Where are you now and what can you see?
I'm sitting on the back deck of my house in the Hudson Valley, looking into the vegetable garden – and looking out for the woodchuck. The wildlife here, 25 miles from New York City, is amazing: woodpeckers, red-tailed hawks. There was a dead garter snake on the path this morning.
Whar are you currently reading?
'Near to the Wild Heart', the first novel by [Brazilian writer] Clarice Lispector. It's an astonishing debut – a modernist-stream-of- consciousness that sounds like hell but is actually brilliant.
Choose a favourite author and say why you like him/her
Italo Svevo. I return to 'Confessions of Zeno' every few years. It's poignant, clumsy, elegant, funny - and the greatest novel ever written about failing to give up smoking.
Describe the room where you usually write
In the summer, I write outside on this wooden deck. If the sunlight gets too fierce or if we have the titanic thunderstorms we get here, I retreat to the kitchen, and an old scrubbed-pine table.
What distracts you from writing?
Music. Because I can listen to any music, from Bach to The Ramones. And tinkly background music is the worst.
Which fictional character most resembles you?
It has to be [AA Milne's] Tigger.
What are your readers like when you meet them?
It's one of the most wonderful gifts: they are so generous... And they're often shyly confessional – saying perhaps that 'The Power of Art' helped them feel better when they were ill.
Who is your hero/ heropine from outside literature?
[Philosopher and theologian] Martin Buber. Because for him the core of being Jewish is an understanding of other people. "I-Thou": to put yourself in someone else's shoes.
Simon Schama's 'Scribble, Scribble, Scribble' is published by Bodley Head.Reuse content