the night sky and the brilliance of the stars. With this in mind, I’m going to try and join one of the Night Walks in the evening.


2. Do you have a favourite literary quote and if so, what is it?

Like favourite songs, my favourite quotes are always shifting. I read a good one from Jonathan Swift recently, “He was a bold man that first ate an oyster”, which made me laugh. Also, among the many quotes mistakenly attributed to Mark Twain, is a humorous weather one. “The coldest winter I ever saw was the summer I spent in San Francisco”.


3. Your work deals heavily with the need by meteorological pioneers to understand and predict the weather. If you could pick any other subject besides the weather that you would like a greater understanding of, what would it be and why?

The human mind, the deep oceans, distant space, that strange alchemy in the process that either produces a good cup of tea or an entirely ruinous one; I’d struggle to isolate one thing, great or small, because I think that curiosity in all areas is to be encouraged. This is one of the things I most like about the c18/c19th. So many people were driven by a desire to understand, whether it be Gilbert White in Selborne, Joseph Banks on Endeavour, Jospeh Priestley bottling gases in Leeds or a thousand other examples. I think we’ve lost much of this today, with more people gazing inward rather than outward.


4. If you could bring back an author from the dead, who would it be and why?

George Orwell. In today’s world with the barbarities of ISIS, a soundbite government and a capitalist economic system that is run for the benefit of the few and not the many, he’d be as relevant and as brilliant as ever. I’ve always loved Orwell journalism, much more than his novels in fact. The idea of him publishing a weekly column in Comment is Free, or perhaps running a Twitter account, with that old clear-eyed, compelling prose, is a wonderful one.


5. Apart from the obvious being books, in what ways does a book festival differ from other festivals you’ve attended? What makes it special?

I spent many a June week in my younger years stood in a field in Somerset, wearing a silly hat, drinking cider and tapping along to the beat of a band. A good literary festival retains this feeling of a performance but is also much more informal. There’s no wire fences or security guards, however big the festival, and instead people are free to meet, chat, question or even march off to the local pub if needs be. So I think that it’s the intermingling of curious minds that makes a book festival different from others. And, after being locked away in my garret writing for a few years, I look forward to that as a very good thing. 


Tickets are still available to Peter Moore's 'The Weather Experiment' at 3pm on Tuesday 29th September. To book, please call the box office on 01988 403222. Tickets £6.