Here are some Questions that Faber and Faber put to all their authors.
At school I was terrible at . . . Maths
When I was a child my favourite book was . . . “The Phantom Tollbooth” by Norton Juster (which was full of Maths).
I started writing when / because . . . I started writing at 16, when my parents left England for Australia. I moved in with my elder sister and her boyfriend and began to produce very gloomy short stories, featuring a great deal of rain, peripheral teenage sex and acute observations about the multiformity of kitchen stains. Why did I do this? To appease my emergent tendency to try and build sentences out of every new experience.
The hardest part of writing a novel is . . . For me, finishing. Not only is it hard to leave the imaginary world and the characters within it, it is hard technically for me to wind things up without betraying my initial ambition for the story. I have a tendency to fear the ending, and the unconscious desire to botch it (by having them all die in a hideous car crash) as if to do so is to elude inevitable failure by simply not trying hard enough.
I work best when . . . My children are out.
I wish I’d written . . . Anna Karenina
If I wasn’t a writer I would . . . Be a transplant surgeon or a country and western singer.
The most underrated writer is . . . Andre Dubus
My favourite short story is . . . ‘A Perfect day for Bananafish’ by J.D Salinger
The most romantic piece of writing I’ve ever read is . . . The love scene between the 36 year-old exorcist, Cayetano Delaura and his 12 year-old subject, Sierva Maria in Garcia Marquez’s ‘Of Love and Other Demons.’ (And the ‘fiacre scene’ in Madame Bovary).
My favourite bookshop is . . . Shakespeare and Company, Paris, France.
My literary five-a-side football team would include . . . If they were writing and not playing football: Samuel Beckett, Virginia Woolf, Leon Tolstoy, Gustave Flaubert and Cormac McCarthy.
The finest and most disappointing film adaptation are . . The finest would Kubrick’s ‘Lolita’ and the worst would be Kundera’s ‘The Unbearable Lightness of Being’ in the hands of Philip Kaufman and Daniel Day-Lewis.
If I listen to music when I write I usually put on . . . Never, ever do that.
I am kept awake at night by . . . Snoring (my own), children, or fear of death.
My guiltiest pleasure is . . . watching figure skating. And enjoying it. Even crying over it.
My favourite all-time TV show has to be . . . Deadwood (HBO’s drama series set in a lawless gold prospecting town in 1870s America)
If I could go back in time I would . . . Be a divorced heiress in early 18th century France.