Deborah Moggach, novelist: 'Great writers have humour and irony in their DNA'

Deborah Moggach's new novel is 'Something to Hide'

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The Independent Culture

Where are you now and what can you see?

Sitting in my study in Wales. It overlooks the garden opposite, where my neighbours' children shoot out from a slide buried in a giant yew hedge – a surreal sight and delightfully distracting.

What are you currently reading?

Re-reading the wonderful Celia Fremlin's novels, which have just been reissued: gripping, funny, domestic thrillers.

Choose a favourite author and say why you admire her/him

Beryl Bainbridge. She understood that in every situation, however tragic, humour lurks. It just does. Great writers have humour and irony in their DNA.

Describe the room where you usually write

The floor is scattered with papers: bills, letters and God knows what. It looks total chaos, but I sort of understand it. There's a vase of sweet peas I've just picked, which I sniff every few minutes. An ashtray full of roll-up stubs which I avoid sniffing. A printer which causes me more fury than a bad marriage.

Which fictional character most resembles you?

Petra, the heroine of my latest novel. She would, wouldn't she, seeing as I wrote her. But she's more neurotic than I am – more fragile and defensive, certainly about her age.

Who is your hero/heroine from outside literature?

My grandmother, who helped to bring us up. She lost her husband, her only brother, and 11 first cousins in the First World War. Then her only son, a Surrealist poet and communist, killed himself during the Second World War. She showed the most amazing cheer, resilience, courage and lack of bitterness. A true heroine.

Deborah Moggach's new novel is 'Something to Hide' (Chatto & Windus)