Sometimes confrontation is best

This is to be my main appearance at the Writers' Festival in Melbourne, Australia. It is ten o'clock in the morning and there is a packed audience. I am to be interviewed by a local writer, John Felton.

I step onto the platform with my usual feelings of apprehension. Felton introduces me and starts asking me questions. Before I can finish what I'm saying, he interrupts me and asks me another question. When I reply, he says something like 'that wasn't a very clear answer'. Five minutes later, there is a feeling of unease amongst the audience; everyone can sense that something is wrong. I remember Confucius and take the only possible action.

'Do you like what I write?' I ask.

'That's irrelevant,' Felton replies. 'I'm here to interview you, not the other way round.'

'But it is relevant. You won't let me finish my thought. Confucius says: "Whenever possible, be clear." Let's follow that advice and make things absolutely clear: Do you like what I write?'

'No, I don't. I've read two of your books and I hated both of them.'

'Fine, now we can continue.'

The lines of battle have been drawn. The audience relaxes and the atmosphere becomes electric, the interview becomes a real debate, and everyone - including Felton - is pleased with the result.