20 QUESTIONS... LINDSAY MCCRAE

To mark 20 years of Hay Festival Winter Weekend, we are asking speakers and performers to answer 20 questions. Here's how wildlife documentary maker Lindsay McCrae responded...


1. If you could put one question to anyone on the planet, who would you choose and what would it be?

Buzz Aldrin – Was the moon landing a hoax?

2. What was the last book you read and loved?

The Secret Race by Tyler Hamilton (detailing the doping system in professional cycling during the Lance Armstrong years).

3. What are you most proud of?

My two boys, Walter and Ernest, in close second my book!

4. What was the best question you were ever asked in an event and how did you answer it?

Can penguins fly? Yes, but only underwater

5. What one piece of advice do you wish you could give your 16-year-old self?

Don’t worry so much!

6. What's the most famous book you've never read?

The Hobbit.

7. What author or book do you think is most underrated? And why?

Jim Crumley. I think a lot of people don’t appreciate how amazing our natural world is or how easy it is to access, but I challenge anyone that hasn’t read his work not to be converted and become obsessed!

8. Which writers today will still be read 100 years from now?

J.K. Rowling.

9. Favourite word?

Perculiar.

10. Least favourite word?

Nice.

11. What is the first thing you wrote?

That I remember, un Bateau (boat in French) whilst in reception.

12. What one thing should each writer know before they begin?

A deadline. I could spend forever re-fining chapters, in which case I’d never finish.

13. Where's your favourite place to write?

Next to my local river, but it can get quite distracting depending on what wildlife is about!

14. Pen and paper, or laptop?

Laptop. My Dad always argues drafting with pen and paper but then I’d be writing twice!

15. Favourite book of 2019?

Mortimer and Whitehouse's Gone Fishing.

16. Favourite book to read at Christmas? 

Stick Man by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler, to my two boys!

17. What is the best book you've ever been gifted, and who gave it to you? 

Planet Earth, the Making of an Epic Series. Gifted to me on my last day of school after GCSEs by my physics teacher. He shared my passion for wildlife and wrote inside the book ‘maybe one day your work will be featured in a book like this’. And luckily it has.

18. What books are you most excited about reading in 2020? 

Ask me next year. I struggle to keep up.

19. Best Hay Festival memory?

This will be my first Hay Festival, so ask me again afterwards.

20. What are you working on right now?

Other than mastering how to look after two boys under three years old, I’m about to embark on another year of adventures filming wildlife across the globe for various television series. Also, I’m thinking about what my next book could be about!


Lindsay McCrae is the author of My Penguin Year: Living with the Emperors, in which he documents his 11 months living in Antarctica to film emperor penguins for Dynasties: Emperor, narrated by David Attenborough. He talks about the new book at Hay Festival Winter Weekend on Saturday 30 November 2019 - buy tickets here