Author Confessions: Ned Boulting

Category: Reading

Ned Boulting has been the face of ITV's Tour De France coverage since 2003. He has also written many great books on cycling including How I Won the Yellow Jumper: Dispatches from the Tour De France and On the Road Bike: The Search For a Nation's Cycling Soul.

We cycled alongside Ned for as long as we could manage to extract these Author Confessions.


If you could throw a book at a celebrity which book would you throw at whom?

I would throw The Bible at Richard Dawkins to see if he ducks or takes it on the chin.

What’s your guiltiest reading pleasure?

Viz. Please don't judge me. Oh, you did.

What’s the worst piece of writing advice you’ve received?

Didn't Hemingway say something about "Write drunk, edit sober"? The first bit doesn't work.

Which author or fictional character would you most like to party with?

Keith Talent from London Fields. It'd be a cheap night out.

Have you ever pretended to have read a book to impress someone?

I got my degree that way.

Who would play you in a movie?

Marty Feldman.

Which book has left the greatest impression on you?

The book I am reading at the moment is pretty intense. Storm Of Steel by Ernst Jünger. An extraordinarily vivid account of the Battle of the Somme written from the perspective of a German lieutenant.

How do you react to bad reviews?

They mortify me. I normally descend into a tailspin of self-hatred. Then I make a cup of tea. After that I go for a run and talk to myself about it.

Are there any of your characters that you truly despise?

Yes. But given that my characters actually exist, I think I'll keep that to myself.

Which of your characters is your favourite?

Chris Boardman

Drugs and alcohol: do they help with writing?

No. Running does. Lots of "good" ideas happen while I run, but they should always be treated with caution, as they can prove just as bad as drunken ideas.

What’s a successful day of writing for you?

If I can get productively through the 3pm slump and out the other side.

Which piece of your writing are you most proud of?

I am fond of some of the portraits I painted in On The Road Bike.

What’s your favourite book shop?


What’s the meanest feedback you’ve ever received on your writing?

I am often described as whimsical. That grates.

Is writing a pain or a pleasure?

95% pleasure.

What’s your most extreme research story?

I visited Iran on my own in the spring. And I don't even know why. But it was unforgettable.

What would your dream job be if you weren’t an author?

A cyborg.

Which book should every child read?

Mr Bump.

What’s your most prized possession?

My bicycle.

What’s the strangest thing about the place you grew up?

Its complete lack of regional identity. I mean, where is Bedford, really?

What’s your most embarrassing moment as an author?

I hate being picked up on factual errors, however small. They are perhaps unavoidable, but they sting.

What’s your guiltiest music pleasure?


If you could give one piece of advice to aspiring authors what would it be?

Trust your instincts. Don't copy anyone's style.

What is your worst writing habit?

Overusing certain words. And my typing stinks. And my punctuation.

Which three albums would be in your desert island discs?

Now That's What I Call Music 32

Now That's What I Call Music 33

Now That's What I Call Music 34

What’s your most over-used phrase?

Now That's What I Call Music.

What makes you laugh


Who was your childhood crush?

Melissa Brewer. 


Phew. That's the lot. Remember, you can see Ned Boulting live at Edinburgh's Royal Lyceum on 8 September 2015. You can also follow him on Twitter @NedBoulting.

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