One Minute With: Douglas Kennedy, novelist

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The Independent Culture

Where are you now and what can you see?

I'm in my new apartment, in the 10th arrondissement in Paris. I've installed 'double vitrage' [double glazing] because it's on a main street. I can see a 19th-century building opposite, but I can hear nothing – great.

What are you currently reading?

The biography 'Ayn Rand and the World She Made' [by Anne C Heller]. I want to understand the high priestess of all those insane American neocons. It's an extraordinary life – she began in Tsarist Russia – and a great example of American reinvention.

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

Flaubert. Because with 'Madame Bovary' he became the first writer to tackle one of the great dilemmas of human life – which is boredom. And the first to deal with the entrapment of daily life.

Describe the room where you usually write

Here in Paris, it's about 10 square metres; it has a 19th-century parquet floor, and an old radiator – probably from around 1910. Three walls are painted green, but the wall I face when I write is white – I always face a blank wall when writing.

What distracts you from writing?

The internet - like everyone else.

Which fictional character most resembles you?

Nick Carraway in Scott Fitzgerald's 'The Great Gatsby': the perpetual observer who is always both in the middle of all that transpires and taking notes on it at the same time.

What are your readers like when you meet them?

By and large enthusiastic. They always want to tell me how something in my novels is related to their own life – which is one of the most satisfying things you can have as a writer.

Who is your hero/heroine from outside literature?

Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who tried to create social democracy in the US. It took a patrician American to do it.

Douglas Kennedy's new novel is 'The Moment' (Hutchinson)

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