One Minute With: Barbara Ehrenreich, author

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The Independent Culture

Where are you now and what can you see?

I'm at home in Virginia, I'm standing between my bedroom and the room in which I work, and I can see trees blooming out of the window.

What are you currently reading?

China Miéville's 'Kraken'. I loved 'The City & The City', although this one is a little sillier. I've just finished 'The Moral Lives of Animals' by Dale Peterson.

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

If I were to go back to my teen years, I would say Joseph Conrad. I loved his themes connected to the sea and to adventure and I recognised, even as a kid, that this was amazing writing.

Describe the room where you usually write

It's a room with a desk and a couch and it's a disgusting mess. Today is one of the days I have got to get things together, but each item that I pick up to throw away or file demands attention first - a bill to pay, a letter I never answered. I can't do it.

What distracts you from writing?

The drama and distractions of mundane life.

Which fictional character most resembles you?

I don't identify with one character but I do identify with male characters. It used to be the case that when female characters were brought into a story, something made me uncomfortable that I now know to be sexism in the way they were presented.

What are your readers like when you meet them?

A pretty motley bunch. It's always been interesting to me how diverse their social class is. A lot get my books from the library.

Who is your hero/heroine from outside literature?

While I was working on 'Blood Rites', I discovered that I admire not only pacificists - Gandhi, Cindy Sheehan, etc - but also warriors, especially the old-fashioned kind who still depended on human muscle and skill.

Barbara Ehrenreich's 'Blood Rites' is published by Granta