One Minute With: Diana Quick

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Where are you now and what can you see?

I'm in my greenhouse in the garden. I can see lots of plants, and someone has just delivered a box of tomato plants.

What are you currently reading?

A selection of Chekhov's stories. I've just finished a week-long workshop on Three Sisters, which we're developing in a new translation. We're hoping the next stage will be to take it to Russia.

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

Penelope Fitzgerald – for her style as much as anything. I like its economy. She came to writing quite late and is on record as saying that she'd go through everything - and take out whatever was not necessary with a blue pencil.

Describe the room where you usually write

If I'm here [on the Suffolk coast] I work at a big table looking out over the garden. It's a dark green room with windows all around. In London, it's my study full of books, with the desk turned to face the wall.

What distracts you from writing?

Almost anything. I'm very good at displacement activities. Putting the CDs in alphabetical order; sorting out the sock drawer.

Which fictional character most resembles you?

It's a difficult thing to ask an actor – we play so many parts of ourselves. You get used to pulling out little bits of yourself and inspecting it under the microscope.

What are your readers like when you meet them?

There are two types: people like me who had family in India and the colonies, and didn't know much about their background. The second are fans who have seen my acting work.

Who is your hero/heroine from outside literature?

Helena Kennedy. She has done a great deal of public good and has never wavered from her principles.

Diana Quick's memoir 'A Tug on the Thread' is published by Virago.