I recently asked him what he was reading. His reply:
I am often reading several books at once, a mixture of novels and books for research or school. At the moment I am reading three novels and two research books, though both the latter overlap with my schoolwork. One of the novels is Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey. I came to it through Eragon because whenever I told my parents anything about it they said that it sounded as if it was derived from the Dragonriders of Pern books. This is the first of them, and it is really great, with great descriptions and original ideas - and I can see Eragon is very obviously in debt to it.The Guardian interviewed Dowling earlier this year.
Another novel I am reading, or to be more accurate rereading is The Winter Prince by Elizabeth E. Wein. This is one of the best twists on the Arthurian myth I have read, combining ideas about a Celtic Arthur with African myth in an incredibly interesting way.
One of my two research books is The Lion and the Unicorn by Richard Aldous. It is about the rivalrous careers of Gladstone and Disraeli, the two greatest speech writers and speakers of the 19th century, and among the best politicians in England. One was a witty, clever man who brought the Peel administration crashing down with a series of remarkable speeches, the other stolid and stern, who was prime minister no less than four times, and amazing at Greek and Maths to boot. I am reading this to research my fifth book, which will feature the young Disraeli (I’m editing my fourth now).
Sahib by Richard Holmes is my second research book, about the experiences of English Soldiers in India during the period from the start of East India company rule through to 1914. It is interestingly written, mainly focusing on letters and diaries kept by the soldiers and using them as a reference point for the rest of the book. I am reading it too for my fifth book, which will feature the Pashtuns who have lived in Afghanistan since Alexander the Great’s time.
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce is my last novel and is probably the most challenging on my list, but I am steadily working my way up to rereading Ulysses again; when I last read it I didn’t understand it very well. It is very interestingly written and I especially admire the thought processes which are like actual thoughts and not like the standard writing of thoughts in books. I also like the repetition of phrases, which is very like Homer.
Learn more about Michael Dowling and his writing at the Tobias Druitt website.