One Minute With: Sarah Hall, novelist
Boyd Tonkin is Literary Editor at The Independent. An award-winning journalist, he was formerly Social Policy Editor of the New Statesman and has broadcast extensively for BBC arts and current affairs programmes. He has judged the Booker Prize, the Whitbread biography award, the Commonwealth Writers Prize and the David Cohen Prize for a lifetime's achievement in literature.
Friday 18 November 2011
Where are you now and what can you see?
I'm in the bedroom of my new house in Norwich, where I've just moved from Cumbria. There's a tree outside the window with some quinces that have gone particularly black. Norwich feels very Dutch – and much warmer than Cumbria!
What are you currently reading?
I've just finished James Salter's novel 'Burning the Days'. It's absolutely brilliant.
Choose a favourite author, and say why you admire her/him
Cormac MacCarthy. Very few novelists have the ability to terrify me – and he does. It isn't so much the violence in his books as the menacing quality that comes from the dark possibilties that lie within human beings. He taps into that in a non-Gothic and highly realistic way. It's very real, and very frightening.
Describe the room where you usually write
I'm a nomad. I roam around the house with my laptop and park myself in sunny corners. I like to have an oblique view: a wall in front of me, and a window at the side.
What distracts you from writing?
The weather. I'm a weather-watcher, and if it's in any way not raining, I like to be outside. I have that feral-child quality of wanting to be outdoors, and good weather is a good excuse.
Which fictional character most resembles you?
I'd like to think it would be someone like Ree Dolly in [Daniel Woodrell's] 'Winter's Bone': looking after a family, and being tough and practical. She has durability, and I would like to think I have that.
What are your readers like when you meet them?
All ages, and both genders. I don't have an ideal reader.
Who is your hero/heroine from outside literature?
I'm always impressed when I come across a story of an ordinary person who does something extraordinary: a random passer-by who has jumped into a frozen river to save someone else, or a pensioner who wallops a mugger.
Sarah Hall's short story collection, 'The Beautiful Indifference', is published by Faber & Faber
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