Why do you write?
For the language, for the ideas, for the pleasures of the imagination, for the unorthodox hours, for the solitude.
Are you a vivid dreamer?
To dream you need to sleep, and sleep, like sport, is not a skill I have mastered.
Where are you happiest?
A room with a set of windows overlooking a wild sea, and another set with a view to a thick forest. There’s a hatch through which delicious vegetarian food appears at regular intervals. I can summon up any book I want, any music. And in the armchair adjacent to my own I can conjure up the person of my desire.
What is your favourite word?
Don’t have a favourite word, but I do have a favourite letter – ‘P’. Preposterous, pulverise, pesky, picayune, propinquity, poetry, peccadillo … I have collected hundreds of ‘P’ words.
Which human quality do you most admire?
What is your favourite book?
À la recherche du temps perdu – alas, not in French, but the Kilmartin translation. Big and rich and always new.
And your favourite literary hero and heroine?
I’m a bit of a character tart, I change my favourites often. Although it is hard to go past the gender-bending Eddie Twyborn.
What, if anything, impedes your writing?
Life, anxiety, the footloose imagination – the same qualities that fuel the writing.
How old were you when your first book appeared?
Many years older than the eight-year-old who decided she wanted to be a novelist.
Of which of your books are you fondest?
‘Fondness’ is not what I feel for my books, although I am fond of characters. I’m particularly drawn to Jack, the failed lover and dedicated perfectionist in Reunion.
In a phrase, how would you characterise your work?
Character-driven, idea-exploring fictions that make my life interesting.
Who is your favourite author?
Virginia Woolf. Her letters, diaries, novels and essays have nourished me in the best of times and the worst of times.
How do you regard publishers?
My current one is everything that a you-can’t-love-me-too-much author would want. The rest are necessary.
What do you think of the state of criticism?
The best is fabulous, the remainder could benefit from wider reading and a diet of amphetamines. All should be better paid.
If you had your time over again, would you choose to be a writer?
Absolutely – as well as a cellist, a tennis player and a Rothko canvas.
What do you think of writers festivals?
Great if I am a guest, past their glory days if I am not.
Do you feel artists are valued in our society?
Why do you think I have this thing about sport?
What are you working on now?
A new novel is finally stirring. No more to be said. Mustn’t tempt the evil eye.