This is from The Lady, Britain's oldest "women's magazine". Interview by Lindsay Fulcher in the issue dated 26 May-1 June 1992, and evidently one in a series entitled "Favourite Things".
From Shanghai to Shepperton
Author J G Ballard always had a cult following. Now he is a household name, but what are the ordinary preferences of this man with an extraordinary past?
Born in 1930 in Shanghai, China, where his father was a businessman, J G Ballard spent many of his formative years in a Japanese prison camp. The story of his early life is told in "Empire of the Sun", the award-winning, semi-autobiographical novel which thrust him into the limelight in 1984. It has since been made into a highly successful film.
J G Ballard published his first collection of short stories in 1956 [sic]; he has written ten novels and ten collections of short stories to date.
He lives alone in a semidetached house in Middlesex.
What is your favourite time for writing?
I am a creature of habit. I work at my home in Shepperton for two hours before lunch and for two hours after. I am brewing up a new novel at the moment.
What is your favourite book?
From a 19th-century novelist: "Moby Dick". It is about a preposterous dream. My whole life is a preposterous dream, so I feel a tremendous sympathy for Captain Ahab.
I don't know what the white whale is -- life, death, eternity? -- but Captain Ahab feels he has had enough of it. He is trying to get to the core of the universe and I feel the same way, the only thing is I haven't got a harpoon, only a pen.
Who is your favourite author?
Graham Greene. I admire his life. He left England and found subjects for his books abroad.
Most of this century's great English writers had to go abroad to write. I was born in China, now I live here, so I am living in a foreign country, too, in a way.
What has been the most important influence in your life?
Shanghai shaped my view of the world, but my most important single experience was seeing my children being born.
All the mysteries of life and death hover over the birth of a child.
I have two daughters and a son, all of whom I am very proud.
Do you have a favourite animal?
I love dogs and I very much miss my Golden Retriever, who died some years ago. His name was Apollo but we called him Polly. Sadly, I have no pets now.
How about a pet hate?
Apart from the English weather, no.
What is your favourite recreation?
I like going out to eat in good restaurants.
I love lots of different sorts of cuisine -- French, Thai, Chinese, Italian and English. My ideal dinner would start with lobster and tagliatelle, then go on to roast beef with a good bottle of claret.
Where do you like to go on holiday?
The South of France -- Juan Les Pins.
What is your favourite city?
Los Angeles -- it is my spiritual home, a wonderful place. You can see all the dreams of the 20th century there. As you drive around, it's like a stage set of modern mythologies -- most of them have been filmed there.
I liked its palm trees and its relaxed style -- before the recent riots, that is.
What is your favourite film?
Billy Wilder's "Sunset Boulevard" from 1950. It is all about the film industry; it anatomises the Hollywood dream.
What about television?
I watch quite a lot, and videos. l like the "Saturday Night Clive" show, which my daughter Bea produces. I also like crime shows and thrillers like "Miami Vice".
Where do you most like to live -- town or country?
I prefer where I live now, in suburbia, which is neither. It is where the most exciting things go on today, the biggest changes in lifestyle and consumer taste. Here in Shepperton, public imagination flourishes and the waves of the future break.