Rodge Glass

Rodge Glass


Novelist, biographer, editor and academic, Rodge Glass describes himself as ‘the product of an Orthodox Jewish Primary School, an 11+ All Boys Grammar School, a Co-Ed Private School, a Monk-sponsored Catholic College, Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Strathclyde University and finally Glasgow University. His latest novel, Bring Me the Head of Ryan Giggs is guaranteed as a book ‘for City fans to love as well.’ Will Self described it as ‘a complex and moving portrayal of obsession, football and heroes with boots of clay.’


Rodge, you’ve spent some time around creative writing programmes, and I’m delighted to see that you’re now at Edgehill. Personally, I was most grateful to my MA for giving me an excuse to ignore the washing up and get on with writing instead. What do you think is the single best thing to be gained from creative writing courses?

For me it was being part of a community of people interested in the same thing – writing. I was lucky enough that the courses I was part of, at Glasgow and Strathclyde, had a good mix of community spirit, pro-active friends who were always happy to help each other – and crucially, regular access to published good quality writers who could pass on their expertise. So: community. All courses can hold people back if they are simply sausage factories for a certain world view or writing style: mine wasn’t like that. My mentors genuinely wanted to me to find my own voice and use it. Which is what I try to pass on.


In Bring Me the Head of Ryan Giggs, you have a protagonist who has missed out on stardom in a slip of the dice. What could you have been world champion in? And which celebrity talent show would you go on once you’d retired?

Ah, I dream of being world champion at most things – but I could never have made it in football as I’m a chronic asthmatic and I used to secretly hide my inhaler up my sleeve hoping no one would notice it there. Given the choice I’d beat Mr Bolt in the 100 metres – let’s face it, the 100m doesn’t take very long to run, so once you’ve run it a few times you’ve still got plenty of time left every day for writing your novel. Which is what I really fancy being world champion in. As for celebrity talent shows: none please! If I ever do Strictly, shoot me…


You can take any two writers out for the night. Who would you choose, and where would you take them?

Ok, this would be fun. You didn’t specify alive or dead so I’m having two dead ones, David Foster Wallace and George Orwell. They’ve got reputations for being pretty dark, and that’s how I like my conversation, but as I’m taking them to see Nick Cave at a sweaty club in Manchester (we are in fantasy here right?) I’m sure they’d feel pretty upbeat after a couple of hours of the Cave preacher magic. Darkness can be strangely uplifting when it’s truly convincing.


What’s the most number of books you’ve signed in one day, and was your signature still legible at the end?

I think the most was my first book launch – everyone in the family and friends bracket buys one that day as a) they’re pretty confident you won’t write another cos let’s face it, it’s a surprise you’ve made it this far, and b) they haven’t read anything you’ve written yet so don’t know if they disapprove. Was my signature legible at the end? It’s not really legible at the start, but it was even more of a scrawl than usual. I have an elaborate signature. It was designed many years before I thought I’d need to use it very much.


The ManBooker Prize has been running since 1968, just ten years longer than Litfest. Which book, from any time, would you most like to have seen as winner, and why?

I’d like to have seen Lanark by Alasdair Gray win it in 1982. There was a bit of a stooshie, as they say on the other side of the border, as it wasn’t even longlisted. Very rare, both then and now, to get Scottish literature recognised, though there are an embarrassment of riches from Scotland at work – Janice Galloway, Ali Smith, Jackie Kay, AL Kennedy, James Kelman (the only ever Scottish winner), Alan Bissett…and Alasdair Gray. I wrote a biography of him, and I believe he’s the most important literary artist in that country currently alive. Will Self rates him highly too, and you don’t disagree with Will Self if you know what’s good for you…


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