One Minute With: Reina James

'At the moment my favourite author is Elizabeth Taylor because of her wit, clarity and sharp insight into family relationships. She's such a woman's writer.'

Where are you and what can you see?

I'm in my study. There's an old photo of me dressed as a lion in a play of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and a beautiful photo taken by my son of an ice cave on Everest. There is also a postcard of a man unrolling his high wire in the dark as he walks across an abyss. I think it's a wonderful metaphor for writing.

What are you reading?

Prelude to a Certain Midnight by Gerald Kersh. It's funny but dark and powerfully evokes 1940s London. He is a great writer, one of my favourites, but appallingly neglected.

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

At the moment it is Elizabeth Taylor because of her wit, clarity and sharp insight into family relationships. She's such a woman's writer.

Which fictional character most resembles you?

Tigger on my best days. Piglet on my worst. Never Eeyore.

What distracts you from your writing?

The cat. She scratches the carpet and the desk and stares at me so that I am aware that she wants something.

Describe the room where you usually write

There are white walls and curtains. The only sounds I can hear are bird song and the clock ticking.

What are your readers like when you meet them?

They are generally benign. One reader of my last book described me as unfeeling, and this surprised me.

Who is your hero/heroine from outside literature?

The many men and women who are on the front line: fire-fighters, teachers, nurses, paramedics and carers. It is the man on Tiananmen Square and all like him who stand up for to the dark forces. Because they do it and I'm not brave enough to.

Reina James's novel 'The Old Joke' is published by Portobello.

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