One Minute With: Francine Stock, broadcaster & novelist
Boyd Tonkin is Senior Writer and a columnist at The Independent. An award-winning journalist, he was formerly Literary Editor at The Independent, and before that Social Policy Editor and then Books Editor at the New Statesman magazine. He has broadcast extensively for BBC arts and current affairs programmes and has judged the Booker Prize, the Whitbread biography award, the Commonwealth Writers Prize and the David Cohen Prize. In 2001, he re-founded the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize for literature in translation, and serves on its judging panel every year.
Friday 30 September 2011
Where are you now and what can you see?
I'm just outside the American Embassy, where I've been applying for a visa as I'm going to interview Woody Allen in Manhattan.
What are you currently reading?
'Romantic Moderns' by Alexandra Harris, which I love. I'm fascinated by the 1930s. It's a crucible for what happens both during the war and after.
Choose a favourite author, and say why you admire her/him
I like writers who creep up on you by stealth; someone like Kazuo Ishiguro, where you feel you've fallen under a spell. Or in Alice Munro's stories, when the rug is pulled from under your feet.
Describe the room where you usually write
In a Georgian house, on the first floor, and south-facing – so lots of sun. It's an extremely crooked room. I work at a table that's on a slant.
What distracts you from writing?
Frankly, almost anything can distract me. The internet, of course – when you disappear down the rabbit hole of an enquiry.
Which fictional character most resembles you?
When I was was a teenager, I identified very strongly with Antigone in Jean Anouilh's play. I thought: "She is me". But then I decided that she's such a pain in the arse – she's so hard on everybody. Now, I wonder if I haven't become quite like her. She's so demanding of the people close to her.
What are your readers like when you meet them?
[With my novels] I was so touched and surprised when people found things in them that I hadn't realised I'd put there.
Who is your hero/heroine from outside literature?
I admire people who excelled at one thing but applied themselves with fantastic discipline to something else. For instance, when I studied Latin and read Horace, I found out he knew so much about farming.
Francine Stock's 'In Glorious Technicolor: a century of film and how it has shaped us' is published by Chatto & Windus. Buy it now from The Independent's bookshop.
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