One minute with: Simon Sebag Montefiore, historian and novelist
Saturday 07 September 2013
Where are you now and what can you see?
I am at my cottage in Hampshire, in a wild and lush garden surrounded by the sound of birdsong.
What are you currently reading?
Countess Golovine’s memoirs of emperor Alexander, full of fascinating court gossip, for my next book on all the Romanov tsars.
Choose a favourite author, and say why you admire her/him
Naguib Mahfouz, whose Cairo trilogy is a towering masterpiece that easily equals Tolstoy or Balzac: his characters actually seem alive, loveable yet real, and always surprising.
Describe the room where you usually write
My office is a converted greenhouse with glass on three sides and a view of the back gardens of Kensington houses.
Which fictional character most resembles you?
My wife says I am a cross between Biggles and Woody Allen (at least one is a fictional character) but I’d prefer someone more heroic.
Who is your hero/heroine from outside literature?
Catherine the Great’s partner and minister Prince Potemkin – statesman, intellectual – is a loveable but flawed and fascinating character.
Simon Sebag Montefiore’s novel ‘One Night in Winter’ is published by Century
Art Somebody is going around telling people he's Banksy - but it isn't the street artist
Maisie Williams single-handedly rises to the challengeTV
Academy criticised after no non-white actors nominated
tvAn expose of hooliganism masquerading as an ideological battle
artLee Hadwin can't draw when he's awake, but by night he's an artist
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 King Salman: Just five days in, Saudi Arabia's new king has already overseen a beheading
- 2 The BBC has just done more to eradicate ‘terrorism’ than all our wars since 9/11
- 3 Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
- 4 Presidential optical illusion offers clues to how brain processes faces
- 5 Grumpy Roald Dahl letter warning student to 'eschew beastly adjectives' rediscovered after 35 years
Heavy metal producer's corpse to be mutilated by models as per his dying wish
The Jump 2015 line-up: Joey Essex, Phil Tufnell, Heather Mills and co take to the slopes
Costa Book Awards 2015: H is for Hawk named book of the year
New Ghostbusters movie lands all-female cast with Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones
Grumpy Roald Dahl letter warning student to 'eschew beastly adjectives' rediscovered after 35 years
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
French court convicts three over homophobic tweets, in case hailed as a 'significant victory' by LGBT rights campaigners
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British Muslim school children suffering a backlash of abuse following Paris attacks
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
Louise Mensch says 'F**K YOU' in explosive tweets about David Cameron, Saudi Embassy and the Queen over King Abdullah tributes