One Minute With: Joanna Trollope, novelist

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The Independent Culture

Where are you now and what can you see? I'm sitting in front of my computer, in west London – but with a nice sunset view. On the radio, I'm listening to Christopher Hitchens making intellectual mincemeat of Tony Blair.

What are you currently reading? I'm having a Stefan Zweig orgy, and am reading 'The World of Yesterday'. Also Joseph O'Connor's 'Ghost Light', about JM Synge... and a copy of 'Grazia'.

Choose a favourite author and say why you like her/him Rose Macaulay, and especially her last novel, 'The Towers of Trebizond'. She was a Christian convert who had this great yearning for liberty.

Describe the room where you usually write For the first time in my life, I actually have a study!... It has one rather workmanlike desk with my computer, and another old Edwardian desk, covered with a gerbil's nest of notes for a novel. I'm actually rather orderly, although the way that I write is not.

What distracts you from writing? Anxiety. Usually human anxiety, about someone in the family or a friend. I find myself worrying around it like a hamster on a wheel.

Which fictional character most resembles you? [In my books], There's a teaspoonful of me in a great many of them...You can't help parts of yourself leaking into other characters.

What are your readers like when you meet them? Hugely varied... The further north, the more men there are, and the younger they are. Rather more as you would expect in the south: fairly prosperous, well-read women of a certain age. But there's a lot of very startling advice-asking, or confession.

Who is your hero/heroine from outside literature? I'm an enormous fan of people who have had a lot of faith in themselves, and been on a tremendous journey. Beethoven would be one, who knew that he was going deaf at 25. Or Didier Drogba, born in a village in Ivory Coast.

Joanna Trollope's 'The Other Family' is published in paperback by Black Swan