Paper Prophet Interview for The Sunday Independent
1. What car do you drive and do you still have a no-claims bonus?
'98 Audi A6 2.5L TDi estate, abs, p/s, e/w, e/s/r, a/w, 6 airbags and CD-changer. Excellent condition. No-claims intact.
2. Do you have any penalty points?
Not at the time of writing, but my wife thinks I'm on a quest for them.
3. Have you ever been clamped and if so, what for?
Yes. I once parked outside a friend's house overnight, forgot it was a bus lane, and failed to get up in time to move it. It was moved for me. At first, I thought it had been stolen.
4. What was your first job and salary?
Apart from summer jobs, I worked in Superquinn my first year in college. It paid minimum wage, which for some reason was less if you were under 18, even though you were doing the same work
5. What would you like to achieve in business/work this year?
Have another bestseller, and get my books into more countries. And do something about the number of kids who are functionally illiterate in Ireland. Purely profit-motivated, of course; if they can't read, they can't read my books.
6. Do you have any family connection with business?
My wife is a librarian, my two sisters both work in publishing, and my brother runs my website, which we're in the middle of renovating.
7. Who would you like to see as (Irish) Minister for Finance?
Gordon Brown. It looks like Britain isn't working out for him. I would say Michael O'Leary, but he'd only start selling advertising space in the Oireachtas and insisting each Irish citizen provide their own public services...
8. Which businessman/woman do you most admire?
Bob Geldof or Bono. Whatever you want to say about them, they're sharp operators and they're doing their best to improve the world around them.
9. Have you ever bought or sold anything on eBay?
I offered my soul but there were no takers.
10. What was your best investment?
Wasting years trying to make a living using my imagination. If I'd gone into a more straightforward career, I wouldn't be able to do what I can now.
11. What's the biggest financial mistake you ever made?
Notwithstanding my answer to No. 10, my biggest financial mistake was trying to get published as a writer while attempting to make a living as an illustrator.
12. Do you own any shares?
If I wanted to gamble, I'd go to a bookies'. That way, at least I'd get free pens, snacks and coffee.
13. Do you own property abroad?
I'm holding out for Mars. I think all the best sites on the moon are already gone.
14. Do you know what interest rate you're paying on your mortgage?
Are there people who don't?
15. Have you switched your bank or moved your mortgage in the last couple of years?
I don't need to. Every time I go in they treat me like a stranger anyway.
16. Have you ever been overcharged by a bank, building society, restaurant or anyone else?
Yes, I have been EVEN MORE overcharged by a bank than NORMAL. When I moved back from the UK, I transferred my savings over. The charge they applied was ten times what it should have been because of a misplaced decimal point. Reassuring that.
17. Have you ever made an insurance claim?
No, but at this stage, I'd say I'm owed one.
18. Do you do the Lotto?
No. I figured out years ago that it probably wouldn't be me.
19. Have you ever won money and if so, what did you do with it?
I once won money as part a Bisto children's book award. I ate posh that night.
20. Which mobile phone provider do you use: 02, Vodafone, Meteor or 3?
O2. But when I'm roaming I'm anybody's.
21. What would you spend more money on each year? Petrol or restaurants?
Diesel, without a doubt. My car is my most important promotional tool.
22. How much is a litre of milk?
Between E1.29 and E1.35, but I normally pay the additional 20c to go Super for that extra vit-hit.
23. What's the best financial advice you ever received?
Commercial art is like any other profession – charge by the hour and stand by your quote. But ideas should be charged for according to their value to the client.
24. Apart from any mortgage you may have, what's the biggest debt you've ever run up?
I got my wife pregnant.
25. Do you know what a tracker mortgage is?
Yes. Unfortunately the banks have just figured it out too.