One Minute With: Alastair Campbell

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The Independent Culture

Where are you now and what can you see?

I'm driving up the M1 to see the Bolton versus Burnley match and I can see a lorry carrying kitchen equipment in front of me.

What are you currently reading?

Mothers and Sons by Colm Toibin, which I decided to read after Brooklyn, which was absolutely brilliant. I'm going to read Good to a Fault, by Marina Endicott.

Choose a favourite author, and say why you like her/him

Probably Flaubert, because he was the one that really turned me on to the beauty of the French language, which I have never lost and I still read quite a lot of books in French. I started reading Flaubert at school and ended up reading everything he ever wrote.

Describe the room where you usually write

It's on the top floor of our house (in North London). It's very spacious with a wall panelled desk and an exercise bike on which I do some writing, and use my Blackberry.

What distracts you from writing?

Meetings in the diary that I just can't get out of.

Which fictional character most resembles you?

Certainly not Monsieur Bovary! Someone who I don't necessarily identify with but whose values I would like to uphold is Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird.

What are your readers like when you meet them?

A real cross section. Some are interested in politics, but after I wrote my first novel, which was about mental health. they were people who came up to me and said 'my dad had this, or my mother had that...'

Who is your hero/heroine from outside literature?

Nelson Mandela comes very close. I have met him and the hairs on your neck stand to attention every time.

Alastair Campbell's novel, 'Maya', is published by Hutchinson