Books: Inspirations - Novelist Allan Massie
Saturday 31 October 1998
Billie Holiday singing "You can't take that away from me"; partly because of the memories it triggers of when I first heard it at Cambridge, and partly because it sums up what is important to somebody who is trying to write novels.
The Cherry Orchard - Chekov just has this wonderful ability to be able to make things happen under the surface which are different to what is actually happening on the surface.
Lake Nemi, about 25 miles outside Rome. It was the starting point for Fraser's The Golden Bough. I used it in my novel Augustus. It's one of the world's numinous places; a magical place. The entrance to the underworld is supposed to be beside the lake, and it really does give you the feeling that it might be.
Thorold Dickinson's version of the Pushkin story, The Queen of Spades. One of the most frightening scenes that I remember is the sound of the footsteps of the ghost of the princess as she comes to give the hero the secret of the cards. I only saw it once in 1948. I don't know why it's so frightening; it just is.
Anything by Caravaggio, particularly the St Matthew paintings in the church of S Luigi dei Francesci in Rome. I always feel that there is a novel to be written about some of his models.
`Antony', Allan Massie's fourth novel in his Roman Quartet, is published by Sceptre at pounds 6.99
Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites
TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Peter Lik: The self-proclaimed 'fine-art photographer' whose work sells for millions
The best underrated Christmas movies from Love, Actually to While You Were Sleeping
Grace Dent on TV: The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies was a beautifully shot, immensely considered drama
The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies, review: Jason Watkins is brilliant, but real victim Joanna Yeates is reduced to a footnote
Marilyn Manson denies involvement in shocking Lana Del Rey rape video
Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
Shock poll shows voters believe Ukip is to the left of the Tories
New era of cheap oil 'will destroy green revolution'
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Ukip founder Alan Sked and Nigel Farage 'begged Enoch Powell to stand as a candidate'
Ukip candidate jokes about 'shooting peasants' in racist and homophobic rant