Not content just tweeting his friends asking them to buy his new novel Meatspace, Nikesh Shukla sent a lamb chop into the stratosphere and filmed its journey – a video that soon went viral.
1. What was your earliest ambition?
To be a rapper like Chuck D. When I first heard Don’t Believe the Hype at the tender age of nine years old, I didn’t get all the references but I could feel that the song was about fight, and that was something I could get behind. Either that or to get more pocket money.
2. How physically fit are you?
I’m a fit chubber. I exercise regularly. I go to the gym. I cycle around Bristol. I play football. I’ve run a half marathon. I can walk up flights of stairs without getting out breath. But all this exercise is just so I can eat as much as food as I do. I love eating, cooking, being cooked for, chewing, digesting, planning meals – and if I have to walk everywhere in order to justify a double doughnut day, so be it.
3. If you were mayor of Bristol for the day, what would you do?
I’d pull together an investigative unit, featuring a maverick rookie on the edge, a guy two days away from retirement, a grumbling boss with a very specific health problem that’s exacerbated by the maverick rookie on the edge’s antics and a love interest connected to the villain in some way, to find out who stole our food bin two months ago. Also I’d funnel more money into projects helping young people to find work regardless of their backgrounds and qualifications. Also, I’d have a double doughnut day.
4. Where is your favourite holiday destination?
That I’ve been? New York or Bombay – I’m a city kid, I grew up in London. That I dream of? Japan.
5. What’s your biggest extravagance?
Socks. And books. I buy a lot of socks and I wear them while I read a lot of books. Currently my Madras socks from Tuk Tuk and my Life As Meals book by James and Kay Salter are keeping me warm at night.
6. In what place in Bristol are you happiest?
In the swinging chair we took from my childhood home when my dad moved out. It’s in my dining room. Or in Tiffins, an amazing Gujarati takeaway on St Michael???s Hill where I get to talk in Gujarati with the owners.
7. What ambitions do you still have?
I’d quite like to be sat in a cafe or a pub or a pub or a bus or a train, and spy someone reading my book (Meatspace, ahem) and they smile at something I wrote, and I think, yes fam, that’s why I do it.
8. What is the greatest achievement of your life so far?
I sent a lamb chop into space recently to promote my novel, and that went viral, which was exciting. I met Michael Jackson once. Also, I’ve written two novels. Any of those.
9. Can you sum up Bristol in a sentence?
Laid back but sometimes it feels like all its diversity and multiculturalism exists in silos.
10. What is your favourite secret spot in Bristol?
Tiffins – the food is delicious and tastes like my mum used to make. Or the window box desk at the back of the Pervasive Media Studio at Watershed. I do a lot of my thinking there.