One Minute With: Alison Pick, novelist and poet

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The Independent Culture

Where are you now and what can you see?

At my family's summer house in Quebec, upstairs in the study, with a gorgeous view of rolling hills and the lake below. Seriously.

What are you currently reading?

'Tales of Love and Darkness' by Amos Oz (at least I will be once I crack the spine this evening...).

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

This changes on a dime, but today I'll say Virginia Woolf for her range, her nuance, her nostalgia, her sensuality.

Describe the room where you usually write

It's a tiny little bedroom in my home in Toronto. When we bought it, we were told it was a bedroom but we couldn't fit a bed into it. It's small, bright, cluttered, coffee-scented, homey. When I'm writing a first draft, I write into a notebook at my desk. I have a bulletin board up in the room, and when I received email from readers of my book, 'Far to Go', I printed them out and put them on the board, just to remind me that people were enjoying it.

What distracts you from writing?

Facebook. What else? What I try and do when I'm working on a book is to work for three hours before I check it, but I'm usually not very successful. If I cave in, my whole morning is gone.

Which fictional character most resembles you?

That's a hard one. Kitty from Tolstoy's 'Anna Karenina'? At least before she marries Levin...

What are your readers like when you meet them?

'Far to Go', is set in pre-World War Two Jewish Czechoslovakia, and my family's Holocaust history has been publicised alongside the novel. Readers often want to tell me their own similarly-themed family stories, which I love to hear.

Who is your hero/heroine from outside literature?

As someone who spends days alone at a desk, I admire activists, out in the world, doing good in a tangible way. Most recently I was amazed by Eve Ensler's work with women and girls in the Congo and Haiti.

Alison's Pick's Man Booker longlisted novel, 'Far to Go', is published by Headline Review