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One Minute With: Poppy Adams

Where are you now and what can you see?

I am at my desk by a bay window, looking out on a busy road and trying to ignore the noise of the children.

What are you currently reading?

I'm reading Strait Is the Gate by André Gide in translation. It's research for my new book. I'm trying to catch up on 19th-century French literature.

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

Rose Tremain. She can take any character and be utterly convincing, and across such a broad spectrum. I aspire to her light touch.

Describe the room where you usually write

Very white. I didn't write my first book in it – I've had it redone. But I'm now superstitious that it will affect my writing. There's a big whiteboard full of "to do" lists and kids' drawings, though it was designed for mind-maps.

What are your readers like when you meet them?

US and British readers differ. Americans are not used to the idea of an eccentric 70-year-old woman living on her own. They feel she needs to make an appointment with a doctor.

What distracts you from writing?

A pin dropping distracts me – it can take me days to get into the frame of mind to write. Anything crying.

Which fictional character most resembles you?

Struwwelpeter's Johnny Head-In-Air who wanders round day-dreaming, with his writing book. He falls into the river and the fish laugh at him, which is something I'm looking forward to.

Who is your hero/heroine from outside literature?

Charles Darwin, not only because he presented an alternative theory for our existence, but also because of his obsessive and inquisitive mind.

'The Behaviour of Moths' by Poppy Adams (Virago) is shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award