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One minute with: John J Niven, novelist


Where are you now and what can you see? In the office of the house I'm renting in Los Angeles. I can see palm trees and all sort of lush foliage. Also, the sparkly water of the hot tub.

What are you currently reading? Jonathan Coe's BS Johnson biography 'Like a Fiery Elephant' which is as brilliant as everyone says. Fiction wise, I decided to re-read James Ellroy's 'LA Confidential'. I'm stunned all over again at how loose it is but how it somehow holds together.

Choose a favourite author, and say why you admire her/him John Updike. Just for the way he'll burrow into the depths of the tiniest moment. And how he'll go anywhere off-map, from the occasional flashes of the loathing parents feel for children to the rigours of anal sex.

Describe the room where you usually write I have a garden office at home. It's about my favourite place in the world. I love a quality shed.

Which fictional character most resembles you? [Martin Amis's] John Self with a grounding spike of Keith Talent.

Who is your hero/heroine from outside literature? [The Clash's] Mick Jones fights a battle with Tony Benn for this slot.

John J Niven's 'Cold Hands' is published by Heinemann