One Minute With: Lisa Hilton

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The Independent Culture

Where are you now and what can you see?

At my desk, a blank wall. I hate windows when I'm trying to work. On the desk a photograph of myself aged about five. I try not to let her down.

What are you currently reading?

Nicholas Nickleby and Robin Lane Fox's The Classical World. I'm enduringly bitter that someone made a decision about Greek and Latin not being required by children at comprehensives. I try, but I'll never catch up.

Describe the room where you usually write

The bedroom, a Victorian attic with just room for the bed and desk. I fantasise about having a study, but what I do is more important than where.

What distracts you?

Fear of the bailiffs, smoking.

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

Sybille Bedford. Her Visit to Don Otavio is the cleverest un-travel book ever. She was an incredibly dextrous writer and discreet about not displaying the clunking machinery of style.

Which fictional character most resembles you?

I'd like to say Martin Amis's Nicola Six, but then I'd be dead soon. Anyway, I lack both her ankles and her impeccable sense of timing. I'd have to say Becky Sharp, who always thinks she's being very clever, then spoils her chances with impatience.

What are your readers like when you meet them?

I haven't met many. There were some French ones who were quite polite.

Who is your hero/heroine from outside literature?

My best friend, Dominique de Bastarrechea. We've known each other since university: this Swedish bombshell in leather trousers who cooked clam and apricot curries. I thought she was the coolest person I'd ever met, and still do.

Lisa Hilton's 'Queens Consort' is published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson

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