One Minute With: Sandi Toksvig

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The Independent Culture

Where are you now and what can you see?

I'm in my office which is in the garden, in a wooden building. I can see a beautiful stone structure with the word North on it.

What are you currently reading?

A book called Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds by Charles Mackay, first published in 1841, which is breathtakingly good for anyone interested in history, and that it repeats itself.

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

Charles Dickens, just because the man was a genius and it's the layers in his books that I like: you meet a character sweeping the street in chapter one and he turns out to be a central character later on. He wrote in instalments, which I like.

Describe the room where you usually write

It is a large wooden building lined with books, red gingham curtains and a life-size cut out of Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz.

What distracts you from writing?

Very little. Needing to go to the loo, perhaps. I have good concentration.

Which fictional character most resembles you?

George in the Famous Five. I have the same dress sense and a lack of interest in weedy girls like Anne.

What are your readers like when you meet them?

I write about such a range of things from children's fiction to the gay scene to travel guides that the readers are not one type.

Who is your hero/heroine from outside literature?

Ruth Wakefield, who invented the chocolate-chip cookie. I don't think enough credit has been given to the woman and the pleasure she has brought us all. Have you ever tasted cookies that have just been baked and are warm and not quite hard yet?

Sandi Toksvig's latest book, 'The Chain of Curiosity', is published by Sphere