Alastair Campbell, From Spin Doctor to Novel Writer

Once described as “the dark soul of Tony Blair” and “the real deputy Prime minister” -as his influence on the government was deemed to be so powerful- Alastair Campbell (52) appears nowadays in much more relaxed form than during his Downing Street years. The former Spin Doctor in chief has now has turned to fundraising for research into leukaemia, as well as writing, with a second novel, Maya, recently published.

My main character trait: determination

The trait I most deplore in myselfimpatience

The trait I am most proud of: loyalty

If I could change something in my physicmy lungs because I have asthma

The quality I appreciate most in a man: a sense of humour

The quality I appreciate most in a woman: intuition

What I most value in my friends: honesty and loyalty

Faults in others or myself that I am most likely to forgive: temper

My favourite hobbies: watching football and cycling

My idea of happinessa day which would include a family event, a football win and an electoral disaster for the Tories

My most beautiful memorythe birth of my three children and the year Burnley did beat Chelsea and Arsenal

My dream when I was a kidbeing a footballer

If I was an animal, I would be: a horse

My favourite books: Madame Bovary (Flaubert) and Teams of Rivals (Doris Kearns Goodwin)

My favourite artistShakespeare

My favourite actorsSean Penn and Julie Walters

My favourite films: Lady Sings the Blues and The Lives of Others

My favourite songsNe me quitte pas and Quand on n’a que l’amour, by Jacques Brel

Who or what I love most in the world: my children

My favourite heroes in fictionAtticus Finch and Emma Bovary

People I most admire in real lifepeople who achieve for others

My favourite names: those of my children, Rory, Calum and Grace

My most treasured possessions: my bikes and bagpipes

My favourite places: Puyméras in Provence and Conaglen in Scotland

What I hate the mostcynics and whingers

What makes me really angryracism

My biggest success so far: helping Tony Blair win three elections

My definition of loveto those who give, it never stops giving

My definition of beautya woman with eyes that speak

How I would like to die: quickly, quietly and at the time of my choosing

How I would like to be remembered: as someone who made a difference and as a good father

My current state of mind: good

My motto: “Get a grip!”

Maya by Alastair Campbell (Hutchinson, £18.99)