One Minute With: Mavis Cheek

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The Independent Culture

Where are you now and what can you see?

I'm in my study in Wiltshire, where there are three windows looking out to the woodland and rather scrubby, uncut grass. There are no houses or people, just a beautiful stud next door.

What are you currently reading?

Marilynne Robinson's Gilead, for fiction, and Margaret Drabble's The Pattern in the Carpet, for non-fiction.

Choose a favourite writer and say why you like her/him

My favourite ever book is probably Jane Eyre. I read it at a key time and on re-reading it as I get older, I experience different things in it. First it was about this poor, put-upon character, than it was her romance with Mr Rochester and then it was her wit. As I get older, I realise how wit is as important as the philosophical stuff.

Describe the room where you usually write

There are French windows which lead out to a non-existent balcony as I ran out of money when the room was being built on top of the house. If I get a bad review, I can always step out!

What distracts you from writing?

I'm terrible with emails. Gardening is also fatal. I often potter around and invariably find something that needs doing.

Which fictional character most resembles you?

Probably (Vanity Fair's) Becky Sharp when I was younger. I really admire these women who, against the odds, take destiny in their own hands.

What are your readers like when you meet them?

Usually very funny and quite like me in that they are a little baleful about the world in a way.

Who is your hero/heroine from outside literature?

The Suffragettes for the fight they put up. I'm just so upset at the moment with women saying I can't be bothered to vote in the election. How dare you walk away from it?

Mavis Cheek's novel 'Truth to Tell' is published by Hutchinson.