Joanna Briscoe, novelist: 'The British Library is so much more beautiful inside than outside'


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The Independent Culture

Where are you now and what can you see?

I'm in my kitchen, at a long oak table, and I can see an almighty clutter of swimming goggles, admin, cards, candles, drooping tulips, and behind that floor-to-ceiling bookshelves, with some ancient and beautiful copies of books: Simple Sweet-Making, The Happy Orpheline, Spinsters in Jeopardy...

What are you currently reading?

I tend to have several on the go. At the moment Hamlet, The Leopard and Sarah Waters's forthcoming The Paying Guests.

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

It has to be Toni Morrison. I would choose her if she had written Beloved alone, for her integrity, story-telling ability, poetry, courage, and the further depths revealed with every reading.

Describe the room where you usually write

On good days the British Library, which is so much more beautiful inside than outside, and where the silent industry and illusion of companionship encourage me. At home, I have a lovely small study overlooking the garden, full of books, papers, and precious things.

Which fictional character most resembles you?

That is the hardest question. I have most empathy with Charlotte Brontë's anxious, over-thinking but determined women. Jane Eyre used to have me in paroxysms of identification but I'm not sure I quite grew into the adult Mrs Rochester...

Who is your hero/heroine from outside literature?

Martha Lane Fox. For bravery, philanthropy, wisdom, and out and out glamour on top of it.

Joanna Briscoe's latest novel, 'Touched', is published by Hammer (£9.99)