Where are you now and what can you see?
In south London, overlooking magnolia and mimosa trees. There’s a fox’s earth down the bottom of the garden and I’m expecting to see cubs any day.
What are you currently reading?
Byron’s Letters and Journals. He’s the Romantic poet I know least about (at university I was more drawn to Blake, Wordsworth and Coleridge) but I’ve recently been re-reading Don Juan and marvelling at its wit.
Choose a favourite author and say why you admire her/him
That’s easy: Philip Larkin. The further in time we move away from him (he died in 1985), the greater his achievement seems to be. He’s funny, moving and at times so bleakly pessimistic (‘Life is first boredom, then fear’) that he makes Beckett seem lightweight. Above all he’s memorable.
Describe the room where you usually write
When my daughter left home a few years ago, I moved from the damp basement and took over her bedroom. Here and there you can make out blue walls (which match the blue rug covering the floorboards), but mostly what you see is bookshelves, which are now too full to take any more volumes, even though double stacked. I’ve two desks, one with a desktop Mac (for prose), the other with a laptop (though at the moment the desk is too covered with books to work at.)
Which fictional character most resembles you?
Nick Carraway in The Great Gatsby, who’s a bit of a blank.
Who is your hero/heroine from outside literature?
Blake Morrison will read from his new poetry collection, ‘Shingle Street’, at Latitude Festival (16-19 July)Reuse content