One Minute With: Simon Mawer

Interview by Ciaran McCauley

Where are you now and what can you see?

I'm sitting in my study, in my home north of Rome. Outside the window I can see only neighbouring houses.

What are you currently reading?

I just finished The Perfect Waiter – written in German by an author from Alsace, Alain Claude Sulzer.

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

Nabokov. My admiration is for his phenomenal manipulation of language, the trickiness of his word play and his sense of humour – unique.

Describe the room where you usually write

It's got books all round the walls, two computers, a Betty Boop calendar and photographs. Some are of family, others of me climbing and there's also a shot of me presenting my first novel to William Golding.

What distracts you?

I do spend a lot of time supposedly writing but I can distract myself well playing patience on my computer.

Which fictional character most resembles you?

Joe Rose in McEwan's Enduring Love is a character whom I think I resemble, although I'm a little old to be hanging from balloons. But I hold to scientific rationalism in the same way, and find myself similarly confused at how irrational humans can be.

What are your readers like when you meet them?

I don't meet many because I'm in Italy; if I lived in Britain I'd meet more. Those who I do meet are a wide mixture, mostly middle-class I suppose.

Who is your hero/heroine from outside literature?

Fred Trueman is a life-long hero. I saw him playing in the first first-class cricket game I ever attended. He was the greatest character among the fast bowlers and possibly the greatest fast bowler ever. Tremendous.

'The Glass Room', by Simon Mawer, is published by Little, Brown