Grace McCleen, novelist: 'I admire Kafka, not just because of his genius, but because he wanted his work to be destroyed'


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Where are you now and what can you see?

I am in my room, lying on my 'bed', which is a deckchair cushion zipped into a sleeping bag. My studio has a sofa-bed, but because it is hard to move around when the sofa-bed is down, I have been sleeping on the floor. I can see my knees beneath a patchwork quilt made with scraps of fabric left after clothing the little people I modelled. Above my knees I can see the wooden shelf I sawed and put up recently.

What are you currently reading?

I read a lot of books at once. At the moment some of the books I'm reading are: I Am That by Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj, Voss by Patrick White, re-reading Repetition by Soren Kierkegaard, An Imaginary Life by David Malouf, and Swedenborg's Dream Diary.

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

I don't have one favourite author, but I admire Kafka, not just because of his genius, but because he wanted his work to be destroyed.

Describe the room where you usually write

The rooms where I used to write were all small, often cold and sometimes ramshackle, because before my novels were published I was very poor.

Which fictional character most resembles you?

Possibly Charlotte Brontë's Lucy Snowe (from Villette)

Who is your hero/heroine from outside literature?

Jesus Christ, not because I am religious in the conventional sense, but because the man called 'Christ' embodied a way of living without attachment to form or time, and if any of us could realise that our lives would be transformed.

Grace McCleen's new novel, 'The Offering', is published by Sceptre