One Minute With: Nick Harkaway, novelist
Boyd Tonkin is Senior Writer and a columnist at The Independent. An award-winning journalist, he was formerly Literary Editor at The Independent, and before that Social Policy Editor and then Books Editor at the New Statesman magazine. He has broadcast extensively for BBC arts and current affairs programmes and has judged the Booker Prize, the Whitbread biography award, the Commonwealth Writers Prize and the David Cohen Prize. In 2001, he re-founded the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize for literature in translation, and serves on its judging panel every year.
Friday 27 January 2012
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.
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