One Minute With: Nick Harkaway, novelist


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The Independent Culture

Where are you now and what can you see?

 I'm in my bedroom, which is in the basement of our house [in Hampstead]. I can see my laptop, and a red-and-blue tea-cosy.

What are you currently reading?

I've just received Tim Willocks's 'The Religion', and I have my eye on a proof of 'The Teleportation Accident' by Ned Beauman. And I'm reading 'Passages from the Life of a Philosopher' by [the mathematician, engineer and computer pioneer] Charles Babbage – which is absolutely hilarious. He was a man with no shame about self-promotion.

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

Alexandre Dumas. I return to him over and over again: 'The Count of Monte Cristo' and 'The Three Musketeers'. Splendid adventures – Byzantine, strange and eminently readable.

Describe the room where you usually write

I work in our living-room, a strange room in a strange topsy-turvy house. I work underneath this enormous bookshelf.

What distracts you from writing?

Almost nothing. When the time comes to work, I work.

Which fictional character most resembles you?

I used desperately to want to be a brooding hero from literature, but I'm optimistic, healthy and fair-haired. In terms of personality, I'm more Porthos [from 'The Three Muskteers'] than Aramis.

What are your readers like when you meet them?

Great. My books are written from the heart, to entertain: they're books I would like to read. Because of that, when I meet people who like them, we have so much to talk about!

Who is your hero/heroine from outside literature?

The women of Bletchley Park [the code-breaking centre], who did all that amazing work, did it in total silence, and never told. It's a story to break your heart.

Nick Harkaway's novel 'Angelmaker' is published next week by Heinemann