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
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Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites
TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Peter Lik: The self-proclaimed 'fine-art photographer' whose work sells for millions
The best underrated Christmas movies from Love, Actually to While You Were Sleeping
Grace Dent on TV: The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies was a beautifully shot, immensely considered drama
The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies, review: Jason Watkins is brilliant, but real victim Joanna Yeates is reduced to a footnote
Marilyn Manson denies involvement in shocking Lana Del Rey rape video
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Shock poll shows voters believe Ukip is to the left of the Tories
Nigel Farage's approval rating hits 'record low' as popularity suffers in wake of Ukip sex scandal
Ukip candidate jokes about 'shooting peasants' in racist and homophobic rant
Pakistan school attack live: Taliban kill at least 132 children in 'horrifying' massacre
Sony hack: Angelina Jolie branded 'seriously out of her mind' in further embarrassing leaked email saga