One Minute With: Sara Stockbridge, novelist

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The Independent Culture

Where are you now and what can you see?

I'm in my front room at home [in south London], and I'm looking out across the road - right opposite is an old camper van.

What are you currently reading?

I've just started 'The Secret Agent' by Joseph Conrad. It's gripped me already – I like it because it goes into dark places, with spooky characters.

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

Usually I would answer Dickens, but today I'm going to say Cormac McCarthy. I love his precision, his simplicity, and the way that you get right behind the characters' eyes. When I finished 'The Road', I just looked out of the window and thought, thank God for green things.

Describe the room where you usually write

I used to write in a matte-black room but last year my boyfriend moved in, and I've given that room over to him. Now I tend to write in bed with my laptop on my knees.

What distracts you from writing?

Nothing – absolutely nothing. I'm really good at not answering the telephone. Once I've started on a book, it obsesses me and I can't stop.

Which fictional character most resembles you?

My boyfriend says Captain Mainwaring [in 'Dad's Army']! I am very bossy - I fully embrace that. But I feel like [Astrid Lindgren's] Pippi Longstocking. She's a wonderful creation.

What are your readers like when you meet them?

Some I will know already, but when I meet readers I don't know, I'm startled that anyone has read my book – surprised and overwhelmed.

Who is your hero/heroine from outside literature?

There are lots of very clever people I admire, but is that really heroic? So, Captain Mainwaring again! Or, I'm afraid to say, Winston Churchill. Not everything he did was great and perfect, but he was extremely brave and did save the country.

Sara Stockbridge's novel, 'Cross My Palm', is published by Chatto & Windus