Where are you and what can you see?
In a taxi. I can see the enormous new buildings being put up on the edge of Hyde Park.
Describe the room where you usually write
We have two book rooms. One where the books are pretty, the other where we keep the books we read. I work in the second. It's an old stone room with large windows for endless distraction.
What distracts you?
I am very easily distracted – anything from a raindrop rolling down the window to the books on my shelves. I often think "I'll just check something" and two hours later I get back to work.
Who is your hero/heroine from outside literature?
I like people who don't accept boundaries. Like Florence Nightingale. And Napoleon or Louis XIV, though I'm not sure how much I'd have liked to meet them. I admire people who aren't circumscribed by circumstance.
Choose a favourite author, and say why you like her/him
Anthony Trollope and Edith Wharton. I like that they're so merciful. No character is completely indefensible, or completely good. Motives are always drawn in shades of grey.
What are you currently reading?
The Radetzky March by Joseph Roth: three generations of Hapsburgs on the eve of the Empire's collapse.
What are your readers like when you meet them?
I like to think I have a wide variety of readers. When publicising Snobs, one minute I'd meet an army colonel, the next minute someone from a teen radio show. I don't think I'm an unkind person, I don't think my books are unkind and I don't think my readers are unkind.
Which fictional character most resembles you?
Now I'm most like Mr Overton from Samuel Butler's The Way of all Flesh.
'Past Imperfect' by Julian Fellowes is published by Weidenfeld & NicolsonReuse content