One Minute With: Jake Arnott

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The Independent Culture

Where are you now and what can you see?

I'm in my office in Clerkenwell. I look out on to a gloomy courtyard and backstreets which are laughingly called Mount Pleasant.

What are you currently reading?

I have just finished Kamila Shamsie's Burnt Shadows which is fantastically ambitious with strong ideas.

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

I often come back to Jorge Luis Borges. I have got his collected fiction which is just over 500 pages. He writes with such precision and everything is so pared down.

Describe the room where you usually write

There is gloom without and chaos within. There's a whole wall of books at one end, piles of paper and a desk whose surface I've never seen but it's there somewhere.

What distracts you from writing?

Life. Writing is sort of the opposite of life; retreating into another world.

Which fictional character most resembles you?

I'm not sure about now but I remember reading Lord of the Flies when I was a kid and in it Simon was the twitchy anxious one who had an imagination that got him into trouble, and with whom I identified.

What are your readers like when you meet them?

In some ways, they are not my readers as I don't really possess them, but I do feel we are sharing some special sense of conspiracy together.

Who is your hero/heroine from outside literature?

Elena Salvoni, who owns the Charlotte Street restaurant, Elena's L'Etoile. She is a tiny Italian Londoner who seems to be eternally youthful. She has impossibly famous people there but treats everyone the same.

Jake Arnott's 'The Devil's Paintbrush' is published by Sceptre