One Minute With: Neil Cross

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The Independent Culture

Where are you now and what can you see?

I'm at the dining table in the living room of my house in Wellington, New Zealand, which is where I spend most of my year. It's been a beautiful summer day — blue skies, green hills, a tranquil harbour being criss-crossed by the inter-island ferries.

What are you currently reading?

Journey into Fear by Eric Ambler. I was astonished by the extent to which this spy novel of the late 1930s exceeds Graham Greene's finest "entertainments". It's always melancholy to consider how very fine novelists can so quickly and comprehensively be forgotten.

Describe the room where you usually write

I work in the only room in the house without any kind of view. It overlooks a steep bank from which we recently had the gorse cleared.

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

I love Patricia Highsmith for her unforgiving eye. And Raymond Carver for the tenderness of his.

What distracts you from writing?

Nothing, really.

Which fictional character most resembles you?

The fictional character with whom I most profoundly identified was Yossarian in Catch-22. Always did, still do.

What are your readers like when you meet them?

Funnily enough, they're often a bit nervous about meeting me. I think, because my novels contain a certain degree of horror, they assume I'm twisted in some elementary way.

Who is your hero/heroine from outside literature?

Until recently, I'd have said Indiana Jones. Now I'd say David Tennant as the Tenth Doctor. This programme is filled with fierce joy and wonder and magic, sometimes scary magic.

Neil Cross's novel 'Captured' is published by Simon & Schuster