One Minute With: Andrea Levy, novelist

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The Independent Culture

Where are you now and what can you see?

I'm in a temporary flat in north London while my house is being decorated, looking out over a beautiful garden that isn't mine!

What are you currently reading?

I'm about to start Jonathan Franzen's 'Freedom', and I've been reading 'After Empire' by Paul Gilroy – a look at Britain after its empire, and at what a multi-cultural society could and should be.

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

Kazuo Ishiguro. He's one of the best writers around at the moment. His prose is spare and his ideas can seem slight - but are absolutely not. He doesn't have the bangs and whistles of some writers but is just quietly magnificent.

Describe the room where you usually write

At the moment, it's got a cement mixer in it! It has an L-shaped desk with a view, a sofa and a coffee table. I have a row of dictionaries and thesauruses, from Caribbean English and slang to the Shorter Oxford.

What distracts you from writing?

Almost anything! Email has recently inserted itself and is a bit annoying. And I like to have a nap in the middle of the day.

Which fictional character most resembles you?

Sometimes Tigger, but mostly Eyeore.

What are your readers like when you meet them?

Really heart-warming. I did a reading on Monday and was just overwhelmed by the response - when people come up and thank me for writing the books. There's always an element of surprise, too – and long may it last. That's what fiction is all about.

Who is your hero/heroine from outside literature?

My Mum. I grew up with her but later, as I've heard her story and learned what she went through, I have nothing but admiration for her. She's 90 now and going strong – a wonderful person.

Andrea Levy's Man Booker-shortlisted novel 'The Long Song' is published in paperback by Headline Review