One Minute With: Maggie Gee

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The Independent Culture

Where are you now and what can you see?

I'm in my study in Kensal Green. It's pale green and cluttered and I'm looking out onto my garden. I can see red Japanese quince blossom, some ivy and my hellebores.

What are you currently reading?

I went to see Janice Honeyman's production of The Tempest in Stratford, so I'm re-reading the end of that. The language is so stripped-down but also incredibly compassionate.

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

The writer I most admire is J M Coetzee. He has such a piercing intelligence. In some ways he's a bit cold but in his last two books you can really see that he's trying to be different, to be warmer, so I admire him for that too. Disgrace is just brilliant.

Describe the room where you usually write

I'll write anywhere really . I like Cafe Nero, but I'll write on the bus.

Which fictional character most resembles you?

Within my novels, Vanessa Henman in My Cleaner and My Driver is a parody of me. She misunderstands, gets things wrong but she's also very driven. She's a bit of a fitness freak too.

What distracts you from writing?

Emails, Skype, my daughter – it's life. But without life, no writing.

What are your readers like when you meet them?

I love my readers and I'm grateful to them. The best thing anyone has said to me about one of my books is "You must have have known my mother."

Who is your hero/heroine from outside literature?

It would have to be my friend, Hanna Sakyi, who works with severely disabled teenagers. She's incredibly funny, lovely and so giving of herself, but not in the least bit self-righteous.

Maggie Gee's new novel 'My Driver' is published by Telegram.