One Minute With: Shirley Hughes, author & illustrator


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The Independent Culture

Where are you now and what can you see?

I'm in my work-room sitting at my drawing board, on the first floor of my [West London] house, looking out to the communal gardens.

What are you currently reading?

Coincidentally, a book by my son [and journalist] Ed Vulliamy. For 'The War is Dead, Long Live the War', he went back to Bosnia and found all the people he spoke to ten years ago. I'm also reading Joanna Trollope's 'The Other Family'. She writes brilliantly.

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

I go back to reading Dickens for pleasure: his style, his humour and his ability to mix high comic scenes with cruelty and brutality. I also find Honoré de Balzac inspiring.

Describe the room where you usually write

At my kitchen table in longhand.

Which fictional character most resembles you?

The mole in 'The Wind in the Willows'. He was a rather nervous character but he plucked up the courage and went on an adventure. I have all my adventures in my head.

Who is your hero/heroine from outside literature?

My daughter and daughters-in-laws for bringing up families and still doing a job they like.

Shirley Hughes's novel, 'Hero on a Bicycle', is published by Walker Books