Claire asked Graeme Simsion:

Were you good at English at school/college?

Graeme Simsion I was pretty good, but I did not do much creative writing. I had a quite formal early education (to age 12) in New Zealand with lots of attention to grammar and that has stood me in good stead. I was put up a couple of classes because I was good at math and science, so I didn't stand out so much in English, but I did end up coming top of my high school in English in the final exams. There's a bit of a story: I was asked to leave the class after the first lesson, basically for being obnoxious (and wrong) in an argument with the teacher, and ended up overcompensating in my study of the prescribed texts. (I did not return: stubborn as well as obnoxious.) I knew them so well that they've remained amongst the most memorable books I've read (Camus's The Plague, Solzhenitsyn's One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich…)
That said, I didn't even attempt the separate English Literature subject - not mature enough and would never have kept up with the girls. Interesting when I think of it: to come top in English but not consider myself up to doing English Lit.
Graeme Simsion

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