The Skinny on... Caitlin Moran

Caitlin Moran's hilarious coming-of-age memoir How to Build a Girl is soon to hit the big screen, with Booksmart's Beanie Feldstein playing the Moran surrogate. Read on to discover Moran's fave Beatle, best interview subject and a secret about bums

Feature by The Skinny | 05 Mar 2020
  • Caitlin Moran

What’s your favourite place to visit and why? 
Wales. Lush valleys and moss and rain and the power of a good cagoule, and a flask of tea up a hill, squatting under a tree with a very powerful Ordnance Survey Map. It’s where I stop wanting anything other than where I am.

Favourite food and why?
I’ve Tweeted about many, many things in my time – ALL THE THINGS, in fact – but one of the most popular was when I realised an eternal truth: nine times out of ten, all I want to eat is a piece of bread and butter. Good bread – the Angel Bakery in Abergavenny make a sourdough which is WITCHCRAFT – and enough cold butter that you leave a cliff-face of teeth-marks in it when you bite.

Favourite colour and why?
Red. Our kitchen is red, my shoes are red, my hair was red for years. It’s the colour that says “LET’S STAY UP ALL NIGHT TALKING."

Who was your hero growing up?
Charlotte Brontë. She wrote about plain, poor girls who had amazing interior lives, and triumphed just by keeping on and speaking the truth. I related.

Whose work inspires you now?
So many! Caroline Criado Perez is a constant – she’s a practical feminist. Sees a problem, and fixes it with common sense and diligence. Noticed that TV and radio shows generally only book male experts? She formed The Women's Room: a list of female experts producers could call on. Feel the world is oddly physically uncomfortable for women? She spent four years researching 'invisible women' – finding the data on how cars, medicines, bricks, phones and transport are designed for men's bodies and lives, not women's. Every single person in power should read that book. She has done the world a genuine service.

What three people would you invite to your dinner party and what are you cooking?
My best friends Lauren Laverne, Sali Hughes, Nadia Shireen, John Niven and Hugo Rifkind. They’re the regulars. Food will be some Ottolenghi vegetarian thing I’ll spend all day pottering around cooking whilst listening to the Dear Joan & Jericha podcast.

What’s your all-time favourite album?
Abbey Road. The sheer force of will Paul McCartney employed holding an imploding Beatles together, and stitching fragments of songs together to make Side 2. The Beatles story is my Bible. It’s the template I understand and measure the world by. Paul’s the best, obviously.

What’s the worst film you’ve ever seen?
I am irrationally angered by The Shawshank Redemption. A man digs a tunnel with a spoon. Well done.

What book would you take to a desert island?
The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole. The funniest book ever written. As you get older, your sympathies shift from first Adrian, to his feminist mum, to his can-do grandmother.

Who’s the worst?
I can’t slag off anyone else’s book – even if it’s a towering pile of horse manure. Someone sat a long time on a chair writing it, and my lower back twinges in sympathy with them.

When did you last cry?
Ten minutes ago – Andrew Weatherall died yesterday, and I’m listening to one of his old radio shows. In the middle of a mix, he said, “I don’t want to be mawkish, but when I die, I’d like them to play this when they lower me into the ground,” and he played Dennis Wilson. Weatherall was just a good, clever, joyous man – he had the best collections of everything: records, books, ideas, friends. “Dust the ornaments on the mantlepiece of your mind,” he’d say, playing yet another tune you’d never heard before that sounded like it came from a parallel, and better, universe than this. Sleep well, king of men.

What are you most scared of?
It used to be baldness, but RuPaul’s Drag Race has convinced me wigs might be even better than hair.

When did you last vomit and why?
Last month. I finally realised I can’t eat oysters with champagne. The results are explosive.

Tell us a secret?
Everyone has spots on their bum.

Which celebrity could you take in a fight?
Literally none. I’m a lover, not a fighter. I’d like to think I could shag any celebrity? They all secretly want my sweet ass.

If you could be reincarnated as an animal, which animal would it be?
Dog. Specifically, our dog. No creature is more worshipped for doing fuck-all other than snuggle or trot jauntily.

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
With my very first thought, I think. As soon as I could read, the idea of being able to describe the world how YOU saw it seemed intoxicating. The greatest power. The best way to reach out and make friends with people. The most beautiful way to change the world. And also the only possible way I could make money, other than by working on the cheese counter at Gateway supermarket.

Who's been your favourite person to interview so far?
Gaga was immense – we went to a sex-club together. Courtney Love is a force of nature. Jilly Cooper got me so pissed I almost fell off a train. Guy Garvey makes you want to be his friend the minute you meet him. But Matty Healy from The 1975 is the most fascinating. He’s a new kind of boy rock-star.

Who's been your worst interview?
I found the 90s girlband Eternal to be very hostile. They put their handbags on the chairs next to them in catering.

What was your first reaction when you watched the adaptation of How to Build a Girl for the first time?
To hope I get to make more films, as it’s the greatest game of all to be able to make some words on a page into a whole room, army of people, and world. It’s the nearest you get to being God. And I was amazed I still found the jokes funny, given that I’ve heard them over and over again for five years. Well done me!

How to Build a Girl has its UK premiere as the closing night film of Glasgow Film Festival, Sun 8 Mar, 7pm, GFT; the screening will be followed by a Q&A with Caitlin Moran and How to Build a Girl's director Coky Giedroyc