Where are you now and what can you see?
In my study, looking out at a very sodden garden. It is, however, brightened up by a winter-flowering cherry, which has suddenly broken out into intense white blossom.
What are you currently reading?
I always have a few books on the go and at the moment I am re-reading John Gaddis's one volume history of the Cold War, while also dipping in and out of Diarmaid MacCulloch's compelling A History of Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years.
Choose a favourite author and why you like her/him
I am very impressed by the long sequence of novels by Patrick O'Brian about the post-Nelsonian navy, not just because of the detailed recreation of the period but because O'Brian created one of the great male relationships of modern literature, in Captain Jack Aubrey and his ship's doctor and British spy, Stephen Maturin.
Describe the room where you normally write
Cluttered with paper, surrounded by pictures that I have not yet got round to hanging, a blizzard of Post-it notes of many colours.
What distracts you from writing?
Which fictional character most resembles you?
To that question, I plead the fifth amendment.
What are your readers like when you meet them?
Very discerning, of course
Who is your hero or heroine from outside literature?
Gill Hicks MBE, who lost both legs at the knee on 7/7. She has no bitterness but works tirelessly to reduce divides between communities, including walking from Leeds to London on her partially artificial legs to do just that.
Ian Blair's 'Policing Controversy' is published by Profile BooksReuse content