One Minute With: Raphael Selbourne

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The Independent Culture

Where are you now and what can you see?

In Wolverhampton, at a friend's house. I can see a strip of back garden, large trees and a playing field with more houses beyond.

What are you currently reading?

The Post Office Girl by Stefan Zweig. It's a wonderfully moving story of an unfulfilled young woman.

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

Isaac Bashevis Singer, because he's a master storyteller – almost unrivalled. I discovered him quite late in life: the best thing to have come out of doing a PGCE [teaching certificate].

Which fictional character most resembles you?

I've never identified with characters in that sense but I do enjoy reading about many-sided figures and their moral dilemmas. I've never murdered an elderly lady, but Raskolnikov [in Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment] is a powerful figure of guilt and fear.

Describe the room where you usually write

It's the size of a snooker table with two desks, a radio and computer.

What distracts you from writing?

The internet. It can be a gross waste of time.

What are your readers like when you meet them?

Apart from family and friends, and a couple of journalists, I haven't yet met any. I look forward to being heaped with praise – and also to meeting someone who has been made uncomfortable by the novel, for whatever reason.

Who is your hero/heroine from outside literature?

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the Lutheran pastor, for his courage in resisting Nazism.

Raphael Selbourne's 'Beauty', published by Tindal Street Press, won the Costa First Novel Award.