Books: Inspirations Novelist Justin Cartwright

The music

I listen to Bruce Springsteen and Leonard Cohen when I am writing; perversely, I find them uplifting. But the music that influenced me most profoundly was the choral music of my school years in South Africa. I still hate it, above all the sound of the organ which seems to me industrial, windy and undiscriminating.

The play

The most purely theatrical performance I ever had was Peter Pan when I was ten: 30 years later at the Barbican, in the first run of the RSC production, I saw it again. It re-opened a direct line to childhood.

The place

I was at school for nine long years under the shadows of Table Mountain, outside Cape Town. Every gulley and cliff and clump of trees was familiar to me. I found the restless mountain sinister; if I had known what an animist was I would have been one.

Of what architects called "built landscapes", Soho is my favourite. Almost every day of my life I pass through and feel better for it, refreshed and amused.

The film

Bernardo Bertolucci's The Conformist is a movie I think about often. The Conformist is a wonderful film, better than the novel by Alberto Moravia, and very moving. When I first saw it, it chimed with everything I believed about life, movies and human relationships - at that time.

The artwork

I have had no Damascene relations with works of art. But Early Sunday Morning by Edward Hopper is my favourite painting. I find it extraordinary that a painting so still could be so vibrant.

Justin Cartwright's new novel `Leading the Cheers' will be published on 17 September by Sceptre

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